Dogs 101: West Highland White Terrier Westie – Animal Facts
The West Highland White Terrier or Westie, as he is affectionately called, sports an attitude as rugged as his homeland, but lovers of this wee white terrier have grown to love him for more than just his bravado. Let’s get to know this tenacious and intelligent terrier.
Let’s get started, but before we start, make sure to hit that subscribe button and click the bell icon to become part of our notification squad.
10. This 15 to 22 pound but sturdy earthdog is among the most popular of the small terrier breeds. The West Highland Terrier was bred in northwestern Scotland, specifically in the West Highlands, oddly enough. He was bred to hunt small game such as fox and rabbits in the rugged terrain of the Scottish Highlands as well as to keep vermin such as rats and mice under control in homes, barns, farms and even coal mines.
Scottish white terriers were recorded as early as during the reign of James VI of Scotland, who reigned between 1567 and 1625.
But, the term “West Highland White Terrier” only first appears in the book Otters and Otter Hunting by L.C.R. Cameron, published in 1908. At various times during the breed’s existence, it has been considered a white offshoot of both the Scottish Terrier and the Cairn Terrier breeds.
9. The breed comes from tragic beginnings. The Westie’s snow-white fur helped him stay visible during hunts. In the 1800s, Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm of Poltalloch, Scotland was hunting with a pack of Cairn terriers. Unfortunately, he accidentally shot his favorite dog, mistaking it for prey.
Malcolm then vowed to only hunt with white dogs, which could easily be seen even when obscured by foliage.
Some Cairn terriers and Scottish terriers are born white, so these lighter-furred dogs were bred until the offspring were consistently white, which he initially called Poltalloch Terriers, after his estate.
8. Like many terriers, sometimes call Earthdog breeds, the Westie is born to burrow. When burrowing underground to flush out game, the Westie need to be able to squeeze through some pretty tight spots.
His bullet-shaped body helps him wiggle through underground caverns to chase after his prey. Also, like most terriers, he’s a proficient digger and has a strong drive to do so.
It’s not a good idea to leave your Westie unattended outside and you’ll likely need to add underground fortification to your fence. He may also be a bit overly enthusiastic about helping you in the garden.
7. Luckily, if he gets stuck in a hole he can’t get himself out of, his tail is a convenient retrieval tool.
Like the dachshund and other burrowing breeds, the Westie has been bred to have an extra sturdy tail that can be used to yank him out of holes.
6. If you live somewhere where barking is unacceptable, the West Highland White Terrier is probably not the best breed for you. For a small dog, he packs a big bark. He was originally bred for hunters to be able to hear him barking underground. Your apartment walls stand no chance.
And he finds it his job to alert you to everything from passing cars to that pesky squirrel out on the patio.
5. He makes an excellent alarm, but don’t expect him to be much of a guard dog. He’s more likely to welcome any stranger right on in. He’s a happy little dog, who’s friendly toward strangers. He’s especially affectionate with family and kids and being a hunting breed gets along well with other dogs.
He may not be as accepting of cats, but he can adapt. His strong prey drive means he needs to be carefully watched around small pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs though.
4. The Westie is intelligent, independent, and determined. These traits sometimes lead stubbornness. And this can certainly be the case with the strong-willed West Highland White Terrier, which can cause some training difficulties if training becomes boring or is too harsh.
With proper praise and treats, your West Highland White Terrier can be taught a variety of commands, especially if you start young. Remember: training should always be kept positive and fun.
Westies don’t respond well to negative training methods such as yelling or harsh leash corrections.
3. The West Highland White Terrier sheds little and is easy to groom. Regular brushing and clipping or stripping twice a year keep your Westie’s wiry coat looking great. His outercoat naturally sheds away dirt and debris he might accumulate in your garden.
2. The little Westie has sensitive ears when it comes to sun exposure, so some sunscreen is recommended if you plan on spending a lot of time in the sun. He might not be the best pooch to take to the beach. The lack of pigmentation makes him quite susceptible to sunburn.
1. To Recap the Westie is a rowdy, independent, but friendly breed, who’s affectionate nature makes him great with families. Training can be a bit difficult, but doable. And the Westie can live in almost any environment, as long as he can get long periods of play every day.
The West Highland White Terrier is a bold, confident, fun-loving, intelligent dog who can find joy in the simplest pleasures of life, such as squeaky toys, a belly rub, and food. His happy disposition and love of life make him a favorite for many, in spite of his mischievousness.
If you like this video, check out some of our other videos here. Don’t forget to subscribe and hit that notification bell for more fun, fauna facts. And as always, catch ya next time.