West Highland White Terrier

Lifestyle Needs

West Highland White Terrier

West Highland White Terrier

The West Highland White Terrier or ‘Westie’ is a very popular small dog.  He lives happily as a companion dog or family pet.  Despite his small size, he is no lap dog and needs plenty of exercise.  His coat needs regular brushing and he may need have professional grooming from time to time.

Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)

The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 5.6% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'

Effective Population Size - EPS


EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.

Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)

None known

BVA/KC Health Schemes: www.bva.co.uk/chs

Eye scheme:  Hereditary cataract (HC) (annual testing); Multiple ocular defects (MOD) (litter screening); Persistent pupillary membranes (PPM) (litter screening).

Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:

DNA Tests Available

  • Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKD)
  • Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy (GCL) (Krabbe disease)
  • Primary Lens Luxation (PLL)
  • Craniomandibular Osteopathy (CMO)

Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes

None known

Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.

Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)

  • Atopic dermatitis (hypersensitivity to pollens and other protein particles – causes intense itching and can be very severe in this breed)
  • Chronic hepatopathy
  • Cranio-mandibular osteopathy (Lion jaw) (swollen and painful jaw due to excess bone)
  • Demodicosis (skin disease caused by demodex mite – causes itching, discomfort, pain, infection – genetic abnormality of  immune system)
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye) (an autoimmune disease)
  • Cranial cruciate ligament disease (causes hind limb lameness)
  • Patellar luxation (dislocated kneecap)
  • Addison’s disease (hypoadrenocorticism)
  • Cancer: brain tumour; basal cell tumors; cutaneous histiocytoma; bladder (urothelial carcinoma)
  • Heart disease: Sick sinus syndrome
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (Westie Lung disease) (progressive scarring of the lungs)
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (Avascular necrosis of the femoral head) (a disease of the hip joint in young dogs, causing severe pain and lameness)
  • Misplaced lower canine teeth

Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents.  Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.

Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.

You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP):  www.puppycontract.org.uk

You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding:

Or the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeders Scheme Standard and Guidance:
Standard PDF | Guidance PDF

List of Dog Breeds