West Highland White Terrier


A small West Highland White Terrier
West Highland White Terrier Quick Summary
Also Known AsWestie
Height (at withers)9-11in (23-28cm)
Weight13-22lbs (6-10kg)
Hair Colour(s)White
Lifespan12-14 years
Energy LevelMedium
Litter size2-5
Barking TendencyMedium
Exercise requirementsMedium
Ease of trainingHigh
Suitability for kidsMedium
Animal compatabilityLow
Aggression levelsMedium
Distress if leftMedium

The West Highland White Terrier is a small and hardy dog. The body is compact with a deep chest, level back, short muscular legs and an upright undocked tail. The head is broad with a black button nose, small erect ears and dark eyes. The double coat consists of a soft, dense undercoat and a wiry, straight outer coat, and the colouring tends to be white.


West Highland White Terriers are lively and confident little dogs with spirited and active natures. They are affectionate and thrive on interaction and companionship, and make loyal conpanions and popular family pets, especially for the more active. This is not the right choice of dog for the physically inactive or for those with little time to dedicate to their pets, and take note that they love to dig and can tend to bark a lot. These courageous creatures are inquisitive by nature and love to chase, which means they must be kept on a leash or in safe, secure areas. West Highland White Terriers are very intelligent, eager and are highly trainable, but they can also be a little arrogant, stubborn and demanding, and so are best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership and training rather than novices. West Highland White Terriers get along well with older, more considerate children, but are not suitable for smaller kids as they do not like any rough handling. They are not so good with other animals, and will try to be dominant over same sex dogs. They do not get along with cats at all and cannot be trusted around smaller pets, as they will chase and likely catch them thanks to their high prey drives. They can also be possessive over food and belongings. As for visitors, they will generally be fine but will still bark to raise the alarm when necessary, and so make effective watchdogs.

History & Skills

West Highland White Terriers originate from Scotland, where they were bred for hunting foxes, vermin and other small animals such as squirrels. Developed in Argyllshire, they were bred to be only white after a Cairn Terrier owner accidentally short his dog rather than a fox. These days they make popular companions and family pets, as well as show dogs, and are also used as tracking and therapy dogs.

Breed Specific Ailments

West Highland White Terriers tend to live between 12-14 years, and some of the health problems noted in this breed include Legg-Perthes, cataracts, CMO, vWD, seizures, allergies, luxating patella and jawbone calcification.


West Highland White Terriers are low shedders when groomed properly, and so are suitable those with allergies. Their grooming requirements are moderate and the coat will need brushing around twice a week to remove dead hair and keep it in good condition. Bathed monthly is usually adequate so as not to dry out the skin, but the ears can be washed on a weekly basis to avoid wax build-up. The hair around the bottom area should be kept trimmed for hygiene reasons, and the coat can be trimmed every four months or so, and stripped twice yearly for show dogs.

Exercise & Environment

West Highland White Terriers are suited to urban and rural environments and tend to live indoors. They need moderate exercise and tend to be quite active while indoors. In general they will need a daily walk, and preferably an outside area such as a yard or garden in which to play and exercise. These dogs love to dig, especially when bored, and so it is a good idea to cater for this in some way. They also love to chase, and so yards and gardens must be secure, and they must be walked on a leash.


FCIFCI - Federation Cynologique Internationale
KCThe Kennel Club (UK)
AKCAKC - American Kennel Club

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