West highland terrier breed description information about westie

West Highland TerrierOriginating from Scotland, the West Highland Terrier is a lively, affectionate dog. If you want to know more about the dog breed, you will find it here. In addition to tips on raising and keeping a West Highland Terrier, we also provide you with information on raising and keeping, among other things.

west highland terrier breed description information about the westie



Around the history of the West Highland Terrier various stories entwine. Most common is that of the Scotsman Colonel Malcolm of Poltalloch. This is said to have accidentally shot one of his hunting terriers during the hunt, which he mistook for a piece of game because of its dark coat.

After the tragic loss he is said to have decided to start breeding white hunting dogs in order to exclude another mistake. Even though Polloch later asked not to be named as a breed creator, he is considered one of the co-founders of this ancient Scottish breed.

Initially, most likely white colored representatives of other Scottish terrier breeds were used for breeding. Among other things, the Cairn Terrier is considered the forefather of the West Highland Terrier. But also other breeds, like the skye terrier and the scottish terrier were crossed with each other. Until the 19. In the 19th century, Dandie Dinmont and Bedlington Terriers were also occasionally crossed with other dogs.

At the beginning of breeding, especially the white coat coloration was decisive, while the establishment of a uniform exterior was initially considered secondary.

The primary breeding goal was to create hunting dogs that could track small game into the burrow and shoo it out again. For this, the dogs had to be robust enough to cope with the harsh climatic conditions of the Highlands. In addition, great importance was attached to a certain endurance and the necessary courage to face wounded game.

With time, the West Highland Terrier became more and more popular also among the non-hunting population, so that more and more efforts were made to achieve a uniform appearance in the breeding process.

The official recognition of the West Highland Terrier as an independent breed by the Scottish Kennel Club took place in 1904.

The first West Highland Terrier Club with Von Poltalloch as president was founded in 1905. In Germany the West Highland breeding began in 1910. Nowadays the West Highland Terrier is a popular family dog in many countries.

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Appearance of the West Highland Terrier

The West Highland Terrier is a low-running dog with a compact, strong build. With a withers height of up to 28 cm at a weight of about 7 – 10 kilograms, the Westie belongs to the smaller breeds.

The soft and dense coat may only be white according to the breed standard. The smooth top coat has a length of about 5 centimeters, while the undercoat is soft and short.

The skull has a slight curvature. The stop is clearly recognizable. The bite is well developed. Appears relatively large. The small ears of the West Highland are erect and pointed. The expression of the dark colored eyes is attentive and intelligent.

The strong neck merges into a straight back, which leads into a well-muscled loin. Their tail carry West Highland Terrier upright. The chest with its backward reaching ribs is well developed and fits to the appearance. In the Westie the paws of the forehand are larger than those of the backhand.


The West Highland Terrier is generally a sovereign, docile, easy to lead dog. Nevertheless, due to its origin as an independently working hunting dog, it tends to be stubborn.

In addition, the West Highland Terrier is attentive, courageous, persevering and always in a good mood.

Although the Westie belongs to the smaller dog breeds, it is in no way inferior to its larger congeners in terms of activity. So he is quite able to keep up with larger hikes and loves to romp extensively.

Even if the West Highland Terrier has not been used as a hunting dog for a long time, he still has a breed-specific hunting instinct.

Towards children and adults the dogs are usually open-minded and friendly. Nevertheless, the brave. Vigilant quadrupeds quite have guard dog qualities.

Meeting other dogs is usually peaceful with a well-socialized West Highland Terrier. Since the small terriers tend to overestimate themselves and are sometimes extremely dominant, it can sometimes come to conflicts with other dogs.


If you want to take a West Highland Terrier puppy at home, you should not wait too long with the education. Especially during the first weeks of life, dogs are extremely inquisitive and capable of learning. Do not waste time for this reason. Start early with the education of your new companion.

You should show your darling absolutely his limits. Mistakes in education and other weaknesses are quickly recognized by the West Highland Terrier and shamelessly exploited.

However, harshness or extreme strictness are anything but goal-directing in the education. It works much better with enough patience, the right motivation, consistency and at the right place also a portion of humor.

If you are planning to buy a West Highland Terrier, you should have some previous knowledge of the breed or learn about its characteristics beforehand.

We recommend beginners to look for a dog trainer who has experience with the nature of the West Highland Terrier. So you can avoid training errors, which can manifest themselves in the adult dog in behavioral problems.

For early socialization, puppy groups or frequent walks in dog run areas are suitable.

To keep your West Highland Terrier busy it is usually not enough to go for a walk three times a day. Much more intelligent dogs need to be challenged mentally to feel well. For this purpose, dog sports such as agility or flyball are suitable.

More articles about dog training

Coat care for the West Highland Terrier

Coat care is of elementary importance for the West Highland Terrier. Brushing your dog regularly is the only way to prevent eczema, itching and matting. Since the West Highland Terrier is not subject to natural shedding, grooming also serves to remove excess undercoat and dead coat. This way the coat is ventilated and the skin can breathe, which in turn contributes to the general well-being of your pet.

For a proper grooming you should take about 10-15 minutes a day. To make this as pleasant as possible for you and your Westie, we recommend that you get your four-legged friend used to the comb and brush at an early age.

For many dog owners, bubble baths are also part of the coat care routine. However, we can only advise against this, as too frequent bathing can destroy the natural acid mantle of the skin.

Therefore we advise you to brush out minor dirt or rinse with clean water and to bathe your West Highland only if it is really necessary.

If you are not experienced in grooming or simply do not have the time, we recommend that you find a professional groomer in your area.

Common diseases

The West Highland terrier is a robust dog that is generally not particularly susceptible to disease. Nevertheless, there are also in the Westie susceptibilities to certain diseases.

Particularly problematic are diseases of the musculoskeletal system, which are partly hereditary in the West Highland.

The following conditions can cause limited movement in the Westhighland Terrier:

Perthes-Calve-Legg disease:

Perthes-Calve-Legg disease is a disease that is also hereditary. Mostly the disease occurs in the first year of life. Perthes-Calve-Legg affects the head of the femur and is usually manifested by unilateral paralysis and pain. Dogs suffering from the disease may need to undergo surgery. However, the procedure is considered harmless. Usually leads to a complete recovery.

Patella luxation:

As with many other dog breeds, the Westhighland Terrier also suffers comparatively often from a Pattella luxation. The patella (kneecap) tends to pop out due to a too flat sliding splint. Dogs with a patella luxation are often not able to load the affected leg normally. If your West Highland Terrier should have a patella luxation, you can recognize this among other things by a bouncing gait pattern. Depending on the severity, a patella luxation can be treated by a surgical procedure in which the kneecap is permanently fixed in place.

Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy:

Globoid cell leukodystrophy is a genetic lipid storage disease that occurs between 1. and 3. Occurs at one month of life. In its course, the disease leads to an increasing degeneration of the white matter of the central nervous system.

The disease is caused by a genetic deficiency of the enzyme galactocerebroside beta-galactosidase, which is responsible for the lysosomal metabolism of certain galactolipids. The enzyme deficiency leads to deposition of lipids in the central nervous system. Affected dogs show signs of paralysis of the hind legs. Must be euthanized due to lack of treatment options.

Caution: The existence of certain hereditary diseases does not necessarily mean that your West Highland Terrier will get sick. Dogs from a good kennel are usually healthy and free of genetically dispositioned diseases.

More information about health in dogs

What does a West Highland Terrier cost?

If you want to buy a West Highland Terrier, the price depends largely on which breeder you choose. The average purchase price for a Westie is estimated at 1400€ to 1600€.

To be added are the costs for suitable basic equipment and maintenance costs. The latter are of course much lower in a small dog like the West Highland than for example in a Rhodesian Ridgeback.

However, you should get an idea of the costs before you take on the responsibility of a dog. For this we recommend you to estimate and add up the expenses for dog tax, food, dog school as well as dog liability.

How to find the right breeder

If you are willing and able to take in a West Highland Terrier and can't take a puppy for time or personal reasons, you may find what you are looking for at a shelter.

Private emergency organizations as well as Westie clubs are also often looking for new homes for dogs from bad homes or found dogs.

However, if you are looking for a kennel because you want to buy a puppy, you should take enough time for the search. Only if you have the opportunity to compare and know exactly what makes a good breeder, you will be able to make the right decision.

When choosing the right breeder, especially the conditions under which the puppies grow up play a decisive role. These are often extremely bad with so-called multipliers. Mostly the dogs are kept without expertise. Bred only for profit.

In addition, puppies are often separated from their dams far too soon. Puppies should not be allowed to move into their new homes until they are 8 weeks old at the earliest. It would be better if your West Highland Terrier comes to you at the age of 10 weeks. You should stay away from breeders who want to give away your puppies earlier.

In addition, we advise you to have the pedigree shown to be able to ensure that your four-legged friend is free of hereditary diseases. Also make sure that your puppy has been dewormed, chipped and already vaccinated before it comes to you.

Tip: Also the interpersonal relationship between you and the breeder should be right. After all, in the future he will be your first point of contact for questions or problems.

Dog insurance

When you buy your West Highland Terrier, we recommend you to inform yourself about "dog insurance". This is urgently needed if your four-legged friend is to attend dog school. But there are already some states in which dog owners are required by law to have dog liability insurance.

An insurance for your Westie gives you the certainty that certain damages caused by your darling will be paid either partially or completely by the insurance company.

Also a surgery insurance for your West Highland Terrier can be useful. An accident or injury can result in high follow-up costs, as many veterinary treatments are very expensive. With a surgery insurance you can be sure that the costs for a surgery are covered by your insurance company.

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