Breed Group: Terrier
Height: 10 to 11 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 15 to 22 pounds
Life Span: 15 to 20 years
You may recognize the Westie from his long-running stint as the mascot for Cesar pet food, but he’s more than just a cute face. A true terrier, he’s a fast and clever hunter, plus his lighthearted nature makes for a pet who’s always game for some fun.
Did You Know the West Highland White Terrier Loves to Dig, Run, and Pounce on Small-Furry Creatures?
Legend has it that the West Highland White Terrier was bred for his distinctive snowy fur so he could be spotted while hunting fox and other brown- and red-coated creatures.
Few breeds “clean up” as stylishly as the West Highland White Terrier, evidenced by the iconic image of a well-coifed Westie sporting a smart, tartan-patterned rain slicker. He’s comfortable in the city, the suburbs, and the country. At their best, Westies are energetic, people-oriented dogs, beloved and admired for their bright white coats and shiny, shoe-button eyes.
Although the Westie may look cuddly, he’s too busy to hang out in your lap for very long. Thanks to his high energy levels, he lives to dig, run, and pounce on small, furry creatures. Some carnage is inevitable when living with these terriers — hunting is hard wired in Westies, and training can’t reverse the instinct. Fans say that Westies are independent dogs with a lot of energy; detractors may use words like “noisy” and “destructive.” Either can be true, so it’s essential to find a breeder who strives to produce dogs with stable, happy temperaments.
These dogs need plenty of exercise and playtime, as well as proper training to eradicate nuisance barking and digging. Westies are well suited for competing in American Kennel Club earthdog trials; they also excel at agility, obedience, flyball, and other canine sports. These activities stimulate his bright mind and channel his boundless energy, keeping him from excavating your garden or driving neighbors crazy with incessant barking.
The West Highland White Terrier’s rough coat sheds, but it can be minimized with weekly brushing or combing and occasional trips to a professional groomer. Most pet Westies are kept clipped, but the proper breed look requires hand-stripping, a tedious job that involves removing the entire dead coat in small amounts with a special tool.
Westies love to be around people, so they need to live indoors, as members of the family — otherwise they’re likely to turn into noisy, destructive, and very unhappy dogs.
Other Quick Facts About the West Highland White Terrier
Westies are busy little dogs who always need something to occupy idle time.
Thanks to the texture of the Westie’s coat, mud brushes out easily and falls off when it’s dry.
If a Westie is raised with cats, he can learn to get along with them, but strange cats and other furry critters who venture onto his property may not fare as well.