From personal accessories and dressy clothing to putting up pictures of them on billboards and advertisements, the Scottish terrier is one dog that conjures images of his highland home, Scotland. Scotties in black or plaid are painted or even sewn on skirts and barrettes, greeting cards and purposes, wrapping paper, and sweaters and dozens of different items in between. However, its nature is not very consistent with this public image as a trendy, stylish trademark. Instead, he is a lot like the folks back home in his native country - independent, and stoic - this terrier is fully equipped with fierce loyalty to his master or mistress, stubbornness, and an insane need for privacy.
A Brief History
All in all, these qualities make the terrier a very good companion. At least, President Franklin D. Roosevelt thought so. President George W. Bush also received a Scottie as a gift and has ever since been captivated by this dog's tough and apparently no-nonsense behavior. The Scottie is actually a short-legged varieties, one of many wire-coated ones that were developed in the Scottish Highlands years ago. The origins of this breed are not very certain, but it is fairly sure that they emerged from the same stock. Progenitors were first sent to France in the 16th century, but in the year 1882, three different breeds were displayed as Scotch terriers: the Scotties, the Cairn, and the West Highland Whites.
Terriers were then developed in Britain to hunt down vermin that harassed farmers by eating eggs, grain, and poultry. These scrappy yet courageous dogs were more than a little eager to follow badgers and foxes into dark dens, and would even dig their way in if necessary. Unfazed by the unpredictable weather, these dogs have soft undercoats and wiry outer coats that protect them from rugged terrain and harsh climates.
To the novice, Westies and Cairns will always look similar in appearance. Yes, the Westie and the Cairn are indeed very closely related, as the Westie tends to look like a white version of the Cairn. However, a closer look will prove that these similarities are just superficial. The Scottie will always be longer in body and head, darker in color, and will always have a distinct personality. Typically, this breed can be described as being compact, powerful, and well-muscled, which gives it the impression of being extremely powerful in a small yet efficient package. The skull is moderately wide, long, and mildly domed, the eyes are set apart and almond-shaped, and the ears are generally small and pointed. The chest is deep and broad, the bone structure is very heavy when compared to the size of the dog, and the gait is usually strong and distinctive.
The tail is generally short and is around 7 inches in length. Mature males would be 10 inches in at the shoulder and would weigh somewhere around 20 pounds, while mature females would be around the same height and would weigh a pound or two less. The typical colors are black, iron gray, sandy, or wheaten, and the coat may be brindle or grizzled. The outer coat is generally 2 inches long.
Love, Care, and Attention
Basically, these canines can be called a healthy breed, but is sometime susceptible to a disease called the vonWilliebrand's disease or vWD. Apart from this, these dogs could also suffer from skin problems, epilepsy, flea allergies, and a few jawbone disorders. It is also prone to getting Scottie cramps, which is a minor condition that causes difficulty in walking. This is a genetic bleeding disorder and every breeding stock should be tested before mating takes place. And, puppy buyers should first ask the breeder if the vWD scores of the parents are available. Cerebellar abiotrophy is another very rare and slow-to-progress neurological disease, which causes a loss of coordination in the dog.
In order to maintain its original texture, the fur needs a lot of care and attention. The dog's fur must be combed several times each week and must also be trimmed every now and then. As is the case with most hard-coated varieties, dead hair should be plucked out. It will need professional grooming at least once or twice a year in order to stay wiry and firm. The coat can also be trimmed with electric clippers, but it will grow dull and soft.
Like most of them, the Scottish terrier has a mind (a stubborn one at that) of his own. Unlike his cousins, he is more reserved, especially in the people he chooses, and is also steadfastly loyal. He is very tolerating when it comes to rowdy children, and many rowdy adults as well. He tends to be wary and cautious of strangers and is more likely to become a one-woman or one-man companion. What's more, the dog is super sensitive to the moods of his master. He tends to bark a lot and loves to dig holes, no fence or wall can hold him back, and he'll probably dig his way out.
This scrappy attitude makes it very difficult to train him. As a new owner, you are advised to find a good obedience school, or this tiny bundle of energy with loads of attitude will quickly dominate your home if he isn't taught that his master is the real boss. The training must be gently yet firm so as not to break his spirit, for there is nothing more insulting to a Scottish terrier than severe treatment.