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My Favorite Breed of Dog: The Westie, by Dinah Parums


The "West Highland White Terrier" or "Westie," is also called by other names: "Highlander" or "Potlatch terrier," or "Roseneath terriers," (from the Duke of Argyll's estate). In the U.S they may also be known as "Scottish terriers", "little Skyes" and "little Cairn terriers".

The Westie Puppy:

When choosing your puppy, decide whether you want a male or a female. Go and visit the breeder and look at your puppy's parents. Ask about skin problems and look at the entire litter to make sure none of the puppies has patches of dry, leathery or red skin. Your Westie puppy should have clear, dark eyes that are not without tear stains. The teeth should show no stains and be a bright white and they should line up with the upper incisors closing down over the lower ones. Check the puppy's gums and tongue which should be pink and healthy. Your puppy of choice should have a round tummy and a thin layer of fat over the ribs. A Westie puppy's joints should not be enlarged or tender to the touch; toes should point forward and not be splayed.

Westie Origin:

The ‘Scottish terrier' was unknown outside Scotland until the 1870s, when Captain W.W. Mackie brought them to England. The modern Scottish terrier was bred by the founder of the Scottish Terrier Club of England, J. H. Ludlow.

In Scotland, Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm, of Poltalloch in Argyllshire, is credited with breeding the first truly white Westies, originally called the Poltalloch terrier. The colour white was bred so that they could be easily seen when out in the countryside.

In 1909, they were officially classified as the ‘West Highland white terrier'.

Westie Behavior:

Westies are strong, energetic and willful, so bedience training from a young age is important. They are intelligent and playful dogs and do well with active families. They are good with people. They don't often get along with other pets, especially those of comparable or smaller size. They can be vocal as they are very territorial but can adapt to a variety of habitats.


Westies have all-white double coats. The undercoat is soft, furry and dense; the outercoat is significantly tougher. Adult Westies usually stand 10 to 11 inches tall at the shoulders and weigh between 15 and 22 pounds. Their teeth are relatively large for their heads, and their muzzles are fairly blunt and taper to their black noses. They keep busy and can be fairly vocal. Westies are easy to train, but only when they're feeling so inclined. They are highly adaptable, and so can thrive in a variety of home environments.


The average Westie lives to 12 to 14 years. They are genetically susceptible dermatitis and other skin conditions; luxating patella, a problem with the knee caps; fibrosis in the lungs. If you have a Westie, ask your vet about regular health screening.


Westies are particularly light shedders with low-maintenance coats. The tough outer coat repels dirt; the undercoat should be combed regularly. These dogs do require occasional haircuts.

For photographs and more about Westies in the U.K., go to my website: