West Highland White Terriers

Type and Temperament

The West Higland White Terrier (Westie) is a small, active dog. The Westie is alert, brave, independent and friendly. The Westie will adapt as easily to the mansion as to the terraced house and will enjoy as much or as little exercise (within reason) as you can manage.

The Westie will make an excellent and loyal pet. But don't forget:

  • the Westie is a terrier and terriers dig;
  • the Westie was bred to catch vermin - so he must be introduced with caution to other family pets;
  • a dog is a living feeling animal not a toy;
  • when you buy a dog you are commiting yourself to feed it, house it, exercise it, groom it, clean up after it, innoculate it, worm it and care for its health and welfare for upto 16 years.



Size and shape. The Westie should be compact and well muscled with good bone. The correct size is about 11 inches at the withers (the top of the shoulder-blades). The overall outline of the body should be a slightly elongated rectangle (viewed from the side it will appear slightly longer than it is tall).

The ears should be relatively small but in proportion to the head. The tail should be typically 5-6 inches and held erect (the tip should be about at the level of the top of the head).

The Westie is always white. Scotties (Scottish Terriers) and Cairns are different breeds and may be a variety of colours, except white.


A properly bred, fed and groomed Westie should lead a healthy and active life for anything up to 16 years. Nearly all breeds of dog, however, carry some genetic problems; the Westie is no exception. A good breeder will breed to eliminate them and would be happy to explain them to you before purchase. Your vet or books on the Westie will also outline the diseases and thier symptoms. Vets frequently will tell you that Westies suffer from skin problems. Breeders who breed mainly for the show ring, however, report that skin problems are not prevalent in their stock nor in that of other kennels that they know.


The Westie should be regularly brushed to remove tangles and dirt from the coat and to check for parasites and other problems. Nails should be trimmed and ears checked for wax/inflammation. The coat should be white, harsh and straight. Long hair on the ear rims and round the feet and round the anus should be trimmed with sharp scissors. The body coat may be clipped but the correct coat care is through stripping i.e. pulling the dead hair out preferrably just with the finger and thumb. Most responsible breeders will give you tips on stripping; the Clubs occasionally run stripping demonstations; commercially published books on the Westie describe grooming and stripping in detail. Some breeders suggest that a Westie may occasionally be bathed using a mild shampoo but many breeders recommend never to bathe a Westie, cleaning only by rubbing chalk or unscented talc into the coat and then brushing.