The West Highland White Terrier, or Westie, is known for its spirited and friendly temperament. They are confident, independent, and affectionate dogs. They have a playful nature and enjoy the company of their family. However, they can also be stubborn at times, so consistent training is important.
The West Highland White Terrier
is a small breed of dog that originated in Scotland around 1720. Initially, it was referred to as the Roseneath Terrier, named after a place near its birthplace. However, there is some debate among experts regarding this claim. Some argue that the Roseneath Terrier was actually a distinct breed and that the West Highland White Terrier descended from the Lowland Terrier.
The Westie is often mistaken for the Westie’s close relative
the Cairn terrier. However, there is an easy way to tell the difference between the two. While both breeds share similar characteristics and have a similar appearance, there is one key distinction. The Cairn terrier can come in any color except white! This means that if you come across a small, energetic terrier with a white coat, you can be sure that it is a Westie and not a Cairn terrier.
Edward Donald Malcolm is credited with the modern West Highland White Terrier dog breed.
In his efforts to create the breed, he carefully bred small, Scottish white terriers with his own Poltalloch Terrier in Argyllshire, Scotland. Through his meticulous breeding program, Malcolm was able to produce an early version of the West Highland White Terrier that possessed the distinct characteristics and charming personality that we know and love today. His dedication to refining the breed ultimately led to its recognition and popularity worldwide.
The Westie’s nickname “The White Cavalier,”
is a fitting tribute to their storied history and association with Bonnie Prince Charlie. During the Battle of Culloden in 1745, the Scottish Jacobite leader wore a white cockade in his hat as a symbol of his cause. At that time, the Westies were predominantly white in color, and they became known as the only dogs allowed to freely cross Prince Charles’ troops. This is because everyone recognized their fearlessness and ability to navigate any terrain without hesitation. The Westie’s close connection to such an influential figure in Scottish history has solidified their reputation as loyal companions and fearless protectors.
The Westie was originally used as a hunter of small game
such as foxes and otters, these small dogs have retained their strong hunting instincts. It’s no surprise that Westies have a natural inclination to dig, as they were bred to track and chase prey underground. In fact, many Westies participate in Earthdog competitions, where they showcase their impressive skills in hunting for underground prey. These competitions serve not only as a way for Westies to channel their natural instincts but also as a testament to their agility and intelligence.
These little dogs are always happy and energetic
even as puppies! Their happy and energetic nature is truly infectious and they never seem to run out of enthusiasm. Whether it’s going for a walk or hopping into the car for a little adventure, Westies are always up for some fun. But beware, these adorable canines have quite the vocal cords! They are always on the lookout and will make sure you’re well aware if something is happening around them or an intruder enters their territory.
The West Highland Terrier was bred to be fiercely loyal
affectionate and sweet-tempered with their owners. With their intelligence and bravery, Westies are quick learners and can easily pick up tricks and commands. However, it’s important to note that they can be a bit aloof around strangers and may display some independence in their behavior.
The West Highland White Terrier weights about 20 pounds.
and stand at 8 to 11 inches tall. They have upright-pointy ears but are not born that way. Their ears generally pick up within the first few months of birth. Despite their small size, they have the personality of a much bigger dog and may get into trouble by challenging larger animals!
Westies are generally a healthy
breed with an average lifespan of about 12-17 years. They may suffer from skin allergies and sensitive stomachs. Another health issue is called “White Shaker Syndrome” which causes generalized tremors in certain parts of their bodies. It usually develops between 1-2 years of age, but can appear later in life. Most dogs can live a normal life with these tremors.
According to the C-BARQ study
(a massive research study at the University of Pennsylvania on the temperament of dogs) the Westie ranks 8th out of 124 dog breeds for prey drive-chasing after smaller pets. If there is a squirrel nearby, your Westie is giving chase!
In this same research, the Westie ranks
11 our of 124 breeds in excitability. They tend to be a rather hyper breed that is always ready for an adventure!
How Fast Can a Westie Run?
In Fast Cat running competitions (100 yards) held by the American Kennel Club (AKC), the average running speed of a Westie was 15.6 mph. The fastest recorded speed was by as dog named Hanna’s Iona Abbey at 23.68 mph!
In Landmark Research on Modern Dog Breed
development, the Westie has been shown to share the most DNA with an ancestor of the following breeds:
entitled, “The Intelligence of Dogs”, professor Stanley Coren researched and documented the intelligence of over 130 different dog breeds. In his book, the West Highlands White Terrier ranks 47 out of 138 breeds in working/obedience intelligence. Essentially, this means they will learn new commands in 25 to 40 repetitions and obey first commands more than 50% of the time. This puts them in the “average working and obedience intelligence” category. In contrast, the most intelligent breeds will learn the same command in 5 repetitions or less!
Check Your Westie Facts and Take a Fun Westie Quiz!
Despite their small size, Westies have a big personality and are well-suited for smaller apartments or homes. They are the ultimate big dog in a little dog’s body. It is important to provide them with plenty of mental stimulation and positive reinforcement training to keep their active little minds engaged. While they may not require as much exercise as larger breeds, they still benefit from daily walks and playtime. It’s worth noting that Westies have a high prey drive and may bark at, and chase, small animals, so it’s essential to provide proper socialization and training from a young age. These spirited little white dogs bring joy and love into the lives of their families, making them an excellent choice for anyone seeking a loyal and energetic companion.