West Highland White Terrier
Origin: Great Britain
– Males: 11 inches (28 cm);
– Females: about one inch less
Commonly Referred to as: Westie
The West Highland White Terrier was given his official name and breed status by the Kennel Club (England) in 1907. The short-legged Terriers from Scotland include the Scottish Terrier, Skye Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Dandie Dinmont, and the West Highland White Terrier. There is no doubt that they all descended from the same roots. Originally their coat colours ranged from black to red to cream or white. Legend has it that the West Highland White Terrier was developed by Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm who had kept a pack of light coloured working terriers for hunting. However, when one of his reddish dogs was mistakenly shot for a fox, Malcolm decided on the spot to breed only white dogs that could easily be identified in the field.
Westies are very people-oriented and, although independent, they do need human companionship and attention. They are very intelligent, have tremendous stamina, are agile and quick in movement. They do well in obedience, agility, tracking, earthdog tests, flyball, as well as therapy work. Although Westies will alert you to a stranger approaching, they have a very friendly nature so are not normally considered good guardians.
The Westie’s white coat is straight and hard and about 2 inches long with shorter hair on the neck and shoulders.
If you are considering the adoption of a West Highland White Terrier puppy, or any breed, it is very important to be selective in choosing a responsible and reputable breeder. Ensure that the prospective puppy’s parents have all health clearances. Breeding of any dog should not be done until after they have been proven to be free of evidence of significant hereditary diseases. (For more information on selecting a breeder, see the articles on the main General Information page.)
Additional Health Resources:
- Westie Health Concerns
- Westie Foundation of America
- Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) — Providing a source of health information for owners, breeders, and scientists that will assist in breeding healthy dogs. CHIC is a centralized canine health database jointly sponsored by the AKC/Canine Health Foundation (AKC/CHF) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).
- Health and Nutrition — Growing section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website which includes information on several health and nutrition related issues.
- AKC Canine Health Foundation — Working towards developing scientific advances in canine health.
- Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF)
- Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)
- Ontario Veterinary College (OVC)
- University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHip)
- HealthGene — HealthGene Corporation is the leading provider of veterinary DNA diagnostic services in Canada.
- Labgenvet — Laboratory of Veterinary Genetics is a Canadian diagnostic laboratory that offers a comprehensive service of DNA tests for veterinary genetic diseases.
The West Highland White Terrier should be brushed weekly in order to help remove dead hairs and trimmed every six to eight weeks. During seasonal shedding of the undercoat (twice yearly), brushing should be done thoroughly on a daily basis.
- Grooming your Westie — From the WHWTC
- Grooming — This section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website includes tips, articles and information covering all aspects of dog grooming along with a listing of Groomers from across Canada.
The West Highland White Terrier is a very intelligent breed who is also strong-willed. Training is not difficult but must be consistent and done using positive training methods.
- Training — For training information, see this growing section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website for tips, articles, as well as listings of training centres across Canada.
- Clubs, Sports & Activities — This section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website covers several sports and activities and also includes listings of non-breed specific Dog Clubs from across Canada.
- Working Dogs — The Working Dogs section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website provides information and listings of organizations that are involved in various dog jobs, such as Guide Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Police Dogs, Protection Dogs, and much more.
*NOTE 1: CHIC – The Canine Health Information Center “is a database of consolidated health screening results from multiple sources. Co-sponsored by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Health Foundation, CHIC works with parent clubs to identify health screening protocols appropriate for individual breeds. Dogs tested in accordance with the parent club established requirements, that have their results registered and made available in the public domain are issued CHIC numbers.” To learn more, visit: www.caninehealthinfo.org
*NOTE 2: The Fédération Cynologique International (FCI) is the World Canine Organization, which includes 91 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI recognizes 344 breeds, with each being the “property” of a specific country. The “owner” countries write the standards of these breeds in co-operation with the Standards and Scientific Commissions of the FCI, and the translation and updating are carried out by the FCI. The FCI is not a breed registry nor does it issue pedigrees.