Description: The West Highland White Terrier is a small dog with a sturdy build. This dog ranges in height between 9 and 12 inches at the shoulder. The dog weighs 15 to 21 pounds and the bitch 13 to 16 pounds. The West Highland White Terrier has a hard outer coat about 2 long, with a soft undercoat beneath. The coat of this dog is always white. The ears are naturally erect and the short tail needs no docking. The legs of the West Highland White Terrier are fairly short. This breed is also known as the Westie, Poltalloch Terrier, or Roseneath Terrier. The Westie can live for 15 years or more.
History: The West Highland White Terrier originated in the Poltalloch region of Scotland in the 19th century. When a breeder's Cairn Terriers began to throw off white puppies, this breed began its path to recognition. The Westie was further refined at the estate of the Duke of Argyll, Roseneath. This dog was originally used to hunt vermin such as rats and mice, but also used against badgers, foxes, and otters.
Temperament: One word comes to mind when speaking of the West Highland White Terrier's personality, and that is - lively. This little dog has a great deal of energy. The Westie enjoys being around its family and will be devoted to them, and is probably at its best with older children. This dog should become accustomed to cats and other small household pets while still a puppy, otherwise it will view them as game. The West Highland White Terrier is a barker and also loves to dig. Sometimes these two activities are combined.
Health Issues: A health issue of concern is called "Lion Jaw" or craniomandibular osteopathy. This affects Westies between the ages of 3 to 12 months. An excess of bone tissue is deposited in the jaw area, and this makes it very painful for the young West Highland White Terrier to eat. The condition will correct itself by the time the dog is about 12 months old, but until that time, pain relievers or cortisone will be given to allow the dog to eat. The Westie can also suffer from liver problems and hernias.
Grooming: Because the West Highland White Terrier has a rather long, shaggy coat, it should receive a brushing or combing every day. If it has been outside, check the coat for ticks or stick-tights, which can cause tangles. Trimming with blunt ended scissors should be done around the ears and eyes, and the coat will need stripping twice a year. Make sure the ears are clean and dry, and keep the nails clipped short.
Living Conditions: The West Highland White Terrier is capable of living in either an apartment or a house. It loves to cuddle with its people and might become destructive if left alone for long periods. However, it should be noted that the high energy level of this dog requires the owner to make sure that it gets enough exercise. Westies love to play and will chase a ball for hours. It will appreciate a daily walk, and would probably be best suited to active individuals and families.