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All about your West Highland White Terrier

Happy and endearing, with a confidence you can’t help but warm to.

West Highland White Terriers are small, stocky and energetic, with big personalities and highly inquisitive natures. Find out more about this lively, robust and fun dog, from his temperament and how he should be groomed, to his health and exercise needs.

A White West Highland Terrier Leaping On The Grass

Breed information & advice

The West Highland White Terrier is brave and tough, as he belongs to the terrier breed group that was developed to hunt vermin such as rats and badgers. He’s also an affectionate dog and gets along with everyone, including strangers and other pets, so makes a great addition to the family.

  • This breed needs plenty of training, as he is naturally headstrong.
  • An adult Westie will need daily brushing to rid him of excess hair.
  • Typically he will weigh between 6kg and 10kg, when fully grown.
  • A healthy West Highland White Terrier can live for 12 to 16 years.

Typical size of a West Highland White Terrier

Small: 25cm-28cm

West Highland White Terriers are energetic and will need two half hour walks a day and you should also make time to play with your dog inside or outside of the house.  If you’ve got enough room in the hallway, a few games of fetch will get him eager to please.

Your dog will need a structured mealtime, with food split across two meals. The exact amount he will need will depend on his age, weight and how physically active he is. Be careful not to overfeed him, as he will keep eating.

Up to one hour of exercise per day

Make sure this breed gets daily walks and plenty of playtime, both inside and outside of the house.

A White West Highland Terrier Begins Jump On The Beach
White West Highland Terrier Looking Straight On

Common health problems & illnesses

West Highland White Terriers are generally healthy dogs but they’ll need regular check-ups and vaccinations to stay in good shape. There are some conditions that this breed may be more prone to, and it’s worth being aware of the main symptoms, so you know what to watch out for.

1. Lameness

This breed may experience lameness in his limbs for a variety of reasons, from animal or insect bites to hip dysplasia, an injured cruciate ligament or dislocated kneecap. If you notice your dog is walking hesitantly on a hind leg, your vet will be able to investigate further and offer treatment.

2. Ear problems

Otitis externa is an inflammation of the ear, which can affect the skin around and underneath a Westie’s ear flaps. Look out for your dog scratching his ears, shaking his head or any redness around his ears. If left untreated, it could lead to an infection, but you can help to prevent this by making sure his ears are regularly cleaned and kept dry.

Otitis externa made up 2% of Tesco Pet Insurance claims for this breed in 2015.

3. Poisoning

West Highland White Terriers are known for their curiosity, and this can mean they occasionally eat something they shouldn’t. ‘Human’ food such as chocolate, onions and types of dried fruit like raisins can be poisonous to your dog, so make sure anything unsuitable is kept well out of reach  and take him to your vet if he starts vomiting, develops diarrhoea or a fever.

4. Skin conditions

This breed is known to be at risk from several skin disorders – such as eczema or dermatitis – that cause irritation and inflammation of the skin, and can be caused by allergies or mites for example. Symptoms include severe redness and even hair loss, and could be detected during your daily grooming sessions. Treatment may involve applying medicated creams or giving your dog a medicated bath.

5. Tumours

An unexplained lump or bump can show up anywhere on a dog’s body, and while it could be simply a sign of aging or a lipoma or fatty, benign tumour, it could also be an indicator of an underlying health condition. Keep an eye out for any growths during your dog’s grooming sessions. It’s always best to seek advice from your vet if you notice any unusual skin changes, no matter how minor.

Dog name popularity

If you’re struggling to think of a name for your West Highland White Terrier, take a look at the most popular ones at Tesco Pet Insurance for inspiration.

Dog name popularity

Average treatment costs

Wondering whether pet insurance for your West Highland White Terrier is worth it? We’ve put together the top five conditions claimed for by Tesco Pet Insurance customers in 2015, and the average cost of treatment.

ConditionAverage treatment cost
Cruciate rupture£909.95
Skin condition£186.54

Tesco Pet Insurance claims data from paid treatments including excesses from 01/01/15 to 31/12/15.

Considering West Highland White Terrier insurance?

We know your dog is an important member of the family, so give them the protection they deserve with Tesco Pet Insurance.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc.

Grooming advice

The long haired, fluffy appearance of your terrier is his trademark – and while he won’t shed much, you may find his coat needs trimming as it can quite quickly grow out of control. Daily brushing will keep his coarse fur tidy and presentable. Get him into this habit when he’s a puppy and the experience will become part of his routine.

Bathe as required to keep him clean, and wipe his white coat down with a damp cloth every week or two to keep him sparkling. Your dog’s nails can grow quite fast and will need clipping, but only when you can hear him before you see him has this become a problem.

Daily tooth brushing is recommended, as smaller breeds tend to have more dental issues such as bacteria and tartar build-up.

Fun & interesting facts

  • Your dog goes by many names, including Poltalloch Terrier, Roseneath Terrier, White Roseneath Terrier and Westie (or Westy).
  • As the face of a well-known brand of dog food, this breed is one of the most widely-recognised in the world.
  • Your dog will love digging, which will either make him a great or terrible help in the garden.
  • Famous owners of the West Highland White Terrier have included British actor Robert Pattinson, and the late director Alfred Hitchcock.
  • King James I would give his visitors a Westie as a token of his appreciation.

Important information


The content on this page aims to offer an informative introduction to pet breeds, but does not constitute expert veterinary advice. If your dog or cat falls ill or has an injury, contact your vet immediately. Tesco Bank Pet Insurance has a partnership with vetfone™ which means that as a customer, you can benefit from their advice as part of your policy.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by Vetsdirect Ltd.

All facts and figures were correct at date of publication and were compiled using a range of sources.


Vetfone™ is a 24/7 helpline that provides expert advice from nurses qualified with the RCVS (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons). If your pet has a medical emergency, or you need reassurance on grooming, feeding or general advice, vetfone™ is there to help.

As a Tesco Pet Insurance customer, you can access expert veterinary advice provided by RCVS registered vet nurses as a standard benefit with your policy, and the service is provided at no additional cost. A quick call could answer any questions you have about your pet, give you peace of mind and could even save you an expensive trip to the vet.

Tesco Bank Pet Insurance is arranged, administered and underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. The vetfone™ service is provided by Vetsdirect Ltd.

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