West Highland White Terrier: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

West Highland White Terrier

A West Highland White Terrier.
Other names Poltalloch Terrier
Roseneath Terrier
White Roseneath Terrier
Nicknames Westie (or Westy)
Country of origin Scotland Scotland

West Highland White Terriers, commonly known as Westies, are a breed of dog known for their distinctive white coat. Originating in Scotland, the breed was used to seek and dig out foxes and badgers.[1] This breed is commonly recognised through its use as a mascot for Black & White (a brand of Scotch whisky), Cesar brand dog food,[2] and various other logos.



An adult Westie

Commonly, Westies have bright, deep-set eyes that are dark in color. Their ears are small, pointed, and erect.[3] A male typically weighs between 15 and 20 pounds (6.8 and 9.1 kg) and a female between 13 and 16 pounds (5.9 and 7.3 kg). average height is 9 to 11 inches (23 to 28 cm) at the withers.[3] The Kennel Club has recommended that their tails, typically "carrot-shaped", should never be docked;[4] hence the tail should be between 5–6 inches (13–15 cm).[3]

They also have deep chests, muscular limbs, a huge skull, a large black nose, a short and a closely fitted jaw with "scissors" bite (lower canines locked in front of upper canines, upper incisors locked over lower incisors).[5] Their teeth generally appear quite large for the size of the dog.[3][5] Westies have a very strong bone structure for their size.[5]

They have a soft, dense undercoat and a rough outer coat, about 2 inches long, that requires regular grooming.[3] Some Westies have "wheaten tippings" on their backs, though for individuals put forward for conformation showing this can be regarded as undesirable.[5] Also, some Westies do not have a top coarse coat, and just a second silky coat.

This breed is a non-shedding dog. As they develop into adults, their thinner "puppy coat" is normally removed by either 'hand-stripping' or otherwise clipping.


Westies are prone to allergies and dry skin problems, and bathing too frequently may aggravate these problems. Washing once a month or on a longer interval will generally not cause problems. However, frequent brushings are needed to keep the coat clean and oils evenly distributed throughout the coat. Washing with a detergent-free, baby-oriented, or another soft skin shampoo will help keep a Westie's skin hydrated. Weekly washing of the inside of the ears with cotton balls will prevent oil and wax build-up and ear infections. Water in the ears must be removed before an infection develops. Westies should be groomed at least every 6 weeks, and bathed and brushed as needed between appointments.


As with most other dogs, westies generally require around thirteen hours of sleep per day. In order to accrue their needed sleep, westies will usually follow the sleep patterns of their human companions and also take several naps during the day. The average lifespan of a Westie can range from 12 to 17 years.[citation needed]

Craniomandibular osteopathy

Westie puppies may be affected by craniomandibular osteopathy, a disease also known "lion jaw". (The disease is an autosomal recessive condition and so a puppy can only be affected by it if both its parents are carriers of the faulty gene.) With this disease, the only current way to identify carrier breeding stock is if an affected puppy is produced. Therefore, breeders may be unaware that breeding stock are carriers until an affected puppy is born. Craniomandibular osteopathy is a non-neoplastic proliferative disease of the ventral mandibular ramus, occipital base of the skull and tympanic bullae, characterised by excessive bone deposition in these areas. In most incidences, the defect is bilateral, although this is not always the case. The disease varies in severity, the region(s) affected and the individual pain threshold of the affected puppy. Definitive diagnosis is achieved by radiographic examination.

Craniomandibular osteopathy is extremely painful to the puppy. Affected puppies will most likely display signs of pain or discomfort, such as yelping, when their head is touched and when chewing or eating. The puppy may be lethargic and be reluctant to eat as a result.

The condition usually manifests when the puppy is around 3–6 months of age, and regresses spontaneously around 12 months of age. Treatment of the disease is concerned with managing the symptoms and providing appropriate analgesia to improve quality of life and enable the puppy to eat until the disease resolves spontaneously. Corticosteroids are the usual therapeutic agents used to manage the disease. The exact treatment protocol depends on the severity, localisation and pain sensitivity of the affected puppy. In extreme cases, euthanasia may be required.


The breed was originally named the Poltalloch terrier, after the estate in the Argyll region of western Scotland where they were developed by Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm (1837-1930) and his family[6]. It is said that the breed gained its white coat after the Colonel's red terrier was mistaken for a fox and shot: the dog was to be white in colour so as to help distinguish it from its quarry. The Westie came to the United States in the early 1900s, originally called Roseneath Terrior. The name was changed to reflect the breed's origins more clearly.[7] Some dog breeders and fanciers also believe that Westies developed with contributions from white dogs in the litters of Cairn Terriers.[7] Others believe that there are contributions from similar dogs developed by the 8th Duke of Argyll (Chieftain of Clan Campbell).[8]

In popular culture

  • Fictional police officer Hamish Macbeth owns a West Highland Terrier named Wee Jock.
  • Author John Green owns a West Highland Terrier named Fireball Wilson Roberts.
  • On the medical drama "House" on episode Family, House (Hugh Laurie) must babysit Wilson's ex-wifes dog, Hector. Though House appears to dislike Hector at first, the two form a unique bond as Hector gnaws on House's cane, ransacks his apartment, and eats his pills. The end of the episode reveals Hector imitating House's limp.
  • Similarly, Bertie Wooster (also played by Hugh Laurie) must frequently babysit his Aunt Agatha's dog, MacKintosh, played by a West Highland White Terrier, in the television series Jeeves and Wooster.
  • A West Highland White Terrier is used as the mascot for Cesar Dog food
  • The logo for London fashion brand Radley is a cartoon Westie
  • The American Girl company sells Coconut, a Westie doll
  • Clothing brand Juicy Couture often features multicolored Westies in their advertisements
  • In the animated sitcom King of the Hill, the Souphanousinphones own a Westie named Doggie Khan.


  1. ^ "Distinctive white coat": quote from "West Highland White Terriers - Good Dogs Wear White" article (Dog & Kennel Magazine, online edition). Retrieved on January 11, 2008.
  2. ^ "Cesar Living Products". Cesar.com. http://www.cesar.ca/index.aspx#null,null,null,productindex. Retrieved 2007-12-02. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "West Highland White Terrier Breed Standard". The Kennel Club. 2006-05-10. http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/item/89. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  4. ^ http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/westhighland.htm
  5. ^ a b c d "American Kennel Club Official Breed Standard". West Highland White Terrier Club of America. 1989-02-01. http://www.westieclubamerica.com/breed/standard.html. Retrieved 2009-01-06. 
  6. ^ "Poltalloch, n." OED Online, June 2007, Oxford University Press, accessed 2 Nov. 2009 <http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50183049>
  7. ^ a b Grosvenor, Melville B., and Merle Severy, eds. Man's Best Friend: National Geographic Book of Dogs. Chicago: R.R. Donnelley and Sons Company, 1966.
  8. ^ C. E. Wimhurst "Book of Terriers" (1968)


  • Buckley, Holland (1911), The West Highland White Terrier, Illustrated Kennel News Co., ISBN 0765108119
  • Cleland, Sheila (1995), Pet Owner's Guide to the West Highland White Terrier, Ringpress Books Ltd., ISBN 1860540155
  • Wallace, Martin (1996), Guide to Owning a West Highland White Terrier, TFH Publications, ISBN 0793818656
  • Weiss, Seymour N. (1996), The West Highland White Terrier: An Owner's Guide to a Happy Healthy Pet, Howell Book House Inc., ISBN 0876054947
  • West Highland White Terrier, Penelope Ruggles-Smythe (Interpret Publishing 1999), ISBN 1902389123.
  • West Highland White Terrier: An Owner's Guide, Robert Killick (Collins 2003), ISBN 000717831X.

External links

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address