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West Highland White Terrier

The sharp contrast of sparkling dark eyes and button nose, against crisp white fur and sharply pricked ears gives the West Highland White Terrier or ‘Westie’ an attractive appearance. With a compact body, fox-like head and hard, shaggy double coat, the Westie is unmistakable for any other breed. 

The need-to-know
  • Dog suitable for non-experienced owners
  • Some training required
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys walking an hour a day
  • Small dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Non hypoallergenic breed
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Guard dog. Barks and alerts
  • May require training to live with other pets
  • May require training to live with kids

Key Facts

Lifespan: 12 – 16 years
Weight:  7 – 10kg 
Height:  25 – 30cm 
Colours:  White 
Size:  Small 
UK Kennel Club Groups: Terrier 


Family-friendly: 4/5
Exercise needs: 4/5
Easy to train: 4/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 5/5
Energy level: 4/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 4/5


Courageous, cheeky, jaunty and affectionate, loyal to their families and friends, the Westie is understandably an appealing little dog. Perfectly capable of being trained to a high level with the right encouragement, they still retain that working terrier nature, willing to take on foe many times their size. Not afraid to be confrontational, the Westie is a good watch dog, alerting the whole household loudly to anything they believe constitutes ‘trouble’.

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Scotland

Like many of the Scottish terriers, the Westie was bred to work, hunting otter, fox and other vermin. Unlike any others however they are always white in colour for a unique and tragic reason. Back in the 1600s, Col. Malcolm if Poltalloch was out hunting when he mistook his beloved dark coloured terrier for a fox, shooting and killing him. After that he vowed only to have white dogs to ensure that could never happen again.

First called the Poltalloch Terrier, the breed only appeared in the show-ring under the name of West Highland White Terrier in 1904 and has gone on to be one of the best-loved of all the terrier breeds.

Health and Common Issues

Exercise Needs

Space Requirements

Nutrition and Feeding

Grooming West Highland White Terrier

Training West Highland White Terrier

Best Family Dog Breeds

Did You Know?

  • With their bright white coat and dark eyes and nose, the Westie been a long-standing favourite of artists and advertisers for many years. From Gallant the Westie who featured in artist Marjorie Turner’s works in the early 1900’s, to the Black & White Scotch whisky brand, Rheingold beer and as the face of several dog food brands, the Westies attractive face is undeniably appealing.  
  • They also appeal to celebrities and even royals with owners having included HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, Matthew McConaughey, Whoopi Goldberg Hugh Laurie and many others.
  • Despite their small size they have an incredibly loud bark. Interestingly, they were actually bred this way so that if they ever got stuck underground when hunting, their owner could locate them. 
  • West Highland Terriers have very sensitive skin on their ears and they can get sunburnt – so make sure you pop on some dog-safe sunscreen! 
  • Westie’s were developed to have a super strong tail that they can be pulled out by if they ever get stuck in a hole.  
Dog with red collar looking out the window
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