West Highland White Terriers

The “Westie” is small and docile, also acts like a big one, just as fearless and alert. Find out everything about the behavior, character, activity and exercise needs, training, and care of the dog breed West Highland White Terrier in the profile.

This breed was originally bred for hunting in the Highlands. The white fur should make it easier to spot the little dog between rocks and undergrowth. The Malcolm family of Poltalloch in Argyllshire is generally credited with being the originators of the breed. In any case, it is an ancient breed: dogs that look like today’s Westies can be seen in paintings from the 19th century. In 1905 the first West Highland White Terrier Club was formed in Scotland. The breed standard established at that time has hardly changed since then.

General Appearance

The West Highland White Terrier is compact and powerfully built, with a broad chest and strong muscles. The topcoat is dense, weatherproof, rough, and white. The ears are small and always erect.

Behavior and temperament

The “Westie” is small and docile, also act like a big one, just as fearless and alert. At the same time friendly and mostly very happy and playful. In every finely tuned West Highland White Terrier of today there is also a real working Scottish Terrier. The power pack is always ready for fun and pranks, will enthusiastically learn tricks, and keep the children on their toes. It never gets boring with a Westie.

Need for employment and physical activity

The Westie is not a couch potato dog. It may be small, but its urge to move is comparatively large. For joggers or cyclists, it is only conditionally suitable as a companion. He prefers to cover longer distances at a moderate pace, which gives him plenty of opportunities to rummage through the undergrowth. “Intelligent” dog toys that mentally challenge the dog are particularly well suited to this breed.


The Westie is not an obedience machine and has a mind of its own. His self-confidence is significantly greater than his body. Training this dog is like diplomatic negotiations. You have to like it and be able to do it. Males in particular tend to overestimate their strength and want to compete with significantly larger and stronger dogs. Here the owner is required, who allows the “Westie” to remain vigilant and at the same time makes it clear to him who the boss of the pack is.


The Westie needs regular grooming: the dead topcoat does not fall out by itself but must be trimmed regularly. When trimming, the dead hair is plucked out. If the coat were clipped, the hair structure and amount of undercoat would develop to the dog’s disadvantage.

Therefore, the terrier’s coat should be regularly trimmed.

Disease Susceptibility / Common Diseases

Like all terriers, this dog is actually very hardy. Unfortunately, advertising made him a fashion dog in the 1990s, and dubious breeders relied on quantity rather than quality to meet demand. After that, problems with the joints, dental problems, and allergies became more frequent. Therefore, one should choose the breeder very carefully – but this applies to all breeds.

Did you know?

The West Highland White Terrier was already prominent before its career as an advertising dog: the Scottish railway depot in Glasgow had had it as a heraldic animal for a long time, and some locomotives were even adorned with the dog’s portrait.

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