West Highland White Terrier illustration
Terrier

West Highland White Terrier

Small, active and full of self-esteem

Breed characteristics

Size
Small
Exercise
Up to 1 hour per day
Size of home
Flat/ Apartment
Grooming
More than once a week
Coat length
Medium
Sheds
Yes
Lifespan
Over 12 years
Vulnerable native breed
No
Town or country
Either
Size of garden
Small/ medium garden

About this breed

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 a little 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.

Read the breed standard

Images for this breed

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.

 

Breed standard colours

Breed standard colour means that the colour is accepted within the breed standard and is a traditional and well-known colour in this breed.

Breed standard colours in this breed include:

  • White

Other colour/s

'Other' means you consider your puppy to be a colour not currently known within the breed and one that does not appear on either the breed standard or non-breed standard list. In this instance you would be directed through our registrations process to contact a breed club and/or council to support you on identifying and correctly listing the new colour.

Non-breed-standard colours

Non-breed-standard colour means that the colour is not accepted within the breed standard and whilst some dogs within the breed may be this colour it is advised to only select a dog that fits within the breed standards for all points.

Colour is only one consideration when picking a breed or individual dog, health and temperament should always be a priority over colour.

Health

Whether you’re thinking of buying a puppy, or breeding from your dog, it’s essential that you know what health issues may be found in your breed. To tackle these issues we advise that breeders use DNA tests, screening schemes and inbreeding coefficient calculators to help breed the healthiest dogs possible.

More about health

Important health schemes and tests

We strongly recommend that all breeders, both assured breeders (ABs) and non ABs, use the following schemes, tests and advice.

Currently there are no additional health screening schemes or DNA tests for this breed. You may want to speak to your breeder, vet or local breed club about any health issues in the breed.

Find out about a particular dog's results

Please visit our Health Test Results Finder to discover the DNA or screening scheme test results for any dog on The Kennel Club's Breed Register.

You can also view the inbreeding coefficient calculation for a puppy's parents, or for a dog you're thinking of breeding from.

Have any questions about health in your breed?

If you have any concerns about a particular health condition in your breed then you may wish to speak to your vet or you could contact your breed health co-ordinator.

Breed health co-ordinators are individuals working on behalf of breed clubs and councils who are advocates for the health and welfare of their chosen breed. They acts as a spokesperson on matters of health and will collaborate with The Kennel Club on any health concerns the breed may have.

Contact the breed health co-ordinator for the West Highland White Terrier.

Breed watch

Category 2

Particular points of concern for individual breeds may include features not specifically highlighted in the breed standard including current issues. In some breeds, features may be listed which, if exaggerated, might potentially affect the breed in the future.

Read more

Breeding restrictions

There are a number of The Kennel Club rules and regulations that may prevent a litter from being registered, find out about our general and breed specific breeding restrictions below.

More about breeding

There are not currently any additional breed specific restrictions in place for this breed.

More information

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