Breed Organization West Highland White Terrier Club of America Website:
http://www.westieclubamerica.com Native Country Scotland Other Names West Highland White Terrier, Roseneath Terrier, Poltalloch Terrier Life Expectancy Approximately 12-16 Years Litter Size Average 3-5 Puppies Breed Group AKC Terrier
Breed Appearance The West Highland White Terrier, commonly known
as the Westie or Westy, is a Scottish breed of dog with a
distinctive white coat. The modern breed is descended from a number
of breeding programs of white terriers in Scotland prior to the 20th
century. Edward Donald Malcolm, 16th Laird of Poltalloch, is
credited with the creation of the modern breed from his Poltalloch
Terrier, but did not want to be known as such. Other related breeds
included George Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll's Roseneath Terrier and
Dr. Americ Edwin Flaxman's Pittenweem Terriers. The breeds of small
white Scottish terriers were given its modern name for the first
time in 1908, with recognition by major kennel clubs occurring
around the same time.
Breed Description Head: Round. Slightly domed skull.
Pronounced stop. Nose bridge narrows toward the nose. Heavy
eyebrows. Strong jaws. Ears: Small, carried tightly erect. Terminate in a sharp point. Eyes: Medium size, wide set, not round. Color as dark as
possible. Body: Compact. Muscular neck. Chest is well let down. Ribs well
sprung. Powerful hindquarters. Tail: 12.5 to 15 cm long, covered with hard hair. As straight
as possible. Carried proudly but not gaily and not curving over the
back. Hair: Approx. 5 cm long, straight and hard. Undercoat is short,
soft, and dense. Coat: White. Size: 28 cm (11 in). Weight: 6 to 8 kg (13,2-17,7 lb).
History The short-legged terriers of Scotland are now
recognized as the Scottish, Skye, Cairn, Dandie Dinmont, and West
Highland White Terriers. All undoubtedly descend from the same
roots. All of these dogs were valued as intrepid hunters of small
game. Originally, their coat colors ranged from black to red to
cream or white. Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm, of Poltalloch,
Argyllshire, Scotland, is generally credited with breeding the white
dogs true, although he took none of the credit unto himself. He had
kept a pack of light colored working terriers for hunting. As the
legend goes, a reddish dog of his, emerging from cover, was
mistakenly shot for a fox. Malcolm is said to have decided on the
spot to breed only for white dogs that could be readily identified
in the field. The breed was listed officially as the West Highland
White Terrier in 1907 at the Crufts dog show in England. The name
was chosen for the rugged character of the dogs and the area of
their development. The West Highland White Terrier Club of America
was founded in 1909.
Behavior This rustic, lively, courageous, independent,
stubborn dog has a strong personality. He is an affectionate,
cheerful pet that loves children. This excellent little guard dog
also sounds the alarm at the least provocation. The Westie is a
skilled hunter whose prey is fox, badger, and other vermin. If he
receives proper, firm training, the Westie makes an excellent
addition to the household.
Health The breed is predisposed to conditions found in
many breeds, such as abdominal hernias. Westie puppies may be
affected by Craniomandibular osteopathy, a disease also known "lion
jaw", and is sometimes also referred to as "westie jaw". The disease
is an autosomal recessive condition and so a puppy can only be
affected by it if both its parents are carriers of the faulty gene.
The condition appears across many breeds, including several
different types of terrier, as well as other unrelated breeds such
as the Great Dane. It typically appears in dogs under a year old,
and can cause problems for the dog to chew or swallow food.
Radiographic testing can be conducted to diagnose the condition, in
which the bones around the jaw thicken; additionally the blood may
show increased calcium levels and enzyme levels.
are prone to skin disorders. About a quarter of the breed surveyed
are affected by atopic dermatitis, a heritable chronic allergic skin
condition. A higher proportion of males are affected compared to
females. There is an uncommon but severe breed-specific skin
condition that may affect West Highland White Terriers affecting
both juveniles and adult dogs. This condition is called
Hyperplastic Dermatosis. Affected dogs can suffer from red
hyperpigmentation, lichenification and hair loss. In the initial
stages, this condition can be misdiagnosed as allergies or less
serious forms of dermatitis.
An inherited genetic problem
that exists in the breed is globoid cell leukodystrophy. It is not
breed specific, and can appear in Cairn Terriers and other breeds
including Beagles and Pomeranians. It is a neurological disease
where the dog lacks an enzyme called galactosylceramidase. The
symptoms are noticeable as the puppy develops, and can be identified
by the age of 30 weeks. Affected dogs will have tremors, muscle
weakness, and trouble walking. Symptoms will slowly increase until
limb paralysis begins to occur. Due to it being a hereditary
condition, it is recommended for owners to avoid breeding affected
animals in order to eliminate it from the breed. Another genetic
condition that affects the breed is "White dog shaker syndrome". As
this condition is most commonly found in Westies and in Maltese, the
condition was originally thought to be connected to the genes for
white coats, however the same condition has since been found in
other non-white breeds including the Yorkshire Terrier and the
Dachshund. The condition typically develops over one to three days
resulting in tremors of the head and limbs, ataxia and hypermetria.
Affected males and females can be affected for different lengths of
time, with symptoms in females lasting for between four to six
weeks, while males can be affected the rest of its life.
Other less common conditions which appear in the breed include
hydroxyglutaric aciduria, which is where there are elevated levels
of alpha-Hydroxyglutaric acid in the dog's urine, blood plasma, and
spinal fluid. It can cause seizures, muscle stiffness, and ataxia,
but is more commonly found in Staffordshire Bull Terriers. A
degeneration of the hip-joint, known as Legg–Calve–Perthes syndrome
also occurs to the breed. However the chances of this condition
occurring are much higher in some other breeds, such as the
Australian Shepherd or the Miniature Pincher.
Advice This little dog adjusts well to life as a house
dog provided he gets long walks. Daily brushing is required.
Maintaining the white coat requires special care. Professional
grooming is unnecessary unless the dog spends a lot of time