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
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.
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.
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.