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The West Highland Terrier (The Westie) - Small Dog with a BIG Personality!

Updated on January 28, 2010

Country of Origin: Scotland

Originally bred to hunt fox, badger and vermin, this small, yet spunky dog is in one word…ADORABLE! Despite its hunting past, the West Highland Terriers of today are popular family dogs and loyal companions. This popular dog breed stands nine to eleven inches in height, weighs fifteen to twenty-one pounds and lives approximately twelve to fifteen years. Westies are busy little dogs with big personalities! True West Highland Terriers are available in the color white only.

Though small, these little pups love exercise! They enjoy long walks and appreciate off-leash time at the local dog park. It should be noted that due to their "hunting instincts" it is important that they remained leashed when in an unenclosed area as any scent they find interesting will send them running! Though good with other animals (especially if they are socialized early and often as a puppy) these little dogs do love to chase…just about anything! Use caution if you have a smaller pet or cat as though the Westie means no harm…there is a good chance his chasing instinct will kick in and Felix will be sent running for cover!

Easy To Care For!

The West Highland Terrier has a coat that is generally easy to care for. Two GOOD brushings per week should keep his hair in good condition and tangle free. Most West Highland Terrier owners have their dogs professionally groomed every four to six months so that all dead hair can be removed and new hair can grow in properly. It is also important that the hair around their eyes and ears is groomed properly (for health reasons).

The Westie is an ideal companion for just about any family. They do well in the city…but thrive in the country as well. As long as they get two to three daily walks per day…they can live just about anywhere! This sensitive pup needs an owner who is willing to spend ample time in the training department as they most certainly have minds of their own and can be some-what stubborn. Training sessions MUST BE POSITIVE, consistent, loving, firm and reward based. Though training time is very important, the West Highland Terrier also needs a lot of love and attention! Happy to be in their owner's presence, the Westie loves to cuddle!


The West Highland Terrier is a VERY popular dog breed not only in the United States but around the world as well. If you are interested in adding one of these adorable and energetic bundles of love to your family PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do your homework FIRST! Because of their popularity, this breed has become a favorite among individuals that own and run puppy mills! Puppy mills are HORRIBLE operations that care more about making money than they do about the health and care of their dogs. If you do purchase a Westie…make sure you fully research the breeder (in order to make sure they are REPUTABLE!!!). In my opinion, the best way to go is adoption from a rescue group. Trust me, there are many West Highland Terrier rescue groups in the United States alone. Remember, when you breed or buy another dog dies!!! No matter whether you adopt a Westie, Beagle or even a Great Dane…adoption, is the BEST option!!! Now that you know my opinion on puppy mills, let's move on to common possible Westie health conditions!


The good news is that West Highland Terriers are generally healthy dogs! However, it should be noted that…like most "white coated breeds"…they can develop chronic skin problems. They are also prone to hip issues, hernias and liver disease. If you purchase a Westie from a REPUTABLE breeder, they should give you copies (or at least show you) the health records and papers of the "line" in which your dog comes from (parents, siblings, etc).

The West Highland Terrier is an affectionate, loyal, active, energetic, curious dog with plenty of personality! If you are searching for a big dog in a small dog body…this breed may be perfect for you!


Adorable, Energetic and Fun!
Adorable, Energetic and Fun!


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    • Cygstarz profile image

      Cygstarz 7 years ago from Maryland

      Hi Charlie...

      Thank you for your comment. I agree with you...Westies are WONDERFUL dogs! Though they are small, they certainly have big personalities and are so much fun. :-) Just as you feel lucky to have Mandi in your life...I'm sure Mandi is happy to have you :-)

    • profile image

      Charlie 7 years ago

      Very nice and accurate article. I have always wanted bigger dogs because I had no idea that such a small dog (as a Westie) could be so lovable, be so curious and bring so much fun and enjoyment to my family. My little Westie (Mandi) changed my whole attitude (and really my whole life)because I love and appreciate her so much.

      What an awesome breed of dog. I could not imagine a better overall quality breed of dog!