History of the Westie in Wales

The West Highland White Terrier in Wales

The West Highland White Terrier Club of Wales is the newest of the five national clubs devoted to the West Highland White Terrier. It was formed in 1994  by enthusiasts in the Principality who felt that Wales deserved a club of its own as England was well served by two clubs,  Northern Ireland had its own club and Scotland was the home base of the original WHWT Club.

Reputable breeders in Wales also suffered a stigma because of the puppy farms which according to Kennel Club records seemed to abound in Wales and it was felt that a legitimate breed club would  give some protection and provide a focal point  from which this indiscriminate breeding might be challenged.

Wales does have its own small white terrier, the Sealyham which was bred to do a similar job to the West Highland and there is evidence in the annals of the Sealyham Terrier that the West Highland was used to standardise the size and the colour of the Sealyham in the early days of its development.

Several of the early exhibitors of the West Highland also bred and exhibited Sealyhams, perhaps most notably , Mr William Baker (Chawston)  Mr.John Lee (Maulden) an early Secretary of the West Highland White Terrier Club of England and May Pacey (Wolvey) the record holder for breeding the most West Highland champions.

Welsh kennels were a force to be reckoned with in the breed in its early years.

Perhaps most notably the Highclere Kennel of Mrs. Bernard Lucas in Colwyn Bay.  Her first champion had been bred by  Mrs. Maud Hunter and was made up in 1914 – he was Ch. Moreso who went on to sire three champions.

The First World War disrupted activities but Highclere Rattles and Highclere Romance both won their way into the Kennel Club stud book in 1916 and 1917.

Once showing got under way again, the Highclere Kennel became very influential. In 1919 there were only two shows and Highclere Rhalet won his first Challenge Certificate. The following year, 1920 there were nineteen sets of Challenge Certificates on offer . Rhalet attended 17 of these shows and won sixteen Challenge Certificates. He had been born in 1916, a son of Ch. Moreso ex Highclere Rival.  In 1921 he won a further Challenge Certificate giving him a grand total of 18 CC’s making him the record holder at the time and putting him in the top ten all time CC winners.

Mrs. Lucas bred, owned and judged West Highlands over a ten year period. She had a great deal of success in that short time, making up 5 champions, winning 32 CC’s and getting 24 dogs into the Kennel Club Stud Book.

Wrexham, again in North Wales was an area where top class West Highlands were bred, particularly during the 1920’s.

The name of the town of  Wrexham  was the affix of Dr. Katherine Drinkwater who was very active in the breed as an exhibitor and a judge. She was also a committee member of the WHWT Club of England.

However it was another Wrexham resident, Mrs.E.H.Spottiswoode and her Gwern kennel which had much success in the breed around the same time.

Mrs. Spottiswoode made very good use of  Highclere, Wrexham and Harviestoune stock in order to breed four champions over a five year period.

Ch. Gwern Wilfrid appeared in 1922  sired by Ch.Highclere Rhalet ex Wrexham Angela. He produced Ch. Gwern Remembrance and Ch. Wolvey Wish owned by Mrs.Pacey and Wilfrid was also the grandsire of Ch.Gwern Dwynwen. Mrs, Spottiswoode also bought and made up Ch. Maulden Miranda and Ch.Alpha of Gunnthorpe.

The Gwern affix disappears in 1930 when Mrs. Spottiswoode left North Wales to go into partnership with Miss Tuffnel whose affix had been “Under The Steeple”. Together they took out the affix “Caw” but no more champions were produced.

In the modern era too, there  have been  successful  Welsh kennels of  West Highlands. The Trewen kennel of Mr. and  Mrs. Pike, the Wesscots kennel of Mrs. Emmins,both  produced winning dogs though sadly they are no longer active. In North Wales the Crinan kennel of Mrs. Barbara Hands has been producing champion stock since the mid 1970’s.

The Club has thus far only been allowed by the Kennel Club to run Open Shows, however with entries now numbering 70 plus, championship status may not be too far away.

Hopefully we have shown that Wales has had a long history with the little white dog who hails from the west coast of Scotland and long may this continue with the help and support of The West Highland White Terrier Club of Wales.

Rob Hill (Olton)