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.
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.
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.
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."