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How to Breed Highland White Terriers

Written by Viena
Viena is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Published on
Monday 14 June 2021
Last updated on
Tuesday 9 May 2023
how to breed highland white terriers
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Highland White Terriers are a famous breed because they are affectionate, energetic, and very adorable dogs. They are the perfect pets because they are much happier with either living in the city or the country. It would seem like one of the rare breeds that can fit perfectly into any home and family.

Highland White Terriers are so popular that famous brands even use their likeness on their labels and logos. It is no wonder why people can’t get enough of their cute white fur and dark eyes and nose. So, you might be curious now, how do you breed Highland White Terriers?

Westies have been a favorite amongst pet owners for decades because of their remarkable physical traits, intelligence, and personality. Furthermore, it is the most popular breed of terrier worldwide. This article will discuss the history, appearance, temperament, and health conditions common for this breed. You’ll also find other helpful information and issues you might encounter when caring for Highland White Terriers. Read on and discover more things about this breed and how you can get started breeding them.

Background of Highland White Terrier Breeding

You might have seen them starring in several ads and TV shows or winning dog shows. The Highland White Terrier is just one of the most popular breeds that go back to the 19th century. Let’s find out where this highly-sought breed originated.


The Highland White Terrier is a breed that descended from breeding programs in Scotland during the reign of James VI. Some say that the dog breed is closely related to the Cairn Terrier and Scottish Terrier. The king of Scotland wanted them as a gift to the Kingdom of France.

It hasn’t been until 1908 that the new breed of white terriers was named “West Highland White Terrier.” At that point, these dogs became instantly popular upon its arrival in the U.S. in 1907. Since then, it remained in the top third until 1960. In 2010, they became the third most popular breed in the U.K.

The purpose of breeding Westies has initially been to hunt badgers and rodents on farms and other British Isles estates. Being highly active, smart, social, and high prey drive made these working dogs perfect for the job. They were one of the so-called “earth dogs,” which are skilled in finding and getting rid of rats.

The Modern Highland White Terrier

The history states that Edward Donal Malcolm developed the modern highland white terriers. However, he refuses to name it after himself. They were a result of numerous attempts of interbreeding, including the Poltalloch Terriers and Pittenweem Terriers. The first generation had sandy-colored coats and prominent prick ears, on which the latter became common amongst the modern breed. Colonel Malcolm of Poltalloch designed the breed specifically to have white fur. After a hunting accident with a wheat-colored Cairn, he decided that a white coat will prevent such incidents from repeating.

Meanwhile, others from their region were also interbreeding Terriers. And, these lead to the creation of White Scottish Terriers and what others call the Roseneath Terriers. All of which have developed similar traits, such as short legs and lighter-colored or white furs. We’ll explore more of the related breeds in the next section.

Like other Terriers, Westies have strong prey instincts. It is much so that owners are cautious about letting them off-leash. These dogs may tend to get lost in the hunt and forget to return home. This behavior naturally is just a demonstration of the traits that they have inherited from their ancestor breeds.

The Scottish, Skye, Cairn, Dandie Dimont, and West Highland White Terrier originated from the same breed. And, because of it, they also share multiple characteristics. These breeds are known for their small size, short legs, prick ears, and low ground body. They also got the temperament and personality of a Terrier.

Back then, the 8th Duke of Argyll, George Campbell, bred white Scottish Terriers called Roseneath Terriers. Simultaneously, Dr. Americ Edwin Flaxman bred Pittenweem Terriers from a female Scottish Terrier that delivered white puppies. The Highland White, Roseneath, and Pittenweem Terriers are all White Scottish Terriers. And following 1930, their traits, including prick ears, white coat, small legs, and short back, became unchanged.


The Highland White Terrier breed is a small-sized dog, with a muscular low to the ground body. Their most common fur color is white, but they do have dark-colored eyes and nose. They have unique and expressive faces that people can easily recognize. Hand plucking the fur around their faces gives them a more rounded appearance typical for show dogs.

Westies also have pointed ears, stubby legs, and a short but thick tail. While at work, Westies can get stuck in a hole when chasing a rodent. Their unique dog tails allow their owners to pull them out quickly.

highland white terriers
Highland White Terriers are small dogs.

Size and Weight

The size of a Westie can be deceptive. Their small, low to the ground bodies are quite stocky. Moreover, they have a deep chest and a rectangular body shape. Although short, their legs are rather muscular, too.

Both males and females can weigh between 15 and 21. When comparing their heights, the males only grow up one inch taller than the females’ 10 inches. Naturally, they have bodies that are shorter than their height from the shoulder.

Weight Range15 to 21 pounds15 to 21 pounds
Height Range11 inches10 inches
Size And Weight Of Highland White Terriers


Highland White Terriers, as the name suggests, comes in white color. Also, they have black or brown-colored almond-shaped eyes, nose, and lips. Although puppies may be born with footpads and nose that have pink patterns, they will become darker as they age. White fur is the only acceptable color of coat for West Highland Terriers for dog shows.

The harsh outer layer of fur can quickly shake off the dirt. However, regular brushing and trim are still required to maintain its pristine appearance. A white coat may require a lot of care to keep it clean and shiny. So, you need to wipe or bathe them as needed.

For show dogs they undergo stripping two times annually. Nevertheless, they have low to none shedding tendencies. Just don’t forget to regularly give them a trim around their eyes, ears, and feet.

Distinct Features

The Westie has a distinguished white tough fur with dark pigments around the eyes, nose, and lips. Compared with other Terrier breeds, the Westie has a significant rounder face. Besides their easily identifiable and very expressive look, they also have distinctly pointed and erect ears. Their jaws are close-fitted and tight, which is a feature they share with other vermin hunters.

Their double coat comprises a soft, short undercoat and 2 inches of rough topcoat. It protects them from the weather, other elements, brambles, or even from their game’s teeth and claws. More importantly, it is essential and helpful while performing duties at the farm. The fur around their faces also contributes to their face looking rounder.

Don’t underestimate their small, stocky body, because these dogs are quick and agile. Furthermore, owners typically haul their Westies out from underground burrows by their tails while pursuing prey. It is short in length but quite sturdy; thus, it won’t hurt them when you do this.


One thing people certainly love about a Westie is their big personality. They are very independent, confident, smart, courageous, and very outgoing. Additionally, these adorable and tenacious dogs would do anything they think would please their human companions. Westies love receiving affection and being part of the family.

Highland White Terrier puppies are intelligent and can think for themselves. It also means they can judge on their own whether they agree with you or not. They may show stubbornness when treated in a way that they don’t like. You might be surprised when they give you a gentle nip to express their frustration.

If you are having difficulty with this, try a firm but caring approach to dealing with them. These pups respond well to positive reinforcement. Besides treats, pets, belly rubs, and hugs go a long way. Westies can get along pretty well with kids and other pets that grew up alongside them. Which makes them a terrible guard dog because they can be too friendly even with strangers.

Also, their Terrier side becomes dominant when facing small pets like bunnies. Their prey drive can take over, and they might give chase after the animal. It is helpful to remember that patience is not a strong suit for Westies. So, you might find that they do not respond well to harsh or rough treatment.

Common Health Issues When Breeding Highland White Terriers

The Highland White Terrier is mostly a healthy breed that enjoys an active lifestyle. Westies often live up to 12-16 years old. But like other dogs, it is not without a few health issues common to its dog breed.

This section will discuss the medical problems you may encounter when breeding highland white terriers. Some of these issues are mild, while others are often incurable. The following should help you learn about Craniomandibular Osteopathy, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, Cataracts, Pulmonary Fibrosis, Patellar Luxation, and more.

Craniomandibular Osteopathy

It refers to the atypical enlargement of the skull bones that affects some Highland White Terrier puppies. This painful condition usually develops during four to eight months of their life. In cases observed, the enlargement is evident in the jawline. Symptoms include swelling in the jaw and glands, recurring fever, difficulty moving their mouth, and chewing muscle atrophy. Typically, irregular growth stops after they reach one year old.

It may be hereditary, and no treatment is available yet. However, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory drugs can help them deal with the discomfort. Lesions may heal over time, but there may be permanent jaw issues that can make eating difficult in others. For severe cases, the pup may require jaw surgery.

Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease

It is a disease where the femur’s “head” is degenerating, leading to hip collapse and arthritis. The exact cause is unidentified, but it may result from blood clots disrupting the blood flow to the hip. This disease usually occurs from four to six months of their life. And it is common for small dogs that weigh less than 20 pounds.

A dog with the disease may limp on the leg affected and cause atrophy and pain in some cases. As it progresses, the affected leg becomes very painful when handled. Due to the unuse, the dog can lose muscle mass on the affected leg in the later stage. There is no treatment for this, but surgery can help correct the effects and eliminate the pain. In mild cases, medication helps manage the pain and make them feel comfortable.


Cataracts are an eye disorder that results in weak vision due to cloudiness that forms in the lens. It is not exclusive to humans; in fact, it is common for dogs as well. The size of the cataract varies depending on the severity. The way it works is that the opaque lens blocks the light from passing through the lens. It then results in loss of vision.

Highland White Terriers common health problems don’t always occur immediately after birth. Juvenile cataracts are prevalent among old Westies. You can tell they have cataracts not only through looking for cloudiness. If your dog has suddenly become more clumsy, it might be because of their deteriorating vision.

Surgical removal of the opacity in the lens helps improves vision. Vision has an essential impact on a dog’s quality of life and overall health. Impaired vision can prevent your dog from enjoying and performing daily routines like playing, eating, etc.

cataracts in highland white terriers
Cataracts are common in Highland White Terriers.

Pulmonary Fibrosis

It refers to the scarring of lung tissues that supports the air sacs and the lungs’ connective tissue. Over time, it causes the lungs to lose its elasticity. Consequently, it brings about the inefficient delivery of oxygen to the bloodstream. This disease of the lungs does not start until years after their birth.

The effects are different for each dog. The common symptoms include declining strength, rapid or shortness of breath, dry cough, “crackling” in the lungs, and difficulty breathing. When left untreated, it can develop into heart failure and other health issues.

Early detection and prevention is the key to fighting pulmonary fibrosis since there is no cure for it. Keeping the house at comfortable temperatures and using bronchial dilators also helps. Your dog has better chances of getting better if you can stop the spread of scarring before it gets worse. A veterinarian can recommend a bronchodilator for your dog to help relax their muscles and ease their breathing. Depending on what they prescribe, it can be in either oral or injectable form. You can also help your dog avoid a respiratory infection by maintaining a healthy weight.

Patellar Luxation

Another health issue common among small dog breeds, like the Highland White Terrier, is Patellar Luxation or slipped stifles. “Patella” refers to the kneecap, and “luxation” means the dislocation of bone and joint. It is more like an injury rather than a disorder. What happens is that the knee joint of the hind leg moves in and out of its socket. It causes great pain to the dog and can also be crippling. Also, the Highland White Terriers have a genetic predisposition for Patellar Luxation. The dog experiences difficulty in bearing weight on the affected joint.

Depending on its severity, your dog may or may not display signs of pain. For instance, some dogs can live through their life without needing treatment. But for more severe cases, repairing the injury would require surgery.


Many dog owners admire the Highland White Terriers’ personality and physical traits, which is why Westies remain in high demand. Breeding Highland White Terriers with a healthy background helps minimize the possibility of health conditions.

If you are considering breeding Westies, you must prioritize the health and safety of everyone. Most importantly, you must also study critical details such as litter size, common birthing problems, and the cost it entails. You can use the following data to help you get started.

Litter Size

The average litter size for breeding Highland White Terriers are three to five puppies. There is no way to make an exact prediction besides taking the pregnant female to the vet. Numerous factors can affect these numbers, like the dog’s body size, breed, age, health, and diet.

Female Westies’ prime time to breed is during their second or third heat. And, it may last until they are four to five years old. Males, on the other hand, are at their best between ages 1.5 and 5 years. And of course, Dams of excellent health condition fair well during pregnancy. It goes with giving them high-quality food.

Common Birthing Problems

There are numerous facets that you should consider to know if your Westie is suitable for breeding as they can suffer from dystocia. First, they must be stable and have a good personality and temperament. Their physical characteristics must be up to standard for the breed. Next, you should have your dog tested for genetic defects. Lastly, they must be mature and in good health.

To ensure the quality of the litter, you shouldn’t breed your Westie if they have the following concerns:

  • If they had an injury that resulted in to narrow birth canal
  • Communicable venereal tumor
  • Anemia
  • Any reproductive disease or infection
  • Coexisting organ disease
  • Any infectious diseases

When breeding, Highland White Terriers often deliver via C-section. The birthing difficulty is a common occurrence among breeds that have large heads. That, coupled with the female dog’s small frame, can be problematic.


Purebred Westie puppies typically cost between $650 and $1700. You can also add the price for supplies, medical expenses, microchips, training, food, treats, and license. After that, the Highland White terrified price will cost you around $950 per year, on average, for a middle-aged dog. It comprises of:

  • $250 for vet care
  • $250 for grooming
  • $200 food and treats
  • and another $200 for their others needs

Highland White Terrier Breed – FAQ

You might now know more than you have before about breeding Highland White Terriers. Centuries worth of information about Westies is readily available now for prospective dog owners and breeders alike. Continue reading to find answers to questions like “Are Westies good dogs?” and many more.

Why is the Highland White Terrier, also called The Westie?

Westie is the short term for West Highland White Terrier. It had its name after the place where the breed originated 300 years ago in Scotland.

Is the Highland White Terrier a hypoallergenic dog breed?

The Highland White Terriers are hypoallergenic dogs. They are one of the best dogs to consider if you have allergies. Their double coat will less likely trigger allergic reactions because they do not shed. Bathing them once a week is sufficient enough to maintain their fur’s cleanliness.

Are Highland White Terriers good family dogs?

Highland White Terriers are good family dogs. Unlike other small dog breeds, they are affectionate and friendly. These dogs are great with having kids and other dogs at home. Additionally, they are very loyal and can quickly adapt to different living conditions.

Do they bark a lot?

Westies can be vocal and expressive, but they do not bark a lot. They may occasionally bark at new sounds or sights, but they are not excessive. Other reasons a Westie may exhibit excessive barking may be due to issues with training, health, or the environment.

How much exercise do they need?

Some may describe Highland White Terriers as energetic, brave, and tireless. An hour of exercise per day is enough to keep them active. But, don’t be surprised if they don’t turn you down when you invite them to play.

If you are looking for the perfect dog, you might want to consider having a Highland White Terrier. These dogs can bring lots of excitement and love into your home. Westies are intelligent, independent, loyal, affectionate, and energetic. Also, they fair well with kids, other pets, and guests. However, you must be aware that they have a lot of prey instinct in them.

Similarly, they are not good guard dogs because they can be too friendly. Familiarizing yourself with some of the common health conditions and other factors is essential to give consideration when breeding Westies. With proper care and training, you too can successfully raise a perfectly healthy and lovable Westie.

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