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West Highland White Terrier
Characteristics, History, and Health

West Highland White Terrier

The West Highland White Terrier, often known as the Westie, is a breed of dog from Scotland. Its ancestors include the Cairn Terrier and the now-extinct Scottish White Terrier. Bred to hunt foxes, badgers, and vermin, the breed gained popularity in the 19th century after it was developed by Col. Edward Donald Malcolm of Poltalloch, Scotland, who sought a white terrier that wouldn't be mistaken for game and accidentally shot while hunting.

Main Info
Alternate Names
Westie, Poltalloch Terrier, Roseneath Terrier
Life Expectancy
13-15 years
Average Male Height
11 inches
Average Female Height
10 inches
Average Male Weight
15-20 pounds
Average Female Weight
15-20 pounds
Coat Length
Coat Type
Coat Colors
Coat Pattern

Genetic Predispositions and Health

West Highland White Terriers, also known as Westies, can suffer from conditions such as keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, patellar luxation, copper toxicosis, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (LCPD), cataracts, craniomandibular osteopathy, skin disease, deafness, and globoid cell leukodystrophy. Genetic testing for craniomandibular osteopathy, globoid cell leukodystrophy, pyruvate kinase (PK) deficiency, and von Willebrand’s Disease I can assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.

Personality and Behavior

Westies are known for their lively and friendly disposition. They are intelligent, independent, and can be stubborn at times. They are very affectionate with their families and can be friendly towards strangers. Westies enjoy being the center of attention and are known for their bold and confident nature. Despite their small size, they are robust and love outdoor activities, such as chasing balls, playing, and going on walks.

Fun Facts

Years ago the breed was known as the Roseneath Terrier, also as the Poltalloch Terrier. The name Roseneath was taken from the Duke of Argyll's place in Dumbartonshire, Scotland.

The Westie's white color was specifically bred for safety during fox and badger hunts. Any other color could be mistaken for the game, leading to potential accidents.

Despite their small size, Westies are known for their strong prey drive and can be quite fearless.

Westies have a significant media presence. They have been used as the face of various brands and were even featured in the popular TV show "Hamish Macbeth."