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West Highland White Terrier

Smart, confident, and always entertaining at play, West Highland White Terrier is among the most popular of the small terriers.

Overall Status

Height 10 to 11 inches
Temperament Loyal, Happy, Entertaining
Weight 15 to 20 pounds
Life Expectancy 13 to 15 years
Coat Color White
Barking Level Frequent

Quick Factors

Dog Friendly
Exercise Need
Grooming Needs
Strangers Friendly
Family Affectionate
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Daily Care

Grooming Tips Exercise Tips Feeding Tips Health Tips Trainability

Westies require regular brushing and trimming to keep the coat healthy and neat. Show dogs should be stripped twice per year, but non-show dogs don't need to undergo this time-consuming ritual. Trimming should be done to the feet, around the ears and eyes. The round shape of the hair on the head that is typical of show dogs is achieved through plucking.

The low shedding coat only requires bathing when needed. Regular wipe-downs with a damp cloth or bathing wipe can help keep the coat looking white between baths.

Check the ears on a weekly basis for signs of infection, irritation, or wax build up. Cleanse regularly with a veterinarian-approved cleanser and cotton ball. Brush the teeth at least once per week to prevent tartar buildup and fight gum disease. Additionally, nails should be trimmed once per month if the dog does not wear the toenails down naturally.

It’s a good idea to take your West Highland White Terrier for a brisk daily walk, but be sure to keep it on a leash, as it may chase other animals. It’s important to exercise with your Westie every day – it needs to get rid of all its excess energy.

If your West Highland White Terrier is bored, it will find ways to take out its frustration – it will bark, dig, chew up the furniture, soil the house, display stubbornness, and even show signs of depression.

Do not feed Westies canned dog food, even if it states to be “high quality.” The main ingredients in this food are corn and wheat, and in such high amounts, are not good for West Highland White Terrier. Westies do well with a diet of chicken, choice cuts of beef, fruits and vegetables.

Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to gettingoverweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level.

Treatscan be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about whichhuman foodsare safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

The average life span of the West Highland White Terrier is 12 to 14 years. Breed health concerns may include copper toxicosis, globoid cell leukodystrophy,Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, pulmonary fibrosis, pulmonic stenosis, generalized demodicosis, hepatitis, pyruvate kinase deficiency, congenital deafness,keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye),corneal ulceration,cataracts, ectopic ureters, epidermal dysplasia (Armadillo Westie syndrome; Malassezia dermatitis) and white shaker dog syndrome.

An intelligent dog, the West Highland White Terrier is known to be willful and stubborn. From the start, you need to show your Westie who is the dominant one. If not, your West Highland White Terrier can bite, snap and retaliate when being trained.

Start obedience training immediately; make sure your Westie understands discipline, but never use in a harsh manner. If you hit a roadblock with your training, consider other obstacles – is your dog happy, well exercised, getting enough attention at home? These factors will affect training – until your dog’s needs are met, training will not progress smoothly.

Once your West Highland White Terrier has mastered the basic commands, you can move on to something more complicated. Use positive reinforcements after your Westie successfully completes a command. After every new training session, end the session with command your dog has already learned in order to boost confidence and cooperation.


The short-legged terriers of Scotland are now recognized as the Scottish,Skye,Cairn,DandieDinmont, and West Highland White Terriers. They all undoubtedly descend from the same roots — and were all once valued for their small-game hunting skills.

Originally, their coats came in a bevy of colors, including black, red, and cream. Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm of Poltalloch, Argyllshire, Scotland, is generally credited with breeding the white dogs true. The story goes that, in 1860, one of his reddish dogs was mistaken for a fox and shot. Malcolm decided, on the spot, to breed only for white dogs that could be readily identified in the field.

Today, the West Highland White Terrier ranks 34th among the breeds registered by the American Kennel Club, down from 30th in 2000.

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