There is constant debate over which came
first, and which breed was developed from the other. Scotland is a
mountainous country, its dog men were a stay-at-home lot, consequently
each clan bred its terriers according to its own ideas. Some seem to
think that the Skye is the oldest of all five breeds (but not as we know
it today) and that the West Highland White, or 'Westie' as he is
commonly called, is the Newest of breed.
He was recognized in England by The
Kennel Club as a separate breed in 1907, and by the American Kennel Club
How the Skye Terrier got to Scotland no
one knows, Legend is that a Maltese and a Poodle were shipwrecked on the
Isle of Skye. Around the time the Spanish Armada met its doom.
All the terriers from
Scotland are their descendants, during Queen Elizabeth's reign. It is a
matter of record that her successor, James I, wrote to Edinburgh to ask
that 6 Terriers from Argyllshire be sent to France as a present. Not
only that, he also directed they be sent on two or more ships for fear
of shipwreck, regarding them as valuable. The name 'Sierra' is a Latin
word for Terrier, which means earth. These breeds were, in the old days,
called "earth dogs" because when chasing Rabbits they burrowed
deep into their holes, an expression known to hunters as "going to
The Westie was also known as the
Pittenweem, Roseneath or Poltallock Terrier. A 1839 picture owned by Sir
Edward Landseer showed two dogs one a bloodhound and the other a West
Highland White. (Roseneath was the estate name of the Duke
of Argyll from whom James 1st had requested the 'Earth doggies').
It is the Malcolm family that is usually
credited with originating the 'White Cairn' as it was known those days.
In 1909 at the Westminster Kennel Club in New York City a West highland
white was shown under the classification of Roseneath Terriers.
The small white dog that we know today as
the "Westie" actually owes its rise in popularity to a hunting
accident. It is said that around the year 1860, Colonel Malcolm was out
hunting with his favorite terrier, a reddish-brown dog. While the dog
was running through the bush, he was mistaken for a hare and was shot
and killed. The Colonel was so grieved by the loss of his dog that he
decided to propagate only the whites in his kennel. It took a great many
years for the Malcolm family to develop the white strain that we know
Eleven Westies among the first pure white, Bred by the Malcolm family
in the late nineteenth century, pose for the camera
Breeding of the West Highland White
Terrier was not, however, confined to the efforts of Colonel Malcolm.
Dr. Flaxman of Fifeshire also played a part in the early development of
the breed. He had a Scottish Terrier that whelped white puppies in every
litter. After about 10 years, Dr. Flaxman produced a strain of these
white Scottish Terriers. Another breeder, George Clarke, developed a
white variety known as the Roseneath Terrier.
The show development of the Westie lagged
somewhat behind its development as a ground hunter. In England, the
first dog show having a classification for terriers was held in
Birmingham in 1860. The first Scottish show that included terriers was
held in 1871 in Glasgow. In 1899, at the Crystal Palace, a white
Scottish Terrier was among the winners and at the same show, Dr. Flaxman
entered a team of his dogs. The first show where West Highland White
Terriers were classified separately was in 1904 at the Scottish Kennel
Club Show at Edinburgh.
The West Highland White Terrier Club of
America was formed and admitted to the AKC in 1909.
learn more visit The West Highland White Owners Web Site
Monumental move in
fight to save Skye terrier
Found this wee article in the Scotsman
Online and thought I'd copy it here for you to read...
A statue of the Skye terrier – the breed of
Greyfriars Bobby fame – is to be unveiled today on the island as part of
a bid to save its kind from extinction.
With only about 3,000 of the native Scots dog left around the world,
they are as rare as the tiger and red panda.
The Skye Terriers Club commissioned the statue with the aim of raising
awareness of the under-threat terrier, the oldest Scottish breed.
Princess Anne will do the honours at Armadale Castle.
Gail Marshall, secretary of the Scottish branch of the club, said: “We
are really struggling.
“Only between 30 to 40 puppies are born each year around the globe, and
a worldwide effort is being made to save the breed.”
She added: “Once there was a Skye terrier on every close, but that is no
longer the case.”
It is Scotland’s oldest terrier breed, going back to the 14th century.
Queen Victoria kept Skye terriers.
Monument unveiled by Princess Anne