top of page
westie spdr shutterstock_307938155.jpg

About the Breed: West Highland White Terrier


Cheerful, outgoing, and fiercely independent, the West Highland White Terrier (affectionately known as a "Westie") 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 cooperate for an owner who works with them, pays attention to them, and loves them. They love to be with their owners, supervising every aspect of their life. They make good traveling 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.


  • Generally happy, upbeat, outgoing personality.

  • Likes to be with their owners and to supervise every activity.

  • Usually easy to train, particularly if they can see a benefit for themselves.


  • Does 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.

Best With

  • Experienced terrier owners.

  • Homes with a fenced yard.

  • Owners who understand and appreciate the Terrier temperament.

  • Households that can give a lot of attention.

Not For

  • Those who want a quiet, gentle dog.

  • Those 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.

More Info




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:

On average, 14 to 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, and 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.

bottom of page