The Canine Health Foundation offers breed specific health articles, as well as an extensive list of articles on canine diseases. There is also a glossary of terms, information about health testing, and a good list of other canine health resources.
OFFA receives funds and offers grants for research into genetic diseases in animals. DNA test kits are available, information about what genetic diseases or conditions should be screened for in specific canine breeds, and offers articles on diseases. This site links to CHIC.
Website offers good information about dental care for pets and links to articles from back issues of The Cusp.
CA Relative Risk Analysis Calculator
Carrier Risk Analysis Risk Analysis Calculator
Introduction: This web page is a fully automated,
six-generation Pedigree Risk Analysis Calculator. Simplified instructions for using
the calculator are at the bottom of the page; below the Results block. For
a more thorough introduction to the Risk Calculator, users are referred to the
Risk Analysis Calculator Instructions.
The calculator is based on formulas presented in Dr. Jerold Bell's article on
Relative Risk Pedigree Analysis. Individuals who use the calculator are responsible for their own
data input. The results provided by this calculator are statistical predictions and do not provide a
certainty of outcome from any individual breeding. Comments or suggestions
for improving the calculator may be sent to the webmaster.
Instructions: First, notice that the input table has been divided into nine (9) regions. The first region is basically the first three generations, and the remaining 8 regions are the 4th, 5th and 6th generations behind each Great Grandparent. The STCA Pedigree Search database can be used to collect risk factors for each of these individual, three-generation pedigrees.
Start by identifying the target for the risk analysis, the Scottie that would appear in the first generation of the pedigree. This can be done by either looking up a pedigree for an existing dog in the Pedigree Search database, or identifying a "Trial Breeding" pedigree where you select a potential Sire and then a Dam to mate with the Sire. In either case, use the Pedigree Search site to produce a four (4) generation pedigree. This is important, because you will collect Risk Factors from the first three generations, but need the 4th generation in order to pull up the remaining eight pedigrees.
Once you have the first pedigree, look for any Risk Codes in the first three generations. You will need to identify dogs with any of the four risk factors; e.g.
*A* for Affected
*C* for Carrier
*SA* for Full Sibling of an Affected
*SC* for a Full Sibling of a Carrier.
These codes are listed just after the Registration Number, so that they will appear in any pedigree where the dog is listed in the first three generations. Only names are listed in the later generations, so it will not be possible to view the codes for dogs that appear in these generations.
Within the STCA Pedigree Search database, you can pull up another
four-generation pedigree by simply clicking on a dog's name in a current
pedigree. So if your first pedigree is a four generation pedigree, you can
click on the top, right most Great Great Grand Sire (4th generation) and pull up
a new pedigree for this dog. Any Risk Factors for these dogs will appear
in the pedigree just like the first one. With this page still open, you
should record any Risk Codes in the appropriate location in the top portion of
Once you've recorded the codes, use the "Back" button on your Browser to
return to the first pedigree. Then click on the Great Great Grand Dam and
follow the same procedures. Continue this process until you have all of
the Risk Codes for all six generations in your target pedigree.
Please note that the * characters are dropped when entering Risk Codes in this
When you have entered all of your Risk Codes, you are basically done.
You will notice that the Calculator is an automatically updated Web page.
So your new calculations will appear each time you enter a Risk Code. If
you enter a code in a wrong cell, delete the code and enter it in the correct
location. The Calculator will recognize ONLY the four Risk Factor codes,
so any other text will be ignored.
calculator is based on formulas presented in Dr. Jerold Bell's article on
Relative Risk Pedigree Analysis. Individuals who use the calculator are responsible for their own
Calculate: This button will perform the calculation after making changes.
Reset: This will restore the table to it's original condition.
Print: Use this to send the page to your printer.
Introduction to Scottie Health
Health is a significant importance to both owner and the breed in general. Your dog's health is significant to the time and effort to maintain a high quality of life for you and your dog. For dog fanciers, the breeders and the STCA, health takes on even more import. Scottish Terrier breed health is consequence of the collective actions of all past and current breeders and determines the current success and future of the breed.
This section covers a spectrum of health related topics including:
Common genetic health issues for the Scottish Terrier - including information for both breeders and owners
The Scottish Terrier Health Trust Fund which is a non-profit (501c3) organization within the STCA that:
Collects information on the health of the breed
Selects, awards and reviews research projects investing health issues in the breed
Collect money to fund these projects (please Donate!)
The STCA Library (ScottiPhile) which is collection of articles written about various health issues and healthy procedures.
Health registries which are repositories for tracking various health attributes. Registries strive to collect information on one or more diseases or health characteristics. Ideally the particular attribute is measured with a rigorous evaluation methodology or test. Depending on the registry, the information is then made available to everyone (open) through just those who contribute (closed). The goal of registries is provide a comprehensive picture of the health of the breed to facilitate the breeding process.
The 2005 Health Survey was a census conducted with STCA members, Scottish Terrier breeder and owners. The article contains basic evaluation of this data.
Scottish Terriers, like all living creatures, are subject to congenital, hereditary, and acquired health disorders. Thanks to antibiotics and vaccines, most of the problems that result from these causes can be treated effectively. The most serious health problems your dog will face are genetic. Scotties are fortunate to have few serious genetic problems compared to other breeds. Responsible breeders are working hard to manage these problems in the Scottie Gene pool. Here is some information about the most common genetic health problems seen in the Scottish Terrier. These are not in any particular order in either frequency or seriousness.
Scottie Cramp is the most wide-spread hereditary disorder in the breed and it is also the least serious, from the dog's point of view. Affected dogs are normal at rest and exhibit normal ability to walk until they are stressed. Common stimuli are exercise, hunting, fighting, or courtship. As the dog's level of stress increases, his gait begins to change. The forelegs move out to the side and forward rather than straight forward, called winging. The spine in the lumbar area may arch and the rear legs begin to over flex. If the excitement or exercise continues, the dog begins to exhibit a "goose-stepping" gait. If the dog is running, he may somersault and fall. Severely affected dogs may find their ability to walk or run completely inhibited. This is not a seizure. There is no loss of consciousness. As soon as the stimulus abates, the symptoms disappear almost immediately. The severity of symptoms in affected dogs varies widely as does the amount and type of stimulation necessary to elicit clinical signs. The symptoms appear to be caused by a buildup or depletion of some chemical compound in the dog's central nervous system, most probably serotonin. In layman's language, the signal from the brain telling the dog how to run gets garbled in transmission on its way to the various muscles. The Scottie's muscles are not cramping and he is not experiencing pain. He has just temporarily lost the ability to coordinate his movements. Scottie Cramp is present from birth, but it often takes the eye of an experienced breeder to spot it. Affected dogs soon learn to anticipate the onset of cramping and abruptly stop running or playing. By the time such a puppy is grown, he may never exhibit any signs at all. Similarly, an affected dog with a very laid-back personality is less likely to exhibit symptoms than a more hyperactive Scot. Scottie Cramp is a permanent condition, but it does not worsen with age. Nearly all dogs affected with Scottie Cramp make perfectly wonderful companions, able to share virtually all activities with their families. Treatment is seldom necessary but, in severe cases, Vitamin E, Diazepam and Prozac have all proven to be effective.
Von Willebrand's Disease
Von Willebrand's Disease (VWD) is the name given to a group of similar inherited bleeding disorders that occur in humans, pigs, dogs and rabbits. VWD is usually less clinically severe than hemophilia and is inherited as an autosomal trait. This means that it can be transmitted equally by and to both sexes. Carriers are asymptomatic but affected dogs may exhibit any of the following symptoms:
Excessive bleeding when the nails are cut too short
Severe bleeding during surgery
Bleeding from the nose or gums, particularly during teething
Bleeding from the vagina or penis
Hematomas on the surface of the body, limbs or head
Lameness from bleeding into the joints
Stillbirths or neonatal deaths with evidence of hemorrhage at autopsy
Chronically infected and bloody ears
Prolonged bleeding during the heat cycle or after whelping
Bleeding in stools or urine
A simple DNA test to detect Von Willebrand's Disease is now available from Vetgen. Go to Vetgen's page on VWD and Scottish Terriers!
Cushing's Syndrome is a collection of symptoms caused by an excess of a hormone called cortisol. There are three main causes of Cushing's Syndrome: a tumor on the pituitary gland; a tumor on the adrenal gland; or veterinarians who over-prescribe corticosteroids to treat itching skin. It is, as yet, unknown whether there is an inherited predisposition to Cushing's Syndrome in Scottish Terriers.
He is drinking huge amounts of water and urinating frequently
He is losing coat
His skin is darkening
His muscles are atrophying and he develops a pot belly
If your vet finds the following four symptoms, your Scottie probably has Cushing's Syndrome:
The dog is drinking copious amounts of water and urinating frequently.
The dog has an elevated SGPT.
The dog has an elevated alkaline phophatase level
The dog's ratio of urinary cortisol to urinary creatine is greater than 24
Cushing's Syndrome is usually treated successfully with a drug called Lysodren. Surgery is rarely recommended and radiation therapy, used in humans, is very expensive and rarely available for dogs.
Hypothyroidism is an underproduction of hormones by the thyroid gland. Symptoms of hypothyroidism include:
Abnormal loss of coat (often bilateral and symmetrical), poor coat condition, fading of coat color
Chronic skin disorders and infections, skin allergies, dry or scaling skin
Intolerance of cold
It is important to determine the exact cause of your dog's hypothyroidism before embarking on a course of treatment. Your veterinarian must run a full thyroid panel and have the blood tested at a laboratory which uses canine thyroid values. Do not be tempted to start thyroid treatment without proper veterinary supervision. The balance of the endocrine system is critical to your dog's health and you can cause an otherwise healthy thyroid gland to atrophy by giving medication improperly.
Seizures may be caused by a number of conditions, including low blood sugar, brain tumor, heat stroke, poison, nutritional deficiency and distemper. Classic or idiopathic (meaning "of unknown cause") epilepsy is characterized by recurrent seizures with no active underlying disease process occurring in the brain. This form of epilepsy is not usually seen until a dog is mature, usually between three and five years of age. In a typical seizure, the dog will salivate excessively. There is usually dilation of the pupils and stiffening of the limbs. The dog may arch its back and paddle its legs. Frequently, the dog's temperature will spike up three to five degrees. Urination or defecation may accompany or follow the episode. Seizures usually last only a minute or two, but severely affected dogs may have longer and more frequent episodes. Dogs who have infrequent seizures do not require treatment. When treatmen is required, phenobarbital, dilantin and primidone are frequently used. In recent years, there seems to be an increase of reported seizures in Scottish Terriers. While some of the increase may be due to environmental hazards, inherited epilepsy has definitely made inroads into the Scottie gene pool.
Craniomandibular Osteopathy (CMO) is an inherited disorder characterized by an abnormal growth of the bone of the lower jaw. CMO usually appears between four and seven months. A puppy with CMO usually pulls away, flinches or screams with pain when his mouth is examined, depending on the severity of the disease. Other early symptoms are lethargy, fever and unwillingness to eat. An acutely affected puppy may be unable to open his mouth but mild cases may be misdiagnosed as teething problems or virus symptoms. An accurate diagnosis of CMO requires X-ray confirmation. CMO is nearly always treatable. Mild cases respond to aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen or while acute cases may require the use of steroids such as prednisone or prednisolone. Fortunately, as the dog matures, the abnormal bony growth abates and is often undetectable in the adult dog, even by radiography.
To date, liver shunts have been reported in fewer than a dozen dogs but there are several lines that have displayed the problem. Most of what we know about liver shunts comes from research done on Yorkshire Terriers, a breed where this problem is widespread. While we know that the problem is inherited, the mode of inheritance is unknown. Vets at the University of Missouri School of Veterinary Medicine have been working trying to answer this question with a colony of Yorkies with repaired liver shunts but have been unable to get any of the bitches pregnant. The Scottish Terrier Club of America is now looking into the possibility of developing a DNA test to detect the carrier status of this problem. Liver shunt can be difficult for a breeder to recognize but is easily diagnosed with a bile acid test. Affected puppies are normally small and unthrifty. After eating, they can exhibit bizarre behavior caused by a buildup of ammonia in the bloodstream. Surgery can normally correct the condition, depending on the location of the shunt, but it's not always completely effective and it's very expensive, often running into thousands of dollars. Geneticists recommend that dogs who produce liver shunt should not be bred again and that the siblings of an affected dog should also be spayed/neutered.
To date, only a few Scotties have been affected by juvenile cataracts. In Miniature Schnauzers, congenital juvenile cataracts are caused by a simple autosomal recessive gene- so it is likely that this is the case in Scotties. In other words, both parents must be carriers. Careful breeding can help limit, or even eliminate this from Scotties.
Cerebellar abiotrophy (CA) is an inherited disorder causing death of Purkinje cell in the cerebellum. The disorder is seen in several canine breeds and other species including humans. In the Scottish Terrier, the disorder has an median onset of 7 months. The disease often has progressive deterioration in gait, but not in all cases.
Generally, the affected dogs appear normal when walking. However, they show hind limb ataxia when going up or down stairs. As the disease progressed, owners report dogs show noticeable gait abnormalities in all 4 limbs. It becomes progressively more difficult for dogs to negotiate stairs and they lose contol of their pelvic limbs when running.
The assumed mode of transmission is an autosomal recessive trait. However no gene or genes have been isolated to cause the disorder.