The West Highland White Terrier, commonly known as the Westie or Westy, is a Scottish breed of dog with a distinctive white coat. The modern breed is descended from a number of breeding programs of white terriers in Scotland prior to the 20th century. Edward Donald Malcolm, 16th Laird of Poltalloch, is credited with the creation of the modern breed from his Poltalloch Terrier, but did not want to be known as such. Other related breeds included George Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll's Roseneath Terrier and Dr. Americ Edwin Flaxman's Pittenweem Terriers. The breeds of small white Scottish terriers were given its modern name for the first time in 1908, with recognition by major kennel clubs occurring around the same time.
The breed remains very popular in the UK and is in the top third of all breeds in the USA since the 1960s. It has been featured in television and film including in Hamish Macbeth and in advertising by companies such as Cesar dog food and Scottish whisky Black & White. It is a medium-sized terrier, although with longer legs than other Scottish breeds of terrier. It has a white double coat of fur which fills out the dog's face giving it a rounded appearance. The breed can be good with children, but will not always tolerate rough handling. The Westie is an active breed, but are social with a high prey drive. They are loyal companions who will go to the ends of the Earth to please their masters.
Several breed-specific and non-specific health issues appear in the breed including a condition in young dogs nicknamed 'westie jaw' which causes an overgrowth of bone in the jaw of the dog. It is also prone to skin disorders, with a breed-specific condition called Hyperplastic Dermatosis occurring. They are very energetic and need plenty of exercise. Cousin to the 'Scotty', the Westie was bred to hunt small rodents at places such as farms.
The temperament of the West Highland White Terrier can vary greatly, with some being friendly towards children whilst others prefer solitude. It will not tolerate rough handling such as a child pulling on its ears, and can be both food and toy possessive. Members of the breed are normally independent, assured and self-confident and can make good watchdogs. It is a loyal breed that bonds with its owners, but is often always on the move requiring good exercise (15-30 min). Westies are highly social and are the most friendly and jolly of all the Scottish breeds of terrier.
It is a hardy breed, and can be stubborn leading to issues with training. A Westie may need to have its training refreshed on occasion during its lifetime. Having a typical terrier prey drive, it tends to be highly interested in toys especially chasing balls. It does retain the instincts of an earth-dog, including inquisitive and investigative traits, as well as natural instincts to both bark and dig holes. It is ranked 47th in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs.
Source of information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/West_Highland_White_Terrier
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