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West Highland White Terriers began their history as the undesirable white offspring of the dark-colored Cairn Terrier. With the dog's popularity today, it is hard to believe that the early Westies were usually drowned or shot.
One breeder, though, Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm of Poltalloch, is credited with recognizing the potential of the white coat. The legend is that it made the dog more visible as it ran through brush, and prevented it from being mistaken for prey during foxhunts. He bred them for their white coats, and for many years they were known as Poltalloch Terriers.
The Westies, as they commonly called today, the Cairn, Scottish, Skye, and Dandie Dinmont, Westhighland Terriers are closely related breeds that arose in the rugged terrain of Scotland. They were bred to chase down small prey such as otters, foxes, badgers, and vermin. The Terrier's features and temperament both were honed until it became a feisty little dog that would determinedly run its quarry to ground.
It has a small, compact body, with short legs, which allowed it to run and squirm through underbrush where its usual prey dwelled. The Westie's double coat has coarse outer hairs to shed dirt and debris, and a thick, soft undercoat.
Like many hunting dogs, they are considered intelligent. They also are prone to pursue any creature that runs from it. Barking announced to the hunter that it was on the chase. Westie dogs were trained and bred to become more aggressive the harder the prey tried to escape.
The origin of the word 'terrier' is in the Latin word 'terra' - earth. It was given to them, and all terrier breeds, because once their prey is run to ground, they will dig it out. Westies today still possess the tendency to be diggers.
The modern white wsethighland terrier dog is a hardy, tenacious breed that is also loyal and friendly. They still retain the traits of their ancestors: a love of the chase, a moderate tendency to bark, a habit of digging, and they are prone to become a bit aggressive during very rough play. They are a little obstinate, and need firm, consistent discipline. However, they are also easy to care for, and natural guard dogs. Those taking a West Highland white Terrier as a pet will find themselves with a loyal, loving companion for the life of the dog.
(Disclaimer: Any information contained in this site relating to various medical, health and fitness conditions of Westies or other animals and their treatments is for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for the advice provided by your own veterinarian. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing the health of any animal. You should always consult and check with your own vet or veterinarian.)
I do hope that you have found the article of use to you. Good health and happiness
Jeff Cuckson firstname.lastname@example.org
Want To Know How To Have The Healthiest,
Happiest and Most Well Behaved Westie You
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