6 Facts about West Highland Terriers

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West Highland Terriers are most famously known as 'Westies' or to some 'Scottie' dogs. Although 'Scottie' dogs is a nickname more commonly related to the beautiful Scottish Terrier, some still associate West Highland Terriers as 'Scottie' dogs.

Westies have the most beautiful long fur coat which is white in colour. This coat is complemented by their adorable pointy ears. Despite their pretty looks and eyes mesmerising eyes, they should not be mistaken as a delicate lapdog. Westies have a big personality and some may even say they are a big dog in a little dog’s body.

West Highland Terriers are incredibly intelligent and require lots of training but due to their high intelligence, they are easy to train.

To help you understand this beautiful breed a bit more we have put together some interesting facts!


#1 History

West Highland Terriers were originally bred to be white hunting dogs. Back in the 1800’s, a hunter named Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm of Poltalloch from Scotland, was hunting with his favourite Cairn Terrier when he accidentally shot and killed his terrier after mistaking it for a fox. Devastated by what happened, Malcolm decided he would only hunt with white dogs as they were easier to identify.

It just so happens that some Cairn Terriers and Scottish Terriers can be born white. If they were born white, they were bred together until their puppies were consistently white, creating the West Highland Terrier.

There are reports of terriers being recorded back in the 1560-1630’s during James VI of Scotland’s reign. As the King wanted to give a dozen terriers to the Kingdom of France as a gift. However, the white off shoots of Cairn Terriers and Scottish Terriers were seen as weak and often killed.


#2 Hunters

Westies were bred to be hunters! That is right, this cute and cuddly breed is an amazing hunter. Specialising in rodents such as: rats, mice, foxes and badges.

They became great hunters due to their bullet shaped body as they were able to wriggle through underground holes to chase out rodents.


#3 Big Personality

These dogs were fearless, borrowing into underground burrows to catch foxes and badgers so it should come as no surprise that they can be a handful. Westies are incredibly smart, confident, independent and a little bit stubborn. They require a firm owner and lots of exercise. Like most dogs, it is important to socialise your Westie at a young age. The older the Westie, the less friendly they can be towards new dogs.

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#4 Terriers

Due to their terrier nature they are little barkers, warning you of cars passing by or visitors at the front door. They are also prone to digging holes in the back yard.

Compared to other terriers though they are considered more friendly when it comes to strangers and other pets. However, Westies can have a tendency to display aggression towards other animals due to the breed's strong chasing and hunting instincts.


#5 Coat

Westies' coat have two layers, a wiry top layer with a soft undercoat. They do require regular grooming and brushing as their hair can grow quite long and being white, it does get dirty easily. Luckily their shredding is on the low side of average.


#6 Health

West Highland Terriers are prone to skin disorders so it is important to check their skin on a regular basis. A common problem is atopic dermatitis, a chronic skin disease associated with allergies.



Maintenance Level:           Medium

Lifespan:                          12-16 years

Temperament:                  Independent, smart, playful, cheeky and confident.

Health Risk:                      Skin problems