Also, known as the Westie, the West Highland White terrier is a breed of dog from Scotland. It is a medium size terrier, with longer legs than other Scottish terrier breeds, it as a double coat of white fur which fills out the dogs face, giving it a rounded appearance.

The West Highland White terrier is intelligent and quick to learn, good with children it makes for an excellent family dog, although it won’t tolerate rough handling. It is an active breed which needs regular exercise, it was originally bred to hunt rodents and vermin, it is also a hypoallergenic breed.

Scottish White terriers were recorded as early as the 16th century, during the reign of James VI of Scotland, he ordered that a dozen terriers be procured from Argyll, to be presented to the king of France as a gift.


The modern breed is descended from a number of breeding programs involving white terriers prior to the 20th century, cousin of the Cairn terrier the Westie was bred to hunt small rodents at places such as farms. Edward Donald Malcolm the 16th Laird of Poltalloch is credited with the creation of the modern breed from his Poltalloch terrier, other related breeds included the Roseneath terrier and the Pittenweem terrier. The story told, is that a reddish brown terrier was shot after being mistaken for a fox, following this Malcolm decided to develop a white breed, which became known as the Poltalloch terrier.

It was given its modern name, the West Highland White terrier in 1908 and received recognition from major kennel clubs around the same time. The breed is still very popular in the UK with multiple wins at Crufts, it is also in the top third of all breeds in the USA since the 1960s.

The popularity of the Westie breed is highligted by a number of television and movie appearances, as well as being used to advertise products like Ceasar’s dog food and Black and White Scotch Whisky.

Westies have bright deep set eyes that are dark in colour, their ears are pointed and erect. A healthy example of the breed will weigh between 16 and 20 pounds, with the average height being between 10 and 11 inches at the withers, the body should be shorter than the height of the dog at the shoulder.

The Westies white fur is made up of a soft dense thick undercoat with a rough outer coat, which can grow up to 2 inches in length, as the Westie puppy develops into adulthood their coarse outer coat can be groomed by hand stripping or clipping.


The temperament of the Westie when well-trained from a young age makes it ideal for a family pet, it is a loyal breed which bonds with its owner, highly social, it is the most friendly and jolly of all the Scottish terrier breeds. It does retain the instincts of a working dog, having been bred for hunting it does like to play with and chase toys, as well as having an inquisitive and investigative nature.

The West Highland White terrier is susceptible to the same conditions as a lot of terrier breeds such as abdominal hernias and atopic dermatitis, a heritable chronic skin disease. As a puppy the Westie may be affected by craniomandiular osteopathy, also known as lion jaw or Westie jaw, this is an autosomal recessive condition, which means a puppy can only be affected if both parents are carriers of the faulty gene. A healthy Westie will have an average lifespan between 12 and 16 years.

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michael simpson

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