Home  |   Breeders & Clubs  |   Accredited Breeders Scheme

A breed standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament, and appearance of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function with soundness essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be mindful of features which could be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.

NZKC - Breed Standard - West Highland White Terrier - Terrier

West Highland White Terrier


Group: Terrier
Size: small
Lifespan: 12 – 14 years
Exercise: moderate
Grooming: high
Trainability: easy
Watchdog ability: high
Protection ability: very low
Area of Origin: Scotland
Date of Origin: 1800's
Other Names: Poltalloch Terrier, Roseneath Terrier
Original Function: Fox, badger, and vermin hunting
In the middle of the nineteenth century, it happened that the breeder of the Cairn Terrier in the country of Argyll, Scotland got some white pups in his litters. Those pups were selected and bred to obtain the West Highland White Terrier, which is simply a White Cairn. Westies were originally bred for controlling the population of rats, fox, otter and other vermin. The Westie first gained attention in 1907 as the Poltalloch Terrier, named for the home of Col. E.D. Malcolm, who had been breeding the Short-Legged White Terriers for the previous 60 years. The breed has gone under several different names, including Roseneath, Poltalloch, White Scottish, Little Skye and Cairn.
The busy Westie is happy, curious and always in the thick of things. It is affectionate and demanding, one of the friendliest terriers. It is not friendly, however, toward small animals. It enjoys a daily romp in a safe area or a walk on lead, as well as playtime at home. It is independent and somewhat stubborn. It barks and digs.
The Westie enjoys the outdoors, but it can also function as an indoor dog if taken for regular exercise. It needs either a short to moderate walk on leash or a good game in the yard every day. It should sleep inside in all but the mildest climates. Its wire coat needs combing two or three times weekly, plus shaping every three months. Shaping for pets is by clipping, and for show dogs is by stripping. In some areas, it may be difficult to keep the coat white.

Official Breed Standard

The general appearance of the West Highland White Terrier is that of a small, game, hardy-looking Terrier, possessed of no small amount of self-esteem; with a varminty appearance; strongly built, deep in chest and back ribs; level back and powerful quarters on muscular legs and exhibiting in a marked degree a great combination of strength and activity. Movement should be free, straight and easy all round. In the front the legs should be freely extended forward by the shoulder. The hind movement should be free, strong and close. The hocks should be freely flexed and drawn close in under the body, so that when moving off the foot, the body is pushed forward with some force. Stiff, stilted movement behind is very objectionable.

Head and Skull:
The skull should be slightly domed and when gripped across the forehead, should present a smooth contour. There should only be a very slight tapering from the skull at the level of the ears to the eyes. The distance from the occiput to the eyes should be slightly greater than the length of the foreface. The head should be thickly coated with hair and carried at a right-angle or less to the axis of the neck. On no account should the head be carried in the extended position. The foreface should gradually taper from the eye to the muzzle. There should be a distinct stop formed by heavy, bony ridges, immediately above and slightly overhanging the eye, and a slight indentation between the eyes. The foreface should not dish or fall away quickly below the eyes where it should be well made up. The jaws should be strong and level. The nose must be black should be fairly large and forming a smooth contour with the rest of the muzzle. The nose must not project forward giving rise to a snipy appearance.

Should be widely set apart, medium in size, as dark as possible in colour. Slightly sunk in head, sharp and intelligent, which, looking from under the heavy eyebrows, imparts a piercing look. Full or light-coloured eyes are objectionable.

Small, erect and carried firmly, terminating in a sharp point. The hair on them should be short, smooth (velvety) and should not be cut. The ears should be free from any fringe at the top. Round, pointed, broad, large or thick ears are very objectionable, also ears too heavily coated with hair.

Should be as broad between the canine teeth as is consistent with the sharp varminty expression required. The teeth should be large for the size of the dog and should articulate in the following manner: - the lower canines should lock in front of the upper canines. There should be six teeth between the canines of the upper and lower incisors. The upper incisors should slightly overlap the lower incisors, the inner side of the upper incisors being in contact with the outer side of the lower incisors. There should be no appreciable space between the incisors when the mouth is closed ensuring a keen bite; a dead level mouth is not a fault.

Should be sufficiently long to allow the proper set-on of head required, muscular and gradually thickening towards the base allowing the neck to merge into nicely sloping shoulders, thus giving freedom of movement.

The shoulders should be sloped backwards. The shoulder blades should be broad and lie close to the chest wall. The joint formed by the shoulder blade and the upper arm should be placed forward, on account of the obliquity of the shoulder blades, bringing the elbows well-in and allowing the foreleg to move freely, parallel to the axis of the body, like the pendulum of a clock. Forelegs should be short and muscular, straight and thickly covered with short hard hair.

Compact. Back level, loins broad and strong. The chest should be deep and the ribs well-arched in the upper half presenting a flattish side appearance. The back ribs should be of a considerable depth and the distance from the last rib of the quarters as short as is compatible with free movement of the body.

Strong, muscular and wide across the top. Legs should be short, muscular and sinewy. The thighs very muscular and not too wide apart. The hocks bent and well set in under the body so as to be fairly close to each other when standing, walking or trotting. Cow-hocks detract from the general appearance. Straight or weak hocks are undesirable and are a fault.

The forefeet are larger than the hind ones, are round, proportionate in size, strong, thickly padded and covered with short, hard hair. The hind feet are smaller and thickly padded. The under surface of the pads of feet and all nails should preferably be black.

12.7 to 15.2 cm (5 to 6 in) long, covered with hard hair, no feather, as straight as possible, carried jauntily, not gay nor carried over the back. A long tail is objectionable and on no account should tails be docked.

Colour pure white, must be doublecoated. The outer coat consists of hard hair, about 5 cm (2 in) long, free from any curl. The under coat, which resembles fur, is short, soft and close. Open coats are objectionable.

Pure white.

Weight and Size:
Size about 27.9 cm (11 in) at the withers.

Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.

Disclaimer  | Sitemap  | Refund Policy  | Credit Cards  | Copyright  | Webmaster