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West Highland White Terrier: nature, care and diseases

West highland white terrier

West Highland White Terrier (WHWT): this inconspicuous little white dog can turn out to be an energy bomb!

Currently, Vestas are very popular, however, the visits of dogs of this breed to the veterinarian are not very frequent, as evidenced by low morbidity.

West is from Great Britain and qualified to FCI Group 3.

In this article you will learn about the nature of vestments and what diseases they are predisposed to.

  • West Highland White Terrier breed description
  • West Highland White Terrier character
  • How to nurture West?
  • West Highland White Terrier disease
    • Chronic idiopathic hepatitis
    • Food allergy and intolerance
    • West highland white terrier skin diseases: Armadillo syndrome
    • The Tetralogy of Fallot
    • Deafness
    • Diabetes
    • Cataract
  • Is it worth choosing West??

West Highland White Terrier breed description

West highland white terrier breed description

Height at the withers is approx. 28cm. Adults weigh 6-8 kg.

It is a small breed suitable for families living both in single-family houses and in blocks of flats.

WHWT appearance

  • The dog has a strong build, has a deep chest and the last ribs reaching far back.
  • His limbs are muscular, especially the front ones, which keep him mobile and energetic.
  • The head has a slight outline and is completely covered with dense hair.
  • Teeth quite large, with a scissor bite.
  • Ears small, stiffly erect, covered with smooth hair.

You can see what a westie puppy looks like in the video below

West Highland White Terrier Puppies for sale (Empire Puppies)
Watch this video on YouTube


Dogs of this breed are only white.

They have a two-layer robe:

  • coarse and long topcoat (approx. 5cm),
  • The undercoat is soft, dense and short.

West Highland White Terrier character

West highland white terrier character

West highland white terrier is a small, very active dog, who likes to play.

Cheerful and lively, he gives the impression of a trickster ?

WHWT it is a friendly animal, although very self-confident, independent, with a strong character.

How to nurture West?

Westie care

Due to the white color of Vesta's coat, they require slightly different care.

Baths are more frequent, even once a month with the use of shampoos designed for white hair.

It is recommended to detangle the hair after each bath as it has a tendency to wavy. This way we will prevent the formation of tangles.

In addition to brushing after bathing, it is necessary to groom the hair to properly lay the hair, and to remove poorly embedded or dead hair.

The greatest strength of the West Highland Terrier is its head. The hair cover on the pouffe and above the eye sockets must be carefully combed to obtain a satisfactory effect.

Vestas are dogs of medium length hair, however, to give it the right shape, it is recommended to get a haircut, and trimming - removal of dead hair.

The frequency of haircuts really depends on the caregiver's preferences, but it is assumed that Vesta should be trimmed approx. 3 times a year.

Some dogs develop discoloration, patches of hair around the corner of the eyes or on the chin and fluff.

The causes are very different, from lack of oral hygiene to blocked nasolacrimal tubules, however, it is necessary to see a veterinarian with this problem.

West Highland White Terrier disease

West Highland White Terrier disease

Chronic idiopathic hepatitis

Occurrence in these dogs chronic idiopathic hepatitis has not been fully known.

This term is used in all cases where the root cause of the disease cannot be identified.

The disease occurs in both males and females, approx. 5-6 years.

The symptoms are not very specific and characteristic of liver diseases:

  • lack of appetite,
  • losing weight,
  • polyuria,
  • increased thirst,
  • ascites,
  • less often jaundice,
  • vomiting,
  • diarrhea.

Initial diagnosis chronic idiopathic hepatitis should be based on:

  • clinical trial,
  • medical history,
  • additional tests, including liver enzymes, which are highly elevated.

In the imaging tests, the liver is shown in the pictures X-ray is reduced, and on Ultrasound with altered echogenicity, characteristic of chronic inflammation.

The final diagnosis is made on the basis of histopathological examination of a liver section.

Treatment is application based glucocorticosteroids (except drug-induced liver injury, inflammation associated with copper deposition).

In the case of other disorders, it is additionally used supportive therapy, fluid therapy and drugs stimulating liver regeneration.

Monitoring of hepatic parameters is performed weekly, then every two weeks.

The prognosis is cautious, but unfortunately the disease is usually fatal as liver cirrhosis is a complication of the inflammation.

Food allergy and intolerance

Food intolerance is another disease entity attributed to this breed.

It is a non-immune reaction to food intake, and in the case of an immune reaction we are talking about food allergy.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to distinguish the two from each other.

They cause the vast majority of reactions proteins, and cereals.

Against the background of these reactions, the permeability of the intestinal membranes is disturbed, as a result of which we most often observe abnormalities on the part of the gastrointestinal tract.

IN 1/3 of the cases the disease occurs before completion 1 year old, but it is assumed that it may occur between 4 months and even 14 years of age.

Diagnosis is made on the basis of:

  • intelligence,
  • clinical symptoms,
  • reaction to an elimination diet,
  • allergy tests performed.

Treatment primarily covers diet therapy.

Choose a food based on two or maximum three ingredients that have not yet been administered, e.g. overcooked potatoes plus fish, or white turkey or rabbit meat.

The dog should stay on elimination diet for at least 6-8 weeks.

Once improvement is achieved, other ingredients may be introduced while waiting for any adverse reactions to occur.

Another way is to use commercial feed Hypoallergenic.

West highland white terrier skin diseases: Armadillo syndrome

A typical breed of dogs WHWT the disease is the so-called. battleship team. Is it epidermal dysplasia of a hypertrophic nature.

Malassezia pachydermatis yeast is isolated from the skin of sick animals.

The hypertrophic lesions are believed to arise from the effects of various inflammatory stimuli, in particular from Malassezia infections.

The disease occurs in age from 1 to several years.

The clinical picture may be complicated by other skin diseases, e.g. atopic inflammation, food alergy if flea allergy, therefore, diagnosis is usually made after excluding other diseases.

On the skin we observe:

  • reddening,
  • lichenization,
  • discoloration,
  • baldness.

Characteristic are brown-gray flaking patches of the epidermis.

The lesions are located on the limbs and the good side of the neck and chest. They tend to spread quickly.

Treatment consists of combating comorbidities, especially Malassezia pachydermatis infections (using ketoconazole) as there is no specific treatment for this disease.

The Tetralogy of Fallot

Unfortunately, the Wests also have the so-called. The Tetralogy of Fallot, shortening their life time to a maximum of 4 years.

Congenital, hereditary, complex heart defect includes ventricular septal defect, narrowing of the pulmonary opening, right ventricular hypertrophy and persistent right aortic arch.

The defect causes hypoxia and compensatory polycythemia.

All sorts of symptoms are due to hypoxia.

Such individuals show:

  • fainting,
  • poor growth,
  • exercise intolerance,
  • intracardiac murmurs.

The diagnosis is made on the basis of echocardiography or angiography.

Despite surgery, dogs have a short life.

Supportive therapy is administration B-blockers or venous bleeding and rehydration in the case of polycythemia.

The overall prognosis is poor.


Congenital, genetically determined deafness in West Highland Terriers, it is caused by degeneration of the cranial nerve VIII (vestibulo-cochlear).

Bilateral deafness is already found in puppies.

100% diagnosis of deafness is possible by means of an examination BAER, which is performed only in a few places in Poland.

There is no treatment for deafness, but affected animals usually function properly.

It is not recommended to breed deaf animals due to the genetic makeup of the disease.


While diabetes is a disease that mainly occurs in middle-aged dogs, yes 1.5% cases concern young dogs, including Wests.

It is referred to as juvenile diabetes.

Symptoms are typical of diabetes:

  • polyuria,
  • increased thirst,
  • weight loss despite a large appetite.

In the case of development ketoacidosis we observe:

  • vomiting,
  • lack of appetite,
  • dehydration.

The diagnosis is made on the basis of symptoms, hyperglycaemia and the presence of sugar in the urine.

Treatment is based on lifetime administration insulin. The dose and frequency are determined by the veterinarian after making the sugar curve.


It is also characteristic of these dogs bilateral opacification of the lens (cataract) caused by diabetes.

Is it worth choosing West??

Is it worth choosing this breed?

West Higland Terrier is a very lively dog ​​that would find its place in a family with an active lifestyle.

Low predilection to diseases and endurance allow you to enjoy the pooch's company for a long time.

How many live Vestas?

On average, it is approx 15 years, but it should be remembered that the life expectancy of each animal is influenced by the lifestyle and past diseases.

Sources used >>

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