West Highland White Terrier Breed Caring and Family, Social Life, Physical Traits, Diet Info

West Highland White Terrier Breed Caring and Family, Social Life, Physical Traits, Diet Info

The West Highland Terrier, or simply Westie, has its roots in Scotland where they were used in otter, fox, and badger hunting and vermin control. They are small and compact little dogs with dense fur and short tail. They were originally called the Poltalloch Terrier, and they were first registered with the modern name in 1908. Other names for the West Highland Terrier include Poltalloch Terrier, Roseneath Terrier, White Roseneath Terrier, and Westie.

They are also good at agility, tracking, and obedience, but training Westies can be challenging. It is not because they aren’t smart, as they are very intelligent, but because they are stubborn. They are typically healthy dogs, but they are at risk for many diseases. They love their family and will enjoy getting attention from anyone. Still, if they must choose between play and curling up in your lap, you can be sure that the latter will not be their choice.

The Westies’ innate prey drive is as strong as when their ancestors were vermin hunters. They will never learn to resist chasing small animals that run free, such as rabbits or gerbils. They are small enough to follow their escaping prey into small spaces when they are in hunting mode. The average height of Westies is 11 inches, and their average weight is 17 pounds. Westies’ life expectancy is 12 to 16 years, and the females have 3 to 7 puppies per litter.

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What are the Breed Traits and Characteristics of West Highland White Terriers?

Smart, confident, and always entertaining at play, the adorable West Highland White Terrier has charmed owners for over 300 years. This diminutive but sturdy earthdog is among the most popular of the small terriers. The Westie’s looks are irresistible, standing 9 to 12 inches at the shoulder, with dark piercing eyes, a compact body, and a carrot-shaped tail wagging with delight. Beneath the plush-toy exterior, though, is a faithful working terrier of gameness and courage. 

But don’t let that cuteness fool you: Despite being relatively short in stature, there’s not much that scares a Westie. The West Highland White Terriers are excellent vermin hunters, and they will chase just about anything that moves. They are known for their tenacity, adaptability, and affection for their humans. 

West Highland White Terrier Breed Traits

West Highland White Terrier Information


Males 10 to 12 inches

Females 9 to 11 inches


Males 15 to 21 pounds

Females 13 to 16 pounds

Relation with family

Affectionate, Faithful, Playful, Energetic, Intelligent, Spirited.

Relation with children

Happy, affectionate, gentle, and playful 

Relation with other dogs


Shedding level

Minimal but excessive seasonal blowout

Drooling level


Coat type 

Double, hypoallergenic coat 

Coat length

Extremely long, fine-haired overcoat

Short soft, woolly undercoat 

Coat grooming frequency

Daily brushing 

Dogs Reaction/Openness to Strangers

Standoffish and aloof at first

Playfulness level


Adaptability level


Trainability level


Energy level


Barking level


Mental stimulation needs level



12 -15 years 

How Does the West Highland White Terrier Interact with Family?

Lively and energetic, the West Highland White Terrier breed is best suited to active pet parents and families with either older children or younger kids who know how to respect the dog’s space and temperament. Westies are independent, contended, and endlessly curious dogs. They enjoy the company and make great family dogs. 

They tolerate children if shown respect but may turn snappy with less respectful children. They have lots of energy and need plenty of exercise – more than you might guess for such a small dog. They thrive on different forms of training, although they can be stubborn, and they like to push boundaries and want to be boss. They bond closely with their owners and like to please.

How Does the West Highland White Terrier Interact with Other Dogs?

They can be aggressive towards dogs of the same sex, but males are known to be more docile and females more dominant. They will fit in well with multi-dog homes, as they are known to get along well with other canines. However, if your male dog is not neutered and lives with other intact male dogs, he may not like them. 

They can behave well with cats, especially if raised with them. But Westies still have strong prey drives and may chase cats and should not be trusted around other smaller pets. If these dogs do not have enough brain activity, they can become destructive.

Take care when introducing Westies to other dogs. The West Highland White Terrier puppy can learn to adjust, especially if socialized from puppyhood. Problems may arise when you bring a Westie into a home with other dogs or pets. It’s best to consult with a certified dog trainer with experience with West Highland White Terrier types to help with the transition.

Introducing an older Westie could be challenging. However, she may give chase on occasion. But because of her hunting heritage, she will prey upon other small household animals who run free, for example, rabbits or gerbils. These behaviors can be tempered through training, but time and commitment are required.

How are West Highland White Terriers with Older People?

West Highland White Terriers are ideal for older people. They adapt quickly and will be pretty happy regardless of whether their living environment is an apartment without a backyard, a house in the suburbs, or a ranch in the country. Westies don’t need excessive exercise, and daily walks and playtime are sufficient. 

West Highland White Terriers need no more than weekly brushing. Therefore, older Westie owners will likely cope with the furry pup’s grooming. If necessary, the dog owner might want to reach out to a dog walker to ensure the Westie gets the necessary exercise.

How are West Highland White Terriers with Children?

The West Highland White Terrier makes a devoted pet and is excellent with kids. But West Highland White Terriers are a pretty sensitive breed. They’ll do better with older kids who understand the importance of boundaries and respect for a dog’s space.

It would be best if you remembered the West Highland White Terrier gets frustrated. She’s known to snap unexpectedly. They’re not the best dog for toddlers. When there is ear and tail pulling and unsolicited hugs, the West Highland White Terrier will do whatever they need to get away from the child.

Never leave a Westie alone with small children, and supervise any interactions. A West Highland White Terrier is a friendly, affectionate animal and, in general, loves people.

How are West Highland White Terriers with Neighbors or Guests?

Though not quite extroverts, the West Highland White Terriers are friendly, so they can appear pretty standoffish and aloof to guests in the home. However, a Westie will likely regard neighbors and frequent guests as part of the family. While their instincts are to bark whenever someone approaches the door, barking at neighbors would probably be a welcoming instead of a warning gesture. But, as you know, their bark is worse than their bite.

What are the Physical Traits of the West Highland White Terrier?

The West Highland White Terrier, commonly known as the Westie, is a dog breed from Scotland with a distinctive white harsh coat with a somewhat soft white undercoat. Although it is a small-sized terrier, it has longer legs than other Scottish terrier breeds. 

The West Highland White Terrier has a distinctive look that’s easy to recognize and hard to forget. That unmistakable combination of a robust and compact body, stark white coat, sharp, pointed ears, and expressive intelligent eyes sets them apart. They are indeed one of the most recognizable dog breeds around.


Trait information




Males 10 to 12 inches

Females 9 to 11 inches


Males 15 to 21 pounds

Females 13 to 16 pounds




Skull – Broad, domed, and free of wrinkle. Slightly wider between the ears than at the eyes.

Head – Thickly coated with hair and is carried upright. There is a distinct stop, created by a prominent brow, and a slight furrow between the eyes.


Medium in size and set wide apart under well-developed brows. Dark in color


Small ears terminate in a sharp point, but must never be cropped. They are carried tightly erect. 


Broad and strong.


Pink at birth, turning to black by adulthood


A  full complement of large (for the size of the breed), strong, white teeth meet in a close scissors bite, with the upper incisors slightly overlapping the lower incisors.

Exercise Needs



12 to 16 years


A double coat is a necessity. The outer coat consists of straight, hard, white hair about two inches long and free from any curl. The abundant undercoat is short, soft, and close, resembling fur in texture.

Coat color



The tail is relatively short, five to six inches in length, but is never docked.


Muscular and relatively short


Round and thickly padded, with the front feet somewhat larger than the hind feet. Pads and nails are black.

How to Feed a West Highland White Terrier?

Your West Highland White Terrier’s adult size determines its dietary needs through all life stages. Thus, base your Westy’s diet on a small breed’s unique nutritional and digestive needs throughout its different life stages. Most dog food companies have breed-specific formulas for small, medium, large, giant, and even toy breeds. 

It is always good to discuss your dog’s dietary needs with your vet to ensure you are prepared to deal with age-related issues as your West Highland White Terrier grows. A veterinarian can advise on diets, portion sizes, meal frequencies, and all nutrition matters to ensure your furry friend lives a long life with optimal health. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times, and some of the essential nutrients are listed below:

  • Protein
  • Fatty acids
  • Carbohydrates
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins

Avoid feeding your West Highland White Terrier from the table; all it does is add weight; instead, follow the advice below to ensure your furry friend’s optimal health.

Despite the West Highland White Terrier’s small size, it is an agile, athletic breed that needs food containing animal proteins and carbohydrates for energy, vitamins and minerals for digestive and immune health, and omega fatty acids for coat and skin wellness. A dog of this size, activity level, and demeanor will thrive best on premium dry food because this food type contains balanced portions of the above-listed ingredients.

However, your West Highland White Terrier’s daily portion depends on life stage, health, metabolism, activity level, and of course, the brand and formula of food it eats. Feed your Westy food formulated for a small breed with recipes for puppies, adults, and seniors, or choose a brand developed for all life stages.

The West Highland White Terrier’s daily cups of food should be spread over 2 to 3 meals per day. Feeding Westies several meals instead of one meal per day can prevent life-threatening bloat. However, fresh drinking water must always be available for your furry friend. When in doubt, consult your veterinarian. 

An example of premium food specially formulated for Westies and its benefits is listed below:

The best dry dog food for Westies is Rachael Ray Nutrish Super Premium Food for Dogs formulas.

Rachael Ray knows that when you use real ingredients, you get real flavor. She certainly doesn’t skimp or cut corners in her recipes for Nutrish Super Premium Food for Dogs. Only the highest quality poultry or beef goes in, along with wholesome grains and veggies for meals that taste great and deliver the complete nutrition your dog needs.

Below is a list of the benefits offered by the Rachael Ray Nutrish Super Premium Food for Dogs formulas in this range:

  • Contains added vitamins, minerals, and taurine.
  • All the formulas in this range feature real chicken, turkey, or duck as the #1 ingredient to support healthy organs and lean muscle mass.
  • Supports healthy digestion while encouraging energy levels with tasty wholesome grains and veggies
  • Does not contain any by-product meal, fillers, or added wheat or wheat gluten ingredients.
  • Made without artificial flavors or artificial preservatives.

When Westies are healthy and active, every day is an adventure. That’s why Rachael Ray Nutrish Super Premium Food for Dogs formulas are crafted with everything dogs need to thrive, starting with real protein as the first ingredient.

How Much Should a West Highland White Terrier Puppy Eat? 

The West Highland White Terrier is a small breed whose puppies need high-quality puppy food formulated for a small breed dog. It is essential not to feed puppies all their food at once, and they should have it spread over the day. 

When West Highland White Terrier puppies become three months old, owners can provide them with three meals per day until they reach six months, reducing the food intake to 2 meals per day. Only high-quality and branded puppy food is acceptable. Guidance for feeding puppies is listed below.

  • West Highland White Terrier puppies need slow, sustained growth to help prevent orthopedic problems, such as hip dysplasia. Raise them on a diet designed for small-breed puppies. Whatever diet you choose shouldn’t overemphasize protein, fat, and calorie levels.
  • Westies should be fed according to a schedule, spreading meal times two or three times per day. Getting the puppy accustomed to meals at specific times is better than leaving food out to allow feeding through the day.
  • The exceptions are Westies with medical conditions like hypoglycemia or low blood sugar because they need to nibble bits of food throughout the day.
  • Never feed your puppy from the table. It only encourages begging. Everyone in the family must follow this rule.

What are the Health Tests that West Highland White Terriers Should Take?

The OFA, working with the West Highland White Terrier breed’s parent club, recommends the following basic health screening tests for all breeding stock. Westies meeting these basic health screening requirements will be issued Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) numbers. 

For potential puppy buyers, CHIC certification is a good indicator of how responsibly the breeders factor good health into their selection criteria. The breed-specific list below represents the basic health screening recommendations for West Highland White Terriers

 It is not all-encompassing. There may be other health screening tests appropriate for this breed. And, there may be other health concerns for which there is no commonly accepted screening protocol available.

Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with independent certification that the parents of the dog (and grandparents, etc.) have been screened for genetic defects and deemed healthy for breeding. Checks by the dog’s vet are not a substitute for genetic health testing.

The West Highland White Terrier Club of America recommends the following tests for animals being bred:

  • Eye Examination– Recommend annual exams until at least age 8yrs (96mo)
    Eye Examination by a boarded ACVO Ophthalmologist 
  • Hip Dysplasia – OFA Evaluation
  • Patellar Luxation – OFA Evaluation
  • Craniomandibular Osteopathy – DNA based CMO test from an approved lab 

Some additional tests are available.

  • Congenital Deafness / BAER: OFA evaluation based on Brainstem Auditory Evoked Response (BAER) testing 
  • RCD4 Progressive Retinal Atrophy: DNA test (cheek swab or blood) from an approved lab 
  • PRA3 Progressive Retinal Atrophy: DNA test (cheek swab or blood) from an approved lab 
  • Pituitary Dwarfism: DNA test from an approved lab 
  • Elbow Dysplasia: OFA evaluation based on radiographs 
  • Autoimmune thyroiditis: Blood test, OFA evaluation available from an approved lab.

What are the common health problems of West Highland White Terriers?

All dogs have the potential to develop genetic health problems, just as all people have the potential to inherit a particular disease. The West Highland White Terrier has some health conditions that can be a concern. However, even healthy Westies should have regular veterinarian checkups. Owners should ensure the following list of health conditions are monitored throughout the dog’s life.

  • Hip dysplasia is a deformation that occurs and develops as West Highland White Terrier puppies grow. It is caused by loose joints that prevent the ball part of one bone from sliding smoothly in the socket of the other joint bone. Instead, it grinds and rubs in the joint, causing painful wear and tear damage as the West Highland White Terrier ages.
  • Craniomandibular osteopathy is an abnormal growth of the jaw that occurs in puppyhood. The condition is painful, but it usually resolves by the time the dog is an adult. The symptoms usually appear between four and eight months of age. A DNA-based CMO test from an approved lab is available.
  • Luxating Patella is a partially dislocated kneecap. Symptoms to look for include walking stiffly or awkwardly, extending the leg while resting, or kicking the leg off to the side in an attempt to reset the knee. There are a variety of treatments available depending upon the severity of the condition, such as icing the knee, taking supplements or medication, physical therapy, and surgery.
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease is another hip disorder that can affect West Highland White Terriers is Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease. This condition, which is thought to be hereditary, occurs when the head of the femur begins to degenerate. The primary symptom is limping which may progress to lameness if left untreated. Medication, physical therapy, and surgery are common treatment options.
  • Atopic Dermatitis is a skin condition triggered by allergens in the pet’s environment. Dogs with this condition will often scratch, rub, lick or shake in an attempt to alleviate the itchiness. Some mild cases can be managed by medicated baths, topical ointment, antihistamines, and/or supplements. More severe cases may require the use of immunotherapy, corticosteroids, or immunosuppressive medication.
  • Shaker syndrome occurs suddenly in young, primarily small, primarily white dogs with no preference for gender. Several breeds have a higher occurrence of shaker syndrome: the Bischon Frise, Maltese, West Highland White Terrier, Poodle, and Samoyed. The onset of shaker syndrome is marked by full-body tremors that can be mild or severe; however, despite the appearance, a dog affected with shaker syndrome is likely not in pain and does not affect your dog’s personality.

Westies have a lifespan of 13 to 15 years and are generally regarded as a healthy breed, thanks in large part to responsible breeding practices. However, there are a few health problems that pet parents should be on the lookout for.

Is the West Highland White Terrier Hypoallergenic?

Yes, West Highland White Terriers are hypoallergenic. A word used to describe something less likely to invoke an allergic response. Hypoallergenic dogs are dogs whose coats are either low shedding or no shedding and produce less dander. Dog saliva is known to cause allergies, so dogs that drool less are also considered hypoallergenic.

West Highland White Terriers’ rough outer coat protects them from harsh weather, while their soft inner coat keeps them warm. Westies are considered hypoallergenic, as their coats rarely shed, and they are low dander dogs. Furthermore, Westies are not droolers, which further prevents allergies.

What is the Exercise Need of a West Highland White Terrier?

West Highland White Terriers require more exercise than their small stature might suggest. They need a good bit of physical activity, at least 40 minutes a day. Training your Westie can be challenging. These dogs are very spirited and can be very stubborn when they want to be.

The best approach to training a Westie is to make training sessions fun. Terriers are very toy motivated, so find a game they like best and reward them with it. Training sessions should be kept short – about ten minutes is good, and you should remain upbeat and positive.

It is essential to begin training from the first day you get your West Highland White Terrier puppy home. Establish rules and boundaries, and stick to them, because Westies are much more likely to listen at this age.

What are the Nutritional Needs of West Highland White Terriers?

The nutritional needs of a West Highland White Terrier include high levels of specific nutrients. The essential nutrients for the Westie are listed below.

  • Protein: Westies need natural animal protein, valuable for the amino acids essential for West Highland White Terrier’s health. Equally important is the fact that protein builds lean muscles and provides energy.
  • Fat: Animal protein provides adequate fat, an additional energy source that boosts the West Highland White Terrier’s metabolism. However, there is a fine line between enough and too much. Excessive fat levels in the dog’s daily diet could result in weight gain and, ultimately, obesity. Most importantly, adults and senior Westies need lower fat levels than puppies.
  • Carbohydrates: Although carbs are not essential nutrients, they are crucial energy sources. Giving the Westies sufficient carbs will provide energy, encouraging the body’s protein absorption to build lean muscle. Beware, though, too many carbohydrates can lead to obesity.
  • DHA: It is one of the components of omega-3 fatty acids. It promotes proper eye and brain development in West Highland White Terrier puppies, and DHA develops cognitive development in puppies and slows cognitive decline in older dogs. Furthermore, omega fatty acids benefit aging Westies by treating chronic kidney disease and canine arthritis. Omega-3 oils improve the coat health of the West Highland White Terrier.
  • Micronutrient: Taurine is one micronutrient that aids heart health, and other valuable micronutrients for promoting strong joints in Westies are chondroitin and glucosamine.
  • Minerals: Beneficial minerals for a West Highland White Terrier’s growth include a healthy balance of phosphorus and calcium. Pre- and probiotics and chelated minerals provide additional health to the diets of Westies.

What is the Shedding Level of West Highland White Terriers?

The West Highland White Terrier sheds only lightly, despite having a double coat. The Westy’s hair continues to grow until it is cut. Therefore, the long hair of the outer coat catches the shedding of the undercoat, which brushing can remove. 

However, the undercoat blows out as the West Highland White Terrier prepares for summer and winter during spring and fall. Westies are often touted as being nonallergenic or hypoallergenic. The Westy also sheds minimal amounts of dander and drools minimally, which are typically the causes of allergies.

What is the Coat Grooming Frequency of West Highland White Terrier?

Westies have a double coat with a soft, furry undercoat and a stiffer outer coat. The tough texture of the outer coat doesn’t retain dirt, keeping the dog clean and protecting the undercoat. It’s necessary to comb or brush through the undercoat to prevent mats. 

The undercoat doesn’t grow in until the Westie is at least a year old; in some cases, it can even take up to five years. It’s easy to keep the Westie white: When he’s a puppy, brush his coat once a week using a pin brush or comb. Adults require daily brushing.

The Westie only sheds a tiny bit, but his coat must be cut. Some people choose to use electric clippers to save money and further bond with their Westie. In contrast, others prefer the services of a professional groomer. Depending on the Westie, a clipper can make the coat softer or wavy; a hand-stripped Westie has a wirier coat. 

However, stripping is a time-consuming process in which dead hairs are plucked by hand, a technique typically only done by owners of show dogs. Most professional groomers aren’t willing to spend much time doing it. Keeping the hair coarse could ease the grooming process because it repels dirt. You can simply brush out any mud or other dirt caught in the hair.

The rest is basic care: Trim his nails as needed, usually every week or two. And brush his teeth daily with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for overall health and fresh breath.

It is important to begin grooming the West Highland White Terrier when he is very young. An early introduction teaches the independent West Highland White Terrier that grooming is a normal part of his life and to accept the handling and fuss of the grooming process patiently.

Coat grooming is essential for various reasons, as listed below.

  • Grooming gives your dog a healthy look and promotes hygiene. 
  • Proper grooming lowers the risks of skin infections.
  • Grooming promotes the growth and development of a lustrous and shiny coat.
  • Grooming allows you to check for fleas and take early preventive and treatment measures.
  • Proper grooming lowers the risks of ear infections since you can check the ears and wipe them dry after regular grooming.
  • While grooming, you can check the skin folds for any skin problems and alert the vet before they worsen.
  • Grooming boosts the bond between you and your West Highland White Terrier.

Your dog should be calm during grooming. Short walks before the grooming session could calm your West Highland White Terrier enough to make the grooming process the ideal time for bonding with your furry friend. You can also give your Westies their favorite treats to munch on while you groom them. Grooming must be an enjoyable and stress-free process for your West Highland White Terrier. 

What is the Drooling Level of West Highland White Terriers?

As a West Highland White Terrier owner, you’d be thrilled to find your furry friend’s drooling is minimal. However, drooling is a natural process, and the primary triggers of drooling are listed below. However, if drooling becomes excessive a trip to the vet is recommended.

  • The thought of delicious meals like a favorite treat or meat
  • Sexual excitement, like when a male West Highland White Terrier spots a female West Highland White Terrier in heat, causes drooling. Likewise, a female in her heat cycle might drool if she picks up the scent of a male
  • Excitement and agitation make dogs drool
  • Excessive heat, especially during summer
  • Mouth and throat problems like fractures in the mouth, throat, or esophagus
  • Plaque build-up can also irritate the mouth and cause excessive saliva
  • A foreign object stuck in the throat prevents swallowing, thus causing drooling 
  • Growth in the mouth also stimulates drooling
  • Stomach upsets
  • The main symptom of diseases like kidney disease, liver problems, seizures, botulism, and rabies is drooling
  • Motion sickness and anxiety. Dogs who do not like traveling will get anxious whenever they board a car. Stress makes dogs pant and breathe with open mouths, thus causing drooling.

What is the Coat Type of the West Highland White Terrier?

The West Highland Terrier’s coat is a hypoallergenic double coat consisting of a coarse outer coat and a soft undercoat. They shed very little and have low dander levels. Regular brushing can further reduce any allergens in their coat and remove any dander and loose hairs that have been caught in their outer coat.

What is the Coat Lenght of the West Highland White Terrier? 

The abundant coat covers the entire body in long coarse white hair. The length of the West Highland White Terrier’s coat depends on whether the owner leaves the hair to grow or trims it. The Westy’s hair continues to grow, and most owners prefer to keep their westies’ hair length to about two inches. The undercoat is short and fur-like but only grows toward the end of puppyhood.

What are the Social Traits of the West Highland White Terrier Breed?

The social traits of the West Highland White Terrier are affection, playfulness, and friendly nature. Westies are intelligent and learn fast, but they can be bored with long training sessions. Westies are fun-loving and have the charm to lighten you up when you are not in a happy mood. Other social traits of Westies are listed below.

  • Elderly-friendly: Westies love playing with their family, from children to grandparents, but seniors who live in apartments away from their families might struggle to keep up with the West Highland White Terrier’s energy. Hiring a walker might be a good idea if the owner can’t take them for 30 to 60-minute walks, play in a dog park, or both. If the West Highland White Terrier is exercised enough, it will spend several hours of calmness and sleep. 
  • Children-friendly: Westies enjoy running around or chasing after children and playing catch is one of their favorite games. Westies are sensible enough to take care when young children are part of the play. However, supervision is essential to keep toddlers and smaller kids safe because Westies have little patience with children who are too young to know how to respect dogs. They will snap at the little ones with no warning. Socialization is crucial for kids and dogs.
  • Family-friendly: Westies are the perfect canine companions for active families. They are not couch potatoes and prefer to spend most of their time outside. Westies will always be ready to join a family member jogging, skateboarding, cycling, or hiking.
  • Pet-friendly: Westies have a high prey drive and might chase neighborhood cats, squirrels, or small animals. They’ll also go after small pets such as rabbits, mice, or gerbils you may have, so make sure your young Terrier is not around when you let them out or clean their cages.

How Do West Highland White Terriers Interact with Strangers?

Since these dogs do not like strangers, you can expect a short warm-up period as your West Highland White Terrier learns who you are. You can also expect a certain amount of barking when walking with your dog as it encounters strange people and animals. Once they feel the strangers pose no risk, they’ll warm up to them quickly.

Socializing them with walks as a puppy can help reduce this type of behavior. Your Westy is sure to attract children’s attention, and it is vital to prevent them from touching your furry friend if it is not yet socialized with strange children and adults. 

Is the West Highland White Terrier Playful?

The Westie boasts a long list of winsome traits: she’s alert, happy, curious, smart, loyal, entertaining, and self-reliant but friendly. She loves people, and travels well, owing to her compact size. She is not pushy or temperamental and does not make unreasonable demands. She can be mistaken for stubborn after being given a command she fails to execute, but in truth is more interested in her reward: she’ll do your bidding if the prize is attractive enough.

Are West Highland White Terriers Protective?

West Highland White Terriers are extremely protective guard dogs. This breed doesn’t hesitate to protect its territory so the West Highland White Terrier can be a good choice if you want an excellent guard dog. Despite the small size of Westies, they are alert and even if they can’t scare intruders away, their incessant barking will likely do the trick.

What is the Adaptability Level of West Highland White Terriers?

Highland White Terrier. They are exceptionally adaptable. From the iconic image of a well-coifed Westie sporting a classy, tartan-patterned rain slicker, she can quite happily cope with a life that allows her to roll in the mud. Once you have built trust between you and your Westie, they are excellent at adapting to moves and changes in their environment.

Your Westie will be comfortable with relocations to the city, the suburbs, or the country provided they have play space and their human families are along for the move. They will even adapt to living in an apartment as long as they get enough exercise on walks and in dog parks outside of the home. Westies are people-oriented dogs, beloved and admired for their bright white coats and shiny, shoe-button eyes.

What are the Personality Traits of West Highland White Terriers?

You may recognize the Westie from his long-running stint as the mascot for Cesar brand pet food, but he’s more than just a cute face. A typical terrier, he’s a fast and clever hunter, plus his lighthearted nature makes for a pet who’s always game for some fun.

Puppies are exuberant, but adult Westies are sensible and charming. The breed’s downfall can be its inquisitiveness. Keep the Westie in a securely fenced yard, and put away things he shouldn’t get into. Personality traits include a lot of vocalizing, and he can chew up shoes and create other havoc around the house. Yet, he’s easily trained. Some more easily than others, but the result is the dog barking less and not digging in your garden. 

The West Highland White Terrier is highly intelligent and can be mischievous, so watch out for his sense of humor. He may be reserved with people he doesn’t know. The Westy is good at reading emotions and will adapt his mood to suit yours. If you need cheering up, the Westy will do his best to oblige, and if you are in a great mood, he’s happy right along with you.

This is an agile, athletic dog who can do well in various activities and dog sports. Look for a Westy in the agility, obedience, or rally rings. He’s a super hiking companion and an excellent therapy dog. To Westy’s way of thinking, he wants to be involved in anything his person does. If nothing else, be sure he gets daily walks and playtime, plus plenty of time interacting with you, whether supervising meal preparation or watching television together.

What to Know about West Highland White Terrier Temperament

West Highland White Terriers boast a long list of winsome traits. They are alert, happy, curious, intelligent, loyal, entertaining, and self-reliant but friendly. The Westie is a breed with high self-esteem and can sometimes be mischievous. They are playful pups that can find joy in almost anything, like food, belly rubs, and dog toys. 

Westies are not pushy or temperamental and don’t make unreasonable demands. They can be mistaken for stubborn after being given a command they fail to execute. However, your furry friend is more interested in the reward. She’ll do your bidding if the prize is attractive enough.

Can West Highland White Terriers be Aggressive?

Westies generally aren’t aggressive and can get along with most dogs and other pets. However, if they are left unsupervised with children who pull their ears, tails, and hands full of hair they might become snappy. The same will happen if kids dish out unsolicited hugs.

Can West Highland White Terriers be Dangerous?

Like any other animal, a West Highland White Terrier may become dangerous if they are scared or have to defend themselves. Although they may not scare intruders, Westies could be dangerous in the home. Parents need to teach children how to respect dogs of all breeds from an early age.

One of West Highland White Terriers’ potentially dangerous character traits is their resource guarding tendencies. Kids must learn that Westies will protect their food at all costs. Also, dogs dislike people touching their feet and faces. When kids overstep these rules, dogs may become dangerous. Injuries with traumatic consequences can happen in the blink of an eye when dogs and kids are left unsupervised.

Do West Highland White Terriers Ever Attack?

No, West Highland White Terriers are not likely to attack people. They are good watchdogs, but even then, their most aggressive actions will be barking to alert their owners of suspicious strangers. However, their innate prey tendencies might cause your Westie to attack critters like rats or gerbils. 

Can West Highland White Terriers Kill Humans?

West Highland White Terriers have never and will likely never kill a human. While Westies may growl and show teeth when provoked or maltreated, killing a person would be entirely out of character for a West Highland White Terrier.

Do West Highland White Terriers cope with being left alone?

The West Highland White Terrier does not like to be left alone and can get into mischief if left alone for too long. They are very intelligent and are known to escape crates, cages, and locked rooms. Because of their high level of intelligence, it’s easy to train them, and they mature slower than many other dogs so you can train them longer.

Can I leave my West Highland White Terrier at home?

Westies tend to become anxious and withdrawn when left alone for some time. Still, they will not be affected if some family members remain behind. Left in isolation, they will display signs of separation anxiety. Westies don’t typically form strong bonds with a particular family member. They are usually not affected if one or more remain behind while the rest of the family goes out.

Can West Highland White Terriers be left alone for 8 hours?

West Highland White Terriers need company. They do not enjoy spending time alone for many hours because they are predisposed to separation anxiety. Isolation for more than a couple of hours could adversely affect your Westie. 

Separation anxiety in Westies is when they become restless or exhibit signs of distress when away from their owner. If your dog is overly attached to you, it’ll be natural for them to become anxious. They can be left alone for several hours per day, depending on their reaction.

Separation anxiety can cause the Westie to become destructive, which could lead to depression and a very unhappy little furball. If you have to be away for long hours each day, ensure your Westie has interesting toys to avoid it finding its own entertainment, which might not be your idea of fun. Hiring a dog walker or reaching out to a friend or neighbor to take your Westie walking for an hour could tire him enough to sleep until you return.  

How to Train a West Highland White Terrier?

For the best results, begin training your West Highland White Terrier puppy as soon as you bring them home; 8 weeks old isn’t too early to start! And training sessions should become part of your daily routine. If you wait until he’s six months, you’ll have a much bigger task and a more headstrong dog.

Even though Westies are naturally friendly, you still need to start socializing them. They must get used to new people and other dogs while they’re puppies to bring out those beautiful qualities. Take your pup on leashed walks and allow them to meet new friends, both two- and four-legged. And enroll your dog in puppy preschool at about 10 to 12 weeks, so they learn to play nicely with other puppies and meet new people all in one location.

But a word of caution: the West Highland White Terrier is easy to train when your voice is calm and your touch on the leash is light, giving only verbal corrections to this sensitive breed, for example, praise, gentle guidance, or food rewards.

  • Praise good behavior by making a fuss. Your West Highland White Terrier will know if you fake it.
  • Time commands wisely because corrections after the fact will confuse your West Highland White Terrier.
  • Be consistent and persistent. Never let it slip because your Westie might think obeying is optional.
  • Be the pack leader and show happiness while training your West Highland White Terrier.
  • Making your West Highland White Terrier sit and wait for your command to start eating will confirm your status as pack leader. However, this is one rule your cheeky Westy might challenge.
  • Training your West Highland White Terrier with love in your heart will avoid West Highland White Terrier seeing training as punishment.

Don’t forget you’ll need to give your West Highland White Terrier fair, consistent training. Else you’re likely to end up with a badly-behaved dog whose favorite hobbies are escaping from the backyard and jumping on everyone who comes into the house.

Are Westies Good for Catching Rats?

Westies are excellent hunters, and they are energetic and determined. They are one of the terrier breeds known for hunting vermin on rough terrains. These dogs are very smart and intelligent. Although they may not be trained to hunt, they know their family history, and the instinct to hunt is still present in them. It’s very natural for them to chase after a rat or a squirrel if they see one.

There is a reason why they are called ratters. Back in the 1500s, these dogs were bred to keep rats away from farms, barns, and mines. They have a prey drive, making them chase and kill smaller animals such as rats. Westies are pretty stubborn, persistent, and bossy. 

If they are not trained at a young age, they may not quickly get along with other pets like a cat, and it is better to introduce them to other animals and raise them together. Your Westie may not be able to differentiate between a wild mouse and a pet mouse or a rabbit. If you have smaller animals as pets and own a Westie, you should keep an eye on your canine friend.

After all, they love to hunt, and it’s in their blood. Terriers will catch anything and everything that runs; it’s not good to let them go off-leash when walking them. Westies can pick up scents, but the smell does not activate their prey drive as they’re not scent hounds. They will only chase what they see, especially if it tries to run.

How Frequently does a West Highland White Terrier Bark?

West Highland White Terriers don’t generally bark a lot. While each puppy is an individual, this breed as a whole isn’t considered overly yappy or vocal. If your dog is left alone or bored, they may start barking like many other breeds. The West Highland White Terrier’s willing temperament means they can easily be trained not to bark excessively.

West Highland White Terriers do not bark without reason. Training and socialization can control excessive barking, but Westies will always bark when necessary.

Below is a list of bark types that owners will learn to recognize. 

  • Westies hate being left alone, and one way of coping with loneliness is barking. 
  • A lack of exercise and anxiety can also trigger barking.
  • Alarm barking is when your West Highland White Terrier is barking to alert you of approaching danger. That warning can save you from danger; however, Westies may bark before ascertaining that there is a real danger. 
  • Another type of barking is demand barking, where a West Highland White Terrier feels entitled to something or your attention and would bark as a way of demanding their rights. This type can be lowered through proper training and ignoring the barking.
  • The West Highland White Terrier uses arousal barking to show their frustrations.
  • Boredom barking signals that your West Highland White Terrier is tired or bored due to being left alone or infrequent exercises. 
  • Frequent barking can be a nuisance to both the owner and neighbors. Some types of barking tend to be monotonous and continuous. 

What is the need for Mental Stimulation of a West Highland White Terrier?

Constant stimulation throughout the day is required to keep your West Highland White Terrier happy. Brain games are a great and easy way to stimulate his mind, so be sure to rotate a few of these games throughout the week to keep your West Highland White Terrier occupied.

Westies are smart and learn fast, and they need regular mental stimulation. Westies’ playful and intelligent nature further calls for frequent mental activity. There are different ways of mentally stimulating your West Highland White Terrier, and some of them are listed below.

  • Playing with interactive games or toys, including dog puzzles and canine board games.
  • Encourage sniffing during regular evening walks.
  • Provide healthy chews like dehydrated sweet potato strips. Chewing for more extended periods calms the brain, thus lowering stress levels.
  • Hide and seek games
  • Drop and fetch games
  • Regular walks

These mental stimulation techniques should start at an early stage. Westies who are six years and older tend to have problems with their thinking ability. The primary signs of mental disorientation are listed below.

  • Excessive anxiety.
  • Frequent accidents.
  • Failure to recall previously learned commands.
  • Changes in sleep and wake patterns.
  • Low interest in physical activities.
  • Poor social skills.

What are the Breed Standards of West Highland White Terriers?

The stout Westie has black beady eyes and a button nose. The hair around their nose fluffs out like a mustache, and their short, pointy ears give their face an overall foxy appearance. These dogs have thick, sturdy legs with feet that point slightly inward, which helps them to keep their footing on loose ground. Their tails are wide at the base and taper off to a pointed tip.

Some of the breed standards of Westies are given in the table below.

Breed Standards 

West Highland White Terrier Breed Information 




Westies are classified as a small breed

Eye Color 

Medium in size and set wide apart under well-developed brows. Dark in color, with a sharp, intelligent, piercing expression.


Weight is 13 to 21 pounds.


Height 9 to 12 inches at the withers

Average lifespan 

Westies have a lifespan of 12 to 16 years

What is the General Information about West Highland White Terriers?

The early vermin-catching dogs indigenous to Scotland, collectively known as the “Terriers of Scotland,” developed from common rootstock and eventually separated into defined breeds. These include the Dandie Dinmont, Scottish, Skye, and Cairn Terriers. 

This, too, is the origin of the West Highland White Terrier, which is thought to have originally been part of the Cairn breed. They all undoubtedly descended from the same roots and were once valued for their small-game hunting skills.

Where to Buy or Adopt a West Highland White Terrier?

A purebred West Highland White Terrier’s price can range between $800 and $1,700. Lower prices are generally available within shelters and rescues, but purebred puppies from top breeders can cost as much as $3,000.

If you want to bring a West Highland White Terrier home, you should not rush. The only “purebreds” available upon request are not the real thing and are likely bred on puppy farms. The more realistic way is to put your name on a waiting list, and while you’re waiting, learn as much as you can about this giant dog in the cutest little dog body.

Finding a reputable breeder or rescue facility is crucial. A good breeder will match you with the right puppy and will, without question, have done all the health certifications necessary to screen out health problems as much as possible. They are more interested in placing pups in suitable homes than making big bucks. 

Be wary of breeders who only tell you the good things about the breed or make irrational promises to promote their puppies. Be especially suspicious when you are offered a two-for-the-price-of-one deal. 

West Highland White Terrier puppies are adorable, and it’s one of the reasons they are so popular. Cute puppies sell, making Westies a favorite of puppy mills and greedy, irresponsible breeders. Do your homework before buying one of these little dogs, and you’ll be well rewarded with a beautiful companion dog.

The best way to ensure you get a healthy West Highland White Terrier puppy from a breeder or a rescue organization is to reach out to the registered organizations for the specific breed, if available. The West Highland White Terrier is recognized by the AKC, UKC, and FIC, listed below, along with other registered kennel clubs that might put potential West Highland White Terrier owners in touch with reputable breeders. 

  • West Highland White Terrier Club of America (WestieClubAmerica)
  • Canadian West Highland White Terrier Club  (CWHWTC)
  • West Highland White Terrier Club of England
  • West Highland White Terrier Club of QLD (Queensland AU)
  • American Canine Registry
  • American Kennel Club
  • America’s Pet Registry
  • Canadian Kennel Club
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • American Canine Association, Inc.
  • Australian National Kennel Council
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • National Kennel Club
  • New Zealand Kennel Club
  • Irish Kennel Club
  • United Kennel Club
  • Club Espanol De Terriers

If you manage to track down West Highland White Terrier breeders, make sure you go to the facility and insist on meeting both the puppies’ parents so that you can get a feel for their temperament. West Highland White Terrier puppies are often peppy and playful, all should have cheery expressions and kind eyes. 

It might take some time to find a legitimate breeder, and travel may very well be in the cards. Steer clear of backyard breeding by avoiding sales sites and ad pages. When you select a breeder, make sure they have proof of successful, healthy litters with any documentation necessary.

You might find a West Highland White Terrier puppy or a rescued adult to adopt or buy from abroad, but not all countries allow importing adopted dogs. Those whose countries will enable the importation of Westies may find the logistics challenging. 

Procedures include obtaining certification from a vet to prove the West Highland White Terrier is fully vaccinated and providing all the additional required veterinary documents before the travel. Furthermore, your country must approve the veterinarian to authorize the importation, and it will be your responsibility to ensure you use the services of a certified vet.

What are the Rescue Clubs for West Highland White Terriers?

There are millions of homeless dogs worldwide; many are purebreds needing homes. Adopting a West Highland White Terrier can be life-changing, not only for the dog but also for the adopter. If you prefer adoption over purchasing a pup from a breeder, then your first stop should be the National West Highland White Terrier Rescue website. A West Highland White Terrier rescue group is an excellent idea if you want to adopt an older dog or even a West Highland White Terrier mix.

West Highland White Terrier mixes adopted from a shelter may share physical characteristics of the breed, but their temperament may not match the breed standard. Shelters and rescues attempt to determine each dog’s personality through a series of evaluations; even if the dog’s temperament does not follow the breed standard, you can get the dog that suits your home. 

The adoption fee for a West Highland White Terrier from a rescue group or animal shelter will probably be between $200 and $300. Most dogs from rescue groups and shelters will be vaccinated, microchipped, spayed/neutered, and vetted before adoption

You can also reach out to your local rescue organization or animal shelter and ask if they have any Westies or related mixes available for adoption. If not, you can always put your name on a list so that when one comes in, you’re the first one they call.

Below is a list of registered rescue centers and kennel clubs to reach out to for guidance.

  • Westie Rescue of California
  • National Westie Rescue
  • Westie Rescue USA
  • West Highland White Terrier UK – PDSA
  • All Westie Rescue Inc. – Australia
  • UK Westie ReHoming
  • Westies in Need (WiN) – Canada

Facebook is another resource for pet adoption. You can search for West Highland White Terrier rescue groups in your region.

You can also search for adoptable West Highland White Terriers online on reliable websites such as

  • Petfinder.com
  • Adoptapet.com
  • Getyourpet.com
  • AnimalShelter 

West Highland White Terrier mixes may be available for adoption in shelters and rescues. If you want to adopt an AKC registered or a mixed breed West Highland White Terrier, the best first step is to contact shelters and breed-specific rescues to let them know you’re interested.

Below is a list of a few of many West Highland White Terrier mixes.

  • West Highland White Terrier x Schnauzer mix = Wauzer
  • West Highland White Terrier x Pug mix = Pugland
  • West Highland White Terrier x Poodle mix = Westiepoo
  • West Highland White Terrier x Papillon mix = Westillon
  • West Highland White Terrier x Pomeranian mix = Weeranian

What is the History of the West Highland White Terrier?

The West Highland White Terrier’s origin traces back to Scotland, where they were bred to hunt rats and other vermin. For hundreds of years, the Westie and other small terriers were used in homes and farms to control pest populations. While we don’t know precisely when the Westie started, there’s evidence of their existence dating back to the 1500s to 1600s.

The typical Westie traits come from their history as rat hunters. With their sharp intellect, high energy, strong prey drive, high speed, and powerful sense of smell, farmers and landholders were able to train Westies to track, chase and eliminate vermin. Their brash confidence helped in the hunt; Westies refused to back down when faced with their prey, regardless of their size.

The West Highland White Terriers began their second career as show dogs later in history. Even though they’d been around for hundreds of years, their first official showing didn’t occur until 1896 at a Scottish dog show. Just 10 years later, in 1906, Westies made their first appearance at an American Kennel Club show. The first official AKC registration of a West Highland White Terrier soon followed in 1908.

What is the Average Maintenance Cost for West Highland White Terriers?

The prices of Westies range between $700 and $1,800. The cost of a puppy from a registered breeder could vary, depending on the breeder you select, the location, the sex of the puppy, and, of course, the demand for the breed at the time. 

The bloodline of the puppy and its parents could also affect the price. You will likely not be hard-pressed to find this breed in a shelter, but if you do, the price could be $300 to $500, based on the cost of care provided while keeping the West Highland White Terrier and extras like vaccinations and sterilizations. 

It is always best to consider annual expenses related to maintaining your West Highland White Terrier and its well-being before purchasing. The first year will be the most expensive, as puppies require extra vet care and more one-time purchases like microchips, sterilization, licensing, etc. You can expect to spend about $6,900 for your dog’s first year. After that, the price will go down to about $2,100 a year. 

Food and medical only, excluding toys, food and water bowls, cages, doggy blankets, beds, etc., could cost an average of $850. The most regular annual expenses for dogs similar to the West Highland White Terrier are listed below.

  • Food items
  • Veterinary care
  • Vaccinations
  • Preventive medicine
  • Toys
  • Pet insurance
  • Pet Supplies

Other potential expenses include training, socializing, doggy daycare, dog sitters, dog walkers, etc. Grooming would likely add a significant amount to the maintenance costs of Westies because they need occasional professional grooming to trim and bathe the West Highland White Terrier’s white coat.

How to Name a West Highland White Terrier?

Choosing a name for your West Highland White Terrier involves essential building blocks, including the significance of the sound. The West Highland White Terrier’s name will mean something to the humans in the dog’s life, but for your canine companion, only the sound matters.

Westies respond best to two-syllable names that are not short enough to be confused with single-syllable command words like “sit,” stay,” “come,” and “down.” However, the names should not be long enough to become puzzling.

It is always a good idea not to rush into choosing a name. Spending a week or so with your new West Highland White Terrier pup, and its character traits might be all the inspiration you need. Call out any name ideas, using different tones and sounds for the two syllables, and watch your puppy’s reaction to the sound. Remember, you must compose a sound that your West Highland White Terrier will recognize from a distance, among many other sounds.

Choose a name that could sound different in regular interaction, yelling, or calling your West Highland White Terrier. Below is a list of suggestions of names for Westies.

West Highland White Terrier Names

Honoring their Scottish Roots

 (But let’s do it properly – Add Wee to puppy names and replace it with Mac for Adults )

West Highland White Terrier Boy Names

West Highland White Terrier Girl Names



It means bright fame, but just rolls off the tongue and drips cuteness



The national flower of Scotland



It is a play on words but is a fabulous name for a Westie – all cute and fluffy



After the misty moors of Scotland



A true Scottie name meaning one choice



Translated means white hawk; a lovely name for a white Westie



After a traditional Scottish dish



Can mean beautiful and that applies perfectly to a Westie



It means a painted warrior – but is perfect for a Westie who originated from Scotland



Means Scotland, a short sweet name suitable for a female Westie

What are the Different Types of West Highland White Terriers?

West Highland White Terriers share their origin with four other Scottish vermin hunting terriers. These short-legged terriers of Scotland are now recognized as the Scottish, Skye, Cairn, and Dandie Dinmont Terriers. The Westie was the latest breed to be added after initially being part of the Cairn Terrier. All undoubtedly descend from the same roots. All of these dogs were valued as intrepid hunters of small game. Originally, their coat colors ranged from black to red to cream or white.

What Dog Breeds are Similar to the West Highland White Terrier?

Westies may not be too difficult to find, but purebreds are expensive and involve long waiting lists. Finding a West Highland White Terrier at a rescue center might be equally challenging because they are so popular. However, as wonderful of a dog as the West Highland White Terrier may be, they aren’t for everyone. Here are some breeds that are similar to the Westies. Below is a list of similar breeds that might be a good match for your family.

  • Cairn Terrier: The Cairn Terrier is one of the earliest working dogs out of Scotland. The breed was given the name because its function was to hunt and chase quarries between the Scottish highland cairns.
  • Yorkshire Terrier: The definitive lapdog, a Yorkshire Terrier is one of the smallest dog breeds. It achieves a maximum weight of seven pounds and reaches a maximum height of nine inches. Terriers at heart, the Yorkshire exhibits many of the breed’s more bodacious characteristics.
  • Border Terrier: The Border Terrier is a rough-coated, compact terrier dog breed. Bred to hunt fox and vermin, this terrier shares ancestry with the Bedlington Terrier and Dandie Dinmont.

Michael Brady

Michael is an animal-lover who specializes in marketing. He started running Dog Food Care with his mother, Sarah, after leaving his office job. Michael gained enough flexibility in his schedule to be able to adopt a dog of his own and welcomed Emmie the dachshund into his home in 2020.