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A westhighland white terrier

Jenna Stregowski, RVT is a veterinary technician with a love for dogs and a concern for their well-being. Read more

Updated September 28, 2015.

The West Highland White Terrier, commonly called a "Westie" is a small, energetic dog with a lively and lovable personality. The Westie is very loyal and smart but also possesses an independent spirit. Though quite compact, the Westie is not dainty or overly muscular.

The Westie is completely white with medium-length hair. The top coat is coarse, stiff and dry while the undercoat is soft and fine.

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Westies require routine grooming. generally on a weekly basis. Brush or hand-strip (pluck dead hairs) your Westie at least once a week. You may also wish to have your Westie trimmed by a groomer from time to time (generally every 4-6 weeks). Fortunately, Westies shed very little. Regular nail trims are important as well.

As true terriers, Westies are naturally curious and alert. They can be considered lively but not highly energetic, so routine moderate exercise should be enough to keep them happy and healthy.

Daily walks are generally enough to fulfill the westie's exercise needs.

The Westie is also very intelligent and motivated, so proper training is highly beneficial as well as necessary. A well-trained Westie is more likely to stay focused upon you and be well-behaved in public places (and will, therefore, be more welcome).

Size: 13-20 pounds

The West Highland White Terrier hails from Poltalloch, Scotland and dates back well over a century.

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Once known as the Poltalloch Terrier or Roseneath Terrier, Westies were used to hunt vermin as well as provide companionship. The breed has been in the US since the early 1900s.

Responsible breeders strive to maintain the highest breed standards as established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. However, some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed. The following are some conditions to be aware of:

The Westie's upbeat and lovable personality makes it a wonderful companion. Both active and cuddly, the Westie is versatile and adaptable. With appropriate socialization, Westies can get along well with children and can generally fit in with all types of households. This small dog breed is typically suitable for apartment living.

As with any breed, if you think the West Highland White Terrier is right for you, be sure to do plenty of research before obtaining one. Talk to other Westie owners, reputable West Highland White Terrier breeders and Westie rescue groups to learn more.