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West Highland White Terrier Dog Breed Profile

West Highland White Terrier

Other Names
Dog Group Kennel Club
Breed Classification
West Highland White Terriers belong to the terrier group and are today used as companions, in obedience trials and in the show-ring. 
Cost of Ownership
Average Food Cost
< £4 per week
Feeding Requirements
This breed is easy and relatively inexpensive to feed. 
Other Expenses
Puppies will cost £400 upwards. Their grooming cost will have to be considered as they need stripped by a professional 2 or 3 times a year. 
9 - 15 years
Westies normally live for 13 or 14 years, declining rapidly when the end is near. 
Average Litter Size
Westies have litters of around 3 to 4 puppies. 
General Physical Description
The beautiful shaggy coat button nose and small erect ears give this breed a cute and cuddly image Their bodies are compact and their heads have a foxlike appearance The coat however is their hallmark a double coat the outer coat being straight hard hair and the under one being soft and plentiful Their movement is free straight and easy

Height Min Max
Bitch 25cm (10") 28cm (11")
Dog 25cm (10") 28cm (11")
Weight Min Max
Bitch 7kg (15lbs) 10kg (22lbs)
Dog 7kg (15lbs) 10kg (22lbs)
Size Category
Weight Height Range
Both dogs and bitches measure between 25 to 28 cms, weighing between 7 to 10kgs. 
Westies are generally hardy little dogs with few breed-specific problems being reported. Some Westies are prone to skin ailments and deafness. 
Common Ailments

Deafness, Inherited metabolic liver defects
Skin disorders, Epidermic Dysplasia
Krabbe's Disease, CMO  
Susceptibility To Illness
West Highland White Terriers were bred to hunt otters, foxes and vermin. They share their ancestry with the Scottie, Cairn and Dandie Dinmont terriers. From the rough-coated terrier stock in Scotland, white whelps were selected to form this breed. Records show that James 1, King of England in the 1620's requested some 'little white earth dogges' out of Argyleshire in Scotland and these were possibly Westies! Col Malcolm of Poltalloch, Argyleshire, accidentally shot and killed his favourite terrier (a dark coloured one) and vowed from then on only to have white dogs. He may have been the originator of the Highland Terrier but at that time they were called Poltalloch Terriers. The Duke of Argyll's estate at Dumbartonshire was called Roseneath and in the 19th century, Westies were known as Roseneath Terriers in honour of his patronage and interest. In the first organised dog shows in the late 1800's they were known as White Scottish Terrier until 1904 when they were classified under the name of West Highland White Terrier. 
Westies are intelligent but can be rather naughty so remain consistent in their training.< 
Show Characteristics
All pigmentation should be black. The head should be slightly domed with a distinct stop. The teeth should be large for the size of the dog with a regular scissor bite. The eyes should be set well apart, medium-sized and as dark as possible. The ears should be small, erect and carried firmly with short and smooth hair. The neck should be muscular and sufficiently long merging into nicely sloping shoulders. The body should be compact with a level back. The front legs should be short, muscular and straight; the hind legs short, muscular and sinewy. The forefeet should be larger than the hind, round, strong and thickly padded and covered with short harsh hair. The hind feet should be smaller and thickly padded. The tail should be longish, as straight as possible with no feathering and carried jauntily. On no account should tails be docked. 
Country Of Origin
Famous Examples
Records Held
Overall Exercise
60 - 80 minutes per day.
Westies need exercise. They are energetic little dogs who love to play with a ball. They enjoy digging and some do wander off, so make sure the garden is well-fenced. 
Distress if Left Alone
Personal Protection
Guard Dog Suitability
Risk of Sheep Worrying
Tendency to Bark
Level of Aggression
Compatibility With Other Animals
Suitable For Children


General Character And Temperament
West Highlands are cheeky, confident and affectionate characters. They are alert and courageous, making them good guard dogs. They can also be cunning and stubborn but are totally loyal to their families. They make excellent playmates for children both indoors and outdoors because they can withstand rough play and get on reasonably well with others of their breed. However, they must be introduced to cats when they are young as they will chase them once they get older. Early social training is imperative if they have to live with other dogs as they can be rather dominant. 
Coat Length
Grooming Requirement
Once a week 
Requires Professional Groomer
Westies' coats are hard so they must not be bathed too often. When the dogs get dirty it is best to let the mud dry on them and brush it off when dry. The coat needs to be hand plucked two or three times a year by a professional groomer. A weekly groom is all that is needed to get rid of the loose hairs. 
The breed is always white. 
Suffers From Allergies

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