Scottie Character

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 re-enforcement 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 Earthdog, Obedience or Agility – 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 aggressive 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).

Naturally aloof, the scottie may not be overly friendly to strangers. For him, his family devotion is deep and life-long.

The Scottish Terrier is a “big dog” in a small package. Just look at those teeth – bigger than you might expect! Scotties 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 attached 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 necessarily returning them – he ain’t no retriever), 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 and video 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 while 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.

Training should start as soon as you bring your new puppy home. Scotties require consistency, boundaries, positive reinforcement and loads of patience. Don’t encourage behaviors in your puppy that you won’t accept from an adult, such as chasing or biting hands or feet, jumping up, getting on furniture, digging or barking. Behaviors that seem cute now may not be so adorable when your puppy is a full-grown Scottie!

Never, ever punish your Scottie puppy after calling him to you, for any reason; Scotties have long memories and next time you want your puppy to come to you, he’ll ignore you. Use a crate to assist with house training, but remember that puppies can only hold their bladders for a few hours at a time before needing relief. The STCA encourages Scottie owners to participate in activities such as agility, flyball, earthdog (terrier hunt tests), rally obedience and much more, because Scotties can learn anything if you are consistent and positive. Since Scotties don’t respond well to punishment- or correction-based training, the best type of training class for your puppy will be one based on positive reinforcement. You can find training clubs in your area at the AKC website (Training Resources) and may want to enquire about positive reinforcement trainers.

The Scottie is similar to most other terriers in having a coat that grows continuously, unlike many other breeds in which each hair grows to a certain length and then drops out, or sheds. As a result, the Scottie is essentially a non-shedding dog and a Scottie owner’s home and clothing are virtually free of scattered dog hair. The other side of this coin, however, is the dog’s need for regular grooming.

A dog with an expected career in the show ring requires specialized and careful grooming on a frequent basis. However, a companion pet does very well with a schedule of clipping every 2-3 months, although this timing can vary from dog to dog, depending on the type, density and growth rate of the coat. Clipping a Scottie coat is a skill that any dog owner can learn without too much difficulty, but every area also has competent pet groomers who can handle this task if it doesn’t interest the owner. Beyond occasional bathing and clipping, the Scottie also appreciates gentle brushing on a regular basis, to keep the longer furnishings untangled and as an excuse to bask in his owner’s attention.

Here is a link to an article in the May, 2014, Volume 131, Number 5 issue of the AKC Gazette titled How To Meet A Scottie written by Kathleen J. Ferris. In this article Kathleen describes how people should and should not approach Scotties and does so from three perspectives: Owners, breeders, and judges. A nice little article. Take a look.