West Highland White Terriers, commonly known as Westies, are a breed of dog known for their spirited personality and brilliant white coat. They are friendly, good with children, and thrive on lots of attention. Like most terriers, they have plenty of attitude (some might say “spirit”) for a dog their size. This breed is commonly recognized because it is used as a mascot for Black & White (a brand of Scotch whisky) and for Cesar brand dog food.
(Alternative names: Poltalloch Terrier, Roseneath Terrier, White Roseneath Terrier)
West Highland White Terrier Appearance
West Highland White Terriers have bright, dark brown to black, deep-set eyes with a penetrating gaze. The ears are small, pointed and erect, giving the animal an alert ready-for-anything look.
They typically weigh about 15 to 22 lbs (7.5â€“10 kg) and their average height is 11 in. (28 cm) at the withers. Their tails, typically naturally “carrot-shaped”, should never be docked and are held upright. The tail should be between 5-6 inches. They also have deep chests, muscular limbs, a slightly convex skull, a short and a closely fitted jaw with scissors bite (lower canines locked in front of upper canines, upper incisors locked over lower incisors.) Their teeth generally appear quite large for the size of the dog. Their ears should be held more or less upright, but not pointing straight up; it is essential for any dog to carry themselves properly when showing.
They have a soft, dense undercoat and a rough outer coat, about 2 in. long, that requires regular grooming. Some Westies have “brandy stains” on their backs and/or feet, but this is undesirable in show/breeding specimens. The natural coat is of medium length and somewhat shaggy like that of a Cairn Terrier. Many enthusiasts prefer the “lion cut” where the fur around the face is left long like a lion’s mane, but the rest of the fur is cut short.
Their paws are slightly webbed, which one can notice by trying to pass their finger between the dog’s toes.
West Highland White Terrier Temperament
This breed, descended from working terriers, has a lot of energy, tenacity, and aggression towards its prey, which was originally the rabbit and other, smaller animals such as squirrels. This history has endowed the Westie with a bold temperament that leads many to call them “big dogs in a little body.” They are always alert and consider themselves guard dogs, although their size prevents them from providing any real intimidation. They are great companion dogs and get along with other animals, although care should be taken when introducing them to other domestic pets, such as cats. They also are compatible with children. Because of their small size are great apartment dogs and only need one long walk a day, but won’t complain if they’ve missed one. If traveling they make great companions, since they can adjust easily to new situations and people and because of their small size. They are very energetic but tire and need to take several naps per day. Like all dogs, the Westie responds better to love and gentleness than to cruelty. As with most terriers, harsh training methods are often met only with stubbornness. Westies are good with elders, disabled, and young children.
West Highland White Terrier Care
Westies are prone to have issues with dry skin and bathing too frequently may aggravate these problems. Washing once a month or on a longer interval will generally not cause issues. However, frequent brushings are needed to keep the coat clean and oils evenly distributed throughout the coat. Washing with a detergent-free, baby-oriented, or another soft skin shampoo will help keep a Westie’s skin hydrated. Weekly washing of the inside of the ears with cotton balls will prevent oil and wax build-up and ear infections.
West Highland White Terrier Health
Like most other dogs, these terriers generally require 13 hours of sleep out of every 24. Westies will usually conform to the sleep patterns of their human companions, and take several naps during the day as well, to accrue their needed sleep. Since they are independent, they can withstand moderate periods of time being alone.
West Highland White Terrier History
Westies are descended from Cairn Terriers, who occasionally whelped white puppies naturally, and Scottish Terriers; who also occasionally produced white offspring. White offspring from other British Terriers such as the Bedlington Terrier and Dandie Dinmont Terrier were occasionally introduced to the bloodline for desired characteristics, but this practice generally stopped in the 1850s.
Some sources credit Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm and his kin of Poltalloch, in the Argyll region of Western Scotland as an originator of this breed in the 1800s. Other sources credit the 8th Duke of Argyll (Chieftain of Clan Campbell) as an originator of the breed. However, there may have been some cooperation between the two gentlemen. It may have taken as long as a hundred years of selective breeding to produce all the desired qualities. Their white coat made them highly visible when hunting on the Scottish moors and easily distinguished them from their game (this was an extrememly important factor because hunters sometimes mistook brown dogs for foxes, and shot them). They also possess a sturdy frame.
Originally the breed was known as Poltalloch Terriers (after the name of Malcolm’s home), although they were also known as Roseneath Terriers (after the name of Argyll’s home; see Rosneath), White Roseneath Terriers, and at the end of the 19th century, briefly as a white variety of the Scottish Terrier.
Imelda, the star of Australian dog food label My Dog
Dogmatix, the dog of Obelix, friend of Asterix. The cinema film featured a Westie with black ear tips
Doggy, pet of the fictional Souphanousinphone family on King of the Hill
Happy Camden, a Westie mix from the TV drama 7th Heaven
McDuff, main character in a series of illustrated children’s books by author Rosemary Wells
Towser, from a UK animated children’s TV series
Wee Jock, faithful companion of Marion Chesney’s fictional Highland policeman Hamish Macbeth
Cesar, poster boy and mascot for Cesar brand dog food
Gus, Russel’s pet dog from the animated children series King.
Fergus from David Shannon’s story book, “Good Boy, Fergus.”
Poppy the pet dog of Celtic FC scout Ross Leightley, the brother of Callum
Macintosh, the dog of Agatha Gregson in P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster.
Ralf, A Westie part of the Terrier Bros. Team.
Eddie, the Westie in the Cover Girl commercial.
Bobby, from the film The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby, which was released in the UK in February 2006, and is based on the book “Greyfriars Bobby” by Eleanor Atkinson, in which he is originally a Skye Terrier breed of dog.
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