- The Westie's roots lie in Scotland, where it and other related terriers were used to rid farms and surrounding countryside of rodents, fox, badger and other small mammals. At the time, the breeds we now know as the West Highland White, Scottish, Cairn, and Skye Terriers were all grouped together as Scotch terriers.
- These Scotch terriers developed various distinctive strains, and by 1900 a short-legged white strain became known as the Poltalloch terrier.
- Subsequent names included the White Scottish, Little Skye, Cairn, and Roseneath terrier. The AKC recognized the breed as the Roseneath Terrier in 1908. The name was changed to West Highland white terrier in 1909.
- The most well-known Westie is probably the one that appears in advertisements of Black and White Scotch whiskey.
- The Westie is among the most popular terriers in America.
West Highland White Terrier Behavior Concerns
- Makes an affectionate and fun-loving companion.
- Playful and good with children.
- Bold, watchful, busy, and often mischievous.
- Outgoing toward strangers.
- Most get along well with other dogs, but some can be scrappy.
- Most get along with other household pets, except for rodents.
- Independent and somewhat stubborn. Does best with reward-based training involving food or games.
- Learns quickly, but also bores quickly, and may come up with its own ideas.
- Some tend to bark a lot, which should be discouraged from an early age.
- Many like to dig.
West Highland White Terrier Suggested Exercises
- Makes a lively and alert housedog.
- Its exercise needs can be met with a long walk or short run, along with a vigorous game. Westies also need a chance to sniff and explore in a safe place or on leash.
- They tend to go off hunting and may not come when called.
- Westies tend to enjoy and do well at dog parks, although care must be taken not to allow them to bully other dogs.
- Games and tricks provide needed mental exercise.
West Highland White Terrier Grooming
- Coat is hard and straight.
- The coat needs combing two or three times weekly.
- Shaping of the coat every three months is required to maintain the Westie's distinctive look.
- Show dogs must have their coat plucked and stripped, but clipping is preferred for pet dogs.
- Shedding is below average.
Suggested West Highland White Terrier Nutritional Needs
- Westies tend to stay in good weight or to be slightly overweight.
- Adult dogs should be fed a balanced diet, with restricted calories if the dog starts to gain too much weight.
- Some Westies may require a special diet because of allergies or liver problems. Your veterinarian is the best source of information in that case.