West Highland White Terrier
8-9 kg (approx)
12-15 years (approx)
The Westie is a small dog standing about 28cm with a harsh outer coat and soft undercoat. They have dark eyes, the ears small, pointed and erect. Their head is covered in harsh hair and shaped like a chrysanthemum giving them their typical varminty look. The tail should be carrot-shaped and carried erect.
Double coated. The outer coat consists of harsh hair, about 5 cms (2 ins) long, free from any curl. The undercoat, which resembles fur, is short, soft, and close.
West Highland White Terriers were bred to hunt otters, foxes and vermin. They share their ancestry with the Scottie, Cairn and Dandie Dinmont terriers. From the rough-coated terrier stock in Scotland, white whelps were selected to form this breed. Records show that James 1, King of England in the 1620s requested some 'little white earth doggie's out of Argyleshire in Scotland and these were possibly Westies! Col Malcolm of Poltalloch, Argyleshire, accidentally shot and killed his favourite terrier (a dark coloured one) and vowed from then on only to have white dogs. He may have been the originator of the Highland Terrier but at that time they were called Poltalloch Terriers. The Duke of Argyll's estate at Dumbartonshire was called Roseneath and in the 19th century, Westies were known as Roseneath Terriers in honour of his patronage and interest. In the first organised dog shows in the late 1800s, they were known as White Scottish Terrier until 1904 when they were classified under the name of West Highland White Terrier.
The busy Westie is a happy, curious dog always ready for fun. It is affectionate and demanding, one of the friendliest terriers. It enjoys a daily romp in a safe area (otherwise must be walked on lead), as well as playtime at home. They love human company but also have an independent streak and must be firmly trained from a puppy. Harsh training will be received with stubbornness.
Because of the harsh double coat, Westies will stay clean with regular brushing every couple of days. Start brushing slowly and give praises at the same time. Do this for about 10 minutes. Brushing is beneficial as it is an effective way of removing debris and dead hair. It also prevents the formation of mats on the coat.
If washing is required, it should be kept to a minimum using a good sensitive shampoo.
Show dogs are always hand stripped and some pet owners also hand strip their dogs to keep that great long hard Westie coat but pet owners generally have their dogs clipped off.