West Highland White Terriers, affectionately known as “Westies,” are adored for their compact size and lively, friendly nature. Their plush white fur and engaging personalities make them a popular choice among dog lovers. However, this breed’s history and features contain surprises that go beyond their well-known traits. Here are seven lesser-known facts about Westies that you might find intriguing.
Terriers Turned White
Westies were not always white. In the 19th century, Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm, in Scotland, began selectively breeding his Cairn Terriers to be white after mistaking his reddish Cairn for a fox and shooting it. He hoped that a white coat would prevent such accidents in the future. Thus, the West Highland White Terrier was born.
Despite their cute appearance and small size, Westies were originally bred for hunting small game such as rats, rabbits, and foxes. Their strong jaws, sturdy bodies, and keen instincts make them excellent ratters even today. Don’t let their size fool you — these little dogs are tough.
The ‘Polite’ Barker
While most terriers are known for their enthusiastic (and often excessive) barking, Westies are often referred to as the “polite” barkers of the terrier group. They’re more selective in their vocalizations, typically barking to alert their owners of visitors or potential threats.
A fun characteristic of many Westies is their propensity to point with their paws. While this is not a trait bred into them like it is for some hunting dogs, many Westie owners note that their pets use their paws to indicate interest in something or to request attention. It’s just another adorable quirk of this charming breed.
Black Pads and Noses
Westies are known for their purely white coats, but did you know that their noses and paw pads are black? This contrast is not only cute but is also a breed standard. Any deviation, such as a brown nose or pink paw pads, is considered a fault in show dogs.
The White House Westie
During George W. Bush’s presidency, a Westie named Barney stole the limelight. Barney had his own official web page and starred in “Barney Cam” videos to celebrate the holiday season, making him one of the most famous Westies in history.
Westies in Advertising
The Westie’s appealing look and lively character make them popular in advertising. They’re the face of several brands, with one of the most notable being “Black & White” Scotch Whisky. These little white dogs definitely have big star power!
In conclusion, the West Highland White Terrier breed, known for its distinctive white fur and spirited personality, possesses a wealth of lesser-known facts that make them even more intriguing. From their origin story and hunting capabilities to their ‘polite’ barking and surprising black features, there is much more to Westies than first meets the eye. Their notable presence in politics and advertising further showcases the charm and appeal of this breed. Whether you’re already a Westie owner or considering becoming one, these fascinating facts offer a deeper understanding and appreciation for these delightful dogs.