10 Fun Facts About West Highland Terriers

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Written by Lita Luse, a lifestyle journalist and dog enthusiast.

Currently, she is an owner of two quirky Westies and an active mongrel.

Thanks to their quirky and sweet character, choosing only 10 fun facts about West Highland terriers was quite the challenge.

Although small in size, Westies are courageous, lighthearted and extremely loyal to their owners.

With self-esteem higher than Kanye West, we could all use a bit of their confidence.

So here is your chance to discover quirky facts about these fluffy animals.

Their white fur saved them from disasters

According to the official history of the breed, the West Highland White Terrier was created when Poltalloch’s nobleman Colonel Edward Malcolm accidentally killed one of his furry friends (a Scottish Terrier) while hunting, thinking it was a fox.

The colonel then set up a breeding program for small white dogs, which he originally called the Poltalloch Terrier – The club for the breed was founded in 1905.

Two years later the small, yet courageous dogs were renamed the West Highland White Terriers.

That is also when the breed was officially recognised by the Kennel Club, explains hillspet.com.

Westies and cats – a disastrous combination

Suppose you have ever been lucky enough to meet a Westie.

In that case, you already know they are carefree, confident and affectionate dogs who showcase loyalty to their family members.

Seriously – just try walking to the toilet alone. You will soon hear sniffing under the door.

Westies are alert and fearless, and for that reason, they are good watchdogs.

But this means they can also be cunning and stubborn.

So if you have a cat in your family – make sure to introduce your four-legged friends at an early age.

Otherwise, your Westie might just try to hunt them.

Rolling in the dirt – a forbidden fantasy

When getting a dog with snow-white fur, you probably imagine them to stay clean throughout all of your adventures. 

Well, the reality is quite different.

West Highland White Terriers LOVE to roll in the mud.

In fact, they will probably use every opportunity to rub themselves in something nasty (preferably – with a bad smell).

To get the mud out, it is best to leave it dry and then simply brush it out.

Taking after Westie’s hair can be pretty annoying, but as long as you pluck it out once every while, it should be alright.

Once, they were hard-working hunters

According to akc.org, when Westies were bred in Northwestern Scotland, they were used to catch rats and other vermins from barns, mines and farms.

Typically, the white dogs would join hunters in search of rabbits and foxes.


Because they were excellent in pushing them outside of their burrows.

A fun fact about West Highland terriers – they can easily move underground

Of course, to scare the game outside of its burrow, a dog must be able to go through some tight and even uncomfortable spots.

Westies are perfect (in all senses) for this goal.

Thanks to their bullet-shaped body and thinner thoraxes, they can easily pass through lot of underground caverns where other dogs just can’t go.

…but not always

Although Westies are generally more flexible than other breeds, they might still get stuck in unpleasant situations.


Terriers are pretty ambitious.

Therefore they might try to go through wholes that are simply too small for them.

Whenever they get stuck, it is the owner’s duty to pull them out.

Thankfully, Westies have quite big tails – after all – they are hunter dogs. Therefore, they can be easily yanked out of the hole by pulling their tail.

However, don’t try that at home!

Owner’s duty – keeping their ears safe

One of the quirkiest attributes of Westies is their funky ears.

Whenever they hear something even a bit suspicious, they seem to get at least two times bigger.

But every owner should keep in mind that West Highland terriers have sensitive ears, which should be saved from possible sunburns.

And, since Westies love to sunbathe, it can be quite a challenge.

Westies have a big mouth (and they love to use it) 

  • There is a car driving?
  • A cat running on the street?
  • Or perhaps an old lady passing by?

That means – time for some barking!

In fact, if there is anything you should know (and even things you don’ ‘t really care to know), your Westie will make sure you do.

According to dogtime.com, West Highland Terriers are known as being vocal and I can definitely vouch for that!

Back in the day, when they used to wander around tiny places, getting stuck was a quite usual thing.

So how can you signal that a problem has occurred?

By barking, of course.

Separation anxiety is a real thing 

Although Westies are generally believed to be quite independent, when their owners are not at home, they can become destructive.

In fact, separation anxiety is a real thing.

That is why it is crucial to school them already from an early age.

If you have a bed for Westies, it should be placed in such a way that the dog can see you from their bed.

Their coat is more sophisticated than you might think

You have probably noticed Westies’ stunning coat.

But did you know that it has two layers?

The topcoat sheds the dirt, while the bottom layer keeps the four-legged friends warm.

Of course, having such a swoon-worthy coat is not easy.

According to dailypaws.com, it requires regular haircuts and brushing.

 Beauty requires sacrifice, right?

Westies are loved by celebrities

Do you know what Jennifer Aniston, Scarlett Johanson and Paris Hilton have in common?

Not just good looks and a ton of money.

They are all owners (or previous owners) of West Highland terriers.

That is not a surprise, though. Westies truly are a fabulous choice.

Jokes aside, Westies really are a common breed.

Thanks to their intelligent and confident character, they are one of the most popular among small terriers.

Plus – they are excellent cuddle buddies.

So, whenever you are feeling a bit low, just reach out to your white furry friend.

Photo by Ariana Kaminski.