West Highland White Terrier

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White terrier puppies

West Highland White Terrier

Breed: West Highland White Terrier
Temperament: excitable, loyal
Lifespan: 14 years
Maintenance: medium-high
Recommended for: families

You can’t have too much publicity, the saying goes, but a 2-4 year waiting list reflects the high profile of the West Highland White Terrier in Australia. Their cute face is currently seen on everything from dog food to soap operas.


You can have a Westie in any colour as long as it’s white! These are small, compact terriers with a double white coat, black nose, dark eyes and a jaunty undocked tail. They weigh around 7-8kg (15-18lb) and reach about 28cm (11″).


True extroverts, the Westie can be excitable, bright, friendly, good watchdogs, and full of energy. They love their families but will not tolerate being pushed or hurt, which can be problem with young (eg: pre-school) children who just want to pick up and squeeze them.


Skin problems, such as allergies as well as hip and jaw problems are seen in the breed and we recommend dealing with a reputable breeder. Luxating patellas have also been seen in the breed. While it’s a good idea to have any new puppy checked by a vet, many problems are not apparent at a young age, so viewing the pups’ parents is also sound practice.


The eye-catching white coat demands regular attention to keep it in top condition. Hand stripping twice yearly is recommended for exhibition dogs, while pets can be clipped. A brush through a few times each week will remove loose hair and keep the coat tangle-free. Special attention is needed to the longer hair around the feet and ‘pants’. Clipping costs around $35.


Litters are usually small, often only two puppies, sometimes up to five, and being tiny, demand experienced care.

Housepet potential

Westies are great watchdogs and will warn of approaching visitors. Barking, however, can become a problem if the dogs feel neglected or are left at home alone a great deal. Most will fit in with an existing family cat or dog, but never trust them around rabbits, guinea pigs or the pet rat.

Space and exercise

Westies love a walk and 20-30 minutes daily is ideal although most will run around a backyard themselves, especially if there are children to play with. Good fences are very important as Westies will wander if allowed. Be prepared for a few holes in the garden…. they are terriers after all!


Long-time dog trainers have said Westies can be a challenge to train although many will respond to food rewards. However, once they’re head-down on a scent it’s virtually impossible to get them to come when called!

Ideal owner

Westies are great pets for families with school-age children who want a dog that looks cute but still has attitude. Many are kept by older adults looking for a small, neat indoor companion which doubles as a watchdog.


Dogs NSW
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872

Dogs Victoria
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599

Dogs ACT
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 – Fax: (02) 6241 1129.

Dogs West
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190

Dogs SA
Phone: (08) 8349 4797

Canine Control Council of Queensland
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864

Tasmanian Canine Association
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844

Dogs NT
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409