West Highland White Terrier

Nicknamed Westie, the West Highland White Terrier is a small dog breed that is always up for a good time. This purebred dog has a lively nature and brings laughter and joy to many homes.


The Westie comes from Scotland just like the Dandie Dinmont, Scottish, Skye and Cairn Terriers. He was also known as the Poltalloch Terrier and the Roseneath Terrier. 

He was primarily used to kill rats and hunt badgers, otters and foxes. 

It is believed that this breed was one of the earth dogs gifted to the king of France by James I of Argyllshire.

The Scottish believe that the Westies white color was bred to help the dogs stick out during the hunt. This was after an incident where a hunter accidentally shot and killed one of the wheaten-coloured Cairn Terriers.

The West Highland White Terrier was officially recognised in 1906 by the Kennel Club of England.

Physical Characteristics

The Westie is a sturdy small dog with a rectangular body shape and deep chest. His strong muscular limbs are longer than other Scottish terriers. His face is filled out with fur, giving it a round appearance. 

The Westie has a white double coat. His undercoat is soft and short while his outer coat is rough and can grow to be 2.5 inches long. 


Fully grown, the West Highland White Terrier measures 10 to 11 inches (25 to 28cm) at the withers with a weight range of 13 to 22 pounds (6 to 9kg). 

Character & abilities

The Westie is a sociable dog who is friendly to everyone, including strangers. He is loyal, independent and self-assured. 

This affectionate dog is an excellent companion for older children. Smaller children may accidentally annoy him with their antics and rough handling. He has been known to snap when irritated. 

He loves playing and will enjoy plush squeaky dog toys. He is happy to romp in the yard or in the hallways indoors. 

This dog is a barker and will alert when he notices visitors or anything suspicious. He can be trained to stop nuisance barking from a young age.

Trainability & Intelligence

The Westie is intelligent and has a good work ethic. He learnt to think on his own because he was developed to hunt. 

He is a quick learner and will grasp any concepts with the consistent use of positive reinforcement techniques. A useful tool for excellent results is clicker training. 

He can be seen excelling at agility, obedience, earthdog, tracking and flyball competitions, as well as working as a therapy and search-and-rescue dog. 

Although the Westie likes being clean. A dog crate is a good aid for training him on good toilet habits. He should however not be confined to this space for no more than a few hours at a time. 

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

This dog has abundant energy and requires a good amount of exercise and play. 

Westies love the water and like to swim but they should be supervised to make sure they play safely.  

Just like other breeds, the Westie’s nutritional needs depend on his age, size, metabolism and level of activity. A highly active Westie will need more than a less active one.

An adult Westie’s recommended daily amount is divided into two meals equating ½ to 1 ½ cups of high-quality dog food. 

The best quality dog food provides complete and wholesome nutrition without requiring supplemental feeds. 

The Westie is adorable and has been known to seduce his owners and beg for table scraps and extra treats. It is advisable to not give in to his pleas to prevent unhealthy eating habits and obesity. 


The Westie’s coat is easy to take care of. He is a low to zero shedding dog and requires regular brushing and trimming to keep clean and tidy.

Twice a year, show Westies are usually taken to professional groomers to undergo hand stripping. They trim the fur on the feet, ears and eyes. The hair on the head is stripped to give the round shape. 

When baths are necessary, the use of dog shampoo for white-coated breeds will help to maintain his coat color. 

The Westie’s teeth should be brushed every day with a vet-approved dog toothpaste and toothbrush to prevent gum disease and bad breath. 

While grooming, check the Westies body for sores, redness, inflammation or bad odor. Any abnormalities should be addressed immediately to avoid serious health problems.  

Living Conditions & Adaptability

The Westie’s double coat protects him from harsh weather but he should not be left to live outdoors. He adapts easily to any type of home in the city or country. 

The Westie adapts easily to multi-pet homes, especially when raised together. Males that are not neutered do not get along well with other male dogs that are also not neutered. 

He has a strong prey drive and cannot be trusted with small animals. He might chase cats, mice, rabbits and birds. 

Even though some Westies like to be lapdogs, this breed is not clingy or needy and can be left alone in the home with his dog toys. He is also a good travel buddy. 


The West Highland White Terrier is generally a healthy breed. He is genetically predisposed to certain health conditions. 

  • Patellar luxation
  • Westie lung disease (pulmonary fibrosis)
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
  • Cataracts
  • Atopic dermatitis
  • Hyperplastic dermatosis
  • Globoid cell leukodystrophy
  • White dog shaker syndrome (Idiopathic Cerebellitis)
  • Hydroxyglutaric aciduria

The Westie has a lifespan of 12 to 16 years. 


The West Highland White Terrier is an easy-going small dog breed with a fun-loving personality. He is one of the friendliest of the Scottish breeds of terriers. Ideal for new dog parents, he loves his family, toys and is adaptable to any home with a yard or apartment in the city. 

It is exciting to begin the journey of adopting a dog. Our furry friends come in all shapes and sizes. Our team at All The Small Dog Breeds want you to embrace a long term relationship with the big dogs in little packages. 

Our small dog breed descriptions provide a view that points you to the right dog for your home and lifestyle. We recommend adopting your new friend from your local shelter or reputable breeder.


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