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Pantops Pet Salon & Spa
Charlottesville's Professional Dog Grooming

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(434) 293-2424
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Charlottesville, VA 22911

The West Highland Terrier (Westie)

Friday, October 6th, 2006 by Mike Cronk

Country of Origin:
Group: Terrier
Lifespan: 12-14 years
Height: 11 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 15-22 lbs
Color: White

AKC Rank 2006:  33

Archived from “The Paw Report:” Issue #9, March.

The West Highland Terrier
The Westie of yore was created via selective interbreeding of the occasional white Cairns and Scotties. The white coat made the dog very visible when working. This dog was one of many terriers in Great Britain that were trained to keep the rat population under control. The more I research these “earth dogs,” the more I see how they were kept for rodent control as much as cats are used as “mousers.” Therefore, in addition to regular show dog trials, terriers (the Westie included) undergo earth dog trials. Wikipedia explains that “Dachshunds and small terriers [are tested] for their working abilities and instinct. Earth dog den trials involve underground tunnels that dogs must negotiate, whilst scenting a rat, the “quarry.” The dog must follow the scent to the quarry and then “work” the quarry. Depending on the sanctioning organization, “working” means barking, scratching, staring, pawing or such at it, although the quarry is protected at all times.”

Note that when a Westie is working properly he is called upon to bark, scratch, etc at its quarry. So yes, this breed can be quite feisty and boisterous. They are independent, can be stubborn, may love to dig and can be quite vocal. They are very friendly and affectionate with humans. It may not be wise to bring a Westie into a home with a cat due to their instinctual urge to hunt their quarry. As with most dogs that come from a working origin, exercise is paramount. Keeping them on lead or in a fenced yard would be wise because they are liable to chase anything small at the first sign of movement.

There is a standard haircut that the typical Westie gets every 6-8 weeks. The top half of the ear is shaved close to the skin and the face is scissored round. We remove hair at the corner of the eyes with thinning shears. The back of the body and top half of the tail is clipped to 1/4-1/2” in length and blended into the sides. Pads are clipped close and paws are rounded. Nails, ears, bath, and we’re good to go! For those who don’t care for the chest and leg feathers, they can be scissored shorter to please.

While the haircut may not be necessary, regular brushing (at least weekly) followed with a comb is. They are double coated and neglect does lead to matting.

Our Westies are great for grooming and among the friendliest of the terriers. If I were to get a small dog, they would be high on my list.

  1. Breed Groom

  2. Summer Cut

  3. Personality

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