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Breed Priorities: West Highland White Terriers

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134 – February, 2020

By Nikki Riggsbee

The West Highland White Terrier is one of several short-legged terriers developed in Scotland. Those several breeds came in a variety of coat colors. Supposedly, Colonel Edward Donald Malcolm determined to breed only white dogs after one of his red-colored dogs was mistaken for a fox and shot, and these became the West Highland White Terrier.

The Westie is small, hardy, game terrier that ranks 42nd in popularity based on AKC registration. His eponymous white double coat is harsh, shorter on the neck and shoulder, longer on the back and sides, with a carrot-shaped tail. The coat is shaped longer on the head to frame the face.

We found thirty Westie breeder-judges to invite to take a survey on their breed’s priorities, and twenty-four agreed to participate. Eighteen completed surveys were received by deadline. The experts averaged over thirty-eight years in the breed (with some over forty and fifty years) and more than seventeen years judging it (several over thirty years.) Almost half have judged their national specialty and nearly all have judged other Westie specialties.

West Highland While Terrier Virtues

The breeder-judges were asked to rank a list of breed characteristics taken from their standard from most important to least important. Below is the list in order by average placement.

1. Straight back

2. Body (withers to tail) slightly shorter than height at withers

3. Shoulder blades well laid back

4. Elbow to withers and elbow to ground approximately the same

5. Distinctive gait, powerful, with reach and drive

6. Deep in chest and back ribs

7. Hard, straight coat, about two inches long; double-coated

8. Muzzle blunt, slightly shorter than skull, gradual tapering to nose

9. Eyes widely set, medium size, almond shaped, dark brown

10. Thighs muscular, well angulated

11. Ears small, erect, set wide on the outer edge of skull

12. Large teeth, scissor or level bite

13. Head shaped to present a round appearance from the front

14. White color

15. Tail relatively short, good substance, shaped like carrot

16. Black pigmentation on pads of feet and nails

As with other surveys, most of the agreement was at the top and the bottom of the list. Seventeen agreed on “Black pigmentation on pads of feet and nails” (16th), placing it at or near bottom. Its average score was nearly 3½ points below the fifteenth-ranked virtue.

Click here to read the complete article

134 – February, 2020

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  • November 2020