The West Highland White Terrier has also been known as the Roseneath Terrier (named after the Duke of Argyll’s estate), the Poltalloch Terrier (named after the village and home of the Malcolm family, who bred these terriers there for over sixty years), the Highlander, the West Highlander and most affectionately, the “Westie.” The breed is aptly described in an American Kennel Club publication as being “…all terrier, with large amounts of Scottish spunk, determination, and devotion crammed into a small body. They are indeed all that can be desired of a pet: faithful, understanding, and devoted, while still gay and light-hearted. Outdoors they are good hunters, exhibiting speed, cunning, and great intelligence. As the breed standard says, the true Highlander is ‘possessed with no small amount of self-esteem.’” West Highland Terriers retain their natural desire to chase anything that moves, so supervision and restraint are important for this breed. They also love to dig. The Westie was recognized as a member of the Terrier Group of the American Kennel Club in 1908, under the name Roseneath Terrier. Its present name was officially adopted the following year.
The mature male Westie ideally stands 11 inches at the withers, while the ideal size for bitches is 10 inches in height. Slight deviations are permitted under the American standard. Adults typically weigh about 15 to 20 pounds. Their thick, double white coat is a breed requirement and must have a straight, hard outercoat and a shorter, slightly less harsh undercoat. It must never appear fluffy. Like most terriers, its coat requires occasional plucking and quite a bit of regular care.