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West Highland White Terrier Breed Profile

West Highland White Terrier
Colonel Malcolm of Poltalloch, Argyll in Scotland was a breeder of Cairn Terriers. In one litter he had a number of pure white pups and it was from these puppies that the West Highland White Terrier was bred.

Other Names:
Westie, West Highland White Terrier, Poltallach Terrier

Dog Breed Profile     Share this K9Obedience page

Origin: Scotland

Breed Purpose: To hunt foxes, otters, rats and other small vermin.

Kennel Club Dog Group: Terrier

Height: Bitch 23-28cm., Dog 25-30cm.

Weight: Bitch 6-7kg., Dog 7-10kg.

Lifespan: 15-16 years

Exercise Needs: The Westie is an extremely active dog that needs daily exercise. They also love to play in the garden. The garden must be securely fenced and gardeners beware as this dog loves to dig and will soon make great holes in the best of flower borders! The Westie does well at Dog Agility and all levels of Dog Obedience trials.

Feeding Needs: This dog has a small appetite but can be fussy. Treats, especially sugary ones, should be avoided to prevent the dog rejecting his dinner and becoming obese.

Common Ailments: The Westie is a sturdy, robust dog though some do suffer with skin allergies, Cranio Mandibular Osteopathy (lion jaw) deafness and heart problems. It is advisable to research the breed lines to avoid unhealthy puppies.

Physical Description: The general appearance of this dog is one of a small, strongly built, energetic dog. The skull is broad between the eyes and is slightly domed. The eyes are dark and deep set shining with an alert expression. The ears are small and pointed and stand erect. The Westie has a short neck going down to a compact, muscular and deep chest. The limbs are muscular and the tail is carrot-shaped and is never docked. The Westie has a rough outer coat that is clipped to two inches all over often leaving the hair around the face longer which is referred to as ‘lion cut'. If the coat is left natural it tends to grow longer and is shaggy in texture. The coat is always white. Overall the Westie is a striking looking dog with a feisty attitude.

West Highland White Terrier K9 Obedience Dog Breed Summary:

The Westie is a bundle of energy with an attitude to match. The phrase ‘big dog in a little body' definitely applies to this dog. The Westie is bold, independent, friendly and devoted but in an instant can become irritated and snappy especially if they are teased or provoked.

They are good with older children but do not often tolerate toddlers which become rough with them. They will accept other pets but sometimes this takes a little training as they can also be very dominant if they have been allowed to, and with so many people seeing these as toy dogs which they are not, this dominance and sometimes aggression is becoming a more common problem. Remember this is a working dog, bred to hunt very independently (down holes) and to kill when it finds its catch. It is not a ‘cushion dog' though most owners choose to keep them like this.

This dog can be quite tolerant of being left alone as long as it has had plenty of exercise and its meal, often they will be happy spend the day snoozing. Access to the garden should be organised if the dog has to be left for long periods.

These dogs do need early socialising and training. The Westie can be a challenge to train because of their independent nature so they are not generally suitable for novice dog owners. Any potential owner must be aware that the Westie does not enjoy being cuddled or fussed excessively and is definitely not a lap dog. This is also not a dog for apartment dwellers.

The West Highland White Terrier would be a perfect companion for an active, fun loving family with older children and with at least one member of the family to have a good knowledge of dog training.
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