West Highland Terrier Breed Standard

Image taken from www.purplepetbehaviour.co.uk

Image taken from www.purplepetbehaviour.co.uk

Friday, February 21, 2014

Hello everyone!

This is Sharda again for another West Highland Terrier newsletter.

The breed standards between the major Kennel Clubs vary slightly; the KC in the UK, the AKC in the United States, the CKC in Canada and the FCI that is International.

The differences are minimal, however, and West Highland Terrier Breed Standard are described below.


  • This is a very well built and sturdy dog featuring well-muscled legs and a stout and well-proportioned overall build.
  • The dogs are always solid white, with almost black eyes, nose and lips.
  • The outer coat is about two inches long and is course and wiry.
  • The inner coat is soft, and should be dense and thick.
  • The Westie is trimmed to blend the longer hair of the back into the shorter hair on the neck. The hair is allowed to grow around the head and is plucked by hand to give a distinctive round shape to the head.
  • The Westie will be energetic and alert to the surroundings. They should not appear timid or aggressive in any fashion.


  • The head will appear round in shape when correctly groomed and presented.
  • The eyes are dark brown and almond shaped with a keen, intelligent gaze.
  • The Westie will have small ears, that are very erect and set wide apart on the top outer side of the skull. They are not cropped or shaped, and should be very pointed naturally. The hair of the ears can be trimmed to be very short and velvety to the touch.
  • The skull is slightly domed between the ears, and tapers toward the eyes.
  • The eyebrows are heavy and there is a definite stop.
  • The muzzle is blunt and slightly shorter than the skull.
  • The nose is large and black, and is well defined.
  • The teeth are large for the size of the dog, and there should be six incisors between the canines of the upper and lower jaw. The teeth should not be overshot or undershot.


  • The body is very muscular and compact.
  • The neck should be in proportion to the body and head of the Westie.
  • The topline of the body should be flat whether the dog is walking or standing.
  • The ribs are very deep and well arched giving the sturdy physical appearance.
  • The chest is deep and large and extends to the elbows of the front legs.


  • The Westie’s tail is spike, or carrot shaped, and is covered with shorter hair.
  • It stands straight up on the back, and the spine does not slope towards the tail.
  • The tail should not curl over the back, and should not extend beyond the top of the skull.
  • A Westie does not have a docked tail, and this is not an acceptable practice with this breed.


  • The forequarters are muscular and the shoulder blades are close to the backbone.
  • The legs are straight with no bowing or turning out at the elbows.
  • The chest should extend in front of the legs and the legs themselves should be covered with short hard hair.
  • The feet of the forelegs should be slightly larger than that of the hind legs.
  • The hindquarters are very muscular and angulated. They are short and sinewy, and should give the impression of energy.
  • The hocks are well bent and are parallel when viewed from the front.
  • Dewclaws on hind legs may be removed or left on if they are tight to the leg.
  • The feet should be heavily padded.


  • The coat should double and solid white with a very straight and wiry looking topcoat and a thick undercoat.
  • The overall length of the topcoat is approximately two inches.
  • Trimming is acceptable to blend the longer hair of the back with the shorter hair of the neck.
  • Some slight wheaten tips on the hair may be acceptable if the coat is double.


  • The Westie should have a purposeful gait, with a good extension to the front end, and a powerful reach and drive with the hind end.
  • It should appear powerful in movement without being bouncy.
  • The topline or back of the Westie should remain level when they are moving.

Overall the Westie is a bright, alert and energetic looking terrier. They are distinctive with their white coat and black button looking eyes and nose. They have a self-assured and intelligent personality that makes them very endearing dogs.

Hope you learned a lot from today’s West Highland Terrier newsletter.

Sharda Baker