BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SCOTTISH TERRIER TYPE
“First of the Superlatively Suitable Six, is that odd little chunk of canniness, merriment, sadness, joy, steadfast devotion, courage and rare powers of discrimination, the Scottish Terrier. The old Highland saying that “guid gear goes in mickle bundles”, might well have been framed specially to fit the Scottie or Diehard, as many of his friends delight to call him. Compact, quick as a cat, alert as only a real terrier can be, he possesses strength far beyond his apparent stature, and a spirit which, once he decides is just, knows no limit. Large of head, short of leg, impressively sturdy in bone and muscle, he is emphatically multum in parvo. And within his wiry coat of black, gray-grizzle, or brindle beats a heart as wholesome and as honest as the wind-swept moorlands from which he comes. Small wonder that those who know him well prefer him to all others.” 1926 excerpt from Holland’s Magazine – What Dog Shall I Choose Author Mr. Robert S. Lemmon
The following is a brief timeline of physical changes and characteristics in the Scottish Terrier’s evolution. To learn more, a list of suggested article links has been included below.
1790 Wood Engraving
by Thomas Bewick
THE SCOTCH TERRIER
by Capt. Thomas Brown
Engraving from the book
Wild Sports of the Highlands
by Charles St. John
The name the Diehard seems to have traced back to the first Earl of Dunbarton who nicknamed his Terriers the “Dunbar Diehards” because of their unique toughness in the field.
VARIETY OF EARLY WORKING TERRIERS
Known as the Rough-Haired, Scotch, Otter, Cairn, Highland Terrier, Skye, Dandie, Aberdeen, Scots or Scottish Terrier, there had been much confusion as to what to call our breed. These dogs interbred until dog fanciers interest in sustaining a certain type warranted a “recipe” called the Breed Standard.
Early Pillars of the Breed
Observations of the best features and characteristics were put down on paper to help hunters develop a consistent working dog. One that had a specific function, mainly ridding the farmers land or barns of rodents and vermin to protect food sources.
The first breed standard was drafted by J.B. Morrison, respected dog authority of the day, to help clear up the confusion and which was later published in Vero Shaw’s Illustrated Book of the Dog in 1880.
The pattern described in the Breed Standard assisted breeders in choosing superior males to be bred to their females. The most highly valued of these sires were the ones considered “pre-potent” for reproducing their type consistently.
Two famous imports of Mrs. Brooks & Ames of Wankie Kennels were considered some of the greatest showdogs of their time.
Small American kennels advanced via imports from England. Their owners spent much time and money showing their stock to the American public at local dog shows.
In 1911, a Scottish Terrier named Tickle ‘Em Jock won Best in Show at the 5th Westminster Kennel Club Show. This win did much to help publicize the breed in America although many exhibitors that day criticized the judge’s decision.
These dogs were considered first class representations of their breed in their day by Scottish Terrier experts.
1907 The Dog Fancier Magazine described James Little’s Newcastle Model as having the best example of what a Scottish Terrier head should be.
CH Bapton Beryl, daughter of CH Bapton Norman, was said to be the greatest show bitch of all time.
“The makers of the Standard, who knew the breed before its show-days and worked it in the scrubby undergrowth, the heather, when it went to earth and dug foxes and varmints from the cairns, saw that it was brindle and grey and red, because of its work which invoked those natural influences that develop the protective coloring in animals.” – Fayette C. Ewing 1933
“THERE WAS NEVER A GOOD SCOTTIE WITH A BAD COLOR”
Most prevelant Scotties being shown to the public were variations of brindle. The all black color craze was believed to have started as a preference due to fashion.
“The color of the Scottish Terrier has been the object of fad changes since the breed was first recognized and exhibited Initially, color was of no concern to breeders and owners, so long as the dog could do his work. In those days, the color of our dogs was generally described as sandy or fawn, occasionally red or grizzled, rarely black.” – T. Allen Kirk
The dog that “had the most sensational show record of any Scottish Terrier ever exhibited in America,” according to the New York Times. Won “best in show” multiple times. As a Fnalist at Westminster in 1932, Time Magazine said the dog was “built like a midget plough horse.” Heather Reveller was owned by mystery writer S.S. Van Dine (real name Willard H. Wright).