If you've been owned by a Scottie - then you know. For anyone who has not previously had a Scottish Terrier, here is some information about this wonderful and unique breed. We highly recommend you visit some STCA breeders and meet Scotties and their owners. A trip to a local dog show is a great idea. But note, it is best to talk to the person showing a dog after they have shown. Before hand - they can be quite busy getting ready.
Scotties are different than many dogs - which is one reason you will find their owners so attached. They are independent and strong willed, sometimes aloof and certainly intelligent. At the same time, they are sensitive and can be very attached to their owners. Scotties can be a challenge to train, not because they are not quick and intelligent, but because they may have a different 'opinion.' They react much better to positive reenfocement training techniques. Scotties may get bored during extended training - so they will do better with short, positive and fun, lessons. One thing for sure - training a Scottie will be fun and full of laughter.
The Scottish Terrier is happy inside or outside, but will be happier with you than alone. A secure place in a home with human companionship and understanding are essential to his well being, as well as his happiness. Scotties must be in fenced yards - they have a very strong hunting instinct and will go after anything they consider prey (including a dog much larger than they). Except for very special cases - like working in a earthdog event or during obediance, agility or some similiar - your Scottie should always be on leash. This is not a dog that is scared to explore. In the dog park - Scotties are not a happy go lucky, get along with anybody, dog. They will not back down from an aggressvie dog. Electric dog fences are not appropriate for Scotties. They are pain tolerant and will easily accept the shock to chase prey out of the fence - but will then be "locked out".
Another important factor, Scotties cannot swim! If you pick up a Scottie, you will find they are dense and heavy. With short legs and a heavy head - they cannot swim well and can easily drown (and do).
By nature aloof, the Scottie may not be overly friendly to strangers. For his the family his devotion is deep and life long.
Scotties are truely a "big dog" in a small package. Just look at those teeth - bigger than you might expect!. They have very little fear and will not back down from challenges by much larger animals.
You will find Quality Scottie Breeders are a picky and devoted bunch. Many will require an extensive application and visits to the breeder are highly recommended. Their goal is that you and their puppy are happy and they may require a home visit. Good breeders will always be willing to take their Scottie back at any time if it does not work out.
Here is some more information for you to consider.
Personality- Though extremely loyal and attahced to their people, Scotties will want to do things on their terms. They are unlike most dogs because of this singular trait. Some Scotties like to sit in your lap, but often as not they just want to be nearby, but not too nearby. A true pub dog - the Scottie may be happier laying near your feet than on your lap.
Home Alone- Scotties are dependent upon being with people. It may seem strange, given their independent personality, but they like to be around their family. It is neither fair, nor healthy, to leave a Scottie penned up, crated, or on his own in the home all day on a regular basis. If people are away for long periods arrangements should be made to return, at least every four hours, to tend to his needs. It is unsafe for many reasons to leave a Scottie out in the yard during the family’s absence. A run where they can come in and out of the house, but are safely protected/confined while outside, may be a good idea. Reputable breeders may not sell a dog that is to be left outside and will not sell a dog that will be tied.
Exercise and Play – Scotties need to run, and his favorite games are chasing thrown toys (but not necessrily returning them - he ain't no retreiver), running the fence if outside critters tempt him, and playing with any other dogs. He also thrives on long walks. His favorite toys are those that appeal to his hunting instincts, things he can chew on, shake, and hide in unexpected places.
Children–Brought up with children who respect his independent nature and his rights as a living personality, the Scottie will adjust to their activities and may appoint himself as their guardian. However, his basic dignity makes him tend to shun rough and tumble games. Scotties do not like being startled, and will not put up with clumsy petting, cuddling, hair pulling or teasing.
Barking- Scotties are protective of their turf and usually bark if they sense anyone, or anything, they see as a threat. This may include postmen, deliverymen, as well as passing dogs and cats.
The Yard-A fence that cannot be jumped over, dug under, or scaled, with a locked gate, is required if the Scottie is to be let out into an unsupervised yard. Yards must be secure, flowerbeds protected, gates and doors kept locked at all times. Electric fencing will not work.
Grooming - While not considered high maintenance, every two to three months your Scottie needs some grooming. Because they do not shed - this is more than just brushing. The STCA sells a grooming manual that can help you understand how to can groom your Scottie. You may need the services of a professional groomer to strip or clip, bathe, clipper, scissor trim the coat, and cut the toenails. The coat and furnishings must be home brushed regularly.
Boredom - Scotties are on their best behavior when the option to interact with their humans is present. If left alone for long periods, they will seek ways to wile away the time, sometimes in manners you may not approve of.
Other House Pets - Properly managed, a Scottie may fit in with other animals. But this is an important consideration because a Scottie has natural prey instincts, and will fight to the end to protect himself if set upon by another animal.
No. Scotties come in 3 colors: Black, Brindle, and Wheaten. All meet the breed Standard for the Scottish Terrier states that the Scottie's coat color may be black, wheaten or brindle of any color. Often the Wheaten Scottish Terrier is confused with the West Highland White Terrier, as in the Black and White Ads. They are not the same breed. Brindle is any multicolor and Wheaten can be a light cream color to as dark as cinnamon. There is no difference in the other aspects of the dog. True Scottie people are color blind.
Do Scotties shed?
Some, but not as much as most breeds. The Scottie (as are most Terriers) is a double coated dog with an outer coat that is actually a hair as opposed to the fur found on other breeds. The Scottie coat needs regular brushing to remove the soft undercoat and any dead hairs in the outer coat. If this is done regularly, the shedding is minimal.
Do Scotties require grooming?
Scotties should be groomed periodically to keep their shape and characteristic look, to prevent knots, and remove dead hair. Show Scotties are hand stripped. Pet Scotties can be stripped or clippered. Pet owners can use a "rake" to thin the coat and preserve that natural coat look. Brushing your Scottie regularly is also a good idea. Don’t forget routine tooth brushing, ear cleaning and nail clipping, to keep your Scottie healthy and comfortable.
What is stripping?
Hand stripping is when the dead hair is pulled out, instead of cut, in grooming. This technique simulates the way the coat was pulled out by thorny bushes in their native countryside while in the process of doing their jobs. As it grows back in, the Scottie's outer coat will have a hard, wiry texture. Hand stripping can get expensive, so many people take courses on how to groom their Scotties. A great reference is the new 2010 STCA Grooming Manual. This manual is available in the Shoppe and provides information on how to groom both show and pet Scotties.
Should the tail be docked?
The tail of the Scottish Terrier should NEVER be docked. A Scottie tail should be up and groomed into a carrot shape (not a flag). Likewise, Scottie ears are NEVER cropped.
What about exercise requirements?
The Scottie is an active breed will benifit from regular execise. The short legs don’t make for good a jogging partner, but they are ideal walking companions. Scotties also love to lounge on the backs of couches and in front of windows to observe the world by the hour. Scotties love 'looking down on the world' and will often seek out perches.
At what age can I take the dog home with me?
The STCA recommends that puppies not be sold prior to 10 weeks of age. During these formative weeks the Scottie puppy learns important skills from being around its mother and siblings.
Do Scotties need a fenced yard?
Yes.Scotties have a very strong hunting instinct and will chase anything they consider prey. For that reason, they should be safely confined to a fenced area or on a leash at all times. They should never be tied or chained unattended, as they can get into trouble or be harmed.
An electronic fence is not suitable for Scotties. They will easily endure the zap to chase a squirrel or cat out of the fenced area, but then will not return through it to come back into the yard. Many Scotties have wandered off into the street to be killed by a car when they could not get back into their own yard. Electric fences are also dangerous because they do not deter other animals or people from coming into the yard, but will not allow the Scottie to escape to safety. Most rescue groups will want to know if an electric fence is used for security.
Can Scotties swim?
No. Scotties have no fear of water, but with their short legs and heavy bodies, they swim like bricks. They should never be left unsupervised by any body of water. Scotties should not be placed in homes with in ground pools unless suitably fenced, as many have drowned.
Are Scotties rare?
They are not rare, but they have not been bred as prolifically as some breeds. Most Scottie litters are small. Good Scottie breeders tend to be dedicated to their breed and will be picky about the homes their Scotties end up in. For that reason, it can take some time to find an available puppy for sale, so it’s a good idea to get on a breeder’s waiting list. Sometimes an older dog is avaliable when a puppy is not. Another good alternative is to apply for a rescue Scottie and potentially help an adult Scottie that is in need of a new home. This is a particularly attractive idea for older people or anyone who doesn’t want to go through housebreaking or the puppy training stages. For more information on picking a good breeder - see A Responsible Scottie Breeder.
What is a breed standard and why do we have it?
The Scottish Terrier standard is the written description of what makes a Scottie a Scottie. In the late 1800s, breeders in the Scottish Highlands needed an intelligent dog that could go to ground and fearlessly hunt vermin. They needed a dog with a deep chest, short legs, and a sturdy tail: The deep chest gives the dog a place to rest his body while his legs are throwing dirt out of the hole; the short legs allows the Scottie to throw dirt to the sides, not back between his legs; and, the firmly rooted, sturdy and thick tail allowed the Highlander to pull to the dog back out of the hole by the tail with the critter firmly locked in the Scottie’s huge teeth and powerful jaws. These are the breed characteristics today’s standards set forth, ensuring today’s Scotties can still do the work he was bred to do. While there is no perfect Scottie, a good breeder strives to keep a Scottie as close to the breed standard as possible in both its physical nature and its temperament. See the breed Standard for the Scottish Terrier.
Are Scotties good with children?
With well-behaved children who respect his independent nature, rights, and space, a Scottie will adjust to their activities and may even appoint himself their guardian. Just like any dog, Scotties can be agitated by the quick movements and unexpected noises of children and their friends. Children should be taught how to interact with dogs. Rescued Scotties are usually not placed in homes with young children because of this tendency and the lack of information on their background.
Are Scotties noisy?
Scotties can be very vocal. They love to bark at squirrels and dogs passing by their home. Also anything on wheels. They are territorial and will announce visitors loudly and repeatedly.
Do Scotties make good obedience dogs?
The Scottie was bred to work independently of human direction, so they make their own decisions. This has given them the reputation of being stubborn or unintelligent - which is not the case. Obedience with a Scottie will take patience and cooperation between you and your Scottie - but can be rewarding and a lot of fun. Scotties can certainly be trained and should learn basic good manners and general behaviors, such as coming when called. Puppy Kindergarten Training is a wonderful opportunity for a young Scottie to be socialized and learn these behaviors.
Why does my Scottie dig?
He is doing what comes naturally. The Scottish Terrier was originally bred to go to ground, digging for varmints underground. Owners with Scotties that are natural diggers may be interested in activities such as Earthdog Trials. Often Scotties also kick up dirt after relieving themselves. Gardeners may want to fence off a different section of the yard for their Scotties.
Do Scotties chew or lick their paws a lot?
Many Scotties do lick their paws to clean them - and perhaps relax. They will also "trim" their nails (but it is better if you do that). If paw licking or chewing is excessive and causes bare skin or irritation, it is a problem. This kind of licking or chewing can be caused by allergies to food or something the dogs walked on. It can even be chemicals used to clean the floor or carpet, lawn chemicals, salt used to melt snow, or even the detergent or fabric softener used when you do laundry. Often a diet change or wiping their feet with a damp washcloth after their walks will help. Sometimes boredom or distress also cause foot licking or chewing. Nails that are too long or broken can irritate the toes. If your Scottie does this, try to systematically investigate and narrow down the choices.
Do Scotties make good Agility dogs?
Yes, there are many Scotties who gain titles in agility, and it’s a great way to exercise and bond with your dog. Check with the STCA or local shelters for an agility program near you.
What is an Earthdog trial?
Scotties were originally bred to work underground ridding their owner's property of small creatures. AKC Earthdog Trials are designed to simulate this activity, so Scotties are well suited for this event and usually enjoy the experience. The Scotties are taught to go through a system of tunnels to get to a caged rat at the end (precautions are taken to insure that the rat remains unharmed). The AKC has defined several levels and official AKC Titles are presented for each milestone. Earthdog Trials are a great outdoor event for both you and your Scottie to enjoy. Check the Internet or your local club for an Earthdog training class or event near you.
What are common Scottie health issues?
All breeds have certain health problems which are more prevalent in their breed than in others. For Scotties, these are usually diseases of the liver, Cushing's syndrome, Scottie Cramp, and Transitional Cell Carcinoma. The STCA home page has a link to common Scottie health issues. The STCA Health Trust page also has a list of health studies in progress. Quality breeders will test puppies for genetic markers and breed for both health and temperment as well as beauty.
What is the typical Scottie lifespan?
Scotties often live to 12 if they are well cared for.
Do purebred dogs or dogs from show stock have more health problems?
No. Reputable breeders watch for and, whenever possible, test for known health issues, and do not breed dogs with know genetic issues. Be sure to ask the breeder questions about the health of the parents and the types of genetic testing they perform.
Purchasing A Scottie
Where can I find more information on how to purchase or adopt a Scottie?
If you are interested in adopting a "rescue" Scottie please visit our Scottish Terrier Rescue page. Our network of volunteers is comprised of regional STCA clubs and independent affiliates who are dedicated to providing Rescue services to Scottish Terriers. These rescuers are a cohesive, experienced and professional group who have dedicated their lives to rescued Scotties in wonderful, permanent homes. If you adopt a Scottish Terrier through one of our Scottie Rescuers, your dog will reward you with eternal love and gratitude.
Should I visit the kennel?
Generally speaking it is important to visit the kennel if possible. Not only will it allow you to see the puppy in a familiar environment, it also conveys to the seller that you are a serious buyer willing to make the effort. You should not buy a puppy from any breeder who will not allow you to visit the puppy’s home.
Can I have a dog shipped to me?
If circumstances permit, it is best to pick up the dog during your visit to the breeder’s home/facility. However, many dogs are shipped and if done correctly and for the right reasons there is nothing wrong with it.
Will the breeder ask questions of me?
Yes. These questions may range from the number and ages of children likely to be present to the existence of a fenced yard. It may seem like you are having to convince the breeder that you can give the pup a good home, and to a degree you are. But, this is the mark of a good breeder – someone who is more concerned with the well-being of the puppy and making sure it is a good match for you than making a sale. The last thing a good breeder wants is to have one of their puppy’s placed in an inappropriate environment.
How can I learn more about Scotties?
Certainly, the links mentioned throughout this FAQ provides a wealth of information. In addition, the STCA Handbook, available in the Shoppe, is a treasure trove of information about Scotties. You may also want to familize yourself with the STCA Code of Ethics.