Breed West Highland White Terrier

BreedsAbout the Breed: West Highland White Terrier

Cheerful, outgoing, and fiercely independent, the West Highland White Terrier loves being the center of attention.


The West Highland White Terrier shares a history with that of the Dandie Dinmont, Skye, Scottish, and Cairn Terriers; they are all considered branches of the same breed. The West Highland White Terrier originated in Scotland and was used for hunting fox, badger, and otter and for killing vermin such as rats.


Westies are a small hardy breed with outgoing happy personality. They are very smart, but are also very independent and persistent, and can be dominant. They will co-operate for the owners who work with them, pay attention to them, and love them. They love to be with their owners, supervising every aspect of their life. They make good travelling companions, in motorhomes, cars, boats, etc. Because they were bred to hunt small game, they usually need to be controlled when out of doors and unfenced.

Best with:

  • Experienced terrier owners.
  • Homes with a fenced yard.
  • Owners who understand and will appreciate Terrier temperament.
  • Households that can give a lot of attention.

Not for:

  • Owners who expect perfect obedience. Westies are very smart but tend to be independent thinkers. They can be stubborn, not knowing when to give in, and need to be outsmarted (which is not always easy to do).
  • Small children unless supervised by an adult.
  • Homes with other small pets.


Generally happy, upbeat, outgoing personality, like to be with their owners and love to supervise every activity. They are usually easy to train, particularly if they can see a benefit for themselves.


Do not do well being left alone for long periods, can be champion diggers. Some can be barkers if left by themselves in a home or back yard. Westies are not for those people wanting a quiet, gentle, totally obedient dog.



Approximately 11 inches at the shoulder, weighing 14 to 20 pounds.



Energy Level:

Moderately high, although older dogs can be “couch potatoes”, they are always ready for a new activity.

Life expectancy:

14-16 years.


Not recommended for children under 5 without adult supervision, good with older children. Children should be taught that running releases a chase the prey instinct in Terriers, that waving hands can cause snapping.

Other animals:

Westies like to chase cats, and will kill small animals like rabbits, hamsters, and rats. They do generally ok with other dogs, although they can be dominant.


Good companions, earthdog activities, agility, tracking, obedience.


Westies need to be thoroughly brushed and combed weekly, and clipped at the groomers every 2 to 3 months. Ideally their coat should be stripped (plucked) weekly. Minimal shedding if groomed.


Atopic allergies, CMO (cranial mandibular oesteopathy), cruiciate ligament problems, Legge-Perthes.