West Highland Terrier – Spunky & Friendly

The Westie is a hardy and fun dog that can bring a busy storm of activity to a household. He’s friendly, energetic and a willing and able companion.

General Appearance and Description

The West Highland Terrier is a descendant of the Cairn Terrier. The story goes that in the mid-19th Century, a Scotch breeder once ended up with a litter that included white puppies. Those puppies were selected to create the West Highland Terrier, often called the West Highland White Terrier. Though it might be obvious from that name, he is a white dog.

While the Westie was initially bred to help control rat, fox, otter and other similar populations, Westies are actually excellent companion pets.

The sweet Westie is a dog that is much hardier than his small size might suggest. He usually has a coat that’s about two inches long and is partnered with a soft, dense undercoat. The ears are almost always pointed and erect, and this gives him an alert look that is accurate – this dog is usually ready for any activity.

Though it might be obvious from his name, the West Highland White Terrier is a white dog.

Basic Temperament

If you want a dog that’s easy to train and is happy to get along with everyone he meets, the Westie dog is for you. He’s friendly to strangers, gets along well with children, enjoys travel and is spunky. This is not a lethargic dog, but one that has energy to spare.

In fact, spunky is the best way to define this dog. He’s almost the definition of a small dog. He enjoys barking, digging and being with people. He’s happy to sit on your lap, or chase a ball. He’s happy to meet new people and is a loyal companion to his people.

While he enjoys being with other pets, he will chase a cat for entertainment.

While the Westie is friendly and fairly easy going, he can display symptoms of what’s commonly called “small dog syndrome.” This develops in smaller dogs that have owners who have not established themselves as the pack leader and don’t give proper direction to the dog. These dogs will attempt to right the wrong, and become the pack leader themselves. This is easily corrected by establishing yourself as the pack leader when Westie puppies are still young.

Care Required

West Highland Terriers are fairly easy to care for, as their straight, short hair sheds little and requires just a regular brushing with a stiff brush. Bathing is not necessary if you brush him often, as that will help to keep the coat clean.

The Westie does require a regular trim around the eyes and ears with small scissors. You should take your Westie to the groomer about four times a year for a trim and the fur should be stripped twice a year.

Exercise Requirements

These dogs might be little, but they do have high activity requirements. They need a daily walk, which will take care of their most urgent activity needs. While they enjoy playing, they must get the walk to take care of their activity needs.

While they have high activity needs, West Highland Terrier Puppies and dogs will do fine in smaller houses and homes without yards.


The Westie is an eager to please dog that will take well to training. In fact, due to his high activity level, basic obedience training is not just desirable, but necessary.

Height and Weight

The male West Highland White Terrier will be about 10 to 12 inches tall, and the female will be about 9 to 11 inches tall. The male will weigh 15 to 22 pounds, while the female will weigh 13 to 16 pounds.

Health and Longevity

Most Westies are healthy dogs and live long, healthy lives. They can suffer from some basic problems, however, including chronic skin conditions, hip problems, liver disease, and hernias.

Most Westies will live to be 15 years old or older.


Westies are well suited to both city and country living. They can live in small spaces or larger spaces, and can do well in homes with yards and homes without yards.

These dogs are great with children and, because they pride themselves on being supreme companion dogs, they are also great with senior citizens. No matter the household arrangement, they will make themselves an undeniable part of the household life.

Finally, while the Westie is a small dog, he makes a good watchdog.

More Information

Further information about the West Highland Terrier can be found here.

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