Breed Information Centre

West Highland White Terrier


Illustration of West Highland White Terrier

The breed was developed from Cairn terrier ancestry and it was the Malcolms of Poltalloch in Argyllshire who developed a white strain of Cairns in the mid 19th century. Many breeders of Cairns had been in the practice of culling white puppies but the Malcolms asserted that they were easier to see when working on the moors. The West Highland White was eventually developed to become litter shorter in the body and with a higher tail carriage than the Cairn.

Early names for the breed were the Poltalloch terrier, and the Roseneath terrier – after a strain developed on the Duke of Argyll's Roseneath Estate.

Recognised by the Kennel Club in 1907, the West Highland White remains one of the most popular breeds in the group.

Breed Group
Vulnerable Native Breed
How much exercise?
Up to 1 hour per day
Length of coat
How much grooming?
More than once a week
Supposedly sheds? *
Town or Country
Type of home
Minimum Garden Size
Over 12 Years

* If you are asthmatic or have an allergy, you should consult your medical advisor before considering obtaining a dog. More information can also be found on the Kennel Club website.

The Terrier Breed Group

Dogs originally bred and used for hunting vermin. 'Terrier' comes from the Latin word Terra, meaning earth. This hardy collection of dogs were selectively bred to be extremely brave and tough, and to pursue fox, badger, rat and otter (to name but a few) above and below ground. Dogs of terrier type have been known here since ancient times, and as early as the Middle Ages, these game breeds were portrayed by writers and painters.

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