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October 5, 2012 at 8:00 AMComments: 0 Faves: 0

West Highland White Terrier

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the Purebred Star Blog Series

Do you want a small compact breed that is extremely active? The loving and playful West Highland White Terrier could be the dog you are looking for!

The West Highland White Terrier originates from Scotland. It is believed to be a descendant of the Poltalloch and Pittenweem Terriers. Sometimes the Westie is referred to as the Poltalloch. If you're into fashion, you know that this adorable little breed is part of a famous company signature logo! Juicy Couture's logo consists of two Westie's holding a shield bearing three hearts and Love G&P. They are also the mascot for the dog food brand Cesar!

Bred For

This is a terrier bred to hunt fox, badger, and vermin, but has become more of a companion dog now. The Westie is sometimes referred to as the White Scottish or Cairn Terrier.


The Westie height is 10-11 inches and they can weigh between 15-20 pounds.The Westie is know for their white body, helping it stand out from its other terrier partners! Their body is compact and sturdy. Their head is round with prick ears, and their nose and eyes are black. Their tail is short, and shaped like an upside down carrot. They have a double coat that is long, and will require regular grooming.


Although they are considered fun-loving, playful, and friendly, the Westie will not tolerate rough handling or play. They have a very strong and stubborn personality, and can be very protective over their toys and food. Early training and proper socialization is needed to ward off some of these intense behaviors. They also have a very strong instinctive prey drive, and are happy to bark to alert their family members, and thus are very loyal. Like majority of terriers, they LOVE to dig, so if landscaping is important to you reconsider having this little breed.

Activity Level

Their activity level is high. This breed will do best with an active family that is willing to exercise them several times a day.; They will required two to three walks daily 30-45 minutes per walk. Consider doing Earthdog Trials with your terrier! Their strong work ethic and enjoyment of digging after vermin makes them a great candidate for this sport. If not properly mentally and physically stimulated, they can be extremely destructive and develop severe behavioral problems such as: chewing, (furniture, walls, and carpeting), barking, aggression, nipping, and much more. This breed requires every-day stimulation; they are not ideal for apartment or condo type living. A fenced in-yard is a must for this breed, and do not assume they are happy to drain their own energy by being in the back yard by themselves. If you work all day, plan on dropping your Westie off at Doggy Daycare for a day full of fun and play!

Health Concerns

A typical life span for the West Highland White Terrier is 12-16 years. Health concerns are: Craniomandibular osteopathy (aka "Westie Jaw", a disease causing problems to chew and swallow), abdominal hernias, skin disorders (dermatitis), and neurological disease.

Rescue First

As you begin looking for an West Highland White Terrier, please check with rescue organizations first. Every year there are millions of dogs being euthanized, not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescues. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!

At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.

On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!


Dog Breed Info

Original Dog Bible, 2nd Edition by Kristin Mehus-Roe

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