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West Highland White Terrier

WestHighlandTerrier

Intelligent and Easy to Train

Affectionate, Busy, Curious

West Highland White Terriers are extraordinary pets. While it is interesting to learn about the breeding purpose of West Highland White Terriers, their genetics actually influence health, outward appearance and behavior. Some behaviors make the West Highland White Terrier and some can be quite irritating! Understanding her unique needs will help you keep her healthy and will create a stronger bond between the two of you. Explore this page to learn more about where she came, which health conditions are a risk to her and how to keep her feeling her best.

Breed Details

Height:10-11" Weight:15-21 lbs Lifespan:12-15 years

Size
2

1=small 5=large

Grooming requirements
4

1 = little grooming - 5 = much grooming

Energy level
4

1 = low energy - 5 = high energy

Ease of training
4

1 = difficult - 5 = easy

Affection toward owners
5

1 = independent - 5 = very affectionate

Friendliness toward strangers
4

1 = shy - 5 = very friendly

Routine Care: The West Highland White Terrier makes a great travel companion due to her small size. She also tends to bark and dig, especially if bored.

Grooming: Brush her coat as needed, at least weekly. Hand stripping is also required.

Dental: West Highland White Terriers often have serious problems with their teeth, so you’ll need to brush them at least three times a week!

Ear Care: Clean her ears weekly, even as a puppy. Don’t worry—your veterinarian can show you how!


A true friend, the West Highland Terrier gets along with all. With socialization she enjoys children, other dogs and most strangers. Her easygoing nature and small size makes her the perfect travel companion.

Positive Traits:

  • Small and travels well

  • Vigilant watchdog with a ready bark

  • Always on the go, with a keen eye for adventure

  • Intelligent and easy to train

  • Compact - does well in small living quarters

Negative Traits:

  • Needs regular exercise to prevent chewing, digging, and other problems stemming from boredom

  • Can be snappy around children if not socialized properly

  • Coat requires regular grooming

  • Likes to dig

  • Needs frequent attention from her family


Whether you are considering adding a new West Highland White Terrier to your family or you already have one as a companion, it is important for you to know about the genetically linked diseases known to occur more often in this breed. Of course not every West Highland White Terrier will have these problems, but research shows your pal is more at risk than other breeds. 

By exploring the health concerns specific to the West Highland White Terrier you will become a knowledgeable and confident pet parent. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian about breed risks every time you visit and educate yourself on the most important signs to watch for at home. She’s counting on you to be her health expert.

Some health issues a West Highland White Terrier could encounter:

Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison's)

Diabetes

Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency

Eye Problems

Glaucoma

Cataracts

The West Highland White Terrier was developed in Poltalloch, Scotland, and was known as the Dog of Argyleshire. Westies were bred to control vermin and to hunt fox or otter. Today they are enjoyed as companion dogs. They are fantastic performers in conformation, agility, obedience, and earth dog trials. WHWTs are active, alert, intelligent, courageous, and fun-loving. They tend to bark and dig, especially if bored. Westies should be socialized early to other pets and children, as they may nip when irritated. West Highland White Terriers have an average life span of 15 years.

Consult with a veterinarian if your West Highland Terrier shows signs of the following:

  • General listlessness, droopy facial expression, vomiting, diarrhea

  • Increased hunger and thirst, weight loss

  • Weakness, pale gums

  • Blinking, redness, pain or itchiness around the eyes

  • Squinting, watery eyes, bluing cornea, redness, enlarged eye

  • Cloudiness to eye lens

  • Redness, squinting or greenish eye discharge

  • Excessive licking or chewing, pawing at face and/or ears, head shaking, face rubbing

  • Coughing, exercise intolerance, rapid breathing at rest

  • Coughing, especially at night or upon rising after sleeping, rapid breathing at rest

  • Low heart rate, tiring easily or fainting when exercising

  • General reluctance to run or play

  • Increasing hip pain at less than a year old

  • Depression, poor appetite, yellowing of the eyes

  • Slow or stunted growth; sometimes seizures after eating

  • Swollen lymph nodes or glands, unexplained weight loss

  • Puppy teeth alongside adult teeth

  • Pain or straining to urinate, bloody urine

  • Care

    Routine Care: The West Highland White Terrier makes a great travel companion due to her small size. She also tends to bark and dig, especially if bored.

    Grooming: Brush her coat as needed, at least weekly. Hand stripping is also required.

    Dental: West Highland White Terriers often have serious problems with their teeth, so you’ll need to brush them at least three times a week!

    Ear Care: Clean her ears weekly, even as a puppy. Don’t worry—your veterinarian can show you how!


  • Characteristics

    A true friend, the West Highland Terrier gets along with all. With socialization she enjoys children, other dogs and most strangers. Her easygoing nature and small size makes her the perfect travel companion.

    Positive Traits:

    • Small and travels well

    • Vigilant watchdog with a ready bark

    • Always on the go, with a keen eye for adventure

    • Intelligent and easy to train

    • Compact - does well in small living quarters

    Negative Traits:

    • Needs regular exercise to prevent chewing, digging, and other problems stemming from boredom

    • Can be snappy around children if not socialized properly

    • Coat requires regular grooming

    • Likes to dig

    • Needs frequent attention from her family


  • Health Concerns

    Whether you are considering adding a new West Highland White Terrier to your family or you already have one as a companion, it is important for you to know about the genetically linked diseases known to occur more often in this breed. Of course not every West Highland White Terrier will have these problems, but research shows your pal is more at risk than other breeds. 

    By exploring the health concerns specific to the West Highland White Terrier you will become a knowledgeable and confident pet parent. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian about breed risks every time you visit and educate yourself on the most important signs to watch for at home. She’s counting on you to be her health expert.

    Some health issues a West Highland White Terrier could encounter:

    Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison's)

    Diabetes

    Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency

    Eye Problems

    Glaucoma

    Cataracts

  • History

    The West Highland White Terrier was developed in Poltalloch, Scotland, and was known as the Dog of Argyleshire. Westies were bred to control vermin and to hunt fox or otter. Today they are enjoyed as companion dogs. They are fantastic performers in conformation, agility, obedience, and earth dog trials. WHWTs are active, alert, intelligent, courageous, and fun-loving. They tend to bark and dig, especially if bored. Westies should be socialized early to other pets and children, as they may nip when irritated. West Highland White Terriers have an average life span of 15 years.

  • Watch Out For

    Consult with a veterinarian if your West Highland Terrier shows signs of the following:

    • General listlessness, droopy facial expression, vomiting, diarrhea

    • Increased hunger and thirst, weight loss

    • Weakness, pale gums

    • Blinking, redness, pain or itchiness around the eyes

    • Squinting, watery eyes, bluing cornea, redness, enlarged eye

    • Cloudiness to eye lens

    • Redness, squinting or greenish eye discharge

    • Excessive licking or chewing, pawing at face and/or ears, head shaking, face rubbing

    • Coughing, exercise intolerance, rapid breathing at rest

    • Coughing, especially at night or upon rising after sleeping, rapid breathing at rest

    • Low heart rate, tiring easily or fainting when exercising

    • General reluctance to run or play

    • Increasing hip pain at less than a year old

    • Depression, poor appetite, yellowing of the eyes

    • Slow or stunted growth; sometimes seizures after eating

    • Swollen lymph nodes or glands, unexplained weight loss

    • Puppy teeth alongside adult teeth

    • Pain or straining to urinate, bloody urine

West Highland White Terrier Discussions

Share your thoughts and experiences, ask questions, or just show your love for the West Highland White Terrier breed here!

Select Another Breed

To view the sources for the information listed on this page, see our Dog Breed Guide Reference page.

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