The breed of the West Highland White Terrier – "Westie" for short – was recognised in 1905. Originally it was bred for hunting in the Scottish Highlands. He has retained his hunting instinct, even though today he is mainly a family dog.
Character and needs of the Westie
The Westie is – like all pets – not a toy, but a bright and lively companion. Thanks to his intelligence and joy of playing, he quickly learns the necessary good manners and will participate in all activities with enthusiasm.
The Westie is intelligent, loyal and playful. His affectionate and cheerful character makes him an ideal and child-loving family dog, who can be with you always and everywhere.
Even if the Westie as a low-running terrier does not demand much space, his urge to move should not be underestimated. He has a lot of endurance and needs to be kept busy.
Like all terriers the Westie is used to independent thinking. Educated with loving consistency, he is very docile and masters even the difficult obedience tests with bravura. Also those who like dog sports will find him an ideal partner.
Origin of the breed and historical background
For centuries in the Scottish Highlands and on the islands of Western Scotland, farmers and gamekeepers, but above all noble families, clans, have kept terriers of various breeds as work packs. The different regional terrier breeds were demonstrably crossed with each other, whereby especially the lovers of white dogs paid special attention to colour unity and distinct working qualities. Through crossbreeding they sought to consolidate and secure the development of certain characteristics. West Highland White Terriers are therefore – like the other Scottish terrier breeds – without doubt classic products of the 19th century – the century of cynology.
Instead of eliminating the white or light sand-coloured puppies that repeatedly appeared in the litters of Scottish working terriers of that time, Colonel Malcolm of Poltalloch, among others, built up his breeding with just these dogs. The Poltalloch Terriers of Colonel Malcolm are indisputably the most important branch of the ancestors of the West Highland White Terrier. After the Colonel had confused one of his reddish-brown terriers with a fox and shot it, he decided to breed only white working terriers.
Pure breeding and recognition of the breed
These white terriers were kept exclusively for work, and it took decades before they could be bred in pure colour. Until 1924, white puppies from Cairn Terrier litters could still be registered as West Highland White Terriers. On paintings of the animal painter Edwin Landseer from 1839 you can already see West Highland White Terriers. In January 1905 the first "White West Highland Terrier Club" was founded in Scotland with the Duke of Argyll as Honorary President and Colonel Malcolm of Poltalloch as President, in order to promote the breeding of this terrier breed. The first standard was established. In 1906 the West Highland Terrier Club of England was founded. The breed was recognised by the British Kennel Club under the name West Highland White Terrier in 1907.
Although the West Highland White and the Cairn Terrier have the same ancestors, selection breeding has produced two breeds with quite different characteristics.
The Westie today
The Westie has become known and popular all over the world as an advertising medium and was considered a fashion dog for years. This has not been good for the breed, many dogs have been used in non-controlled breeding without checking their health. Diseases and weakness of character are preprogrammed. To fight against these machinations is one of the tasks of controlled breeding in the framework of FCI and ÖKV.
The Westie from the serous breeder is cheerful, courageous and enterprising, robust and long-lived – a family member who is with you everywhere!