West Highland White Terrier Dog Breed Information

West Highland White Terrier – The Larger Than Life Small Dog

If you are looking into the West Highland White Terrier, then you already know how adorably cute this dog truly is.  This small dog breed stands at 10 to 11inches and is a working dog who was bred to hunt rats and other rodents. 

They are great little diggers, so if you are a gardener then you may want to square off a section of the garden for your Westie to “help” with the dig.

The Westie is super active and alert.  They love to give chase to anything that comes in their path, and they are extremely independent which can make training them quite the mission.  However, since the Westie is pretty smart and can be easily trained, it will just take some time and patience

At A Glance

  • Breed: West Highland White Terrier
  • Breed Group: Terrier
  • Temperament: Happy, Loyal, Curious
  • D.H.T. Outdoor Ranking: 5/10 For Temperate Climates
  • Worldwide Popularity: Medium
  • Breed Origin: Scotland

General Information And Breed History

General Information

The Westie is like a big dog stuck in a small dog’s body.  They have very high opinions of themselves and larger than life personalities.    Westies will bark at anything that crosses their path, which makes them great guard dogs, however, they are not the best when it comes to protection, although they will try.

West Highlanders are very jovial and curious and always ready for action.  If you are looking for an affectionate family dog, then look no further.  Westies are extremely affectionate and the friendliest of the terriers, although I beg to differ since I think my Yorkie Kiki is the friendliest!  They can be a bit demanding as well, but really aren’t most dogs?

History

The highlands of Scotland are where the Westie calls home.  Well, that is where they started, now they can be found all over the world.

These little spitfires are extremely fast and can hike for hours. Westies were originally bred for ratting and hunting in Scotland and recorded during James VI of Scotland’s reign which was between the years of 1567-1625.  

These little canines really came into focus in the 1700s when the Malcolm clan started breeding these rodent hunters.  The breeding was on their estate which was called Poltalloch. This is the location where the Westies were bred for more than 100 years.  

The Westie had different names over the years.  Those names were Poltalloch Terrier, and Roseneath Terrier, which was named after another estate in Scotland where these dogs were being bred.

In the year of 1896, the breed was shown at Scottish dogs shows for the first time.  This is where they were introduced as the West Highland White Terrier.   In 1906 they were part of the American Kennel Club dog show.  This was their first appearance with the club. Since then, the Westie has been a very popular dog breed in the United States of America.

General Appearance

West Highland White Terriers are a small dog breed.   They stand at about 10 – 11 inches at the shoulder, and they definitely have the terrier look.   They have endless self-esteem, are built tough with a deep chest, and back ribs.  Their back is straight and hindquarters are extremely strong and muscular for such a small dog breed. The Westie’s coat is approximately 2 inches, white and an undercoat that is plentiful. Although, you may be surprised to find out that the coat is not soft, but actually quite rough.  But that won’t stop us from cuddling this ball of cuteness now, will it?

Body

The Westie’s neck is actually very strong and muscular.  It sits well on sloping shoulders.  Their topline is level and flat in while standing or moving.  They have a very compact body that is strong and muscular.  Ribs are deep and well as back ribs.

Coat

The coat around their head is plucked and given the round look that fits with its head.  As for the outer coat, it is straight with harsh white hair and around two inches long.  The hair on the neck and shoulders are shorter, and longer on the legs and stomach.

Legs and Feet 

Westie canines have short and muscular little legs, which assist them in being a quick runner and able to hike for long periods of time.  Their feet are generously padded and small. 

Tail & Hindquarters 

The Westie canine has a very short tail that is thick, and carrot-shaped.  The tail will never reach above the head when it is erect.   This tail is never feathered, and the hair is harsh and straight, and the tail is never docked.   Thighs on this small dog breed are strong and muscular and are parallel when looked at from the rear.  Legs are muscular as well and very short.

General Statistics

  • Life Expectancy: 13-15 years
  • Male Height (at the withers): 11 inches (27 cm)
  • Female Height (at the withers): 10 inches (25 cm)
  • Male Weight: 15-20 lbs (6.8 kg – 9 kg)
  • Female Weight: 15-20 lbs (6.8kg – 9kg)

Recommended Dog House Dimensions

The recommended dog house dimensions can be found on the dog house dimensions charts for 440 recognized breeds which includes this dog breed that looks like a wolf.  But to save you time, here are our dog house minimum size recommendations:

  • Door Height: 12.1 inches (30 cm)
  • Door Width: 7.7 inches (19 cm)
  • Inside Ceiling Height: 14.9 inches (37 cm)
  • Interior House Length: 24.2 inches (61 cm)
  • Interior House Width: 15.4 inches (39 cm)

Expected Costs

Breed Average Puppy Cost: $700 USD

Starter Costs: $2,700

This is our estimate for initial purchase, shots and a few things like food, a bed, leash, that sort of thing.  Basically, this will get you set up but the costs will be greater once the dog is old enough to get spayed or neutered.

Anticipated Annual Care Cost: $1,000

How The West Highland Terrier Reacts To

Babies/Children: 

West Highland Terriers are not recommended for children under 10.   They are not recommended for families with small children because of the hunters’ nature in this small dog breed.  Children can be loud and make sudden movements to name a few.  These actions can bring out the hunter in these canines and could lead to loud barking or even biting.  If the Westie is raised with the children and properly socialized, then the two should be able to get along. 

The Westie does, however, get along quite well with children over 10 and adults.  They are known to be very affectionate, love their families and said to be the friendliest of the terriers.

Other Dogs:   

The Westie can get along with other dogs for the most part, that are already part of the family.  however, they can be aggressive towards strange dogs especially those of the same sex.

Cats: 

Highland White Terriers will get along with cats and treat them as part of the family.   Good news for those that have cats and want to bring a West Highland Terrier into the family. 

Other Animals:

This all depends on what the other animals in your house are.  Remember that this dog is a hunter and was bred to hunt small animals.  So, if you have a rabbit or hamster, well they will always be under stress knowing that a Westie is in the same house as them.  So, not a good idea to have small pets in the same house as a Westie. 

Care Requirements

Exercise 

The Westie, a small dog breed loves to play and makes a great hiking companion since they can walk for hours with their strong little legs.  They will, however, chase after anything that crosses their path, so it is best to keep them on a leash when outside, and make sure you have a secure backyard for the dog to romp in. 

These dogs will do well in dog sports.  They excel in rally, obedience, and agility.  Canine sports are a great way to keep your dog healthy physically and mentally.  Earth dog is also a great way to let your dog hunt.  This sport is a non-competing sport.  Your dog is judged strictly on its hunter capabilities. Check your local Westie canine club for more info on the sport and where you can find events. 

Grooming & Coat Info

Okay so in order to keep the Westie looking top-notch, regular visits to the groomer need to be added to you to list.  The best way to take care of this coat is to pluck or strip the dead hair.   Every 4-6 weeks seems to be the magic number for groomer visits.  Westie owners will normally have this dog’s coats clipped to keep them neat and tidy.  

You will have to brush the Westie daily. Bathing is not required to be done regularly because it can actually cause harm because of its hard coat.

Health & Nutrition

The Westie is a generally healthy small dog breed according to the American Kennel Club.  However, breeders should screen their dogs for the following health conditions:

Cardiac disease

Patellar luxation

This small dog breed will do well on high-quality dog food.  Portions should be given out based on the dog’s age. Check with your veterinarian to discuss the best diet for your dog.   Some owners like to feed their dog human food as a treat from time to time. Make sure you are aware of the foods that are safe and unsafe for your dog.  If you are unsure, check with your veterinarian.

Training

Don’t be fooled by this adorable small canine.  They are highly intelligent and independent, so training them may be quite the quest.  However, with time and patience, you will have a very well-trained Westie.

It is recommended that you have five to ten minutes of training twice a day with a Westie.  Since this dog is very smart, these sessions will quickly turn into longer training sessions.

Pick a location where there are few distractions when you first begin training.  Once your Westie learns some key commands, you can move outside where there are more distractions. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a Westie a Small or Medium dog?

Westies are a small dog breed that was bred for hunting small rodents like rats and other small underground animals.  These dogs are approximately 10-11 inches at the shoulder. They may be small, but they certainly don’t think so. They are full of energy and very strong for a small dog and will chase after anything that crosses its path.

Do West Highland White Terriers Shed?

West Highland White Terriers shed very little.  So no need to worry about covering all your furniture with an extra blanket to keep the dog hair off.  

This dog goes well with people who have allergies and asthma because of their low shedding and low dander.

Does The West Highland White Terrier Bark A lot?

West Highland white terriers will bark at everything they see, and every new sound they hear.  Because of this, it makes them great watchdogs.  

Bibliography

  1. The Encyclopedia of Dogs – D. Caroline Coile Ph. D.
  2. American Kennel Club
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Google Scholar
  5. The Kennel Club UK

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