Scottish Terriers originated in Scotland around the end of the 17th century and were first referred to as the Aberdeen Terrier after the town ‘Aberdeen’. These terriers were used by Highlanders to hunt and eradicate den animals such as badgers, foxes and rabbits from their farming fields. These dogs were introduced to the United States in 1883 and were officially recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1885. Although their popularity reached its peak during the first half of the 20th century in western countries, today many people are still huge fans of keeping these distinguished dogs as household pets.
The popularity of the Scottish Terrier
People were such huge fans of the Scottish Terrier around the first half of the 20th century that the dogs were used in advertising campaigns, portrayed in films (i.e. Disney’s Lady and the Tramp) and were assigned as one of the player tokens for the board game Monopoly (which was released in the 1930s). The manufacturer of Monopoly at the time even expressed that the Scottish Terrier player token was heavily favoured by many gamers. Many famous celebrities have also owned these devoted dogs including Queen Victoria, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, President of Poland – Lech Kaczynski and even several President’s of the United States.
Scottish Terrier’s (apart from the German Shepherd) are the only breed of dog that have lived in the White House more than 3 times. Franklin D Roosevelt, Dwight D Eisenhower and George W Bush have all owned Scottish Terrier’s during their stints in the White House. Roosevelt was so fond of Fala (his faithful terrier) that Fala accompanied him wherever he went. Furthermore, Fala is considered the only president pet to be memorialized in statuary. Fala’s statue can be found next to one of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s statues at his Memorial in Washington DC.
Stocky, sturdy and compact pretty much sums up the Scottish Terrier. Their beard and eyebrows enhance their intense and intellectual facial expressions. Their course wirey outer coat feels like hard bristles when touched but their undercoat is soft. Their fur colours can be black, brindle (any shade) or wheaten with random strands of white or silver hairs throughout. Their hair is longer on their legs, eyebrows, beard and lower half of the body. Scottish Terriers average from 25 -28 cm in height and tend to weigh from 8 to 11 kg.
Scottish Terriers are considered akin to the ‘Scottish’ as they are generally boisterous, hot blooded, intelligent and fearless. They are renowned as the ‘little diehard’ by Scottish Terrier enthusiasts. In saying that, Scottish Terriers are also lovable and dedicated dogs to their owners. They love being included in their owner’s activities and are perfectly content going wherever their owner pleases. As puppies, they come across as playful and affectionate, and then become a dignified respectable pooch as they approach adulthood. Due to their stubborn and feisty nature, Scottish Terriers are inclined to be aggressive to other pets in the household. Furthermore, these dogs also do not bode well if teased and can throw a tantrum if provoked which can be dangerous for smaller children.
Small Dog Syndrome
It is important that you assert dominance and leadership over your Scottish Terrier. If this has not been achieved, your dog is more likely to suffer from ‘Small Dog Syndrome’. Small Dog Syndrome is where the dog believes they are in complete control and the boss of you essentially. Your terrier would subsequently disobey commands and could end up wrecking havoc! This can become a significant issue for families with small children. Parents are thus required to teach their children to maintain a strict authoritative attitude towards their pooch.
Did you know?
These particular terriers are able to deduce whether an approaching person is someone they know (family member or friend) or a complete stranger. They familiarise themselves with the vibrations a person makes when they move. If your dog feels threatened by an ‘unknown stranger’ they will let off a mighty bark. You may think these dogs of small constitution would give off a feeble yap. Oh no… they will bark so loudly that it will scare the heck out of any unsuspecting person in the vicinity. This is why Scottish Terriers are deemed perfect as strategic watch dogs. For a small dog, they pack alot of punch when the occasion calls for it.
If you do not own a backyard where your dog can run around happily, it is best to take them on daily walks for at least 20 minutes. This can help to dissipate their pent up energy (mentally and physically). Remember that these dogs have short little legs so they are not ideal as a running or a jogging companion!
If you take your terrier to the park, be sure to keep a close eye on him/her as these dogs tend to become distracted easily and are not always responsive to their owner’s calls.
These dogs don’t require too much maintenance in the grooming department. Scottish Terrier’s need their coat brushed weekly and their coat trimmed only twice a year.
It is best to feed your terrier a vitamin-rich diet that is low in carbohydrates and high in vegetables. This can also help lessen the chance of your terrier developing cancer. Definitely do not give your pooch human food!
Scottish Terrier’s live on average from 10 to 14 years.
Unfortunately these particular types of dogs are prone to a number of health problems (in comparison to other pure dog breeds) including:
- Scottie Cramp: This medical condition appears to primarily affect Scottish Terriers. It is an autosomal recessive hereditary disorder. The dog’s entire body would suddenly cramp up causing them to fall over. After a few seconds, their muscles would subsequently relax allowing the dog to jump back up again as usual. This tends to occur if your pooch is over excited or fatigued. Luckily it is not considered fatal (thank goodness!).
- Von Willebrand’s disease: Blood clotting disorder which can cause your terrier to be prone to nose bleeds and suffer excessive blood loss following a trauma or surgery. If you are worried your faithful Scottish Terrier has this ailment, it can be figured out through DNA testing by your dedicated vet.
- Cancer: The Veterinary Medical Data Program claims that Scottish Terriers are more at risk of developing various types of cancers (in comparison to other dog breeds). For example, bladder cancer (primarily Transitional Cell Carcinoma) is 20x likelier to occur in Scottish Terriers. Effective treatment is available in the form of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs which can be prescribed by your local vet.
- Craniomandibular Osteopathy (aka “Scotty Jaw”): This ailment causes a dog’s jaw bone to continue growing. It is also associated with being an autosomal recessive hereditary disorder (like the Scottie Cramp). This condition causes the terrier to have discomfort when chewing. In most cases, the jaw stops growing around 11 to 13 months of age. It has been reported that sometimes the jaw even marginally regresses which is great as your dog will have less problems with noming on his/her tasty food!
Is a Scottish Terrier right for you?
Scottish Terriers are highly suitable for adults and families with older children. They adapt well to living in an enclosed apartment but can be quite active & alert. It is recommended that you have enough spare time to take your pet on a walk once or twice a day. Scottish Terrier’s are fine with an small to average size backyard. These dogs are suited to more cooler climates. Fiercely loyal and excellent ‘no nonsense’ watchdogs, you know you are in safe hounds with having a dashing Scottish Terrier in your life.