Initially bred for ratting, the West Highland White Terrier (nicknamed the Westie or Westy) is a breed of small-sized, smart, confident dogs easily recognizable by its harsh white coat. It comes with round-shaped head, medium-sized, almond-shaped eyes, small, erect ears, blunt muzzle, muscular neck, very deep chest, reasonably straight, well-boned forelegs, moderately short, powerful hind legs, and relatively short, carrot-shaped tail.
|Other Names||Roseneath Terrier, Poltalloch Terrier, White Roseneath Terrier|
|Coat||Double-layered, straight, hard outer coat|
|Size of Litter||3-5 puppies|
|Temperament||Friendly, alert, hardy, independent, courageous|
|Good with Children||Supervision required around younger children|
|Barking||Medium to high|
|Country Originated in||Scotland|
|Competitive Registration/Qualification Information||FCI, ACA, ACR, ANKC, AKC, APRI, CET, CKC, DRA, KC (UK), NAPR, NZKC, UKC|
From the rich nobles and landed gentry to poor farmers in Britain, all were plagued by rodent infestations, which caused a lot of damage to grain stores and spread diseases. They wanted to develop an array of ‘earth dogs’ that could find and kill rats. Although the origin of the Westie is unclear, it is believed that all the terrier breeds from Scotland, including the West Highland White, Skye, Cairn, Dandie Dinmont, and Scottish share the same ancestry.
The modern Westie, as we know it today, was developed from the white Poltallochs that were bred by the Clan Malcolm on their estate during the 18th century for exterminating rats. Therefore, the breed was also named the Poltalloch Terrier. Since early breeding was also done in Roseneath, it was alternatively named the Roseneath Terrier.
By 1896, the breed first participated at Scottish dog shows where it was called the West Highland White Terrier, indicating to the northwest region of Scotland where it earned its fame. In 1906, the Westie first appeared at AKC shows.
A confident, fun-loving dog, the Westie can find pleasure in the simplest things in life, including a rub in its belly, playing with squeaky toys, or eating its food. Although it can be mischievous, its friendly and happy personality along with its irresistible looks makes it a favorite companion for many.
Despite its small stature and plush-toy look, the Westie is surprisingly a tough working terrier that is always alert and active. It retains the instincts of a self-reliant ratting terrier and likes to bark and dig holes. Although it is least likely to start a fight, it will not back away from a challenge if provoked.
It can coexist with everyone in the family, but is better suitable for families with older children. Same-sex aggression is common in Westie, especially if it is one of the two males in the group. It should not be kept with small pets like rabbits, birds, and cats because of its inherent prey drive.
The Westie is fairly easy to train because of its intelligence, devotion, and the ability to learn quickly. Make sure the training is kept positive, consistent, and fun.
Introduce your Westie to other dogs, humans, and animals at a young age. Let it have a lap or make the rounds around the park where it can meet and greet unknown pets and their owners. You may set up playdates at your friends’ home with their dog. When introducing your Westie, ensure that the other dog is friendly. If you see signs of discomfort like putting the tail between its legs, yawning, and excessive panting, then act accordingly.
Since your Westie can occasionally have an independent streak and may think that it is the boss, you should train it for obedience. Teach some basic obedience commands, including sit, come, and down using food rewards. Moreover, teach the quiet command for curbing its excessive barking. If it barks when a stranger is at the door, activate its bark by ringing the doorbell. After it starts barking, pause for a few seconds and then say quiet. Follow it with some treats to keep your Westie silent. Repeat the training several times.
Give your Westie half to one-and-a-half cups of high-quality commercial dry food on a daily basis. Get your veterinarian’s approval and make sure the diet is appropriate to your dog’s age.