Description & History

The ancestors of the West Highland White Terrier, like other terrier breeds from Scotland, originated from the Highlands and the west coast of Scotland.

Today's West Highland White Terrier was developed over a hundred years ago by Colonel E D Malcolm at Poltalloch in Argyllshire. To create an all white terrier, only white puppies in litters were kept and this evolved into a new working strain of tough little hunters.

At the same time two other white terrier strains were developed - the Roseneaths and the Pittenweems. The former were bred by George Clark, who worked on the Duke of Argyll's estate and the latter by Dr Flaxman from Fifeshire.

It is quite possible that these two strains were crossed at some stage of their development, but it was Colonel Malcolm's strain - known as Poltalloch - which was used to establish today's dogs.

The Westie is a game, hardy dog which was bred to hunt the fox and other farm vermin. Its hunting was done on the farms and among the rocks and cairns where he was quite capable of disposing of his quarry.

The breed - which was recognised by the British Kennel Club in 1907 - is both a popular pet and successful show dog and has won many top awards on both sides of the Atlantic.

They adapt themselves, like most terriers, to town or country living, but are still rabbiters at heart, given half a chance!

Rosamund Walters.

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