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.