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 will need professional grooming from time to time.

Genetic Diversity
(Known as Coefficient of Inbreeding: 'COI'. It should be as low as possible.)

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

Gene Pool Size
(Known as 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)

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)

  • Craniomandibular Osteopathy
  • Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy
  • Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKD)

Availability of a DNA test does not mean that it is always necessary or even desirable for breeders to use this test.

Other Breed-Specific Health Screening Schemes

  • Patella test (luxating patella)

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
  • Hormonal diseases (Addisons disease, Diabetes Mellitus)
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Liver disease

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.

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

The breeder should also be familiar with the CFSG/DBRG Code of Practice for Dog Breeding

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

Breed Health Information