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West Highland White Terrier Dog Breed… Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

This little white Scottie twin is a picture-perfect dog and a great friend to have. But just because he’s cute doesn’t mean he’s the right lil’ guy for every family. So, before you invite a Westland Highland White Terrier to live with you till death, do your part (yep, that’s what it means to get a dog!). Read this.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in!

West Highland White Terrier Fast Facts

Country of Origin: Scotland

Original Purpose: Small game hunter

Height: 9 to 12 inches at the shoulder

Weight: 12 to 25 pounds

Dog Breed Classification:  Terrier group

Lifespan: 11 to 16 years

Origin of the West Highland White Terrier Dog Breed

This dog, also known as the Westie, is a terrier from Scotland. Though now white, they used to come in many colors like black, cream, and red. They became white when Colonel Edward Malcolm of Poltalloch, Argyllshire, Scotland, bred them to be such.

That’s why…

They’re also sometimes called the Poltalloch Terrier. Other names for this guy, past and present, include:

  • Rosenath Terrier,
  • Scottish Terrier,
  • Skye,
  • Cairn or Dandie Terrier.

We here at IndulgeYourPet, however, usually refer to these little guys as “Westies.”

The American Kennel Club recognizes this dog. They are 34th (but they used to be 30th about 18 years ago).

Physical Characteristics

These dogs look similar to other terriers, of course, only white. Though small, the dog’s body is broad and the chest deep. They have pointy ears, bushy eyebrows, and longish fur coats with an undercoat. Despite that, their white hair doesn’t shed much, which is excellent. They will need to be brushed regularly to keep up their cute appearance. This small breed is a heartbreaker when it comes to looks.


One of the good things about small dogs is that they don’t eat as much dog food. You might think we’re kidding but think of how much you’ll save on kibble and wet food. His teeth are more prominent than his muzzle, so he can quickly eat.

Personality and Temperament

The westie dog is a feisty lil’ guy who likes to play and embody YOLO (even though he doesn’t know what it means). These guys are a bit stubborn, which can be hard to handle for some people. One funny (and also not so funny) thing about these guys is that they think they own the place, which means you might catch them walking on the counters and worse.

Now like many others…

For dog breeds, early training is crucial in developing a get pet.  By training Westie puppies early, you can help shape how they turn out. They can be calm and less yappy if you institute a training program when he’s a puppy. If not, it could be harder to control your Westie puppy when they become a westie dog.  We should also point out that this dog loves to go for daily walks, but it’s important to remember that they can’t go the distance of a big dog like a lab or a retriever. Still, they will enjoy ten minutes out and about, morning and evening.

Potential Health Concerns

Whenever you get a breed dog, you need to find the breeders recommended by kennel clubs or organizations to ensure the best health of your dog. However, they can still appear even if the breeder is good and does everything possible to eliminate genetic problems. Knowing a dog’s entire family history for generations is almost impossible. Also, if you are a kindhearted soul who decides to go for a Westie rescue, you’re almost certain to face genetic problems.

So, here are things you have to watch out for:

  • Craniomandibular Osteopathy: This is a problem with the dog’s skull bone. It happens when the dog is a puppy. Most dogs only have problems chewing as a puppy, but some still have severe jaw problems as adults.
  • Cataracts: A common problem in any older dog, Westies tend to get cataracts which may lead to blindness if not treated. Also, not all cataracts can be treated.
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis: This is a lung disease, so it will impact the way he breaths. He will probably have a dry cough. The dog needs to stay fit and not gain weight; this causes more pressure on the lungs.
  • Patellar Luxation: This is a problem of the kneecap, and some dogs with this may need surgery.
  • Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy: This disease is inherited and somewhat common in terriers. It results in muscle weakness and nervous system problems due to a myelin sheath breakdown.
  • Von Willebrand Disease: Also known as VWD, this is a blood clotting problem that appears similar to hemophilia, though technically, it’s a different disease. If your dog has this, he may need medication for life.

And while many of these conditions may not be life-threatening, they can become quite expensive, particularly if they become recurring issues.  This is why we here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be suitable for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Kay D August 18, 2020, 7:43 am

    I adopted a four year old from a puppy mill seizure. She checked out to be pretty healthy but not house trained and scared. Is my work cut out for me?

    • indulgeyourpet August 18, 2020, 12:19 pm


      First off, good for you! Taking on a mill rescue dog is a wonderful thing to do.

      As for how much work is cut out for you, that we can’t be to sure of. Chances are you new critter will always be a bit “skittish” but there is no reason why he or she can’t become house trained and ultimately become a wonderful new addition to your home. A new addition who will fully appreciate just how wonderful you are to him or her.

      Best of luck,


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