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Westie Breed History:
The origins of the West Highland White Terriers, also known as “Westies”, are somewhat cloudy, but accounts as far back as the early 17th century, show James I of England (1566-1625), sent a request for 6 little white “earthe dogges”, to be presented as a gift to the King of France.
Today, there are 25 Terrier breeds recognized throughout the world. Every one of them was, at one time or another, derived from the British Isles. Westies were bred in the Highlands of Scotland, the northern region of the country, but have evolved to today’s breed standard primarily on the west coast, hence, the name West Highland Terriers.
The word terrier comes from the Latin word ‘terra’ meaning earth. Specifically referring to dogs that go underground to pursue their prey. Westies, and terriers in general, are famous for their instinct of hunting vermin, rats, fox and rodents.
The Westie was originally a brown, short-legged dog. This version of the dog was most closely associated with today’s Cairn Terrier and is from what today’s Westie descends from. This scruffy terrier, associated with peasants and working classes, was not necessarily revered by the wealthy aristocrats, and was often times abused, abandoned and in general, treated as a poor worker.
Over the years, the breed was bred white and it’s unworthy, working class stigma evolved into that of a much-revered family pet. Col. E.D. Malcolm is credited with developing the breed standard, by coining the breed name and creating the West Highland White Terrier Club.
The sometimes self-willed Westie has a streak of independence, yet can be a fiercely loyal family member. His bark and his gardening skills are sometimes out proportioned to his size. He is a sturdy, hardy fellow who is quite happy to out-walk any family member, no matter how fit. The scrappy playfulness is infectious to watch and defies anyone not to smile while watching them at play!