rec.pets.dogs: Scottish Terriers Breed-FAQ

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Camille Partridge

Apr 17, 2004, 7:26:24 AM4/17/04
Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/scotties
Posting-frequency: 30 days
Last-modified: 10 Nov 1997

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Scottish Terriers


Camille Partridge, Gaelforce Scottish Terriers
Copyright 1995 by the author.

Revision History
* vWB genetic test information added June '96 [CTM]

Table of Contents

* Description
* Frequently Asked Questions
* The Standard
* Affiliations and Recognitions
* Medical Information
* Resources



The Scottish Terrier is one of the descendants of the Old Scotch
Terrier, along with the Dandie Dinmont, Cairn, and West Highland White
Terriers. The exact origins of the breed are obscure, but a dog of the
general description dates back to some of the earliest treatises on
dogs in Britain. The low stature and wiry coat have always been
important characteristics to the original purpose of the breed, which
was to hunt and kill the various species of wildlife that made life
hard for the Scottish farmer and crofter. These species included fox,
badger, wildcat, weasel, otter, and the ubiquitous rat. Losing one or
two lambs could mean the difference between eating well that winter
and starving to the poor farmer, and so a dog was developed that had
exceptional strength and courage, in a compact, tough package. These
traits are still the hallmark of the breed today.

Frequently Asked Questions

_Do Scotties shed?_

All dogs shed, but the wire-coated terriers, which includes the
Scotties, grow hair differently than many dogs, so they shed less
than the short haired breeds.

_Are they good with children?_

Yes, if the child is old enough to respect the dog's body, and to
understand that the dog has feelings, too. Scotties will generally
try to hide from an abusive child, but will bite if cornered, or
pushed hard. For this reason, they are not generally recommended
for families with very small children.

_Does this breed require lots of grooming? _

In a word, yes! They require regular brushing, and trimming four to
six times a year. Regular bathing is NOT recommended, however, as
the skin dries out too easily. Show dogs are stripped, the hair
being pulled out when long and dead, or blown, but pets should be
clipped, as stripping is time-consuming and expensive at a
groomers'. The regular things such as tooth brushing, nail
clipping, and anal gland care are easily done at home, and clipping
isn't hard, either, if one wants to invest in the clippers. Related
to skin care is the flea question. I wage nuclear war on fleas, as
the breed is relatively sensitive to them. A Scot can chew itself
almost bald in next to no time, trying to get one flea!

_What about exercise requirements?_

The Scot is actually an active breed, and can become destructive if
not given enough mental and physical stimulation. The short legs do
mean less walking for the human partner to get the dog its daily
requirements ;-). Seriously, this is not a good jogging or marathon
partner, but an ideal walking companion. ON LEASH, please, as the
hunting instincts can draw the dog after a rabbit, into the path of
a car. The Scot is tough for it's size, but not that tough!

_Are Scotties noisy?_

They can be, but this varies alot within the breed. They are
territorial, and will announce visitors repeatedly and loudly.
Human visitors they know are welcome, but animal visitors, invited
or not, are repulsed with serious fury! One cannot consider the
Scot a serious protection breed, but they will inflict damage to
even the most threatening person, if they feel their owner is in
danger. The teeth are bigger than you would suppose.

_What sex makes the best pet?_

Most of the people who contact me assume that a female pup will
make the best pet. Since both sexes will be neutered, the former
reasons for this being the case no longer apply. In general, I feel
that the male pup makes a better pet for most people. Bitches I
have owned tend to be more reserved with strangers, while the male
dogs I have owned, bred or rescued have been more outgoing and
happy-go-lucky. From my experience, I recommend the male as the
"better pet", although there will be other opinions among other
fanciers and breeders.

_Do they make good obedience dogs?_

If you are looking for a High-In-Trial, no. A challenge, yes. The
Scot is one of the breeds bred to work independent of human
direction. If the dog is nose to nose with a badger, it cannot take
the time to come out and ask "may I attack now, please, or would
you prefer me to wait?" Thus, obediance as a formal task is rather
foreign to the breed. Some Scots obtain advanced degrees, but the
majority are not tempermentally suited to it. HOWEVER, all dogs
should learn basic good manners and certain general behaviors, such
as coming when called. Puppy Kindergarten Training is wonderful
socialization for a young Scot to learn, to avoid
dog-aggressiveness later in life.

_Are the blonde ones Scotties, too?_

This is definitely the most asked question to anyone with a wheaten
Scot. There are many different colors acceptable in the breed;
black, shades of brindle, and wheaten being the major classes of
color. Wheaten ranges from a pale golden to a deep red. White,
however, is not an acceptable shade of wheaten, nor is it in the
standard as an approved color.


The Standard

The standard of the breed describes the ideal Scottish Terrier, and no
one dog lives up perfectly in every regard. In general, a Scottie
should resemble the standard as closely as possible. The closer to
perfect, the more likely the dog is to earn a championship. A dog can
still have major faults and be a good Scottie, but should not be used
for breeding. Being a good pet is nothing to be ashamed of, rather the
opposite! But with the pet overpopulation problem in this country,
only the very best representatives of any breed should reproduce. This
is not just in conformation terms of course, but tempermentally and
medically as well.

Because of copyright concerns over the collection of all the Standards
at any single site storing all the faqs, AKC Standards are not
typically included in the Breed faqs. The reader is referred to the
publications at the end of this document or to the National Breed Club
for a copy of the Standard.

Affiliations and Recognitions

The Scottish Terrier Club of America is the official parent club and
guardian for the breed. The breed is registered for show purposes with
the American Kennel Club, and may earn titles through this
organization. The breed may also be shown at events licensed by the
American Working Terrier Association, and may earn titles through this
organization as well. Titles include: Championship (conformation),
Companion Dog through Utility Dog Excellent (obediance), Tracking
Dog/TD Excellent (tracking), Junior, Senior and Master Earthdog
(instinct/working) through AKC. From the AWTA, titles include
Certificate of Gameness and Working Certificate (instinct/working
below ground) and Hunting Certificate (above ground).

Medical Information

The Scottish Terrier is afflicted with a few heritable disorders of
varying severity. There is a blood test for only one of these,
unfortunately. Responsible breeders do everything they can to reduce
and eliminate these disorders from their breeding stock, but genes can
re-combine in unexpected ways, and so even the best laid plans can go

von Willebrand's Disease

The most serious disorder is a bleeding/clotting disorder called von
Willebrand's Disease (vWD). For a Scottie to be a bleeder, i.e., have
abnormally long, perhaps life-threatening non-clotting times, both
parents must be carriers, as the gene is dominant/recessive in

After several years of work, with funding from the Scottish Terrier
Club of Michigan, AKC, Morris Animal Foundation, and others, a team at
the Michigan State University has developed a definitive genetic test
for Type III vWD in Scottish Terriers.

The test is DNA based, with samples collected using a soft brush on
the inside of the cheek of the dog. It is non-invasive and painless.
The results of the test place the dog in one of three categories:
clear, carrier, or affected. The test is 100% accurate.

As a result, all breeders should test animals being bred to ensure
that no carriers or affecteds be bred to anything other than a dog
that has tested clear. If two clear dogs are bred together, it is a
certainty (barring an individual random mutation) that the puppies
will all be clear as well. All puppy buyers should demand to see the
test results on the parents of the puppies they consider.

The tests are available only from VetGen, a spinoff organization of
the MSU and University of Michigan. The cost is $135 per dog, and $5
for the sample collection kit. For an additional $15, the results can
be registered with the OFA, who are administering a vWD registry for
VetGen, 800-4-VETGEN.

Scottie Cramp

The Scottie Cramp is a neuromuscular disorder treated in severe cases
with vitamin E and mild tranquilizers. It is not painful for the dog,
but afflicted animals should not be bred.

Cranio-Mandibular Osteopathy

Cranio-Mandibular Osteopathy is a disease shared with Westies and
Cairns, as close cousins. It involves abnormal growth of the bone in
the jaw of the afflicted puppy. It is severely painful, and should be
eliminated from a breeding program. At this time the only test for
carrier status in a dog is to test-breed. Treatment of the afflicted
pup involves high-dose steroids and intensive nursing by the owner.

In General

Of course, Scotties are just as susceptible as any other breed to
viral and bacterial transmissible diseases, cancer, accident, gum
disease, etc. Normal health care by a licensed veterinarian is very
important to the Scot's health. There is current debate on the
heritability of epilepsy, and hypothyroidism, diabetes, and other
immune-mediated diseases. It seems likely that there is a genetic
component to these problems, but the exact mode of inheritance is
likely to be polygenic, and never completely predictable.



The following books are recommended by this owner/breeder. You may
find others in many libraries. _Thorough_ research into the breed is
vital before purchase is comtemplated.

_The New Complete Scottish Terrier_, Cindy Cook, Howell Book House,

_The New Complete Scottish Terrier_, John T. Marvin, 1982, Howell Book
House "This is The Scottish Terrier", T. Allen Kirk, Jr. M.D., 1978,
TFH Publications (out of print, replaced by Cook's book).

_The Official Book of the Scottish Terrier_, Muriel P. Lee, 1994, TFH

Clubs and Organizations

_The Scottish Terrier Club of America_: Evelyn Kirk, Corresponding
Secretary, 2603 Derwent Drive, SW, Roanoke, Virginia, 24015.

The club publishes a quarterly magazine with ads, articles, trophy
standings, new titles, and other news of interest to club members. It
is called _The Bagpiper_, and is available from the editor to
non-members at $30/year. The editor is: Bonnie Lamphear, 416 1/2 Laura
Street, Clearwater, Florida, 34615; (813) 442-1735, FAX (813) 447-8768

Online Resources

The Scottie E-mail list is run by Josie O'Brien. Email to with SUBSCRIBE CYBERSCOTS your name in
the body of the message. Substitute your own name for "your name", eg
Jane Doe.

Web pages include:

In addition, the author of this FAQ will be happy to share any
information or experience she can. E-mail address below.

Scottish Terrier FAQ
Camille Partridge,

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