Scottish Terriers are a breed of dog best known for their distinctive profile, their fierce loyalty, and their die-hard spirit.
Scottish Terrier Appearance
A Scottish Terrier, or Scottie, is a small but resilient terrier. Scotties are fast and have a muscular body and neck (a typical neck size is 14 inches), often appearing to be barrel chested. They are short-legged, compact and sturdily built, with a long head in proportion to their size. The Scottie should have large paws designed for digging. Erect ears and tail are salient features of the breed. Their eyes are small, bright and almond-shaped and dark brown or nearly black in color. Height at withers for both sexes should be roughly ten inches, and the length of back from withers to tail is roughly eleven inches. Generally a well-balanced Scottie dog should weigh from 19-22 pounds and a bitch from 18-21 pounds.
The Scottie typically has a hard, wiry, long, weather-resistant outer coat and a soft dense under coat. The coat is typically trimmed and blended, with a longer coat on the beard, eyebrows, legs and lower body â€” traditionally shaggy-to-the-ground. The head, ears, tail and back are traditionally trimmed short. The usual coat color ranges from dark gray to jet black. Scotties with ‘Wheaten’ (straw to nearly white), ‘Brindle’ or white coats sometimes occur, but should not be confused with the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier or West Highland White Terrier.
Scottish Terrier Temperament
Scotties, like most terriers, are alert, quick and feisty â€” perhaps even more so than other terrier breeds. The breed is known to be independent and self-assured, playful, intelligent and has been nicknamed the ‘Diehard’ because of its rugged nature and endless determination. Scotties, while being very loving, can also be particularly stubborn. Because the breed is inclined to be stubborn, it needs firm, gentle handling from an early age or it will dominate the household. They are sometimes seen as an aloof breed, although it is actually very loyal to its family and are known to attach themselves to one or two people in their pack. It can have a temper, but is also quite sensitive.
The Scottish terrier makes a good watchdog due to its tendency to bark and because it is typically reserved with strangers â€” although this is not always the case. It is a fearless breed that may be aggressive around other dogs unless introduced at an early age.
The Scottie is prone to dig as well as chase and hunt small varmints, such as squirrels, rats, mice and foxes â€” a trait that they were originally bred for. For this reason it is recommended that they are walked on a leash.
Scottish Terrier Health
The Scottish Terrier is a fairly healthy breed, and a well bred specimen is rarely ill. The two greatest health concerns in the breed are von Willebrand disease (vWD) and craniomandibular osteopathy (CMO); Scottie cramp, patellar luxation and cerebellar abiotrophy are also sometimes seen in this breed. Scottish Terrier owners are advised to have DNA tests performed to screen for von Willebrand’s disease. Scotties typically live between 11 and 13 years.
Scottish Terrier History
The Scottish Terrier, or “Scottie” as it is nicknamed, is one of five breeds of terrier that originated in Scotland. The other four are Skye, Cairn, Dandie Dinmont, and West Highland White Terriers. The Scottie is often thought to be the oldest of the Highland terriers, although this contention has not been proved. There is disagreement over whether the Skye terriers (of which several of the Scottish breeds were initially grouped with causing some confusion in the breedâ€™s lineage) mentioned in early 16th century records actually descended from forerunners of the Scottie or vice versa. It is certain, however, that the West Highland White Terrier and Scotties are closely related, both their forefathers originating from the Blackmount region of Perthshire and the Moor of Rannoch. Scotties were originally bred to hunt and kill vermin on farms and to hunt badgers and foxes in the Highlands of Scotland. Scotties are natural “diggers,” like other terriers, whose name derives from the same root as “terre,” French for “earth.” They were also bred with strong tails so that their owners could pull them out of holes when they would dig after vermin and voles. Their nickname is “little diehard”, given to them in the 19th century by George, the fourth Earl of Dumbarton. The Earl had a famous pack of Scottish Terriers, so brave that they were named â€œDiehardsâ€. They were supposed to have inspired the name of his Regiment, The Royal Scots, Dumbartonâ€™s.
The actual origin of a breed as old as the Scottish Terrier is somewhat obscure and undocumented. The first written records about a dog of similar description to the Scottish Terrier dates from 1436, when Don Leslie described them in his book “The History of Scotland 1436-1561″. Two hundred years later, Sir Joshua Reynolds painted a portrait of a young girl caressing a dog remarkably similar to a Scottie. King James VI of Scotland was an important historical figure featuring in the Scottish Terrier’s history. In the 17th century, when King James VI became James I of England, he sent six terriers â€” thought to be forerunners of the Scottish terrier â€” to a French monarch as a present. His love and adoration for the breed increased their popularity throughout the world.
Many dog writers from the early 1800s on seem to agree that there were two varieties of terrier existing in Britain at the time â€” a rough haired Scotch Terrier and a smooth haired English Terrier. Thomas Brown, in his Biological Sketches and Authentic Anecdotes of Dogs (1829) states that “the Scotch terrier is certainly the purest in point of breed and the (smooth) English seems to have been produced by a cross from him”. Brown went on to describe the Scotch Terrier as “low in stature, with a strong muscular body, short stout legs, a head large in proportion to the body” and was “generally of a sandy colour or black” with a “long, matted and hard” coat. Although the Scotch Terrier described here is more generic than specific to a breed, it asserts the existence of a small, hard, rough-coated terrier developed for hunting small game in the Scottish Highlands in the early 1800s; a description that shares essential characteristics with what was once known as the Aberdeen Terrier and is today known as the Scottish Terrier. In addition the paintings of Sir Edwin Landseer and a 1835 lithograph, entitled “Scottish Terriers at Work on a Cairn in the West Highlands”, both depict Scottie type terriers very similar to those described in the first Scottish Terrier Standard.
In the 1800s, the Highlands of Scotland, including the Isle of Skye, were abundant with terriers originally known by the generic term “short-haired” or “little Skye terriers.” Towards the end of the 19th century, it was decided to separate these Scottish terriers and develop pure bloodlines and specific breeds. Originally, the breeds were separated into two categories â€“ Dandie Dinmont terriers and Skye terriers (not the Skye terrier known today, but a generic name for a large group of terriers with differing traits all said to originate from the Isle of Skye). The Birmingham England dog show of 1860 was the first to offer classes for these groups of terriers. They continued to be exhibited in generic groups for several years and these groups included the ancestors of today’s Scottish Terrier. Recorded history, and the initial development of the breed started in the late 1870â€™s with the growth of dog shows. The exhibiting of dogs required that they be compared to a standard for the breed and the appearance and temperament of the Scottie was written down for the first time. Eventually, the Skye terriers were further divided into what are known today as the Scottish terrier, Skye Terrier, West Highland white terrier and Cairn terrier.
While identification of the breed was being sought through the late 1800s, the Scottish terrier was known by many different names: the Highland, the Cairn, Diehard, and most often, the Aberdeen Terrier â€” named because of the dogs abundancy in the area and because a J.A. Adamson of Aberdeen had a lot of success exhibiting his dogs during the 1870s. Roger Rough, owned by Adamson, Tartan, owned by Mr Paynton Piggott, Bon Accord, owned by Messrs Ludlow and Bromfield and Splinter II, owned by Mr Ludlow, were early winners and are the four dogs from which all Scottish Terrier pedigrees ultimately began. It is often said that all present day Scotties stem from a single bitch, Splinter II, and two sires. In her heavily researched book, The New Scottish Terrier, Cindy Cooke refers to Splinter II as the “foundation matron of the modern Scottish Terrier.” Cooke goes on to say “For whatever reason, early breeders linebred on this bitch to the virtual exclusion of all others. Mated to Tartan, she produced Worry, the dam of four champions. Rambler, her son by Bonaccord, sired the two founding sires of the breed, Ch. Dundee (out of Worry) and Ch. Alistair (out of a Dundee daughter)” (The New Scottish Terrier, 1996). From Splinter and her sires are descended all the show champions on both sides of the Atlantic.
Captain Gordon Murray and S.E. Shirley were responsible for setting the type in 1879. Shortly afterwards, in 1879, Scotties were for the first time exhibited at Alexander Palace in England, while the following year they began to be classified in much the same way as is done today. The first written standard of the breed was drafted by J.B. Morrison and D.J. Thomson Gray and appeared in Vero Shaw’s Illustrated Book of The Dog, published in 1880, and ultimately was extremely influential in setting both breed type and the Scottish terrier name. The standard gave the dog colouring as “Grey, Grizzle or Brindle”, as the typically Black colouring of Scotties was not fashionable or favoured until the 1900s.
In 1881 the “Scottish Terrier Club of England” was founded, being the first club dedicated to the breed. The club secretary, H J Ludlow, is responsible for greatly popularising the breed in the southern parts of Great Britain. The “Scottish Terrier Club of Scotland” wasn’t founded until 1888, seven years after the English club. Following the formation of the English and Scottish clubs there followed several years of differences and arguments with regards to what should be deemed as the correct and official standard of the breed. Things were finally settled by a revised standard in 1930, which was based on four prepotent dogs. The dogs were Robert and James Chapman’s Heather Necessity, Albourne Barty, bred by AG Cowley, Albourne Annie Laurie, bred by Miss Wijk and Miss Wijk’s Marksman of Docken, litter brother of Annie Laurie. These four dogs and their offspring modified the look of the Scottie, particularly the length of the head, closeness to the ground and the squareness of body. Their subsequent success in the show ring led to them becoming highly sought after by the British public and breeders. As such, the modified standard completely revolutionized the breed. This new standard was subsequently recognised by the Kennel Club UK circa 1930. Scotties were introduced to America in the early 1890′s but it was not until the years between World War I and World War II that the breed became popular. A club was formed in 1900 and a standard written in 1925. By 1936, Scotties were the third most popular breed in the United States. Although they did not permanently stay in fashion, they continue to enjoy a steady popularity with a large segment of the dog-owning public across the world.
The Scottie is the only breed of dog that has been in the White House three times. President Franklin D. Roosevelt was renowned for owning a Scottie named Fala. Fala was a gift to the President from his cousin, Margaret Stuckley. The President loved Fala so much that he rarely went anywhere without him. Roosevelt had several Scotties before Fala including one named Duffy and another one named Mr. Duffy.
More recently, President George W. Bush has become known for owning two Scottish terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley.
Other famous people who are known to have owned Scotties include: Humphrey Bogart; Bette Davis; Julie Andrews; Liza Minnelli; E.B. White; Queen Victoria; Ronald Reagan; Theodore Roosevelt; Dorothy Lamour and Shirley Temple among others.
A famous fictional Scottie is Jock from the Disney feature film Lady and the Tramp, where he acted as the retired captain with a Scottish tartan overcoat. In 1955, when the movie was originally released, Jock became one of the most popular dog names of the time. A Scottish Terrier and a Westhighland White Terrier are also featured on the Black & White whisky label.
A Scottie dog is also renowned for featuring in the popular board game, Monopoly, as a player token. When the game was first created in the 1930s Scotties were one of the most popular American pets. It is also one of the most popular Monopoly game tokens, according to Matt Collins, vice president of marketing for Hasbro.
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