The Adorable
West Highland Terrier

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West Highland Terrier
West Highland White Terrier
Weight: 15 — 21 lbs
Height: 10” — 11”
AKC Rank 2008 #34
Life Span: 12—14 yrs
Group Terrier
Origin Scotland

  • Books - Reading For Westies
  • Health, Dog Illness, Medical For Westies

Dog Breed Info - West Highland White Terrier

Westie waiting for Santa
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Breed Overview

This adorable, playful little dog was on television, selling “Caesar” brand dog food.

The West Highland Terrier was originally used to hunt and dispose of vermin in barns and homes. They were also used to hunt otter, badger and fox in the mountains of Western Scotland.

At one time, the Westie, Skye, Cairn and Scottish Terriers were all considered one breed. The AKC first registered the West Highland White Terrier as the Roseneath terrier in 1908, but the name was changed to West Highland White Terrier in 1909. Since then it has become one of the most popular dogs in the country.


Very easy to train, especially with clicker training and positive reinforcement. It's easy and dogs love the method. Pick up a clicker for around $3 at a pet store today!

Crate Training

Want to crate train your West Highland Terrier? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

A Westie catches a Frisbee at the beach.descriptive text>

Potty Training

The West Highland Terrier is generally easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.


The busy West Highland Terrier is always happy and in the thick of things. It is affectionate and demanding and one of the friendliest terriers of all....

The Westie is not always friendly toward small animals. The Westie can be independent and stubborn when it wants. It can also be barky and dig substantial holes if under exercised.

Small dogs have a natural problem in that they often want to dominate the house and everyone in it. Small dogs must be heavily socialized starting very young and continued on. They need an owner and family that understands dogs and how to exert a firm but kind "pack leader" (alpha dog) dominance role over them. It is very important not to let the dog think he's "boss!"

This is an adorable family dog that craves attention from his humans.

If you happen to get a Westie with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Gets along pretty well with other dogs. The Westie is not an aggressive dog, but is wary of some larger dogs.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

Moderate. Usually will adapt.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Most Westies like people in general.


Very playful. Will run in circles and play with older children for long periods of time.

How fast can a Westie REALLY run?
Check those dirty brown paws!

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The Westie is very affectionate. A Westie is a loving little package.

Good with children

Yes, older children only. 6 or 7 years and up. The West Highland Terriers won’t put up with too much nonsense such as pushing, yelling and poking.

Good with Seniors over 65?

Yes, this is a loving, affectionate friend. If you can walk and toss a ball, the Westie is a good dog for you to have on your lap and running around your chair. If longevity is an issue, look for a Westie Rescue group and find an older dog that's already house trained and ready to go.

Living environment

Apartment, farm, big city all OK. This is an indoor dog. She doesn't need a big yard, just the chance to get out and walk on leash a bit.

Energy level

Fairly high energy dog. I’d give him 8 bars out of 10.


Exercise needs, daily

Some play time in the yard or park and a good walk or two will do it. If you want, you can put this little dog on leash and go jogging for several blocks but just don't overdo it.


Yes, the Westie has a loud bark.

Guard dog

No. Too small to be effective.




Grooming is necessary for the West Highland Terrier. Fur must be clipped and plucked. The white is difficult to keep white. Frequent brushing and infrequent bathing are necessary. A professional groomer is your best bet. The outer coat is wiry and tough to deal with. The eyes, ears and mouth must be kept clear of hair.

Bring my guitar to me
I think I'm gonna sing!

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Suggested Reading For The Westie

  • The book at the left is a very scarce Owners Manual that tells everything from how to train your Westie to how to groom him. It's a highly rated, comprehensive book that unfortunately is in short supply at this time.

  • 2nd book from the left is "50 Games To Play With Your Dog" which the Westie will love. The games are easy to teach and play. They'll keep your dog entertained for hours and it's a great way to bond.

  • 3rd book from the left is "101 Dog Tricks" and the name says it all. The tricks are easy and fun. Energetic dogs love this kind of entertainment and "show-off" stuff.

  • The book on the right is by the American Red Cross and deals with dog illness, emergencies and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners. This is Vol 2, 2008 and includes a DVD for CPR and the Heimlich and much more!

    NEW Just Added:

  • Westies: From Head to Tail


Westie Breeders Info

In the event you decide to go looking for Westie puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
West Highland White Terrier Breeders with puppies for sale.

West Highland Terrier Rescue Info

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of a Westie and are looking for a West Highland Terrier Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - West Highland Terrier Rescue. At the time of this writing, Petfinder only shows 263 Westies available NATIONWIDE. These dogs are scarce!
Adopt A Pet Look for local West Highland Terrier Rescue groups, foster homes, and dog kennels in your newspaper classifieds. When you do find one to adopt, look for dog health records and save for possible future reference.

Health Issues For The West Highland Terrier
Below: The dog health or illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Westie by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.This is the list of Westie illnesses:

  • Globoid cell leukodystrophy—Major issue for the Westie. A shortage of a particular enzyme needed for normal metabolic processes in the body. This disease causes death due to deterioration of white matter in the brain. The disease is found in puppies and they usually die before reaching a year of age.

  • Pulmonary Fibrosis—A terminal lung disease that is commonly found in middle age and older West Highland White Terriers. It is also found in humans. Little research has been done; not much is known about the disease. Symptoms: No desire for exercise and the dog will have difficult and rapid breathing. As the disease and exercise increases, so will coughing and rapid, labored breathing. The dog will be perfectly healthy otherwise. As the breathing becomes more intense, euthanasia before death from lung failure is usually the final step. A common problem in the West Highland Terrier,

  • Westie limping - Hip, Hind End Problem In West Highland Terriers - Legg-Perthes—A disease of the hip joint in young dogs. It is a deforming of the femur head where it fits into the pelvic socket and is generally noticed at around 6 to 8 months age. The disease affects small and toy breeds like the Westie and can range from mildly debilitating to totally debilitating. It’s very painful and the dog will have a lame leg at the affected hip. Pain can become severe in some dogs and the dog will go from occasional limping to continuous carrying of the leg. Severe muscle atrophy can set in with the appearance of shortening of the affected leg. Restricted joint movement is also a common sign Legg-Perthes. Surgery will usually restore a dog to a fairly normal life but prevention at the breeding stage is the right solution.

  • Pyruvate Kinase—A recessive, inherited hormone and a red blood cell deficiency in a Westie and will cause anemia and liver failure, leading to death between ages 1 and 4. The dog will be anemic, have no tolerance to exercise and have no energy. See a vet immediately.

  • Seborrhea—Hereditary. Skin disease. Itching and scratching. Unusually dry, flaky coat with the familiar “dog” odor. Sebaceous glands will produce a waxy, oily substance in the armpits, in the ears, under the Westie and around the elbow joints. Secondary ear and skin infections are common too. There are many, many causes and IF the vet can identify one and treat it, you’re lucky. It’s a tough disorder to pinpoint. Springer and Cocker Spaniels, the West Highland Terrier and Retrievers are among the most susceptible

  • White shaker disease—A problem found in small white dogs. The affected dog’s head and body actually “shakes” - sometimes mildly and in other dogs, a lot. Commonly found in the Maltese, Poodle and West Highland Terrier. The shaking can incapacitate the dog, cause her paws to land where she didn’t intend, cause rapid eye movement. Cause is unknown. Medication is given to relax the dog which helps subdue tremors. Tremors are reduced when the dog relaxes or sleeps. A vet must be seen for this rare disorder.

  • Copper toxicosis—Hereditary. A severe liver disease in the Bedlington Terrier and West Highland Terrier.... and is a copper accumulation causing many serious problems in the dog's body functions. It needs to be dealt with immediately with specific anti-copper treatments. The disease is detected by a liver biopsy. Approx. 50% of the Bedlington Terrier's in the USA will have this problem. It should be caught by the BREEDER.

  • Cataracts - Hazy or cloudy vision. If not treated, could lead to blindness.

  • Lens luxation—Hereditary. Weak fibers holding the lens of the eye allow the lens to dislocate. The eye can not focus. This leads to painful, red eyes that tear a lot and can lead to Uveitis or Glaucoma if not treated right away. If detected early, surgery and medication might solve the problem for the Westie.

  • Westie Limping,Hind Legs, Knee Caps In Westies- Patellar luxation—An unusually shallow spot on the femur, weak ligaments or misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint knee allow the knee cap (patella) to float in and out of position on the West Highland Terrier. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect either rear leg. It’s most common in small and toy dogs. If your dog has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs, has a lame leg and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

  • Urinary Bladder Cancer—Life threatening bladder stones blocking and making urination impossible. Can metastasize and spread quickly. Look for blood in urine, difficulty pooping, difficulty urinating, breathing problems, more frequent trips to urinate with little coming out. Go to the vet immediately for checkup. Survival will depend on where the cancer is, how far along it is and if it has metastasized or not.

  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca—(Keratitis) A fancy way of saying “dry eye.” Inadequate tear flow causes painful eye infections of a chronic nature. Causes vary from distemper to certain medications to removing the third eyelid tear gland.. Often treated with cyclosporine drops. or an ointment called cyclosporine topical therapy.

  • Deafness—Hereditary or caused by: Excessive loud noise, Intolerance to anesthesia, drug toxicity, and Otitis (middle ear infection), In some cases, one ear can have no hearing from birth and the other ear can be losing the ability to hear over time, undetected, then suddenly one morning the hearing is totally gone. There is no reversing once that happens.

  • Malassezia dermatitis—A highly itchy skin infection, usually around the ears, muzzle, inner thighs, eyes or feet. The West Highland Terrier may become frantic, chewing and scratching the ears and feet. If an ear infection, there might be a waxy discharge and smelly odor. The dog will be rubbing and pawing at the ear. Look for Malassezia in the summer, humidity and allergy seasons. Your vet will treat this with appropriate medications and bathing after a diagnosis.

Other problems could occur with your West Highland Terrier. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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