Informative Magazine for Hobby Growers

Scottish Terrier Magazine

The Scottish Terrier (also known as the Aberdeen Terrier), popularly called the Scottie, is a breed of dog. Initially one of the highland breeds of terrier that were grouped under the name of Skye Terrier, it is one of five breeds of terrier that originated in Scotland, the other four being the modern Skye, Cairn, Dandie Dinmont, and West Highland White Terrier. They are an independent and rugged breed with a wiry outer coat and a soft dense undercoat. The First Earl of Dumbarton nicknamed the breed “the diehard”. The modern breed is said to be able to trace its lineage back to a single female, named Splinter II.They are a small breed of terrier with a distinctive shape and have had many roles in popular culture. They have been owned by a variety of celebrities, including the 32nd President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose Scottie “Fala” is included with FDR in a statue in Washington, D.C., as well as the 43rd President George W. Bush. They are also well known for being a playing piece in the board game [Monopoly]( “Monopoly (game)“). Described as a territorial, feisty dog, they can make a good watchdog and tend to be very loyal to their family. Healthwise, Scottish Terriers can be more prone to bleeding disorders, joint disorders, autoimmune diseases, allergies, and cancer than some other breeds of dog and there is a condition named after the breed called Scotty cramp. They are also one of the more successful dog breeds at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show with a recent best in show in 2010.

Scottish Terrier
Scottish Terrier

The Scottish Terrier is a small, compact, short-legged, sturdily-built terrier of good bone and substance. They have a hard, wiry, weather-resistant coat and a thick-set, cobby body which is hung between short, heavy legs. These characteristics, joined with his very special keen, piercing, “varminty” expression, and his erect ears and tail are salient features of the breed. The Scottish Terrier's bold, confident, dignified aspect exemplifies power in a small package. The eyes should be small, bright and piercing, and almond-shaped not round. The color should be dark brown or nearly black, the darker the better. The ears should be small, prick, set well up on the skull and pointed, but never cut. They should be covered with short velvety hair.[[1]]( at withers for both genders should be roughly 25 cm (9.8 in), and the length of back from withers to tail is roughly 28 cm (11 in). Generally a well-balanced Scottie dog should weigh from 8.5 to 10 kg (19 to 22 lb) and a female from 8 to 9.5 kg (18 to 21 lb). It is about 10 to 11 inches (25 to 28 cm) in height.

The Scottish Terrier typically has a hard, wiry outer coat with a soft, dense undercoat. The coat should be trimmed and blended into the furnishings to give a distinct Scottish Terrier outline. The longer coat on the beard, legs and lower body may be slightly softer than the body coat but should not be or appear fluffy.[[1]]( coat colours range from dark gray to jet black and brindle, a mix of black and brown. Scotties with wheaten (straw to nearly white) coats sometimes occur, and are similar in appearance to the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier or West Highland White Terrier.


Scotties are territorial, alert, quick moving and feisty, 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.[[3]]( The “Diehard” nickname was originally given to it in the 19th century by George, the fourth Earl of Dumbarton.[[4]]( The Earl had a famous pack of Scottish Terriers, so brave that they were named “Diehards”. They were supposed to have inspired the name of his Regiment, The Royal Scots, “Dumbarton’s Diehards”.[[4]](, while being described as very loving, have also been described as stubborn.[[5]]( They are sometimes described as an aloof breed, although it has been noted that they tend to be very loyal to their family and are known to attach themselves to one or two people.[[6]]( has been suggested that the Scottish Terrier can make a good watchdog due to its tendency to bark only when necessary and because it is typically reserved with strangers, although this is not always the case.[[3]]( They have been described as a fearless breed that may be aggressive around other dogs unless introduced at an early age.[[7]]( Scottish Terriers were originally bred to hunt and fight badgers. Therefore, the Scottie is prone to dig as well as chase small vermin, such as squirrels, rats, and mice.[[7]](


Although black is the most traditional colour for a Scottie, Wheaten Scotties can also be found, as shown in this picture of a Scottie puppy.Two genetic health concerns seen 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. Common eye conditions seen in a variety of breeds such as cataracts and glaucoma can appear in Scotties as they age. There are no specific conditions relating the skin that affect the breed, but they can be affected by common dog related conditions such as parasites and mange.[[8]]( Scotties typically live from 11 to 13 years.[[9]](

Cancer in Scottish Terriers

Scottish Terriers have a greater chance of developing some cancers than other purebreds. According to research by the Veterinary Medical Data Program (1986), six cancers that Scotties appeared to be more at risk for (when compared to other breeds) are: (in descending order) bladder cancer and other transitional cell carcinomas of the lower urinary tract; malignant melanoma; gastric carcinoma; squamous cell carcinoma of the skin; lymphosarcoma and nasal carcinoma.[[10]]( Other cancers that are known to commonly affect Scotties include mast cell sarcoma[[11]]( and hemangiosarcoma.[[12]]( has suggested that Scottish Terriers are 20 times more likely to get bladder cancer than other breeds[[13]]( and the most common kind of bladder cancer is transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder (TCC).[[10]]( Dr. Deborah Knapp of Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine has commented “TCC usually occurs in older dogs (average age 11 years) and is more common in females (2:1 ratio of females to males).” Symptoms of TCC are blood in the urine, straining to urinate, and frequent urination—although owners noticing any of these symptoms should also be aware that the same symptoms may also be indicative of a urinary tract infection.[[10]]( most common and effective form of treatment for TCC is Piroxicam, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that “allows the cancer cells to kill themselves.” In order to help prevent cancer in a dog, an owner should ensure that their dog has minimal exposure to herbicides, pesticides, solvents and cigarette smoke; use caution when treating dogs with some flea medications; provide a healthy, vitamin-rich diet (low in carbohydrates, high in vegetables) and plenty of exercise.

Scottie cramp

Scottie cramp is an autosomal recessive hereditary disorder which inhibits the dog's ability to walk. It is caused by a defect in the pathways in the brain that control muscle contraction due to a low level of serotonin in the body.[[15]]( Typically symptoms only show when the particular dog is under some degree of stress. The front legs are pushed out to the side, the back arches and the rear legs overflex, causing the dog to fall should they be moving at speed. The condition is not seizure related, and the dog remains conscious throughout the event, with symptoms abating once the cause of the stress has been removed.[[16]]( E, Diazepam and Prozac have all been shown to be effective treatments should it be required. Scotty cramp is found in other breeds of terrier, including the Cesky Terrier.[[16]]( “Episodic Falling”, a condition found in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels is considered to be similar to this disorder.[[17]](

Craniomandibular osteopathy

Also known as “Lion Jaw”, “Westy Jaw” or “Scotty Jaw”, this condition of craniomandibular osteopathy is caused by excessive bone growth in the bottom jaw, usually occurring between four and seven months of age. Like Scottie Cramp, it is an autosomal recessive hereditary disorder, and can cause discomfort to the dog when it attempts to chew.[[18]]( The progression of the condition usually slows down between eleven and thirteen months of age, and is sometimes followed by a slow partial or complete regression.[[19]]( condition has also been seen in other breeds of dog, such as the West Highland White Terrier, Cairn Terrier, Boston Terrier,[[20]]( as well as some larger breeds such as Bullmastiffs.[[21]](

von Willebrand's disease

Von Willebrand's disease is a hereditary bleeding disorder found in both dogs and humans. It is caused by a lack of von Willebrand factor which plays a role in the clotting process of blood. This can cause abnormal platelet function and prolonged bleeding times. Affected dogs can be prone to nose bleeds, and increased bleeding following trauma or surgery. There are three types of this condition with Type I being the most common, while Type II and III being rarer, but more severe. Type I von Willebrand's disease is relatively common in the Scottish Terrier.[[22]]( I is more widespread in Doberman Pinscher, but is as common in the Shetland Sheepdog as the Scottish Terrier. The condition appears in most breeds to some extent, but other breeds with an increased risk include the Golden Retriever, German Shepherd Dog, Basset Hound and Manchester Terrier.[[22]](


A Scotch Terrier, published in 1859Initial grouping of several of the highland terriers (including the Scottie) under the generic name Skye Terriers caused some confusion in the breed’s lineage. There is disagreement over whether the Skye Terriers mentioned in early 16th century records actually descended from forerunners of the Scottie or vice versa.[[23]]( It is certain, however, that Scotties and West Highland White Terriers are closely related—both their forefathers originated from the Blackmount region of Perthshire and the Moor of Rannoch.[[24]]( Scotties were originally bred to hunt and kill vermin on farms and to hunt badgers and foxes in the Highlands of Scotland.[[25]]( actual origin of a breed as old as the Scottish Terrier is obscure and undocumented.[[26]]( 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 similar in appearance to the modern-day Scottie.[[4]]( 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—thought to be forerunners of the Scottish terrier—to a French monarch as a gift.[[6]]( His love and adoration for the breed increased their popularity throughout the world.[[23]]( dog writers after the early 19th century seem to agree that there were two varieties of terrier existing in Britain at the time—a rough-haired so-called Scotch Terrier and a smooth-haired English Terrier.[[26]]( 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”.[[26]]( 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.[[26]]( 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 19th century; a description that shares 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 an 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.

This article was originally published on @yvantirry