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Breed Library
West Highland White Terrier adult black and white

West Highland White Terrier

Brave and independent, but affectionate all the same, these little white dogs are the most admired of the Scottish terriers.

About the West Highland White Terrier

Small, active and hardy, West Highland White Terriers have a healthy dose of confidence, with a mischievous look. Undoubtably a terrier, these dogs are independent thinkers, but their loyalty and intelligence have made them a popular addition to many families.

West Highland White Terriers are solidly built little dogs, expressing magnificent strength and activity. These are true working terriers, bred for ratting, who are never happier than when they are given a job.

Source: key facts and characteristics sourced from Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI)

Breed specifics

Country
United Kingdom
Group
FCI Group 3, AKC Terrier Group
Size category
Small
Avg life expectancy
12–14 years

Lively / Playful / Resilient / Confident / Alert / Friendly / Independent

Key facts

  • Needs moderate training
  • Requires a lot of grooming
  • Garden not essential
Breed origins illustration

Origins of the breed

Although many terriers are earth-coloured, some breeders preferred more conspicuous coats, so that the dogs were visible when working. According to the breed’s official history, the West Highland White Terrier was developed due to a hunting accident where Colonel Edward Malcolm of Poltalloch accidentally killed one of his Scottish terriers when out on the hunt, mistaking it for a fox.

After this, the Colonel developed a breeding programme for little white dogs, which he originally introduced as the Poltalloch Terrier. A speciality club was formed in 1905, and two years later the breed was renamed as the West Highland White Terrier and officially recognised by The Kennel Club.

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