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Welcome to the West Highland White Terrier dog microsite. This page contains detailed information on the breed. From this point you can use the above tabs to navigate to the other West Highland White Terrier pages.

- Kitt Killion

West Highland White Terrier Breed Information

Alternative names - Poltalloch Terrier, Roseneath Terrier, White Roseneath Terrier

Country of origin - Scotland

Common nicknames - Westie (or Westy)

Classification and breed standards

FCI:|Group 3 Section 2 #085|Stds
AKC:|Terrier|Stds
ANKC:|Group 2 (Terriers)|Stds
CKC:|Group 4 - Terriers|Stds
KC (UK):|Terrier|Stds
NZKC:|Terrier|Stds
UKC:|Terriers|Stds

West Highland White Terriers, commonly known as Westies, are a breed of dog known for their spirited personality and brilliant white coat. This breed is commonly recognised through its use as a mascot for Black & White (a brand of Scotch whisky), and on the packaging of Cesar brand dog food.

1. Appearance

They have bright, deep-set eyes, as dark as possible, with a piercing look. The ears are small, pointed and erect.

They typically weigh about 15 to 20 lb (7.5-10 kg) and their average height is 11 in. (28 cm) at the withers. Their tails, typically naturally "carrot-shaped", should never be docked and are held upright. The tail should be between 5-6 inches.

They also have deep chests, muscular limbs, a slightly convex skull, a short and a closely fitted jaw with scissors bite (lower canines locked in front of upper canines, upper incisors locked over lower incisors). Their teeth generally appear quite large for the size of the dog. Westies have a very strong bone structure for their size.

They have a soft, dense undercoat and a rough outer coat, about 2 in. long, that requires regular grooming. Some Westies have "wheaten tippings" on their backs, but this is undesirable in show/breeding specimens. The natural coat is of medium length and somewhat shaggy like that of a Cairn Terrier.

Their paws are slightly webbed and thickly padded.

2. Care

Westies are prone to have issues with dry skin and bathing too frequently may aggravate these problems. Washing once a month or on a longer interval will generally not cause issues. However, frequent brushings are needed to keep the coat clean and oils evenly distributed throughout the coat. Washing with a detergent-free, baby-oriented, or another soft skin shampoo will help keep a Westie's skin hydrated. Weekly washing of the inside of the ears with cotton balls will prevent oil and wax build-up and ear infections.

3. Health

Like most other dogs, these terriers generally require 13 hours of sleep out of every 24. Westies will usually conform to the sleep patterns of their human companions, and take several naps during the day as well, to accrue their needed sleep. Since they are independent, they can withstand moderate periods of time being alone.

4. History

Westies are descended from Cairn Terriers, who occasionally whelped white puppies naturally, and Scottish Terriers; who also occasionally produced white offspring. White offspring from other British Terriers such as the Bedlington Terrier and Dandie Dinmont Terrier were occasionally introduced to the bloodline for desired characteristics, but this practice generally stopped in the 1850s.

Some sources credit Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm and his kin of Poltalloch, in the Argyll region of western Scotland as an originator of this breed in the 1800s. Other sources credit the 8th Duke of Argyll (Chieftain of Clan Campbell) as an originator of the breed. However, there may have been some cooperation between the two gentlemen. It may have taken as long as a hundred years of selective breeding to produce all the desired qualities. Their white coat made them highly visible when hunting on the Scottish moors and easily distinguished them from their game (this was an extremely important factor because hunters sometimes mistook brown dogs for foxes, and shot them). They also possess a sturdy frame.

Originally the breed was known as the Poltalloch Terrier (after the name of Malcolm's home); they were also known as the Roseneath Terrier (after the name of Argyll's home; see Rosneath), White Roseneath Terrier, and at the end of the 19th century, briefly as a white variety of the Scottish Terrier.


Copyright (c) 2008 Kitt Killion Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".


Taken or modified, in whole or part, from Wikipedia.org