West Highland White Terriers

A native of Scotland, the West Highland White Terrier is the most exclusive of the terriers of Scotland and is claimed by his supporters to be the original of the terriers.


The Scottish and Cairn Terriers are much stronger numerically but “Westies” command higher prices as puppies and the demand for them usually exceeds supply.

Their home is the northwest highlands of Scotland, where they have a splendid reputation for hunting. They are game and will work through the apparently inaccessible country.

Many of these terriers are used in conjunction with large hounds for bolting the fox from his hideout among the rocks, into which the hounds are unable to force their way.

Although short-legged, the Westie has plenty of activity in his well-knit body and will climb and borrow with dogs twice his size.

In short, he is a thorough sportsman and makes a splendid companion around the home.

Made for Kiddies

Like all Scottish breeds, he is easily trained and not over-excitable.

He is a grand companion for children and can look after himself in a scrap as well as any dog his size.

He is most useful to the countryman because he will keep rats, bandicoots and the like away from the home, will dig out the most cleverly-hidden rabbit and is a sharp little watchdog.

His color, a clear white mitigates against his popularity a little and his shaggy, rather untidy coat collects plenty of dust and stains unless he is kept washed and groomed.

However, a good tubbing, followed by a blue rinse, will restore the sparkling whiteness to his coat very quickly.

The West Highland White Terrier stands about 11 inches at the withers and is strongly built throughout.

He should have plenty of “cheek” and have a hard varminty appearance.

Although short in the leg, he should be active in his movements and suggest lots of power for his size.

Like all the terriers of Scotland, he has erect ears and a natural length, high-set tail.

His coat is similar to the others in its weather-resisting qualities. The outer coat, which is about two inches long, is harsh and dense and quite free from curl. It does not lie flat, due to the very thick, dense and soft undercoat.

It is a strange fact that these undercoats give quite a deal of protection to dogs during summer. They seem to act as an insulator against both heat and cold.

The head is wedge-shaped with a slightly domed skull.

The stop is distinct and the jaws strong and powerful.

Dark Eyes

The eyes are set well apart, well under the eyebrows and have a piercing keen expression.

They must be dark in color and the head is covered with longish thick hair to give an appearance of added strength.

The head is carried proudly and set into a reasonably-long well-arched neck. The shoulders are obliquely placed and the point of the shoulder should be well forward to allow sufficient angulation of the upper arm and shoulder blade.

The body is compact, with deep, well-sprung ribs, a level back and strong broad loins.

The ribs should be carried back as far as possible and the hindquarters tremendously strong and wide.

Forelegs are straight, well-boned and move freely, with no tendency to turn inwards or outwards at the feet or elbows.

The hind legs are well turned at the stifles and the short, well-set hocks should be fairly close when the dog is either moving or standing.

This is unusual in this type of terrier because most standards require that the hocks should be fairly well apart.

Cow hocks are a fault in this breed, but criticism that the dog is “close behind in moving” is quite unjustified.

Toenails and nose should be black and the deep, well-cushioned pads should be the same color.

The Westie will always find a welcome among the people from the north and is gaining new friends year by year for his all-round good qualities.


Loading RSS Feed

Hannah Elizabeth is an English animal behavior author, having written for several online publications. With a degree in Animal Behaviour and over a decade of practical animal husbandry experience, Hannah's articles cover everything from pet care to wildlife conservation. When she isn't creating content for blog posts, Hannah enjoys long walks with her Rottweiler cross Senna, reading fantasy novels and breeding aquarium shrimp.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to Top