Breed Group: Terrier Group
Shoulder Height: 14-16 in.
Weight: 15-20 lb.
Life Span: 12-16 years
- The West Highland White Terrier is a modern breed, developed in the late 19th century by the 16th Laird of Poltalloch for rodent hunting on the Scottish highlands.
- The breed is considered to have Scottish Terrier and Cairn Terrier in their history, as well as traces of a Spanish dog that arrived in Scotland with the Spanish Armada.
- They remain one of the most popular dog breeds in the UK and are rising in popularity in the United States.
A relatively new breed in comparison to the many breeds recognized by the AKC, the West Highland White Terrier is quickly gaining momentum as one of the most popular terrier breeds in the world. These confident and charming dogs have been successful at dog shows and also as family companions.
The Westie's temperament can vary; some individuals are outgoing and happy to socialize with new people while others can prefer to keep to themselves. Rough handling is something that the breed will not tolerate, which is why they may not be an ideal breed for very young children. They're self-assured and independent, which can make training a challenge, despite the breed being fairly intelligent. The Westie is often described as "a big dog in a little body."
At the same time, however, the West Highland White Terrier loves playing and tends to fixate on toys most effectively. As a result of their hunting instinct, they love chasing after balls and they are very curious. Sometimes this curiosity can lead to hole-digging. Westies can also be barkers, so be prepared for vigorous training and supervision for this breed.
They have a coarse outer coat with a soft, dense undercoat. Grooming involves daily brushing and occasional stripping of the coat will be necessary to keep it in good condition. With proper exercise and consistent authority, this dog can be a joy to have around the house.
West Highland White Terriers are generally a health breed but they can suffer from some medical conditions.
- The "Westie jaw" a genetic thickening of the jaw bones in young dogs that can interfere with their ability to chew. Breeders are trying to eradicate this.
- The breed is quite prone to skin disorders, with atopic dermatitis affecting as much as one dog in four.
- They're a long-lived breed, with the expected lifespan for a Westie being approximately 16 years.
- Muhammed Ali Jinnah, who founded the country of Pakistan, kept a Westie.
- Black & White, a Scotch whisky brand, has used a Westie alongside the Scottish Terrier as its mascot. The Westie is also mascot for the Cesar brand of dog food in the U.S.
- Happy was a Westie that appeared in eleven seasons of the TV show 7th Heaven.
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