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)

  • Chondrodysplasia (considered ‘normal’ for the breed)

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) : No EBVs are currently available for this breed

DNA Tests Available
DogWellNet and IPFD Harmonisation of Genetic Testing for Dogs (HGTD)

  • Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKD)
  • Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy (GCL) (Krabbe disease)
  • von Willebrand Disease 1
  • L-2-Hydroxyglutaric Aciduria (L-2-HGA
  • Amelogenesis Imperfecta (Familial Enamel Hyposplasia)
  • Craniomandibular Osteopathy
  • Primary Lens Luxation (PLL)

Availability of a DNA test does not mean that it is always necessary or even desirable for breeders to use this test. Good breeders will have followed the recommendations of the appropriate breed clubs, Kennel Club and/or other qualified experts.

Other Breed-Specific Health Screening 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 – can be very severe in this breed
  • Demodicosis
  • Heart disease: Atrioventricular (AV) block; Sick sinus syndrome’ Pulmonic stenosis
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Hypoadrenocorticism (Addisons disease)
  • Portosystemic shunt
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI)
  • Hepatitis
  • Pyruvate kinase deficiency
  • Legg-Calve-Pethes disease
  • Cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) disease
  • Patellar luxation
  • Primary Lens Luxation (PLL)
  • Cancer: Adenoma/adenocarcinoma
  • Polyneuropathy
  • Globoid cell leucodystrophy (Krabbe disease)
  • Cataract
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (‘Dry Eye’)
  • Cranio-mandibular osteopathy (Lion jaw)
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (Westie Lung disease)
  • Urolithiasis

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

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