West Highland White Terrier


The West Highland White Terrier, also known as the Westie or Westy, is of Scottish descent with a distinctive white coat. The modern breed of the dog is descended from a number of breeding programs of white terriers prior to the 20th century in Scotland. Edward Donald Malcom, 16th Laird of Poltalloch, is the person most associated with the development of the modern breed. As Malcom owned terriers and used them to work game, the story told says that one of his reddish-brown terriers was shot as it was mistaken for a fox. Because of this Malcom decided to develop the white terrier breed in an effort that the dogs would be seen more easily. This became known as the “Poltalloch Terrier”. However, Malcom did not want to be known as the creator of the breed. He insisted that his breed of white terriers be renamed.

Physical Appearance

The average weight for this breed of dog is between 15-20 pounds, with the average height being between 10-11 inches at the withers. The body of the Westie should be shorter than its height at the shoulder.  The eyes of the Westie are bright, deep set, almond shaped and dark in color. This breed has a deep chest, with muscular limbs; its paws are turned just slightly to give it a better grip when dealing with rocky surfaces. The Westie’s nose is black, with a closely fitted jaw with “scissors” bite. This breed has two coats; an outer and undercoat. The undercoat is soft, dense, and thick, while the outercoat is rough and can grow to about 2 inches long. The fur around the face of the Westie will fill out to give it a rounded appearance.


The Westie’s temperament can vary from dog to dog. Some are friendly towards while others would rather have solitude. This breed can be both toy and food possessive and does not tolerate the rough handling of children such as having its ears pulled on. This breed is normally independent, self-confident, and assured and for this can make good watchdogs. They require good exercise, 15-30 minutes a day; but they are a loyal breed that will bond with its owners. This breed is the most joyful of all the Scottish breeds of Terrier and are very social dogs. This breed can sometimes be stubborn which may make training a difficult task. Having its typical prey drive as seen in most Terriers, this dog loves toys, especially chasing balls. The dog does have a natural instinct to both bark and dig holes.


The average lifespan of the Westie is between 12-16 years, according to the American breed club. Some conditions the Westie may have a predisposition to include, hernias, craniomandibular osteopathy, atopic dermatitis, hyperplastic dermatosis, globoid cell leukodystrophy, “white dog shaker syndrome”, alpha-Hydroxyglutaric acid levels being elevated, and luxating patella.

West Highland White Terrier