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West Highland White Terrier Facts

Origin: Scotland
Lifespan: 12-16 years
Breed Group: Terrier
Coat Type: Double coat with a harsh outer layer
Coat Colours: White
Temperament: Friendly, Alert, Independent
Height: 25-28 cm (10-11 inches)
Weight: 6-10 kg (13-22 lbs)


West Highland for Sale Ireland

The “West Highland White Terrier,” affectionately known as the “Westie,” is a lively and charming small-sized purebred dog within the Terrier category. Their size and appearance, typically small to medium, are determined by their parentage. These energetic companions thrive with daily medium to high exercise levels and are best suited for active families who enjoy outdoor adventures and canine sports.

Originally bred as efficient hunters of small game and vermin in the Scottish Highlands, the Westie retains its strong prey drive. Despite their cute appearance, they are cocky, confident, and always on the go. This breed is not only lively but also highly intelligent, with a streak of independence that can manifest as stubbornness and determination.

A Brief History

The West Highland White Terrier, often simply called the Westie, hails from the rugged highlands of Scotland, not far from the Irish shores. This breed was originally developed to hunt small game like foxes and rodents. Their distinctive white coats were prized for their visibility in the field, making them easy to distinguish from prey. Over time, the Westie’s popularity spread beyond the Scottish borders and found a warm welcome in Ireland.

A Terrier’s Beginnings

The Westie has a fascinating origin story that dates back over 450 years. Historians believe that the Westie’s early ancestors were working rat catchers, diligently bred in Northwestern Scotland. These resilient dogs had the important task of clearing barns, farms, and mines of various vermin. They were also cherished hunting companions, fearlessly flushing out rabbits and foxes from their burrows.

Cairn Terrier Connection

The Westie’s roots can be traced to the Cairn terrier breed. In the course of its evolution, it also became closely associated with other regional breeds, including the Dandie Dinmont and Scottish terriers. These interconnections contributed to the development of the West Highland White Terrier we know today.

The “Roseneath Terrier”

An intriguing twist in the Westie’s history involves a Spanish shipwreck on the Scottish island of Skye in 1588. Among the ship’s cargo were all-white dogs, carefully kept distinct from other terrier breeds. These dogs found favour with Scottish Chiefs, including George Campbell, the 8th Duke of Argyll, who began breeding them, dubbing them the “Roseneath Terrier.”

The Influence of Poltalloch

However, the individual most closely associated with shaping the modern West Highland White Terrier was Edward Donald Malcolm, the 16th Laird of Poltalloch. His terriers were hardworking game hunters and gained renown as the “Poltalloch Terrier.” Interestingly, the Laird insisted on renaming the breed, not wanting to be credited as its creator. Hence, the new moniker, “West Highland White Terrier,” was chosen.

Recognition by Kennel Clubs

The West Highland White Terrier’s enduring charm and distinctive character captured the attention of dog enthusiasts worldwide. In 1908, the American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the breed, followed by recognition from the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1919. These acknowledgements cemented the Westie’s status as a sturdy and loyal terrier with a playful temperament, beloved by families across the globe.

In Ireland

While the Westie’s origins are firmly rooted in Scotland, its presence in Ireland has grown steadily. Today, these charming and spirited dogs are cherished members of countless Irish households. Their friendly disposition, coupled with their distinctive appearance, has won over the hearts of dog enthusiasts across the country.

West Highland White Terrier: Did You Know?

  • Origins in the West Highlands: The West Highland White Terrier, or “Westie,” derives its name from its origins in the Scottish West Highlands, where it was initially bred over 450 years ago.
  • Distinctive White Coat: The all-white coat of Westies served a practical purpose during their hunting days, ensuring their visibility even amidst dense foliage and preventing them from being mistaken for prey like foxes or rabbits.
  • Historical Name Variations: These terriers were known by various names, including “Poltalloch” terriers, named after hunter and breeder Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm in the 1800s, and “Roseneath Terrier” when accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1908 due to the efforts of the 8th Duke of Argyll, George Campbell.
  • Ideal for Burrowing: Westies are well-suited for flushing out game in tight underground spaces. Their thin, heart-shaped thorax and bullet-shaped body enable them to navigate burrows and caverns efficiently in pursuit of small prey.
  • Vocal Characters: West Highland White Terriers are known for their propensity to bark loudly at various stimuli. This behavior is rooted in their hunting heritage, as their loud barks helped hunters locate them when tracking prey underground.
  • Sun Sensitivity: Owners of Westies should be mindful of their sensitive ears when spending time in the hot summer sun. Providing doggy sunscreen and attentive care can help prevent sunburn and discomfort for these charming terriers.

West Highland Terrier Puppies

If you’re considering adding a West Highland White Terrier to your family, you’ll want to start by searching for reputable breeders in Ireland. The journey begins with a puppy, and finding the right one is crucial for a lifetime of happiness with your furry friend. When selecting a breeder, it’s essential to ensure they adhere to responsible breeding practices, providing proper care and attention to the puppies’ health and well-being.

Westie puppies are known for their lively and curious nature. They are intelligent and eager to learn, making them relatively easy to train. However, like all puppies, they require patience, consistency, and love to thrive in their new homes.

Size and Weight

West Highland White Terriers are small dogs with a big personality. Their compact size and sturdy build make them well-suited for both urban and rural living. Here are the specifics when it comes to their size and weight:

  • Height: 25-28 cm (10-11 inches)
  • Weight: 6-9 kg (13-20 lbs)

These measurements provide a clear picture of the Westie’s petite stature. Their small size makes them ideal for apartments or homes with limited space, but don’t let their size fool you – they have the heart of a lion and the energy to match.

Coat & Colors

One of the Westie’s most distinguishing features is its pristine white coat, which is dense, wiry, and straight. This coat serves both form and function, as it helped them stand out during hunting excursions in the Scottish highlands. Their signature white fur is complemented by distinctive dark eyes and a black nose.

While the Westie is most commonly recognized in its classic white coat, it’s important to note that the breed standard does not accept any other coat colour. The all-white look is part of what makes them so charming and recognizable.


The West Highland White Terrier is renowned for its friendly and outgoing temperament. These dogs are full of character and are known to be lively, confident, and affectionate companions. Here are some key aspects of their personality:

Playful Nature

Westies have a playful spirit that endears them to people of all ages. They thrive on interactive play and enjoy spending quality time with their human families. Their joyful antics are sure to bring smiles to your face.

Alert and Inquisitive

These terriers are naturally alert and inquisitive, which makes them excellent watchdogs. They’ll let you know if anything unusual is happening in their domain, whether it’s a rustling leaf or an unexpected visitor.

Social Butterflies

West Highland White Terriers are typically sociable dogs that enjoy the company of both humans and other dogs. Early socialization is essential to ensure they grow up to be well-rounded and confident pets.

Irish Counties and Westie Lovers

Westies have found a warm and loving home in various Irish counties. From the vibrant streets of Dublin to the serene landscapes of County Cork, West Highland White Terriers can be found throughout the Emerald Isle. Their adaptability and affectionate nature make them a favourite choice for families across Ireland.

Pros and Cons of West Highland White Terrier Ownership


  • Loyalty and Intelligence: Westies are known for their unwavering loyalty and high intelligence, making them responsive to training.
  • Sociable and Friendly: These terriers are highly sociable and people-oriented, often forming strong bonds with their human families.
  • Excellent Watchdog: With their alert nature and keen senses, Westies make excellent watchdogs, providing security for your home.
  • Playful and Child-Friendly: West Highland White Terriers are playful and generally get along well with respectful children, making them a great family companion.
  • Not Ideal for Novice Owners: While they have many positive qualities, Westies may not be the best choice for first-time dog guardians due to their specific needs and temperament.


  • Energetic and Entertaining: These small dogs are energetic and require both physical and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy.
  • Determined and Stubborn: Westies can exhibit determination and stubbornness, which may present training challenges.
  • Barking and Digging: They have a tendency to bark at various stimuli and enjoy digging, behaviours that need attention.
  • Aggressiveness Toward Small Animals: West Highland White Terriers may display aggression toward smaller animals and cats, requiring careful supervision.
  • Escape Artists: Some Westies are talented escape artists, necessitating secure containment.
  • Boredom-Related Issues: Easily bored Westies may engage in destructive behaviour, excessive barking, or escape attempts if not adequately stimulated.
  • Experienced Guardian Needed: Ownership of a Westie is best suited for experienced dog guardians who can provide proper training, socialization, and establish clear rules and boundaries.

Living With Your West Highland White Terrier in Ireland

  • Apartment Suitability: Westies adapt well to apartments, commonly found in urban centres like Dublin and Cork. They thrive with daily outdoor activities in Irish parks.
  • Backyard Bliss: A securely fenced backyard enhances the Westie’s experience, especially in suburban counties like Kildare or Meath. It allows for natural terrier behaviours like barking and digging.
  • Terrier Traits: Westies retain classic terrier instincts, including tenacious chasing. In counties like Kerry or Clare, where critters abound, their innate hunting skills may come to the forefront.
  • Exercise and Stimulation: Regular walks in scenic Irish landscapes and participation in canine sports ensure a happy and healthy Westie. Counties like Galway offer stunning settings for outdoor adventures.
  • Social Creatures: Like the welcoming spirit of Limerick or Waterford, Westies thrive on companionship. Avoid leaving them alone for long periods; consider doggy daycare or community events for their well-being.

West Highland Terrier for Sale Ireland

If you’re ready to welcome a West Highland White Terrier into your life and home, you’re in luck! Ireland boasts a thriving community of dog breeders and enthusiasts who are dedicated to ensuring the well-being of these beloved pets. When searching for Westies for sale in Ireland, consider the following steps:

  1. Research Reputable Breeders: Start by researching breeders in your area or nearby counties. Look for breeders who are committed to responsible breeding practices and prioritize the health and happiness of their dogs.
  2. Visit the Breeder: Arrange a visit to the breeder’s facility to meet the puppies and their parents. This will give you a sense of the environment in which the puppies are raised and the care they receive.
  3. Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask the breeder questions about the puppy’s health, vaccinations, and any specific care requirements. Responsible breeders will be transparent and eager to provide information.
  4. Health Screening: Ensure that the breeder conducts health screenings on their breeding dogs to minimize the risk of hereditary health issues.
  5. Consider Adoption: Alternatively, you may also consider adopting a Westie from a rescue organization or shelter. Many loving Westies are looking for forever homes in Irish rescue organizations.