West Highland Terrier

  • West Highland Terrier in the UK
  • West Highland Terriers in Great Britain
  • West Highland Terriers in the UK
  • West Highland Terrier
  • West Highland Terrier in Great Britain

Terrier Group

Exercise Level:
Barking Level:
Good with Children:
Good with other pets:
Height: 25 - 30cm M | 23 - 28cm F
Weight: 7 - 10kg M | 6 - 7kg F
Life Expectancy: 12 - 16 Years

Considering getting a West Highland Terrier?

The West Highland White Terrier is a very intelligent dog with excellent ratting skills. It was bred to have its distinctive snowy coat colour and strong tail for its own safety during hunts. The Westie, as it is popularly known, is a great family pet due to its playful nature, loyalty, and friendliness. Although easy to train, it is not recommended for first-time owners as this breed has a stubborn streak.

Its compact size makes the West Highland Terrier a good choice for pet owners residing in apartments. However, its feisty ways and reputation for barking more than usual may be quite a handful for some. Its charm lies in its cute and cuddly appearance, sociable demeanour, and eagerness to please. As such, it is a popular canine breed.

book icon History

The West Highland Terrier history is a curious one and is marked by tragedy. Originating in Scotland, this dog breed is a close relative of other Scottish terriers, such as the Skyes and Cairns. Its existence has been documented since the 15th century. Back then, Westies were primarily developed to hunt foxes, vermin, and otters.

How did the Westie get its distinctive white coat? Legend said that Col Edward Donald Malcolm of Potalloch was behind the breeding of white West Highland Terriers in the 1800s. He was hunting with his brown Cairn terriers when he shot his favourite dog after mistaking it for a fox.

As the story goes, Col Malcolm decided to breed white terriers to prevent such accidents from happening again. The white colour sharply contrasted against the foliage, making the terrier easier to identify. The Westie was developed by selectively breeding white puppies from a litter of Terriers until the resulting pups were consistently snow coloured.

Then, in the 19th century, the Duke of Argyleshire also tried to breed white terriers. He named them Roseneath Terrier, which was also the location of his castle. Although it was acknowledged by the American Kennel Club in 1908, the dog breed’s name was later changed to West Highland White Terrier. The Kennel Club accepted the Westie as a distinct breed in 1904.

Today, the West Highland Terrier is one of the most popular terrier breeds.

comb icon Appearance and Grooming

Small and compact, the West Highland Terrier’s height ranges from 25-28 cm. Its weight ranges from 7-9 kg.

The Westie is an energetic and powerful canine able to burrow the earth to get to its target. Its head is covered in double layers of fur and is slightly domed, thus the adorably rounded look. It has wide-set dark button eyes hooded by heavy brows. The ears are upright and with sharp tips. Its strong jaws house a strong mouth with a neat scissor bite. Its neck is muscular and strong.

The West Highland White Terrier has a level back, deep chest, and arched ribs. Its body is shaped like a bullet with its narrow shoulders and rounded hips. This shape enables this dog to wriggle out of tight spaces they squeeze into in pursuit of prey. The hindquarters are strong and muscular, which is also the same for all four legs. However, the front feet are larger than the ones at the back.

All four paws are covered in hair and have thick pads. Its tail, which tends to be set rigidly upright, is covered in hair without feathering. The Westie is one of the canine breeds with a tail that is strong enough to carry itself out of tight holes when pulled. This trait has been especially developed in the West Highland Terrier. This ambitious canine tends to dig too deeply that it can no longer get itself out. It then barks constantly until rescuers locate and pull it out by its tails without any harm.

This breed has a double coat with a coarser outer layer that allows it to shake off dirt easily. Do Westies shed at all? Yes, but moderately. This dog needs daily brushing and trimming every so often to prevent matting.

bulb icon Temperament and Intelligence

The West Highland White Terrier has such an endearing look and wonderful personality it never fails to win human admiration. Confident, outgoing, loyal, and affectionate, this breed bonds strongly with its owners.

Are Westies a good family dog? Yes it is! This is a pet that loves people and gets along easily with children, other pets, and even strangers. As such, it does not make an effective guard dog. Also, its stubborn streak can make training a challenging endeavour. As such, the independent Westie is better suited to experienced dog owners. Generally, this dog learns new skills easily.

Although this feisty canine loves humans, it is no lap dog. It likes to be constantly on the move and likes to be busy with games, exercise and sports. When its energies are not properly channelled, the Westie can be destructive, noisy, and dig excessively. However, exercise or no, this breed is the kind that likes the sound of its own voice.

These verbal dogs like to alert you of everything from passing cars to squirrels in a tree. West Highland White Terriers were bred to have big barks so that hunters could hear their dogs barking underground (an especially useful trick if they got stuck). Their bark also makes for a great alarm, but don’t expect to use them as guard dogs—they’re more likely to become friends with any intruder.

For all its spunk and wilfulness, the West Highland Terrier is a natural entertainer, amusing its owner to no end. Due to its high sociability and energy, this canine will not do well if left on its own for long periods.

food icon Nutrition and Feeding

The West Highland White Terrier should be fed quality food that fulfils its nutritional needs. It should be consistently given the same food. If there are changes to its diet or feeding schedule, those must be done gradually to prevent digestive complications. Westie puppies at 2-6 months old should be fed 48-124 g of food, based on its build and activity level. Feeding time can be 3-4 in a day. When it reaches 7-8 months old, it can be given 40-100 g of food. From 9-10 months old, you can provide 39-89 g of food. Once the pup is 11 months old, feed it adult food.

As an adult, the West Highland Terrier may be given 104-120 g of food if it weighs 7 kg. For those weighing 8 kg, 115-135 g is a recommended range. For those weighing 9kg, 126-146 lb is the recommended portion.

stethoscope icon Health and Exercise

On average, the West Highland Terrier’s life expectancy ranges from 12-16 years. What health problems do Westies have? Although a strong and robust dog, it has been known to be affected by some hereditary conditions:

  • Craniomandibular osteopathy (CMO)
  • Deafness
  • Hip issues
  • Skin allergies
  • Lungworm
  • Liver issues
  • Abdominal hernias

This dog has rather sensitive ears. As such, these should also be covered in sunblock when staying outdoors for longer periods.

For such a high energy and smart canine, the Westie should be exercised daily for at least an hour. It should also be engaged in mentally stimulating activities. As it is a terrier with a yen for digging, lawn fencing should be reinforced to help prevent that.

pound icon Cost of Ownership

What is the average price for a West Highland Terrier? Expect to spend £300-900 for a well-bred puppy. Insurance costs could reach £19 (basic) to £43 (lifetime) a month. Expenses for its food may reach about £20-£30 monthly. For vaccinations, boosters, annual checks and other veterinary costs, pet care costs may add up to more than £800 a year.

On average, a Westie owner will spend about £50-£80 per month. The insurance costs can also influence the expenses. For its lifetime (12-16 years), the costs can be as low as £7,200 to as high as £15,360 overall. This range does not include the expenses incurred in buying a puppy.

Is a West Highland Terrier Right for You?

  • The West Highland Terrier is an affectionate, energetic, and outgoing pet, making it a great addition to families.
  • Its furry white coat, small size, and adorable features endear it to many and appeal to owners living in apartments.
  • This intelligent earth dog has a high prey drive, individualistic nature, and a stubborn streak. As such, it is not recommended for first-time dog owners.
  • The Westie coat is high maintenance, requiring daily brushings and regular trimming.
  • Although cute and adorable, this breed is not a lap dog. It prefers to keep itself busy.
  • It tends to like the sound of its own voice.

Are you sure the West Highland Terrier is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.

Dog Breed Selector Quiz

Are you ready to take home a West Highland Terrier? If you are not 100% sure, try our Pet Finder for more suggested breeds.

The information, including measurements, prices and other estimates, on this page is provided for general reference purposes only.

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