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The History and Origins of the West Highland White Terrier

The West Highland White Terrier, or “Westie,” comes from Scotland’s tough lands. It was originally a hunting dog, crafted to chase vermin. The breed was developed through carefully planned breedings, led by Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm. He’s famous for his Poltalloch Terrier, considered the modern Westie’s ancestor.

The breed got its official nod at England’s esteemed Crufts dog show in 1907. That’s the same year the West Highland White Terrier Club of America was born. Ever since, this energetic and robust dog has captured hearts around the globe with its iconic white fur and loving nature.

The Legendary Origins of Westies

The West Highland White Terrier, known as the Westie, owes its unique white coat to an interesting story. Colonel Edward Malcolm, a Scottish landowner, started breeding white dogs after a hunting accident. This was when a reddish terrier was shot by mistake. From then on, Malcolm focused on white dogs. He’s credited with making the Westie’s white coat a key feature.

Related Breeds and Early Development

The Westie shares familial links with other white Scottish terriers like the Roseneath Terrier, thanks to George Campbell. There’s also the Pittenweem Terrier, bred by Dr. Americ Edwin Flaxman. These white-coated terriers were vital in shaping the Westie we know today. Mixing these local Scottish breeds gave the Westie its unique look and genetic heritage.

The roots of the West Highland White Terrier lie in the wild lands of Scotland’s West Highlands. These dogs were specially bred for hunting, helping control foxes, otters, and other pests. Their white coats were carefully chosen to spot them easily against their prey. This ensured effective hunting.

The Rise of the Westie

The West Highland White Terrier, or “Westie,” has become very popular over the past century. Since the early 1900s, this breed has been loved both as a pet and as a show dog.

In 1909, the American Kennel Club accepted the Westie. This was a big step for the breed. The same year, the West Highland White Terrier Club of America started, showing just how important the Westie was becoming in the show dog world.

The Westie kept doing well over the years. Many champions have shown everyone what great dogs they are. In 1976, Ch. Dianthus Buttons became a supreme champion, winning big at the Crufts show. This victory boosted the Westie’s reputation around the world.

After 16 years, in 2014, the next Westie to win big at Crufts was Burneze Geordie Girl, known as Devon. She became the Supreme Champion, making the Westie even more popular.

Today, the Westie is more popular than ever. They are loved all around the world, both as pets and as show dogs. Whether in homes or in the ring, the West Highland White Terrier has won over countless hearts.

Breed Characteristics and Standards

Appearance and Temperament

The West Highland White Terrier, or “Westie,” is medium-sized with a strong yet compact body. It has a famous white double coat. This breed is known for its deep chest, strong hindquarters, and thick legs.

Westies are alert and confident but also friendly. They can sometimes be on their own. Training them from a young age is key. They feature a well-coated head, dark eyes, and upright ears. Their white outer coat and soft undercoat make them stand out.

Height at the WithersApproximately 28 cms (11 ins)
Tail Length13-15 cms (5-6 ins)
Coat ColorWhite
Size10-11 inches tall, 13-20 pounds
Lifespan12-16 years

The Kennel Club’s standard highlights the Westie’s health and soundness. It warns against features that deviate from the norm. Breed Watch offers info on current concerns to breeders and judges.

The West Highland White Terrier is a favorite for many, thanks to its charm and unique look. It requires moderate exercise and is mostly healthy. This makes it popular with all dog lovers.

For those interested in bringing one of these delightful dogs into their home, searching for Westies for sale can help you find reputable breeders and adoption options in your area.


The West Highland White Terrier, or “Westie,” has a fascinating history loved by dog fans worldwide. It was originally from Scotland, bred to catch vermin. Now, it’s a treasured pet known for its beautiful white fur and friendly nature.

The Westie has captivating beginnings with Colonel Malcolm and dogs like the Roseneath and Pittenweem Terriers. Through the 20th century, it gained popularity and recognition. Known for living about 13 years, Westies need exercise, grooming, and friends to be happy. This makes them perfect for life in cities or the countryside.

People all over the world are drawn to the Westie’s charm, intelligence, and love for play. Its unique history and traits ensure its spot in dog lovers’ hearts for years to come.


What are the origins of the West Highland White Terrier?

The West Highland White Terrier, or “Westie,” comes from Scotland. It was originally bred to hunt vermin in rugged Scottish landscapes. The modern breed was developed in the 20th century by Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm. He started with white terriers from his own breeding program.

How did Westie’s distinctive white coat come about?

Legend has it that Colonel Malcolm chose to breed white terriers after a tragic incident. One of his tan terriers was mistakenly shot because it wasn’t easily seen while hunting. Since then, he focused on breeding white dogs.

What other breeds influenced the development of the Westie?

The Westie shares its history with other white Scottish terrier varieties. This includes the Roseneath Terrier by George Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll, and the Pittenweem Terriers by Dr. Americ Edwin Flaxman. Their white-coated descendants played a role in creating the West Highland White Terrier.

When was the West Highland White Terrier officially recognized?

In 1907, the West Highland White Terrier became an official breed at the Crufts dog show in England. The West Highland White Terrier Club of America was then formed in 1909.

How has the popularity of the Westie evolved over time?

In the early 20th century, the Westie grew very popular. It was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1909. Since then, several champion Westies have increased the breed’s fame. Names like Ch. Dianthus Buttons and Ch. Olac Moon Pilot contributed to their popularity.

What are the key characteristics of the West Highland White Terrier?

The West Highland White Terrier is a medium-sized breed. They are compact and muscular with a white double coat. Known for their bright and confident nature, Westies need early, consistent training. They have a typical round head, dark eyes, and upright ears.

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