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West Highland White Terrier Temperament: Spirited and Active

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Welcome to our blog post on the West Highland White Terrier, also known as the "Westie," a dog that has been climbing the popularity ladder for years.

 If you consider inviting this spirited and active breed, you're in for a delightful adventure!

Renowned for their charming personalities and boundless energy, Westies have captured the hearts and homes of dog lovers worldwide.

In this blog post, we'll delve into various aspects of this beloved breed, from its fascinating history to temperament, frequently asked questions, potential health concerns, intriguing, fun facts, and, ultimately, whether the Westie is the right furry companion for you. So, grab a cup of tea or coffee, cosy up with your pup (or future pup-to-be), and let's explore the wonderful world of West Highland White Terriers!

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West Highland White Terrier History: Where are Westies from?

The West Highland White Terrier's roots run deep in Scotland, where it earned renown as a skilled hunter of badgers, foxes and otters. Bred for its resilience, sure-footedness and tenacity in the field, this breed emerged as an indispensable companion in the rugged terrain of its homeland.

Westies are one of five distinct Scottish terrier breeds: the Skye Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Dandie Dinmont Terrier, and Cairn Terrier. Their history is intertwined, and the word "Terrier" comes from the Latin word Terra, which means Earth. Terriers were, therefore, bred for the purpose of "going to ground."

The Westie is known to be from the Argyllshire area.

West Highland White Terrier Temperament
The Westie is a Scottish breed.

Westies were bred as working dogs. These small Terriers were required to follow foxes, otters and badgers through bushes, undergrowth and between rocks. For this reason they had to have a deep chest, sturdy build, powerful hindquarters and muscular legs.

Their temperament must be that of an "ideal" companion. Hardy, confident, self-reliant and courageous.

Before 1891, the West Highland Terriers carried different colours, from fawn to black. Close relatives to the West Highland Terrier are the Cairn Terrier and the Scottish Terrier. Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm is credited with only breeding and promoting the white version of the Westie. After shooting one of his favourite dogs during a hunting accident, he vowed this would never happen again. The white version was much easier to spot in undergrowth.

They were also known under different names, including the Poltalloch Terrier and the Roseneath Terrier before settling on the West Highland White Terrier officially at the Crufts show in 1907. In the US, the West Highland Terrier was also first registered falsely as the Roseneath Terrier, and two years later, the name was subsequently changed.

Colonel Malcolm of Poltalloch in Glasgow founded the world's first West Highland Terrier Club in 1905. The Westies we see today are direct descendants of these white Poltalloch Terriers.

Another interesting fact is that the Cairn Terriers and West Highland White Terriers were commonly interbred before official registrations. When litters were born bearing darker-coloured and white puppies, the coloured dogs were deemed Cairn Terriers, and the whites West Highland White Terriers.

Same as with other dog breeds, the World Wars weren't kind to the breed, and it is only down to a handful of faithful Westie lovers that the breed still exists.

Tracing the history of the West Highland White Terrier, we uncover a timeless tale of tradition and tenacity. From its humble beginnings in the Scottish Highlands to its global prominence, the Westie's journey exemplifies the enduring bond between humans and dogs—a bond forged in the crucible of history and friendship.

The below numbers show a steady love for the breed in the United Kingdom. In 2023, 1183 little puppies were registered with the UK Kennel Club.

Total 2022

Q1 2023

Q2 2023

Q3 2023

Q4 2023

Total 2023







What is the Temperament of the West Highland White Terrier?

The West Highland White Terrier, or Westie, embodies vitality, confidence, and courage, making it a cherished companion in many households. With their constant smiles and attentive gazes, they effortlessly blend into family activities, radiating joy wherever they go.

However, their sociability prompts them to seek human company, making them less suited to being alone. So, considering a furry addition to your family is worth pondering: Why choose a breed renowned for its companionship if their happiness thrives on being part of the action?

Westies are the ultimate companions, always eager to be part of the action and never wanting to miss out on a fun moment. They'll stick to you like a shadow, curious noses sniffing out every sound and movement – whether it's the fridge being opened, a bag crinkling, or the front door opening. But don't mistake their curiosity for neediness; they're intrigued by the world around them and have an insatiable appetite for adventure.

West Highland White Terrier Temperament
Westies are social butterflies.

When training these inquisitive pups, incorporating an element of mystery can work wonders in piquing their interest and encouraging their participation.

Westies are the social butterflies of the dog world, greeting humans and fellow canines with open arms (or, should we say, open paws!). Their outgoing nature and boundless curiosity make them fearless explorers of the world around them.

With the confidence of a giant packed into a petite frame, they fearlessly approach every new experience head-on. However, their boldness can sometimes land them in hot water, especially if they are in a tiff with a larger dog. It's all part of their spirited charm!

Thanks to their friendly nature and adaptability, Westies make excellent companions for first-time or less-experienced dog owners. However, training them requires finesse, as they can be a tad stubborn. Adding a dash of mystery to their training regimen and some tasty treats for negotiation can work wonders. While they're quick learners, they can pick up bad habits fast, which may take extra effort to unlearn.

Their small stature makes them perfect for city living, although they're equally at home in the countryside. But don't be fooled by their size; Westies are anything but lapdogs. They're tough and resilient, ready for any adventure that comes their way.


Daily exercise is vital for these pups, as they have a strong work ethic ingrained in their DNA. Providing mental and physical stimulation is essential; otherwise, they may resort to mischief-making. So, be prepared to keep up with their lively spirit and adventurous antics!

It's worth noting that Westies tend to bark. While training can help mitigate this behaviour, some may still bark at the slightest movement. Additionally, their innate hunting instinct can pose challenges when cohabitating with smaller animals like rabbits or hamsters.

Despite your best training efforts, a Westie off-leash and catching a whiff of an enticing scent can prove difficult to rein in. Their love for chasing squirrels, cats, or rabbits is deeply ingrained and may persist despite your training.

When guarding the home, the Westie is a natural pro. Its sharp bark alerts you to potential intruders. Despite its petite size, it possesses the classic Terrier tenacity, ensuring it'll stand its ground to protect its territory.

Grooming takes more effort and time. Their medium-length fur requires regular trimming to maintain a tidy appearance, especially since their white coat can quickly show signs of mud and dirt. Fortunately, their coat is resilient and bounces back in quality swiftly after a good shampoo, keeping your Westie looking and feeling its best.

Overall, we are not surprised this little Terrier is so popular worldwide! Now, let's look at some frequently asked questions about the Westie.

Is a Westie a good family dog?

Yes, Westies make fantastic family dogs with their friendly and pleasant nature. They thrive on being part of the family activities and adore spending time with their human companions. Their playful and affectionate demeanour makes them great playmates for children, and they form strong bonds with all household members. Plus, their small size makes them well-suited for indoor living, fitting right into the hustle and bustle of family life. So, if you're looking for a furry addition to your family dynamic, a Westie could be the perfect fit!

Are Westies good with children?

West Highland White Terrier Temperament
Westies are better suited to older children.

Westies can be wonderful companions for children when appropriately socialised and trained. Their spirited and affectionate nature often makes them well-suited for family environments.

However, it's important to supervise interactions between Westies and children to ensure a safe environment.

Children should ideally be ten years or older, as younger children may not fully understand how to interact safely and respectfully with a dog.

It's important to teach children how to treat a dog gently and kindly, approach a pet, and play with it appropriately. Additionally, due to their high prey drive, Westies can sometimes become overstimulated, especially during play, so monitoring their interactions and providing appropriate outlets for their energy is crucial.

Early socialisation and positive reinforcement training can help foster a harmonious relationship between Westies and children, promoting a positive and enriching experience for both parties. As with any decision regarding pet ownership, careful consideration of the individual temperament of the dog and the children involved, along with guidance from reputable sources, is advisable.

Are West Highland White Terriers hypoallergenic?

Yes, they can be, but there is a but. While these pups are often touted as low-shedding, it's crucial to acknowledge that allergies can vary significantly from person to person. Even if a dog doesn't shed much, allergens like dander and saliva can still trigger reactions.

The idea of hypoallergenic dogs is widely discussed, but it's wise to approach it cautiously. While some individuals may find certain dogs easier to tolerate due to lower allergy-triggering proteins, complete allergy relief isn't guaranteed.

It's important to note that allergens aren't solely present in a dog's fur; they can also be found in dander, saliva, and urine. Despite Westies' reputation for minimal shedding, allergens can still linger in their environment. However, with regular grooming and upkeep, allergen levels can be reduced.

One notable advantage of Westies is their consistent coat maintenance year-round. Unlike breeds prone to seasonal shedding, Westies maintain a steady coat, making them a suitable option for those looking to minimise allergens in their home.

When considering a West Highland White Terrier as a pet, consulting with a veterinarian or allergy specialist is essential to assess individual sensitivities and determine the best approach for managing allergies. Additionally, opting for responsible breeding practices and reputable sources can ensure the well-being of both the dog and its prospective owners.

Has a Westie ever won Crufts?

Yes, three West Highland White Terriers have won the Best in Show Award at Crufts, one of the most prestigious dog shows globally, which has been held since 1928. The first Westie to claim this title was Dianthus Buttons in 1976, emerging victorious among a competitive field of 9,818 other participating dogs.

Following suit, Olac Moon Pilot, affectionately known as Paddy, secured Westies's Best in Show title in 1990. It wasn't until 2016, a span of 26 years, that the first female Westie, Burneze Geordie Girl, nicknamed Devon, clinched the supreme award. Described by her owner as a typical tomboy and a delight to be around, Devon's win marked a significant milestone for the breed at Crufts.

Has a Westie ever won Best in Show at Westminster?

The West Highland White Terrier has achieved the pinnacle of success at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show twice, claiming the prestigious Best in Show title in 1942 and 1962. Ch. Wolvey Pattern of Edgerstoune made history as the first Westie to ascend to this esteemed position, showcasing the breed's exceptional qualities.

The second victory belonged to Ch. Elfinbrook Simon ended a long streak of Poodle winners, further solidifying the Westie's place in the spotlight. However, with newfound fame comes a high price; the surge in popularity can attract unscrupulous breeders who prioritise quantity over quality. Hence, enthusiasts must remain vigilant and prioritise responsible breeding practices to uphold the breed's standards and welfare.

6 Gift Ideas for Westie Lovers

Sometimes, it's nice to have a keepsake or a daily reminder of your Westie. Or maybe you have obsessed Westie lovers and are looking for the perfect gift. We are here to help! Below is an idea of six gifts for Westie lovers.

westie temperament

Gift Idea for Westie Lovers #2: Handmade Wire West Highland Terrier

westie temperament

Gift Idea for Westie Lovers #3: Westie Scarf

Westie Temperament

Gift Idea for Westie Lovers #4: Westie Coaster

Westie Temperament

Gift Idea for Westie Lovers #5: Westie Greeting Card

Westie Temperament

Gift Idea for Westie Lovers #6: Westie Mug

Westie Temperament

Westie Temperament in a Nutshell

  • Spirited and Confident: Westies are known for their spirited and confident demeanour, often displaying the classic terrier tenacity.

  • Sociable and Friendly: They are highly sociable dogs who enjoy meeting new people and can get along well with other dogs.

  • Curious and Inquisitive: With boundless curiosity, Westies love to explore their surroundings and investigate new sights and sounds.

  • Alert and Protective: Despite their small size, Westies make excellent watchdogs. Their sharp bark alerts their owners to potential threats.

  • Energetic and Playful: These little dogs have a lot of energy and love to play, making them great companions for active individuals or families.

Top 10 Female Westie Names  

Top 10 Male Westie Names  

Potential health issues in the West Highland White Terrier breed

Although a relatively healthy breed, the Westie can be susceptible to specific health conditions. Being a responsible owner, it's essential to be aware of them to spot issues early and proactively. Providing your Westie with a balanced diet and plenty of exercise is the recipe for a long and joyful life.

The below conditions can be linked to the breed:

Atopic Dermatitis: A common allergic skin disease that often manifests in Westies and leads to itching, redness, and skin irritation. This breed's predisposition to the condition underscores the importance of proactive management and veterinary care.

Patellar Luxation, a condition in which the kneecap dislocates from its normal position, can affect Westies, causing discomfort and lameness. Regular monitoring and appropriate intervention, such as surgery if necessary, are crucial in managing this orthopaedic issue in the breed.

Hip Dysplasia, a developmental condition in which the hip joint doesn't form properly, is a concern in West Highland White Terriers, potentially leading to pain and mobility issues.

Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture: An orthopaedic injury can occur in Westies, resulting in lameness and joint instability.

Cataracts: A clouding of the lens in the eye can develop in West Highland White Terriers, potentially leading to vision impairment or blindness. Eye examinations, as well as health certificates, can help detect cataracts early.

Liver Shunt: A congenital abnormality where blood bypasses the liver is a concern in West Highland White Terriers, leading to various symptoms like stunted growth, neurological issues, and urinary problems.

Craniomandibular Osteopathy is a developmental disorder causing abnormal bone growth in the skull and jaw, leading to pain, difficulty eating, and swelling around the jaw. Veterinary evaluation and treatment, including pain management and, in severe cases, surgical intervention, are essential for managing this condition and alleviating discomfort for affected dogs.

West Highland White Terrier Temperament
Westies can live up to 16 years.

Keeping a close eye on your Westie's health, scheduling regular vet visits, and staying proactive is critical in addressing potential health concerns and keeping these cherished companions happy and thriving. Early detection and intervention can make a difference in maintaining the quality of life for Westies affected by these conditions.

West Highland White Terrier Fun Facts

The Scottish White Terrier, which later evolved into the West Highland White Terrier, has a rich history dating back to the reign of James VI of Scotland, who ruled from 1567 to 1625. These early ancestors of the Westie were recorded during this period.

The term "West Highland Terrier" didn't come into common usage until much later. It was first documented in the book "Otters and Otter Hunting" by L.C.R. Cameron, published in 1908. This book marked the earliest known reference to the breed by this name.

Is the Westie the right dog breed for me?

Deciding if the West Highland White Terrier is the perfect fit for you requires thoughtful consideration. Remember, dogs are yearlong companions, not just for Christmas. With their affectionate and people-oriented nature, Westies thrive on companionship and may not fare well if left alone for long periods.

They're known for their happy-go-lucky attitude and adapt well to city living thanks to their compact size. However, be prepared for some landscaping adjustments – their penchant for digging might leave your garden with a few extra features!

While they're fantastic protectors who will fiercely guard their loved ones, they may not be the best match for young children due to their tenacious nature. Remember that grooming requires a fair amount of time to keep their white coat looking pristine.

Despite these considerations, Westies make lovely companions for those seeking loyalty, affection, and a dash of spirited charm. So, if you're ready for a devoted sidekick who will protect you with all their heart, the West Highland White Terrier might be your perfect furry friend!

Owners voices

"To follow soon"

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West Highland White Terrier Summary Info box



Dog Size

25cm - 30cm

Dog Weight

7kg - 10kg

Bitch Size

23cm - 28cm

Bitch Weight

6kg - 7kg



Feeding Need


Tendency to drool


Energy level


Tendency to bark


Tendency to dig


Attention need



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