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West Highland Terrier

Country/Date of Origin: Scotland/1800s

The West Highland White Terrier has a shared history with the Cairn, Scottish, and Dandie Dinmont Terriers (all of which probability come from the same stock). However, it was a single family--the Malcolms of Poltalloch, Scotland--which are responsible for refining the little white terriers that were originally called by the name of their estate. Many hunters favored the white coats, which were easily visible in the field, and it is believed that the white coats were selectively bred when they popped up in litters of Cairn Terriers. The Malcolms quite fancied these game earth dogs and kept the white strain alive for over a hundred years. First introduced at British shows in 1900, the Westies were introduced to American fanciers in 1908. However, it was not until the 1960s that they skyrocketed on the popularity charts.

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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Poltalloch Terrier, Roseneath Terrier

AKC Group: Terrier

Breed Club: West Highland White Terrier Club of America

Rescue Club: West Highland White Terrier Club of America Rescue

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Body Type:

  • A compact, wiry terrier with a short face and impish expression.
  • Height: 10-11 inches (at shoulder)
  • Weight: 15-22 pounds
  • Very small, pointed erect ears are not altered
  • The short tail is natural, not docked
  • Front feet are bigger than hind feet, as might be expected in a digging dog


  • The sunniest disposition in the terrier family
  • Choose your lifestyle and the Westie will happily adapt to it
  • One of the few terriers that does well with other pets


  • Harsh double coat about 2-inches long
  • White is the only allowed color
  • Requires professional grooming

Health Concerns:

  • Skin allergies
  • May have tear duct abnormalities
  • Subject to progressive neurological disorders
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • Sometimes referred to as the "white" dog in the Black and White Scotch ads, Westies are not white Scottish Terriers. This breed is much more upbeat and less quarrelsome
  • Excessive barking can be a problem if a Westie becomes bored
  • Likes to dig under fences whereupon it will set out to "see the world"

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