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West Highland Terrier (Westie) - Small Breed Dog Profile

Updated: Apr 2

West Highland Terrier at the beach

West Highland Terrier (Westie): A Small Breed Dog with a Big Personality


The West Highland White Terrier, fondly referred to as the Westie, is a small dog celebrated for its delightful character and captivating appearance.

This comprehensive guide will delve into the origins of the West Highland Terrier, its intended purpose, physical characteristics, grooming requirements, exercise needs, and more.

These little dogs bring much joy to their owners' lives.


“Cheeky, funny, intelligent and full of spirit, West Highland terriers — or Westies, as they’re universally known — are dogs with bags of character.

West Highland Terriers are one of the most instantly recognisable breeds of dog in Britain, not least because of their starring role as the face of Cesar dog food.” - Country Life


Origin of the West Highland Terrier


The West Highland Terrier hails from Scotland and is part of the terrier group primarily bred for hunting vermin.

These small dogs were developed in the 19th century to hunt foxes, otters, and other small game. Their distinctive white coats made them easily distinguishable in the field.

West Highland Terrier Purpose and Temperament


West Highland Terriers were bred to be skilled hunters. They have a bold and tenacious temperament that suits their hunting purpose.

However, they are also known for their cheerful and friendly disposition. This disposition makes them excellent companions, combining courage with a loving heart.

West Highland Terrier Physical Characteristics


The Westie is a small and sturdy dog. They have a compact, well-balanced body with a distinctive white double coat.

Their outer coat is straight, wiry, and easy to groom. The West Highland Terrier's expressive eyes and erect ears add to their charming appearance.

Their coat colour is, as the name suggests, predominantly white.

West Highland Terrier Grooming Requirements


Moderate grooming needs due to their wiry coat. Regular brushing and occasional grooming are necessary.

Grooming a West Highland Terrier is relatively easy compared to other terrier breeds.

It's important to brush their coat regularly to prevent matting, and they should undergo hand-stripping a few times a year to preserve their distinctive texture.

Regular trimming of their coat will help keep them clean and comfortable. Grooming is not just about aesthetics; it also contributes to the dog's well-being.

West Highland Terrier Exercise Requirements


West Highland Terriers need moderate exercise; Westies enjoy play and short walks. Despite their small size, West Highland Terriers are lively and active dogs.

Daily exercise is necessary for them to ensure their health and happiness. Regular playtime and walks are essential to keep them mentally and physically engaged.

Their energy and curiosity make them enthusiastic explorers.

West Highland Terrier Characteristics


Lively, confident, and known for their white, fluffy coat. Suitable for individuals or families. They are known for their alertness and make excellent watchdogs.

These little dogs are always ready to sound the alarm when someone approaches.

West Highland Terrier Lifespan and Age Range


When provided with proper care, West Highland Terriers generally have a 12 to 16-year lifespan. This is a relatively long life expectancy for a small breed.

West Highland Terrier Measurements


Height: 9-11 inches (23-28 cm); Weight: 13-22 pounds (5.9-10 kg).

West Highland Terrier Health Issues


While Westies are generally healthy dogs, they can be prone to certain health conditions, including skin issues, hip dysplasia, and genetic eye disorders.

For their well-being, it's essential to provide them with regular veterinary check-ups, a well-balanced diet, and suitable exercise.

FAQs west highland terrier westie


Is a Westie a Good Family Dog?

West Highland Terriers are known for their friendly and affectionate nature, making them excellent family dogs. Their lively personality and cheerful disposition can bring joy to the whole family.

Can Westies Be Left Alone for 8 Hours?

While Westies are adaptable and can handle being alone for moderate periods, there may be better options than regularly leaving them alone for 8 hours.

These social dogs may experience separation anxiety. Proper training and gradual adjustments can help them adapt to more extended periods of solitude.

Is the Westie a Low-Maintenance Dog?

West Highland Terriers have relatively low grooming maintenance compared to other terrier breeds. Maintaining their wiry coat is a fairly straightforward process.

Still, they require regular brushing and occasional hand-stripping to preserve their appearance.

Is a Westie Cuddly?

Westies are often quite cuddly and enjoy physical affection. Their friendly disposition makes them delightful companions, and they often seek opportunities for cuddles with their owners.

Do Westies Like to Go on Walks?

Yes, West Highland Terriers typically enjoy going on walks. They are active dogs and benefit from daily exercise to keep them happy and healthy.

Do All Westies Bark a Lot?

Westies are known for their alertness, which can sometimes lead to barking. However, individual tendencies may vary. Effectively training and socialising them can be instrumental in managing their barking preferences.

Are Westies High Maintenance?

West Highland Terriers have relatively low grooming needs. Still, their lively nature and need for daily exercise can make them moderately high-maintenance in terms of physical and mental stimulation.

Do Westies Like to Be Held?

Many Westies enjoy being held and cuddled. Their affectionate disposition makes them quite receptive to physical affection from their owners.

Do Westies Get Attached to One Person?

West Highland Terriers can form strong bonds with multiple family members and often show affection to everyone in their household. They are known for their loyalty to their human family.

Can You Leave Westies Alone?

While Westies can handle being left alone for moderate periods, it's essential to provide them with proper training and gradual adjustments to help them adapt to alone time.

Why Do Westies Stare at You?

Westies often stare at their owners as a sign of affection and attachment. This behaviour reflects their strong bond with their human family.

Why Does My Westie Follow Me Everywhere?

Westies are known for their loyalty, and following you everywhere is a sign of their attachment and desire to be near their beloved owners.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for veterinary advice. For specific veterinary dog health advice, contact a veterinary pet healthcare provider.

At Mary Puppins, we prioritise your cherished pets' well-being, offering a haven of comfort and care during their stay.

Our commitment is to ensure your small breed dogs are treated like family, receiving top-notch attention and care.

BOOK NOW via our website. We have limited places and get booked up super fast. Give your little dog the five-star VIP holiday they deserve, while you enjoy yours.

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Mary Puppins, West Highland Terrier, Westie

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Kate Phillips, Chief Editor

BSc (Hons), MSc

Kate is the UK's very own Mary Puppins, a professional Dog Nanny, an expert in small breed dogs and a pet parent to her own beloved small dogs.

With over 30 years' experience and successfully helping high profile celebrity pet parents raise their furry families,

Kate shares her top tips with you.

Kate guides readers on small dog breeds, dog health, dog training, dog nutrition, dog food, dog walks, dog accessories, dog enrichment, rescue dogs, dog behaviour, dog grooming and the best products for dog mums and dog dads to create the ultimate lifestyle for their small dogs.



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