West Highland White Terrier Breed Standard
The West Highland White Terrier is a small, game, well-balanced hardy looking terrier, exhibiting
good showmanship, possessed with no small amount of self-esteem, strongly built, deep in
chest and back ribs, with a straight back and powerful hindquarters on muscular legs, and
exhibiting in marked degree a great combination of strength and activity. The coat is about two
inches long, white in color, hard, with plenty of soft undercoat. The dog should be neatly
presented, the longer coat on the back and sides, trimmed to blend into the shorter neck and
shoulder coat. Considerable hair is left around the head to act as a frame for the face to yield a
typical Westie expression.
Size, Proportion, Substance
The ideal size is eleven inches at the withers for dogs and ten inches for bitches. A slight
deviation is acceptable. The Westie is a compact dog, with good balance and substance. The
body between the withers and the root of the tail is slightly shorter than the height at the withers.
Short-coupled and well boned. Faults-over or under height limits. Fine boned.
Shaped to present a round appearance from the front. Should be in proportion to the body.
Piercing, inquisitive, pert. Eyes-eyes-widely set apart, medium in size, almond shaped, dark
brown in color, deep set, sharp and intelligent. Looking from under heavy eyebrows, they give a
piercing look. Eye rims are black. Faults-small, full or light colored eyes. Ears-ears-small,
carried tightly erect, set wide apart, on the top outer edge of the skull. They terminate in a sharp
point, and must never be cropped. The hair on the ears is trimmed short and is smooth and
velvety, free of fringe at the tips. Black skin pigmentation is preferred. Faults--Round-pointed,
broad, large, ears set closely together, not held tightly erect, or placed too low on the side of the
Broad, slightly longer than the muzzle. not flat on top but slightly domed between the ears. It
gradually tapers to the eyes. There is a defined stop, eyebrows are heavy. Faults--Long or
narrow skull. Muzzle--Blunt, slightly shorter than the skull, powerful and gradually tapering to the
nose, which is large and black. The jaws are level and powerful. Lip pigment is black.
Faults--Muzzle longer than skull. Nose color other than black. Bite--The teeth are large for the
size of the dog. There must be six incisor teeth between the canines of both lower and upper
jaws. An occasional missing premolar is acceptable. A tight scissors bite with upper incisors
slightly overlapping the lower incisors or level mouth is equally acceptable. Faults--Teeth
defective or misaligned. Any incisors missing or several premolars missing. Teeth overshot or
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck--Muscular and well set on sloping shoulders. The length of neck should be in proportion to
the remainder of the dog. Faults--Neck too long or too short. Topline--Flat and level, both
standing and moving. Faults--High rear, any deviation from above. Body--Compact and of good
substance. Ribs deep and well arched in the upper half of rib, extending at least to the elbows,
and presenting a flattish side appearance. Back ribs of considerable depth, and distance from
last rib to upper thigh as short as compatible with free movement of the body. Chest very deep
and extending to the elbows, with breadth in proportion to the size of the dog. Loin short, broad
and strong. Faults--Back weak, either too long or too short. Barrel ribs, ribs above elbows.
Tail--Relatively short, with good substance, and shaped like a carrot. When standing erect it is
never extended above the top of the skull. It is covered with hard hair without feather, as straight
as possible, carried gaily but not curled over the back. The tail is set on high enough so that the
spine does not slope down to it. The tail is never docked. Faults--Set too low, long, thin, carried
at half-mast, or curled over back.
Angulation, Shoulders--Shoulder blades are well laid back and well knit at the backbone. The
shoulder blade should attach to an upper arm of moderate length, and sufficient angle to allow
for definite body overhang. Faults--Steep or loaded shoulders. Upper arm too short or too
straight. Legs--Forelegs are muscular and well boned. relatively short, but with sufficient length
to set the dog up so as not to be too close to the ground. The legs are reasonably straight, and
thickly covered with short hard hair. They are set in under the shoulder blades with definite body
overhang before them. Height from elbow to withers and elbow to ground should be
approximately the same. Faults--Out at elbows. Light bone, fiddle-front. Feet--Forefeet are larger
than the hind ones, are round, proportionate in size, strong, thickly padded; they may properly be
turned out slightly. Dewclaws may be removed. Black pigmentation is most desirable on pads of
all feet and nails, although nails may lose coloration in older dogs.
Angulation--Thighs are very muscular, well angulated, not set wide apart, with hock well bent,
short, and parallel when viewed from the rear. Legs--Rear legs are muscular and relatively short
and sinewy. Faults-- Weak hocks, long hocks, lack of angulation. Cowhocks. Feet--Hind feet are
smaller than front feet, and are thickly padded. Dewclaws may be removed.
Very important and seldom seen to perfection. Must be double-coated. The head is shaped by
plucking the hair, to present the round appearance. The outer coat consists of straight hard
white hair, about two inches long, with shorter coat on neck and shoulders, properly blended
and trimmed to blend shorter areas into furnishings, which are longer on stomach and legs. The
ideal coat is hard, straight and white, but a hard straight coat which may have some wheaten
tipping is preferable to a white fluffy or soft coat. Furnishings may be somewhat softer and
longer but should never give the appearance of fluff. Faults--Soft coat. Any silkiness or tendency
to curl. Any open or single coat, or one which is too short.
The color is white, as defined by the breed's name. Faults--Any coat color other than white.
Heavy wheaten color.
Free, straight and easy all around. It is a distinctive gait, not stilted, but powerful, with reach and
drive. In front the leg is freely extended forward by the shoulder. When seen from the front the
legs do not move square, but tend to move toward the center of gravity. The hind movement is
free, strong and fairly close. The hocks are freely flexed and drawn close under the body, so that
when moving off the foot the body is thrown or pushed forward with some force. Overall ability to
move is usually best evaluated from the side, and topline remains level. Faults--Lack of reach in
front, and/or drive behind. Stiff, stilted or too wide movement.
Alert, gay, courageous and self-reliant, but friendly. Faults--Excess timidity or excess pugnacity.
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