The temperament of the West Highland White Terrier can vary greatly, with some being friendly towards children whilst others prefer solitude. It will not tolerate rough handling such as a child pulling on its ears, and can be both food and toy possessive. Members of the breed are normally independent, assured and self-confident and can make good watchdogs. It is a loyal breed that bonds with its owners, but is often always on the move requiring good exercise (15-30 min). Westies are highly social and are the most friendly and jolly of all the Scottish breeds of terrier.
It is a hardy breed, and can be stubborn leading to issues with training. A Westie may need to have its training refreshed on occasion during its lifetime. Having a typical terrier prey drive, it tends to be highly interested in toys especially chasing balls. It does retain the instincts of an earth-dog, including inquisitive and investigative traits, as well as natural instincts to both bark and dig holes. It is ranked 47th in Stanley Coren's The Intelligence of Dogs.