The West Highland White Terrier, commonly known as the Westie, is a breed of dog from Scotland with a distinctive white harsh coat with a somewhat soft white undercoat. It is a medium-sized terrier, although with longer legs than other Scottish breeds of terrier. It has a white double coat of fur which fills out the dog's face, giving it a rounded appearance.
The breed is intelligent, quick to learn, and can be good with children, but does not always tolerate rough handling. The Westie is an active breed, and is social with a high prey drive, as they were once used to hunt rodents.
The modern breed is descended from a number of breeding programmes of white terriers in Scotland before the 20th century. Cousin to the Cairn Terrier, the Westie was bred to hunt small rodents at places such as farms. Edward Donald Malcolm, 16th Laird of Poltalloch, is credited with the creation of the modern breed from his Poltalloch Terrier, but did not want to be known as such.
Other related breeds included George Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll's Roseneath Terrier and Dr Americ Edwin Flaxman's Pittenweem Terriers. This breed of small white Scottish terriers was given its modern name for the first time in 1908, with recognition by major kennel clubs occurring around the same time.
The breed remains very popular in the UK, with multiple wins at Cruft's. It has been in the top third of all breeds in the US since the 1960s.
Several breed-specific and non-specific health problems appear in the breed, including a condition in young dogs nicknamed "westie jaw" which causes an overgrowth of bone in the jaw of the dog. It can also be prone to skin disorders, with a breed-specific condition called hyperplastic dermatosis occurring. They are a very energetic and boisterous breed, needing regular exercise of around one hour per day.