West Highland White Terriers Origins and history
Three Pittenweem Terriers, photographed in 1899
Scottish white terriers were recorded as early as during the reign of James VI of Scotland
, who reigned between 1567 and 1625. The king ordered that a dozen terriers be procured from Argyll
to be presented to the Kingdom of France
as a gift.
Sandy and brindle coloured dogs were seen as hardier than those of other colours, and white dogs were seen as being weak.
At various times during the breed's existence, it has been considered a white offshoot of both the Scottish Terrier
and the Cairn Terrier
There were also reports of a ship from the Spanish Armada
being wrecked on the island of Skye
in 1588. This ship carried white Spanish dogs, whose descendants were kept distinct from other breeds by Clan Donald
, including the families of the Chiefs.
Other families on Skye preserved both white and sandy coloured dogs. One such family was the Clan MacLeod
, and it was reported by their descendants that at least two Chiefs
kept white terriers, including "The Wicked Man" Norman MacLeod
, and his grandson Norman who became Chief after his death.
George Campbell, 8th Duke of Argyll
, chief of Clan Campbell
, bred a breed of white Scottish terriers known as the "Roseneath Terrier".
Another breed of white Scottish terriers also appeared at this point, with Dr. Americ Edwin Flaxman from Fife developing his line of "Pittenweem Terriers" out of a female Scottish Terrier
which produced white offspring.
The dog seemed to produce these white puppies regardless of the sire to which it was bred, and after drowning over twenty of these offspring, he came upon the theory that it was an ancient trait of the Scottish Terrier that was trying to re-appear. He rededicated his breeding program to produce white Scottish Terriers with the aim of restoring it to the same stature as the dark coloured breed. Flaxman is credited with classes being added to dog shows for white Scottish Terriers towards the end of the 19th century.
This was quite interesting fact and surprise to us as Darren's family is the Campbell Clan, so now we know he had something to do with Bella being here! haha no wonder she's a Daddy's girl!
A West Highland White Terrier, photographed in 1915
The person most closely associated with developing the modern breed of West Highland White Terrier is Edward Donald Malcolm, 16th Laird of Poltalloch. Malcolm owned terriers used to work game, the story told is that a reddish-brown terrier was mistaken for a fox and shot. Following this Malcolm decided to develop a white terrier breed, which became known as the "Poltalloch Terrier". The first generation of Poltallochs had sandy coloured coats, and had already developed prick ears which is a trait seen later in the modern breed.
It is unknown if the Poltalloch Terriers and Pittenweem Terriers were interbred.
In 1903 Malcolm declared that he didn't want to be known as the creator of the breed and insisted that his breed of white terriers was renamed. The term "West Highland White Terrier" first appears in Otters and Otter Hunting
by L.C.R. Cameron, published in 1908.[25
Not your typical travel Blog but we are in Scotland and England tracing our Ancestry.com so we decided to figure out Bella's as well! Found it interesting to know where she came from. I had always heard the hunting story as the original of White Westies but did not know the other stories that seem to have come before the Malcolm original stories.
The Irish and French love Scotties, closely with English and Scots. You see them all over walking down the street but are more rare in the US. Personally, we of course think they are the best and cutest! But we know those are fighting words so don't take offense as we are very biased 🙂