Conformation Assessment Evaluation (CAE) Program

The Conformation Assessment Evaluation is meant to provide a new and useful way for Westie breeders and owners to recognize and document Westies that meet the breed standard, and enable breeders to focus on producing Westies with proper type and exhibiting proper temperament and soundness, and maintain and protect the future of Westies.

art work by Deborah Borgo
Evaluation of a Westie

The keys to the Conformation Assessment Evaluation program are:

WHO: Evaluation of whether a Westie meets the breed standard by a panel of 3 experienced and knowledgeable Westie breeders.

WHAT: A written and signed document by the evaluators given to the owner, plus a certificate from the WHWTCA for those Westies who pass.

WHEN: Multiple evaluation events/year, hosted by the national club or regional clubs.

WHERE: Separate venue from any AKC conformation show.

WHY: Simple, useful method to evaluate the conformation of Westies for breeders and owners.

NOTE: This entire process is held within the WHWTCA, and no other organization is involved at all.
The evaluation is a NON-COMPETITIVE event.

Why is this event created?

There is evidence of growing frustration with the time, cost and complexity of the current competitive process of identifying quality dogs. Many members feel that there is undue emphasis on presentation and showmanship, and a decreasing focus on breeding to the standard.

Several other breeds have developed formal, non-competitive breed standard assessments and titles. Arguably, one of the best and well-documented programs is the Certificate of Conformation Assessment (CCA) program of the Golden Retriever Club of America, which was established in 2004. Approximately 3,500 Goldens achieved the CCA title as of July, 2018. There is much information on the CCA program at The Quality Westie program is largely based on the Golden CCA program.

Conformation Assessment
Conformation Assessment Evaluators

Who will be the Conformation Assessment Evaluators?

  • All evaluators must be members of the WHWTCA for a minimum of 10 years and have bred at least 5 Westie litters.
  • All evaluators must have finished at least 1 Westie by themselves to an AKC championship.
  • At least 1 member of every 3 person evaluation panel must also be a currently licensed or emeritus AKC judge of Westies, or have judged Westie Sweepstakes at the National or Roving Specialty.

How does the evaluation process work?

  1. Evaluation event & entry form advertised in Imprint, website, chat room, and social media.
  2. Entry form and fee sent to WHWTCA.
  3. At Venue: 3 tables in evaluation space; 3 dogs evaluated simultaneously by the 3 evaluators per hour.
  4. Each evaluator examines each dog individually, and records on score sheet while evaluating dog.
  5. After dogs are evaluated for structure, the 3 dogs are gaited individually and together & evaluated for movement and "mingled" for temperament. Movement and structure are very closely related; you can't have good movement and poor structure and vice versa.
  6. Dogs are then excused from evaluation space. Evaluators then sit at a table & finish their evaluation of each dog on the score sheets in triplicate, and sign the sheets.
  7. Copy of written & signed evaluations given to owner. Copies also to evaluator and WHWTCA. If dog has passed, Conformation Assessment certificate from WHWTCA mailed later.
  8. Next group of 3 dogs enters evaluation space.
  9. Estimate that evaluation process for each group of 3 dogs will take ~ 60 minutes:
    -   10 minutes table evaluation for each dog x 3 evaluators.
    -   5-10 minutes for gaiting and "mingling".
    -   10-15 minutes for evaluators to complete evaluation sheets.
  10. Estimate that 18 dogs could be evaluated in a one day session (9 am - 12, 1 pm – 4 pm). 3 dogs/hour x 6 hours. If necessary to accommodate more entries, additional time may be considered.

Note: Dogs entered are to be at least 18 months old. Dogs are to be presented neat and clean. No need for show grooming. No foreign material in coat. No professional handlers, unless they are the sole owner of the dog and have been for at least a year.

How are the dogs scored?

To achieve a passing score in the Conformation Assessment Evaluation, dog must obtain a score of 75 or greater from three different evaluators (can be from more than one event). No category can be scored less than a 5 to attain the passing score of 75.

10 categories to be scored; 10 points in each category:

  1. General appearance
  2. Size, proportion, balance, substance (incl. bone)
  3. Head: skull, muzzle, ears, eyes, expression
  4. Bite: 6 incisors upper and lower, level or scissors bite
  5. Neck, topline, ribs, chest, tail and tail set
  6. Forequarters: shoulders, upper arms, elbows, front angulation, front legs and feet
  7. Hindquarters: thighs, hocks, rear angulation, feet
  8. Coat and color
  9. Gait
  10. Temperament

Key Benefits of the Conformation Assessment Evaluation Program:

West Highland White Terriers
  1. Provides an opportunity for a very significant focus, clarification and understanding of the standard of the WHWT for all WHWTCA members as well as owners of Westies.
  2. Provides the opportunity for all participants in breeding conformation and performance activities for Westies to get an in-depth written and signed opinion on how their dog measures up to the breed standard from three very experienced and knowledgeable Westie breeders (including at least one Westie breeder/judge among the evaluators).
  3. Provides an excellent opportunity to produce camaraderie among participants and attendees outside of the ring. Meet with fellow breeders and discuss potential breedings, what you need to improve in your line, progeny, etc.


The major reason for developing the Conformation Assessment Evaluation program was to encourage much more emphasis and focus on producing Westies that truly meet the standard. Please note that the CAE program is NOT meant to change or replace the AKC conformation shows or the Champion title. People are free to pursue showing in conformation shows the same as always. CAE simply provides an additional way to identify quality Westies for those people who prefer the method afforded by the CAE program, usually in just a single non-competitive event. No need to bring grooming tables, ex pens, tack boxes, special clothing, etc.

Wayne Kompare

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