Thursday, January 24, 2013

Fun and Feisty, The West Highland Terrier

Hi Lil Dog Whisperer Readers ~

One of my favorite Terriers is the West Highland Terrier or more commonly know as the Westie. They are feisty, determined and devoted little dogs with lots of personality. So I have decided to feature them.
I hope you enjoy learning about them as much as I did.

The West Highland White Terrier is said to originate from Poltalloch, Scotland, and due to this, was originally known as the Poltalloch Terrier. He was also sometimes referred to as the Roseneath Terrier, after the Duke of Argyll's estate. The Westie was first shown in the United States in 1906 under the Roseneath name, but this was changed in 1909 and he has been known as the West Highland Terrier ever since.

The popularity of the breed during the early 20th century was such that dogs were being exchanged for hundreds of guineas.  As of 2010, the Westie is the third most popular breed of terrier in the UK, with 5,361 puppies registered with the Kennel Club.  However, this is a decrease in numbers since 2001, when it was the most popular terrier breed, with 11,019 new dogs registered. The breed's position in the United States is more stable with it remaining in the top third of all breeds since around 1960. It was ranked 30th most popular in 2001, based on registrations with the American Kennel Club, which has varied around the 30s in the decade since, with it ranked 34th in 2010. 

The first show held for the breed was at Crufts in London in 1907. The first AKC registration was in 1908. Originally registered as the Roseneath Terrier, the name was officially changed to West Highland White Terrier on May 31, 1909.

Westie’s are active, spunky and energetic. They are confident and will stand their ground; regardless of their size this makes them good watchdogs.  They have a streak of stubbornness, so their owner/s have to start training at a young age and make them self pack leader from the very beginning. However they are fairly easygoing and friendly.

Westies are good with other dogs, but have been bred to chase small pray, so need to be socialized at a young age if you have any small animals in your home and should not be left alone with them. They also like to play rough so socialize with other small dogs.

They are okay with children, but can get nervous when they run at them, pat them roughly, or pull their ears or tail.  Sometimes a young child will remind a Westie of prey and will give chase and may act bossy around kids.  Most breeders recommend Westies go to a home with kids over ten years of age.

Though the Westie is a small dog, they are not lap dogs.   They don’t need much pampering and are happier to go for a walk in the rain and play in the mud puddles.

They love walking, they are very energetic, and most also enjoy swimming. They love to dig, so they don’t make great gardening companions. They are also known for digging under fences so a strong fence is needed to keep your Westie in your yard.

West Highland Terriers come in only white. They have a double coat. The top coat is about two inches. It is long, harsh and straight, the shorter undercoat lies close and soft.  The Westies are very light shedders but regular brushing is necessary to help keep the coat in good condition and help reduce shedding.

US owner surveys put the average lifespan of a Westie at 12 to 16 years, and some beyond that;  while the average litter size is between three and five puppies.  However, some litters may contain more than this, one of which was a Westie called Isobel who gave birth to a litter of eleven puppies in April 2012.

One of the most famous West Highland Terriers today is the  Westie from Cesar’s Dog Food. 
Cesar is the mascot and poster dog for Cesar brand dog food in the United States. In Canada, the Westie that appears on Cesar brand dog food is named Maggie.

Imelda is the name of the charming Westie that appears on the labels of Australia's My Dog brand dog food.

In the feature film based on the French cartoon character Asterix, the pet dog of Axterix's friend Obelix,
called Dogmatix, or Idefix as he is called in the original French, is played by a Westie with black ear tips.

On the animated series King of the Hill, Doggy, the pet of the Souphanousinphone family, is a West Highland White Terrier.

Happy was an acting dog that appeared on the television series 7th Heaven. Rescued from an animal shelter, Happy was reported to be abused by her first owner, making it necessary for her to make friends with adult actors before filming began. She appeared on eleven seasons of the series.

McDuff is the main character in a series of illustrated children's books created by Rosemary Wells and illustrated by Susan Jeffers.

In the popular series of books about fictional Highland police officer Hamish Macbeth written by MC Beaton, Macbeth is often accompanied by his Westie, Wee Jock. The series was adapted into a popular television series for three seasons by the BBC.

Fergus is the title character in the children's book, "Good Boy, Fergus!" written by American author and recipient of the Caldecott Honor, David Shannon.

Macintosh, the dog owned by Agatha Gregson in PD
Wodehouse's celebrated series Jeeves and Wooster, was a West Highland White Terrier.

The book, Greyfriars Bobby by Eleanor Atkinson, embellished the true story of a Skye Terrier that spent the better part of his life sitting on his master's grave, whom he was devoted to. In a film produced in 2006, called The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby, Bobby was portrayed by a West Highland Terrier.

Coconut is a Westie that appears in the American Girl series of books and dolls.

On the currently produced television series, House, Hector is a Westie that lives with Wilson, one of the main characters of the series.

Here are some Westie Rescues

I hope you enjoyed learning about the Westie as much as I did and if you have any cute photos of your Westie, or a dog breed you would like me to feature, e-mail me at