The West Highland White Terrier dog breed is a social pup that likes children of all ages. Learn more about living with this terrier breed!

This cheerful and fun-loving pooch makes a good family pet and is always entertaining at play. Commonly known as a ‘Westie', it is the most friendly and jolly of all the Scottish breeds of terriers.

Generally independent and assertive, the West Highland White Terrier can be a good watchdog.

Although it is a devoted breed that forms strong ties with its owner, it is constantly on the go and needs daily exercise.

It can be persistent and stubborn, which makes training difficult. But with time and patience, the West Highland White Terrier dog will train well because of its loyalty and sharp intelligence.

Beneath the plush-toy surface is actually a true working terrier of gameness and courage.

It is fairly robust and resilient, considering that it was bred to hunt rats and other underground rodents.

Today, the West Highland White Terrier breed enjoys its popularity as an amusing and spunky canine companion with dark piercing eyes, a compact body, and a carrot-shaped tail that wags with delight.

In 1908, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed. It ranked 46th on AKC’s list of the most popular dog breeds of 2021.

West Highland White Terrier dog breed

West Highland White Terrier Dog Breed Standard 

Height and Weight

Breed members are medium in size despite having longer legs than other Scottish terrier breeds.

They typically measure 10 to 11 inches (25 to 28 cm) tall and weigh between 15 and 20 pounds (6.8 and 9.1 kg).


While there are a few faint wheaten color variations, most Westies are pure white.

They have a soft, dense, thick undercoat and a rough outer coat that can get as long as 2 inches (5.1 cm).

When puppies grow into adults, the rough outer coat is usually removed by “hand-stripping,” especially for dog shows, or by other means of clipping.


They normally have dark-colored, almond-shaped eyes that are bright and deep-set. The ears are upright and pointy.

Additionally, they have strong, short tails to make it easier to pull them out of holes because of their background as rodent catchers.

West Highland White Terrier dog

West Highland White Terrier Family Life

West Highland White Terrier breeds bring joy and laughter with their silly antics and zest for life.

They make friends with everyone, including strangers, and are not one-person dogs.

Except where there is more than one intact male, these fluffballs thrive in households with multiple dogs.

They can get used to cats but not to small pets like rabbits and birds because of their high prey drive.

Although they aren't particularly lapdogs or cuddlers, West Highland White Terriers are not suited for outdoor living.

They can suffer from separation anxiety, but it is not a common trait in the breed.

West Highland White Terrier dogs have a vibrant disposition that makes them lovable by all (except small rodents).

These adorable pups make great additions to just about any family and will do well in any type of dwelling, including apartments. Just make sure you can offer enough playtime and adequate exercise.

Although they can be affectionate and wonderful with kids, they don't always put up with rough handling.

Like all breeds, no matter the size, always teach children how to treat dogs.

West Highland White Terrier dog breeds can be great pals, but no matter how friendly, you should never leave them all by themselves with a child.

West Highland White Terrier breed

West Highland White Terrier Dog History

How the Westie came to be carefully selected for its white coat is an intriguing story.

The Scottish, Skye, Cairn, Dandie Dinmont, and West Highland White Terriers are now acknowledged as the short-legged terriers native to Scotland. Without a doubt, they all share the same ancestors.

All of these canines were prized for their skill as courageous small-game hunters. Their coats used to come in a variety of hues, including black, red, cream, and white.

Although he did not claim any of the credit, Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm of Poltalloch, Argyllshire, Scotland, is largely recognized for breeding the real white dogs.

For hunting, he had kept a group of light-colored working terriers. The story goes that when one of his reddish dogs came out of cover, it was mistaken for a fox and got shot.

Malcolm then made the immediate decision to solely breed white dogs that could be easily recognized in the field.

In 1907, the West Highland White Terrier was given formal breed recognition at the Crufts dog show in England.

The name was chosen to reflect the dogs' independent nature and the region in which they were raised.

White Terrier

The health of the West Highland White Terrier Breed 

Although typically a healthy breed, the West Highland White Terrier can experience various health issues, such as cataracts, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease.

The West Highland White Terrier dog can be affected by hip dysplasia, which is the malformation of the hip joints as the dog ages. It can cause pain and lameness and, over time, into arthritis.

This may be hereditary but becomes worse due to environmental factors such as rapid growth from a change of diet or incurred injuries.

Another health problem you should be aware of is the inherited disease called Craniomandibular Osteopathy.

It is the result of bone swelling brought on by the expansion of the jaw and skull bones.

Your furry friend may also experience Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease, a condition that happens when the femoral head begins to degenerate. Over time, it will cause the collapse of the hip leading to arthritis.

Due to a condition known as patellar luxation, the kneecap may slip out of position while your dog moves. This results in lameness, which limits your pet's mobility.

While shielding every dog from inherited issues is impossible, the danger can be reduced with the right treatment.

The majority of West Highland White Terrier dogs live healthy lives, often until the ages of 13 to 15.

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White Terrier breed

How to Care for West Highland White Terriers


The West Highland White Terrier breed enjoys a stroll as well as romping and playing.

It does best in an enclosed space or when wearing a leash because it will naturally chase everything that moves.

This pooch excels in a range of dog sports and activities, including obedience, rally, and agility, thanks to its intelligence, vigor, and can-do attitude.

The West Highland White Terrier dog breed often behaves calmly indoors but frequently takes on a different personality when outside.

It can trek all day with its owners or be a speed monster that races around the dog park.

Westies enjoy romping through the backyard sniffing and exploring their area, playing games, and hurling squeaky, soft toys around.

Playing catch down the hallway is one way to get some exercise indoors. Even though they don't need as much activity as some breeds, you should still plan on taking them for one or two walks per week to keep them happy and healthy.


Originally developed for hunting and ratting, West Highland White Terrier breeds learned to think on their own, a trait they still relish today.

This independence, however, can make training a challenge. Thanks to their sharp intellect, they easily grasp the lessons that are kept positive and engaging.

Despite their size, they are strong, tough dogs that don't need much pampering.

Instead of eradicating rats, their natural working instinct is now typically harnessed into agility and obedience competitions.

Additionally, some of them have joined search and rescue teams and are employed as therapy dogs.

West Highland White Terrier dog breeds will likely bark when they see or hear anything unusual and will always announce guests, mailmen, and other pets who pass by the house.

Aside from barking, they will also dig and chase everything that moves. With proper training, they may be taught to bark only once and never dig.

The desire to chase vermin, however, is hardwired, and no amount of training will alter it.

When done consistently and positively, training is often simple. In fact, the only way to train a Westie is to use positive reinforcement along with consistency.

Bear in mind that it has a strong will and a high sense of self-worth, which can cause some difficulties if training becomes too harsh.


Regular grooming is necessary to keep the West Highland White Terrier looking its best.

If you wish to showcase your pooch, you must follow the traditional terrier coat care that involves stripping (or plucking) the old, dead hair.

Pet owners often have their dogs' coats clipped or groomed by professionals to maintain that stunning Westie appearance.

A grooming appointment every four to six weeks will be sufficient. Bathing too often can do more harm than good to your pet’s health due to its rough coat.

Trim the nails regularly to keep them short and neat.

Check the ears for signs of infection. You may want to wipe them out to spot potential problems.

Brush the teeth daily to improve general health and breath.

Diet and Nutrition

The West Highland White Terrier dog should thrive on premium dog food, whether it is produced commercially or made at home, under the guidance and consent of your veterinarian.

Watch its calorie consumption since it is prone to becoming overweight.

Treats are useful during training, but giving them in excess could result in obesity.

To choose a balanced diet, speak with your veterinarian to determine meal portions and suitable dog food based on your dog's age, weight, and activity level.

Fresh, clean water should always be accessible.

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Ideal Owner of West Highland White Terrier Dogs

The West Highland White Terrier breed thrives in both rural and urban settings and is content in any kind of home environment. It must live indoors with its family and not outdoors.

If properly taught and exercised, it makes a wonderful apartment resident. This pup is content to stay at home and on its own while you are at work with the right stimulation and security measures.

To top it all off, it's also an easy traveler, whether on extended trips or brief errands.

The popular West Highland White Terrier dog breed is loving and devoted yet independent and self-assured enough not to require pampering.

It likes being clean, which makes it easy to housetrain and a delightful companion for a novice or inexperienced dog owner.

The Westie can warm even the coldest hearts with its laid-back demeanor, perceptive gaze, and joyful spirit.

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FAQs about West Highland White Terrier Breeds

How much does a Westie cost?

Westies are a popular choice since they make loyal family pets.

Puppies of West Highland White Terriers normally cost between $350 and $3,800 in the US and between £200 and £3,000 in the UK, with prices going up for show-quality dogs.

Is a Westie cuddly?

Despite having the appearance of cuddly lapdogs, Terriers have strong amounts of energy and may not be able to remain still for very long.

However, Westies have a natural desire to please, thus, will go to great lengths to satisfy their owners.

Are Westies gentle?

Westies tend to be kinder and simpler to handle than other terrier breeds, despite their boldness, independence, and inherent persistence.

Their loving, amiable, and joyful personalities have won many owners over, and they are known for their playful, entertaining behaviors.

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West Highland White Terrier Dog Breeds: Summary

The adorable Westies have enchanted owners for more than 300 years with their intelligence, self-assurance, and flexibility.

West Highland White Terriers are fun-loving doggos who find joy in belly rubs and squeaky toys. Despite being mischievous, they are loved by many for their happy disposition.

These pups don't lack self-esteem, but they also don't exhibit an excessive amount of confidence to the point where it becomes a flaw.

They don't often start fights, but since they are terriers, West Highland White Terrier dogs won't back down from one, either.

So, are they the dogs that you want?

People purchase them without the ability to commit to the lifetime of these animals. If you want to bring a dog home, consider adopting one.

There are many West Highland White Terrier breeds in need of fostering.

Still, gather more information before getting a puppy to see compatibility with your lifestyle.

You may visit various breeders and see the dogs yourself. Find a reputable breeder who will show health clearances to prove that the dogs are clear of health conditions.

The West Highland White Terrier Club of America has been around since 1909 to protect and promote the breed.

Members in every state can be your point of contact if you are considering adding West Highland White Terrier dog breeds to your home.

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