West Highland White Terrier.jpg
Breed Group Group 6: Terrier Breeds
Sub-group 6-C: Small Terriers
Origin Country Scotland
Weight Males: 15-22 pounds. Females: 15-22 pounds.
Height Males: 10-12 inches. Females: 9-11 inches.
Other Name(s) Westie
Breed Type Pure
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West Highland White Terrier

Breed Group Group 6: Terrier Breeds
Sub-group 6-C: Small Terriers
Origin Country Scotland
Weight Males: 15-22 pounds. Females: 15-22 pounds.
Height Males: 10-12 inches. Females: 9-11 inches.
Other Name(s) Westie
Breed Type Pure
click here for FULL BREED STANDARD

Origins

The West Highland White Terrier, or Westie, shares a similar history with the Cairn and Scottish Terriers. Evidence of these white, rough-coated Terriers has been recorded in Scotland for centuries, going as far back as the reign of James VI and I (King of Scotland and England from 1567–1625). It is originally believed that the West Highland White Terrier is a white variation of the Scottish Terrier and Cairn Terrier’s ancestors. These Terriers were originally utilized to eradicate vermin and hunt badgers. Dark coat colors, such as brindle and black, as well as the wheaten and sandy Terriers, were traditionally considered to be hardier than the white dogs, which were often viewed as being inferior in strength, health, and tenacity. In fact, many early dog breeders culled their white dogs. However, the white specimens eventually gained popularity, and they were noted for being much easier to see and differentiate from the quarry.

The lighter-colored dogs that were produced were known by many names, including Roseneath Terriers, Pittenweem Terriers, and Poltalloch Terriers, with the latter named after the 16th Laird of Poltalloch, Edward Donald Malcom. Malcom was the man most regarded for the development of these white-coated Terriers. However, Malcom insisted that the name be changed, and eventually the breed was called the "West Highland White Terrier". The white-coated Terrier was first established as a recognized breed in his native Scotland in 1904 and given Kennel Club recognition in 1907.

From that point on, as the Westie spread to other countries across the globe, including the United States, his popularity spread along with him. Upon arriving in the U.S., the Westie became an immediate hit. The snow-white coat on such a plucky and gritty personality, along with his convenient size made the Westie a novel favorite to many! Today, the Westie is one of the most popular and easily recognized terrier breeds throughout the world.

Breed Characteristics

Head: Mesaticephalic skull type, moderate in size, somewhat wedge-shaped under the coat, and in proportion to the rest of the body. The topskull is broad and long in comparison with the muzzle. In profile, it is slightly domed, with a less noticeable arch when felt across the top or viewed from the front. It tapers just slightly from ears to eyes toward the muzzle. The brows are prominent and may slightly protrude beyond the eyes.
The head is clean-cut without excess skin or wrinkle.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to almond in shape, and dark brown in color. They are set deep under prominent brows and somewhat wide apart, they are capable of a piercing look. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are round or never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: Small in size, set wide apart on the outermost edge of the skull. They are carried firmly erect and sharply pointed. Coat on ears is preferably trimmed short to accentuate a rounded head shape. The ears are never long, overly large, or broken. Cropped ears are a disqualification.
Muzzle: The muzzle is full and broad. The plane, or bridge of the muzzle, is straight. It should never appear dished or convex. The muzzle tapers gradually from the base to the tip of the nose. Upper and lower jaws are well-developed, approximately equal in length, have good bone substance, and never appear snipy or weak.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black. The nostrils are well-opened.
Neck: Moderate length to allow for proud head carriage and strongly muscled with a slight arch. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut, without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep and broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows.
Body: Compact, solid, deep, close-coupled, and of good substance. The body is never racy or refined. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Feet: Oval to round and compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.
Tail: Set high on the croup. It is thick at the base and tapering toward the tip, and carrot-shaped. The tail is carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, set high on the croup, and carried gaily when alert, but never tucked. Tails should be left natural, and never docked. Tails are somewhat short to medium in length, with the tip of the last vertebrae being level with the head when held upward.
Movement: The Westie moves with unrestricted, effortless, efficient, and energetic movement. It should appear powerful and determined. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.
Temperament: The Westie is a true terrier at heart and temperament. Confident, plucky, courageous, independent, and loveable, Westies carry a lot of dog in a small package. Like most Terriers, the Westie can be easily triggered by smaller animals, so unless well-socialized from early on, it is not recommended that they be housed with smaller animals. Some are known to become testy with other dogs as well, so the need for early socialization is high for this breed. True to their Terrier nature, Westies also require a bit of obedience training to curb their impulsive nature. However, with a great socialization and companion obedience regimen, they make wonderful companions and working dogs. They are intelligent and capable of learning many tricks, tasks, and disciplines. Being true terriers, they aren’t afraid to get that beautiful white coat dirty, either. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.
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Breed Standard

BREED GROUP 6: Terrier Breeds

Proportions: Square to just slightly off-square with length of the body, measured from the point of the forechest to the point of the rump being equal to or just slightly greater than the height at the withers. The ideal body height to length ratio is between 1:1 and 10:9. The body from the point of the withers to the base of the tail is slightly shorter than the height at the withers. The body is well-put together, with sturdy substance and medium bone.

Head

General Appearance: Mesaticephalic skull type, moderate in size, somewhat wedge-shaped under the coat, and in proportion to the rest of the body. The topskull is broad and long in comparison with the muzzle. In profile, it is slightly domed, with a less noticeable arch when felt across the top or viewed from the front. It tapers just slightly from ears to eyes toward the muzzle. The brows are prominent and may slightly protrude beyond the eyes.
The head is clean-cut without excess skin or wrinkle.
Expression: Keen, piercing, alert, watchful, and inquisitive.
Stop: The stop is definite, preferably forming a minimum of a 90-degree angle between the topskull and muzzle. A depression or indention in the stop may be present.
Skull: The ideal muzzle-to-skull ratio is 3:2, with the topskull being longer than the muzzle.
The ideal muzzle-to-skull axis is convergent.
Muzzle: The muzzle is full and broad. The plane, or bridge of the muzzle, is straight. It should never appear dished or convex. The muzzle tapers gradually from the base to the tip of the nose. Upper and lower jaws are well-developed, approximately equal in length, have good bone substance, and never appear snipy or weak.
Lips or Flews: Lips are clean and fit tightly over the teeth and jaws. They are darkly pigmented.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black. The nostrils are well-opened.
Cheeks: The cheeks are smoothly muscled. They should not appear chiseled or coarse.
Dentition and Bite: Forty-two strong, clean, white teeth. Bite may be level, scissor, or reverse-scissor. Contact must be made between the top and bottom incisors. Missing or broken teeth as a result of routine work is not to be penalized.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to almond in shape, and dark brown in color. They are set deep under prominent brows and somewhat wide apart, they are capable of a piercing look. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are round or never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes.
Ears: Small in size, set wide apart on the outermost edge of the skull. They are carried firmly erect and sharply pointed. Coat on ears is preferably trimmed short to accentuate a rounded head shape. The ears are never long, overly large, or broken. Cropped ears are a disqualification.

Body and Tail

General Description: Compact, solid, deep, close-coupled, and of good substance. The body is never racy or refined. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Neck: Moderate length to allow for proud head carriage and strongly muscled with a slight arch. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut, without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep and broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows.
Topline: Level from slightly prominent withers to croup. The back is broad, strongly muscled, and straight, yet supple. The loin is taut, flat and level, or slightly arched, yet supportive. The back is never long, swayed, or roached.
Croup: Flat and level with the back.
Underline: Slight tuck-up present. The underline is taut and firm, without any indication of sagging or excess weight.
Ribs: Long, well-sprung, well-laid-back, and oval-shaped, but never barrel-chested or slab-sided.
Tail: Set high on the croup. It is thick at the base and tapering toward the tip, and carrot-shaped. The tail is carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, set high on the croup, and carried gaily when alert, but never tucked. Tails should be left natural, and never docked. Tails are somewhat short to medium in length, with the tip of the last vertebrae being level with the head when held upward.

Forequarters and Hindquarters

Forequarters: Forequarters are always in balance with the hindquarters. Forequarters are well-angulated with well-laid-back shoulder blades. Shoulder blades are approximately equal in length to the upper arm and forearm.
Elbows: Elbows are close to the body. The point of the elbows is approximately half the dog’s height at the withers.
Forelegs: Frontal View: Straight, of good muscle, moderate bone, and parallel to one another.
Side View: The forelimbs appear straight with strong pasterns.
Pasterns: Never weak or broken.
Hindquarters: Upper thigh and lower thigh are equal in length, strong, sturdy, of moderate bone, and well-muscled.
Rear View: When viewed from the rear, the rear pasterns are parallel to one another.
Side View: Good angulation will allow the rear toes to align with the point of the rump or within one to two paw-lengths behind the point of the rump, with the rear pasterns remaining perpendicular to the ground and parallel to one another.
Stifle Joint: Well-angulated with a good bend to well-let-down rear pasterns.
Angulations: Angulation of hindquarters is always in balance with angulation of forequarters.
Feet: Oval to round and compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.

Coat

Skin: Well-fitted, yet supple. The skin should never obstruct the outline of the dog.
Coat Type: Straight, hard, double coat approximately 2 inches in length. Undercoat is short, soft, close, and abundant. Moderate furnishings on stomach and legs slightly longer and softer. Never with wave, curl, or fluffiness. The tail is well-furred, but free of feathering or fringing.
Coat Color or Pattern: Solid white to very light wheaten, all with black points (eyes, eye rims, nose, lips, toenails and feet pads).

Movement

The Westie moves with unrestricted, effortless, efficient, and energetic movement. It should appear powerful and determined. The characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.

Temperament

The Westie is a true terrier at heart and temperament. Confident, plucky, courageous, independent, and loveable, Westies carry a lot of dog in a small package. Like most Terriers, the Westie can be easily triggered by smaller animals, so unless well-socialized from early on, it is not recommended that they be housed with smaller animals. Some are known to become testy with other dogs as well, so the need for early socialization is high for this breed. True to their Terrier nature, Westies also require a bit of obedience training to curb their impulsive nature. However, with a great socialization and companion obedience regimen, they make wonderful companions and working dogs. They are intelligent and capable of learning many tricks, tasks, and disciplines. Being true terriers, they aren’t afraid to get that beautiful white coat dirty, either. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.

Faults

All dogs should be in proper healthy condition, free from disease or defect. Any departure from this description is considered a fault. Unless altered, all male dogs should have two fully descended testicles.