Is a Westie Right for You?
The West Highlands White Terrier Dog Breed is a small-sized breed of dog that was originally bred for controlling the population of rats, foxes and other vermin in rural areas. Also known as the “Westie,” the West Highland White Terrier was first recognized by The American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1908.
The West Highland White Terrier was once called the Roseneath Terrier
after a place in Scotland that is near where it originated. Some experts dispute this, saying the Roseneath Terrier was actually a separate breed.
The Westie is often mistaken for the Westie’s close relative
the Cairn terrier; but an easy way to tell the difference is that the Cairn terrier comes in any color EXCEPT white!
Edward Donald Malcolm is credited with the modern West Highland White Terrier dog breed.
He bred small, Scottish white terriers with his Poltalloch Terrier in Argyllshire, Scotland to produce the earlier version of the West Highland White Terrier.
The Westie’s nickname “The White Cavalier,”
was named after the Scottish Jacobite leader, Bonnie Prince Charlie (aka the Young Pretender) when he wore a white cockade in his hat during the Battle of Culloden in 1745. At the time, the Westies were mostly white, and they were the only dogs allowed to cross Prince Charles’ troops because everyone knew that these dogs could go anywhere without fear.
The Westie was originally used as a hunter of small game
like foxes and otters and ratters. They WILL dig and often compete in Earthdog competitions where dogs will hunt for underground prey.
These little dogs are always happy and energetic
even as puppies! They love to get up and go, especially for a good walk or jaunt in the car. Don’t worry, if something is going on, your Westie will let you know as they can be QUITE vocal.
The West Highland White Terrier was bred to be fiercely loyal
affectionate and sweet-tempered with their owners. They are also intelligent, brave and able to learn tricks very quickly. However, this breed is a bit aloof around strangers and can be somewhat independent.
The West Highland White Terrier weights about 20 pounds.
They stand at 8 to 11 inches tall, and their average lifespan is about 12-17 years. 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 but may suffer from skin conditions and sensitive stomachs.
“White Shaker Syndrome” is a condition that causes generalized tremors in certain parts of their bodies. The condition 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!
In Fast Cat running competitions held by the AKC
(100 yards), the average running speed of a Westie was 15.6 mph. The fastest recorded speed was 21.26 mph-that is fast for a small dog!