The West Highland White Terrier, or "Westie," is a joyful, loving, devoted, playful, feisty and strong-willed dog. He loves and craves companionship and wants to be at the center of your life and activities. He's a busy dog who always seems to be into something! You can leave him alone for a few hours at a time, but not for too long, because if allowed to become bored he will entertain himself buy barking noisily, digging up your yard, or chewing your furniture. You'll need to give him a good deal of attention to keep him satisfied and occupied. He is a high-energy dog who needs a moderate amount of exercise yet is always ready to play. He is active both indoors and out, and needs chances to romp and play games. He would much rather run in the yard than lie around on the couch. He needs a daily walk. When outdoors, he should always be on a leash or in a safely enclosed area, as he will chase after any small creature that moves. He is not the kind of dog who can be left alone in a yard, and needs a good sturdy fence to play behind. He can be assertive around others dogs, especially those of the same sex, so you must be careful about this; however he generally doesn't fight them. He can get along with dogs he knows, and cats if he is raised with them as a puppy, but may be not trustworthy around smaller pets. He is friendly to strangers and likes people, yet he makes an excellent watchdog because he is fearless, self-assured, and will bark with all his might at any unexpected sound or visitor. He is a vocal dog who may bark too much, and must be trained not to do this. He is trainable, but can be stubborn and independent, and often prefers to do things his own way. He needs a variety of training tasks to keep him interested, and you will need to be firm, patient and positive to teach him. He does not like harsh methods or handling. He is good with older, considerate children, but since he doesn't respond well to rough play and can sometimes be possessive of his toys and food, he may not be a good pet for younger ones. He is a clean, odorless dog who virtually doesn't shed, and so would be a good pet if you like your home neat.
The West Highland White Terrier is 9 to 12 inches tall (to shoulders) and weighs 13 to 20 pounds. He has a double coat consisting of a medium-length, wiry, straight outer coat and a soft, thick undercoat. His coat color is white.
His coat needs to be brushed occasionally. Pet coat: Clipped short every few months. Show coat: Stripped (dead hairs plucked out) every few months.
The West Highland White Terrier originated in Scotland, and is descended from Cairn and Scottish Terriers who were bred for a white coat that would not be confused with the coat of a fox. He was bred to hunt fox, otter, and rats, and was shown in England during the 1800's. He was admitted to the AKC in 1908. The West Highland White Terrier Club of America was formed in 1909. The "Westie" was only moderately popular until the 1960's, when his fame began to spread and he became the sought-after pet and companion that he is today. His AKC popularity was 35th out of 157 breeds in 2007.