Tell Me About Scottish Terriers!

Tell Me About Scottish Terriers!

The following information about Scotties and the Scottish Terrier Standard is an excerpt used with permission from Scottish Terriers: Strength and Courage in a Compact Package, by Camille Partridge, Gaelforce Scottish Terriers


 What is a Scottish Terrier?

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.

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 (a “blown” coat), but pets should be clipped, as stripping is time-consuming and expensive at a groomer.  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 a lot 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, obedience as a formal task is rather foreign to the breed. Some Scots obtain advanced degrees, but the majority are not temperamentally 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 Scottish Terrier Standard can be found at:
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. However, just because a Scottie is not quite championship caliber, that does not mean it cannot be a star in some other field, be it an agility field, a tracking field, an earthdog field, the obedience ring, or, most importantly, your home. After all, the most important title a Scottie can attain is the championship of it’s owner’s heart! 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 temperamentally and medically as well.

Copyright 2001 by Camille Partridge. All rights reserved. Used by permission. No part of this article to be reprinted without author’s permission. Camille Partridge is a breeder, owner, and tireless champion of Scottish Terriers. She is active in earthdog activities through the Oregon Trail’s End Earthdog Club. Camille is the breeder of “Peggy Sue” who won the “Best In Show” at Westminster in 1995.

Selecting a Scottie Breeder

Selecting a Scottie Breeder

Test Questions for Rating Breeders

Are you a member of a Scottie club?
Quality breeders join Scottie clubs to learn more about the breed and to establish friendships with owners working for the welfare of Scotties.

Do you sell other breeds besides Scotties?
Ideal breeders breed only Scotties. Breeders of multiple breeds are usually commercial producers who are less knowledgeable about Scotties.

What problems can I expect from Scotties?
If a breeder doesn’t point out undesirable characteristics, you know you are talking to someone eager (or desperate) to sell dogs to the first comer.

Do you offer a trial period?
Many responsible breeders do and also offer to take the Scottie back at any time in its life. Responsible breeders want the buyer to have the “right” Scottie, and will stand by that Scottie for a lifetime.

Do you require spay or neuter?
Many responsible breeders require their puppies be spayed and neutered. Some offer refunds upon proof of spay/neuter. These breeders want to prevent descendants of their puppies from misuse by puppymills or backyard breeders. They also realize that spaying and neutering reduces the risk of various cancers.

Do you own both parents?
Veteran breeders sometimes own both parents, but more usually do not. Rather, they choose a male with qualities to complement their female, even if that male lives 1,000 miles away.

Do your Scotties have skin problems?
If a breeder answers “no,” ask him what he knows about the parents, grandparents and siblings of his breeding stock. Most casual breeders know nothing about the health of their dog’s relatives. Skin problems are hereditary and will be a 10-15 year pain and expense for you and your Scottie.

Have the sire and dam been DNA-tested “clear” of the vWD gene?
If the answer is “yes” for the parents, you guarantee your Scottie will not have vonWillebrand’s Disease, a devastating bleeding disorder. Most commercial breeders are unaware of the vWD DNA test, or do not want to spend the money.

What can you tell me about Scottie Cramp, CMO and vWD?
If a breeder can’t tell you lots about these diseases, they will know nothing about other Scottie health problems. You are playing Russian roulette if you buy from this kind of breeder.

May I see your sales agreement?
Responsible breeders use sales agreements in which they outline their own responsibilities to the buyer, and what they require of the buyer (terms like spay/neuter and right of “first refusal” if the buyer later does not want the dog). A simple bill of sale is not a sales agreement.

Copyright © 1999 Carole Fry Owen. All rights reserved. Used by permission. No part of this article to be reprinted without author’s permission

Scottie Medical Concerns

Scottie Medical Concerns

The following information is an excerpt used with permission from Scottish Terriers: Strength and Courage in a Compact Package, by Camille Partridge, Gaelforce Scottish Terriers

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 awry.

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 inheritance. After several years of work, with funding from the Scottish Terrier Club of Michigan, AKC, Morris Animal Foundation, and others, a team at 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.

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 inheritability 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.

Visit the STCA website health pages for more information on Scottie health disorders.

Copyright 2001 by Camille Partridge. All rights reserved. Used by permission. No part of this article to be reprinted without author’s permission. Camille Partridge is a breeder, owner, and tireless champion of Scottish Terriers. She is active in earthdog activities through the Oregon Trail’s End Earthdog Club. The most recent (in 1995) Scottish Terrier to win the coveted Best in Show title at the very prestigious Westminster Dog Show was Camille’s first homebred champion, Am/Can. Ch. Gaelforce Postscript.

Can You Help Me Find A Scottie?

Can You Help Me Find A Scottie?

by Carole Fry Owen,  Scottish Terrier author

My phone rings several times a week with someone pleading, “Can you help me find a Scottie?” Sometimes the caller is in tears because he’s just lost an old Scottie that was part of the heart, and I want so much to pull a Scottie out of my magic bag. Since shopping for a Scottie in the right places is not like going to the mall, callers usually find Mother Owen’s cupboard bare of Scotties, but I and many other breeders enjoy starting callers on a successful search.

If no Scottie stories pour forth from the receiver, my first question is:  “Have you owned Scotties before?” There are many reasons these innocents might not like a Scottie, and I tell them that! Some of those reasons are the very reasons you and I wouldn’t own any other breed. No pushbutton Poodles or Golden Retrievers for us! We like challenges and spice.

Scotties are an acquired taste. They are not the dog for many families. Why should we offer a glass of Glenfiddich to someone who prefers Koolaid? When Scottie callers need help. I tell them how to obtain important information to help them decide if the Scottish Terrier is the right breed for them. I will ask if they have read the Scottish Terrier Club of America’s information at  What the Prospective Scottie Owner Needs to Know and A Responsible Scottie Breeder.

Here’s how a typical search might begin when you, a true Scottiephile, call a serious breeder. Take my own routine as an example.
Usually I will know several breeders with Scotties available for sale and will suggest you contact them. The secret to finding a Scottie is:  CALL, and keep calling. If one breeder doesn’t have a dog that meets your needs, ask her to suggest other breeders. She will, and it’s in your best interests to talk with many breeders. You’ll learn something from each one. Eventually you’ll decide, “I’ve got to have a Scottie from this person. I like how he talks about Scotties.”

Next, I tell you how to reach the two or three regional Scottie clubs nearest your home. Club secretaries are knowledgeable about which members have puppies, adults or rescues available. You’ll end up with more prospects, and each of them can give you still more referrals. Once you are “in the loop” and sell yourself as the ideal Scottie owner, a successful search is guaranteed, assuming you are patient. You will not get “in the loop” when you call a classified ad offering Scotties for sale. That’s a dead-end.

There are 20 regional Scottie clubs affiliated with the American Kennel Club. Though the clubs may be miles from you, their members come from a still larger area. Breeders who belong to a regional club, an all-breed dog club, and/or the Scottish Terrier Club of America must sign codes of ethics. Buying from a club member is insurance that the breeder is interested in more than your dollars. Don’t rule out buying a long distance Scottie, when you find the right breeder.

“But I just want a pet,” callers often reply when I point them to a breeder who shows dogs – as if it doesn’t matter where they buy a Scottie. Buying from a show breeder is like buying from someone who has a Ph.D. in Scotties instead of from someone who left high school before finishing the Scottie course. Every show breeder sells puppies and older dogs to premium pet homes. You may even find a wonderful retired champion available for a very reasonable price.

Keep an open mind when looking for a Scottie. If you absolutely must have an eight-week-old black female, you make your search very difficult. You’ve already eliminated any black males, or brindles and wheatens of either sex that may be ready for homes. Specify a color, sex and age, and you sabotage your search. Anyway, color should be the last thing that matters.

Patience pays! When you find a breeder you like who doesn’t have a Scottie available, ask if he keeps a waiting list. Many excellent breeders breed no more than one litter a year, and usually keep one or more puppies themselves “to grow out.” Choosing a Scottie from such a breeder is to buy from an artisan.

Avoid pet shop Scotties.  (I know you know that).  An instant Scottie is not your answer—when that instant Scottie comes with an unknown health background, and bred by someone who doesn’t care enough about his puppies to choose who buys them. Soft hearts should stay out of pet stores. If we care about our breed, we should not perpetuate commercial breeding of Scotties. Every Scottie bought from a pet shop encourages that retailer to find another to sell. If you buy from a reseller (the pet shop), you will receive no help and advice from the breeder; you will know nothing about the health background of your puppy; you will miss the joy of becoming part of a larger Scottie family and sharing the antics of your Scottie with its breeder throughout its life; and you will pay far more money than the puppy is worth.

Life Lesson #1 which we’ve all learned is: “You usually get what you pay for.” That’s not the case with pet shop puppies. They are overpriced. However, a responsible breeder who completes genetic testing and health screening on his breeding stock deserves to receive more compensation for his Scotties than a backyard breeder. A breeder who tests his breeding stock in the show ring is able to offer quality pets that are close to the AKC’s Scottish Terrier Standard in conformation and temperament. He rightly will charge more than the person who breeds two Scotties just because they have AKC registration numbers.

What will you pay for a Scottie pet?  Probably $500 to $800 [note, prices do vary depending upon the area of the country.] if you buy from someone who tries to produce quality Scotties. Yes, you can find a Scottie in the newspaper for $250 or $300. Will the money you save be worth it? Does it matter where you buy a Scottie? You decide.

My last suggestions are the most simple:  If a breeder seems too eager to sell you a Scottie, don’t buy! If a breeder doesn’t ask you many questions about your family and home, don’t buy! Buyer beware!

The right Scottie is out there for you. If you’re like me when I look for antique Scottie collectibles, the search is half the fun. Look at your search for a real Scottie in the same way.