Written by Doris Donnerman (last updated August 17, 2009)
For the ancestors of the West Highland White Terrier, one must turn back to the same stock that produced the Scottish Terriers, Cairns, and Dandie Dinmonts. In litters of the old-fashioned Cairn Terriers, the ancestors of the type now known as the Scottish, white puppies were not welcome and most breeders did away with them. Once in a while, a white puppy was kept, and then another collected from a different source, and as other whites was collected and bred together, any other color than white was given away or destroyed. This breeding for color and type soon developed a distinct variety.
As the breed began to claim attention as a variety, they were named the Roseneath Poltalloch or sometimes, the Cairn or White Scottish Terrier. Finally the name West Highland White Terrier was suggested and adopted.
After the breed emerged into notoriety, it underwent the usual attempts at so-called improving. Fortunately the old-fashioned type remained popular, and all fads of making it something different failed. The hardy little West Highlander is a rugged outdoor dog, yet by size and his merry, lighthearted ways has come to be an ideal house pet. Adherents of the breed lay claim that it is not difficult to keep their white coats clean as the Highlander has a dry skin with a lack of doggy odor, and that having a hard, stiff coat, a thorough brushing is all that is required to keep him sleek.
The West Highlander White Terrier is friendly in nature. He is courageous and alert. Excess timidity is considered to be a fault. He is a self-reliant breed. The general appearance of the West Highland White Terrier is that of a small, game, hardy-looking Terrier, possessed with no small amount of self-esteem, with a varmint-like appearance. He is strongly built, deep in chest and back ribs. He has a straight back and powerful hind quarters on muscular legs, and exhibiting in a marked degree a great combination of strength and activity.
The coat should be about 2 inches long, white in color, hard, with plenty of soft under coat, and no tendency to wave or curl. The tail should be as straight as possible, and covered with hard hair, but not bushy. The skull should be not too broad, being in proportion to the terribly powerful jaws. The ears shall be as small and sharp-pointed as possible, and carried tightly up, and must be absolutely erect. The eyes are of moderate size, dark hazel in color, widely placed, with a sharp, bright intelligent expression. The muzzle should not be too long, powerful, and gradually tapering towards the nose. The roof of mouth and pads of feet are usually black in color. The color of the West Highland White Terrier is pure white.
The dogs weigh from 15-19 pounds and the females weigh from 13-17 pounds and measure from 8 to 12 inches from the shoulder.
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