Did you know?
The Westie is notable as the mascot for “Black & White” Scotch Whisky and appears on the label with a Scottish Terrier.
More recently, a Westie has appeared on TV commercials as the face of Cesar brand dog food.
West Highland White Terrier
Every dog should have a man of his own. There is nothing like a well-behaved person around the house to spread the blanket for him, or bring him his supper when he comes home man-tired at night. – Corey Ford
A close relative of the Cairn Terrier, the West Highland White Terrier or “Westie” is part of the family of dogs who were once called the Scotland terriers. Fanciers of the breed sometimes referred to him as the “Highlander”.
Bred in his native Scotland to be a hunter of fox and otter, he was created to be a dog with great agility, courage and stamina. The rough terrain of his homeland filled with plentiful rocks and crags necessitated a dog who could move quickly and easily over the countryside in pursuit of his prey.
Sandy and brindle coloured dogs were initially common. However, some hunters preferred the all white members of this family as they were easiest to see and distinguish from their quarry. Over time, throughout the various regions of Scotland there were white terriers each with a different name that referred to the area where the dog was bred.
The developer of the modern Westie is credited to Edward Donald Malcolm, 16th Laird of Poltalloch. History or legend has it that one of his dogs, a reddish-brown terrier was mistaken for a fox and shot. After this, Malcolm decided to develop a white terrier breed, which became known as the “Poltalloch Terrier”. Interestingly, Malcolm did not want to be known as the creator of the breed and insisted that his breed of white terriers be renamed. In the early 1900s, the dogs became known collectively as the West Highland White Terrier. The new name first appeared in Otters and Otter Hunting by L.C.R. Cameron, published in 1908.
Photos displayed courtesy of Gisela Tundis, Alba Westies, Ontario
The Westie stands 11 inches (28 cm) tall at the shoulder. He has a straight, wiry, double coat that provides protection from the teeth of his prey as well as the climate of his home country. It is always solid white in colour and is 2 inches (5 cm) long. His ruff of hair around his head acts as a frame for his face giving the dog his characteristic Westie appearance. With his black button nose and bright dark eyes, the Westie is an engaging little dog.
Though small, this is a tough little character with the spunky personality and outgoing nature common to terriers, although he seems to be less pushy than other terriers. He is a very social dog and considered to be the friendliest of the terriers hailing from Scotland.
He is affectionate, playful, fun loving, and active. At the same time, he can be stubborn which can make for challenging times when training. In fact, he may need to go on refresher training courses over the course of his lifetime!
The Westie loves the company of people, and is a wonderful playmate for children but may not tolerate really rough play. Alert, bold, and loyal, he also makes an excellent watchdog.
As with most terriers, the Westie will stand his ground against other dogs regardless of size, and will benefit from early training and socialization. Intelligent and assertive, early training will also help curb his instinct to chase other household pets, particularly cats.
Westies retain their earth dog instincts such as barking and digging, and have a high prey drive. They are very interested in toys and enjoy chasing balls and sticks. In fact, they can become quite food and toy possessive.
His small size makes him a good choice for almost any accommodation in both the city and the country. He enjoys walks and play time and has a high activity level. The Westie’s exercise needs can be met with a daily walk. Make sure your yard is fenced and escape-proof. Remember, this dog’s a digger!
The Westie is very a very popular dog that has been featured in movies and television. He is currently the face of Cesar dog food and Scotch whisky Black & White.