West Highland White Terrier

All of the little vermin catchers that were once collectively known as the "Terriers of Scotland" are related to one another. But the closest kin to the West Highland White Terrier is said to be the Cairn. In fact it is reported that frequently white puppies appeared in litters of Cairns, and when they did they were promptly put to sleep because the white puppies were not considered fit to survive. But, in various regions of Scotland, some breeders thought differently. They considered that white terriers had an advantage because when on the hunt for vermin they were easily distinguishable from the foxes and badgers. Not being earth-coloured, they were readily visible as they worked among the rocks.

Thus the little white dogs came to be known by various regional names such as the Poltalloch and the Roseneath Terrier. Then around the turn of the century, after the commencement of dog shows at the time when the "Terriers of Scotland" were being classified separately prior to gaining official breed recognition, all the regional names of the white terriers were merged to become the West Highland White Terrier. Colonel E.D. Malcolm of Poltalloch, whose family had been breeding the white terriers for two generations before him, is credited with developing the modern Westie. In 1900 Malcolm introduced the breed to dog shows under the name Poltalloch Terrier. In 1905 the first specialty club was organized, a breed standard was adopted and in 1907 the West Highland White Terrier was granted official breed status by The Kennel Club (England).

It did not take long for the Westie to find supporters on this side of the Atlantic and in 1909 a national breed club was organized in the United States, followed by a similar organization in Canada in 1911. While the Westie retains the instincts of the working terrier and is still being used to keep down the vermin population on farms, the breed is best known today because of its outstanding record as a show dog, having captured top wins at the world's major dog events.

First registrations of the West Highland White Terrier in Canada are recorded in The Canadian Kennel Club Stud Book for the years 1908-1909.