Scottish Terrier

Scottie PostcardScottie Postcard

Modern Scottish Terriers are very different to their working ancestors. First bred to work underground, their solid, low construction reflects the type of work these terriers were originally expected to perform. Today, as a pure breed, this gives an alternative approach to understanding how and why modern exaggerations now typify this breed.

History of the Scottish Terrier

Scotch Terriers 1876Scotch Terriers 1876

Historically all dogs in Scotland which worked underground were called 'Scotch Terriers'. As far back as the 1500's when the first classifications of dog breeds began, John Lesley, in his 'History of Scotland from 1436 to 1561' wrote:

".. a dog of low height, which creeping through subterraneous burrows, routs out foxes, badgers, martens and wildcats from their lurking places in dens"[1] .

Scotch Terriers 1890'sScotch Terriers 1890's

In 1812, George 4th Earl of Dumbarton wrote about his famous pack of Scotch Terriers that were so brave that they were called 'Diehards'. These were inspiration for the name of his Regiment, The Royal Scots, Dumbarton's Diehards'. Terriers of Scotland were then mentioned in other works of the mid-1830's, predating dog shows by 50 years.

But rather than working in the rocky Cairns of the Western Highlands, what eventually became known as the Scottish Terrier, more famously worked the softer earths of the hedgerows of Aberdeen on the eastern side Scotland. As this required great power in a small compass, a shorter but very strong body was sought.

The Scottish Terrier becomes a Pure Breed

Scotch Terrier 'Dundee' 1882Scotch Terrier 'Dundee' 1882

Between 1874 and 1879, Terriers of Scotland were called various names including the Short-coated Skye. They were also called the 'Broken Haired Scotch Terrier' in the first English Stud book published in 1874.

Sir Payton Pigott is considered by many to be the father of the Terriers of Scotland. His strain of terriers included 'Granite' (pictured), whose parentage could be traced back to the original Highland Terriers. They were regarded as a very fine kennel at a time just before the Breed Standards were written.

Scottish Terrier pre-1879Scottish Terrier pre-1879

In 1878 when Granite became the first Terrier of Scotland to be entered in any Kennel Club Show, he was classified in the 'variety' class. Later, many regarded him as an early Cairn because he was a long-backed, snipey faced, with pricked or dropped ears and was mostly sandy or black coloured[1].

The first Breed Standard of the short coated 'Scotch Terrier' was drawn up by Scotsman Mr Thompson Gray, and Englishman Mr J.B. Thompson, and published in Vero Shaw's 'Book of the Dog' in 1881.

Scottish Terriers c 1930Scottish Terriers c 1930

This sparked input from Gordon Stables in the 'Live Stock Journal', and the Scottish Terrier Club of England was formed in 1882. But in Scotland there was still much controversy about the name because many believed the name 'Scottish Terriers' should embrace all terriers whose origin was Scotland. As mentioned above, to complicate matters, there was a breeder in Aberdeen who was well known for a 'die hard' highland terrier with pricked ears. This controversy continued for 6 years after English Club wrote the Breed Standard, until the Scottish experts conceded and adopted a very similar Standard to the English one, and formed the Scottish Terrier Club of Scotland in 1888[2].

History of the Scottish Terrier in Australia

The first 'Scotch' (known today as 'Scottish') Terrier was imported in 1889. Named 'Werfa', owned by R.C.Thorn of Victoria, she is given the credit of establishing the Scottish Terrier in Australia, breeding under the 'Hensby' prefix. She was sired by the famous 'Dundee' pictured above.Scotties have been in existence here continuously ever since[3].

Best in Show Sydney Royal 1985Best in Show Sydney Royal 1985

With around 200 being imported across Australia during the next 100+ years, it is beyond the scope of this website to produce a more detailed history. Suffice to say, Australian breeders have produced world class Scotties ever since. This is reflected by an amazing 3 different Scotties having won the ultimate Best Exhibit in Show at the prestigious Sydney's Royal Easter Show, two of which were bred here. The 1985 win (pictured) was over an all-breeds entry of 4,432 individual dogs[4]. World Class indeed!

Comparison between the Skye and Scottish Terrier

The basic construction of today's short legged deep-chested terrier is explained in detail by clicking here: short legged dogs with deep chests.

Skye Terrier

Scottish Terrier

General Appearance Long and low; twice as long in length as height at shoulder Thick-set, of suitable size to go to ground, great power and activity in small compass
Temperament One-man dog, distrustful of strangers Bold, but never aggressive
Skye TerrierSkye Terrier Scottish TerrierScottish Terrier
Head Long and powerful, strength not to be sacrificed for extreme length Head long with skull and muzzle of equal length
Skull Moderate width of back skull Long enough to be fairly wide yet retain narrow appearance
Stop Slight Moderate
Muzzle Strong Strong and deep throughout
Eyes Preferably dark brown, medium size and close set Dark brown and almond shaped, set fairly wide apart under eyebrows
Ears Pricked or dropped. When prick not large but gracefully feathered, erect at outer edges with inner edges sloping towards the skull. When dropped laying flat and close at the front Must be pricked. Neat (not large) fine (thin) textured and set on top of the skull not too close together
Mouth Normal scissors bite Normal scissors bite
Skye TerrierSkye Terrier Scotty (Wheaten)Scotty (Wheaten)
Neck Long with a slight crest Moderate length and muscular
Shoulders Broad Broad
Forelegs Short and muscular and work close to the body with the feet required to point straight forwards The forelegs must be well boned and straight right through the pasterns. The forelegs must not be out at elbow nor placed under the body. Instead the elbows work beside but clear of the ribcage
Chest Deep but not excessive. If the chest is too deep, the forelegs would have to bend around it and therefore not point forwards Fairly broad and deep and when viewed in profile, the brisket extending in front of fore legs and hung between them.
Body Long and low with a level back. Sides appear flat due to the straight falling coat. The ribcage is long with the ribs well rounded but flattening out towards the chest. The topline of the back is short, straight and level with a muscular deep loin.
Hindquarters Well muscled and angulated. Legs short muscular and straight when viewed from behind, with no dewclaws. Remarkably powerful for the size of the dog with big wide buttocks. Hocks short and strong neither turning in or out.
Feet Front feet larger than the hind and pointing forwards. Pads thick and nails strong. Front feet slightly larger than the hind, with thick pads and well arched toes.
Tail At rest, the upper part hangs pendulous with the lower parting pointing backwards, away from the dog in a curve. When moving the tail is carried as an extension of the topline, but not above. Of moderate length to balance the dog but never docked. Thick at the root and tapering towards the tip. Set high leaving the topline in either a vertical or a somewhat forward position.
Skye TerrierSkye Terrier Scotty (Black)Scotty (Black)
Gait Free, active and effortless giving a fluid look. Smooth and free, moving straight fore and aft with a level topline.
Coat Double coat with a short, close and woolly undercoat and an outer coat of reasonable length lying straight and flat, free from curl, and never impeding action. Coat on head shorter, never obscuring either the vision or the shape of the ears. Close lying double coat with a short dense soft undercoat and a dense and wiry outer coat, thatched together to make a weather resisting jacket.
Colour Black, dark or light grey, fawn or cream, all with black points Black, wheaten or brindle of any shade
Size 25 - 26 cm (10 inches). Tip of nose to end of tail 105 cms (41.5 inches). Bitches slightly smaller Height: 25 - 28 cm (10 - 11 inches) Weight: 8.5 - 10.5 Kg (19 - 23 pounds)

References and Further Reading

[1] Fayette C Ewing, MD.; F.A.C.S.'The Book of the Scottish Terrier' 1897 - Semi-Centennial Revised Edition 1948 Published by Orange Judd Publishing Company Inc New York USA Chapter 1 Historical, Page 22

[2] Walter G Glynn, Cassell's New Book of the Dog' by Robert Leighton assisted by eminent authorities on the various breeds Published by The Waverley Book Co Ltd Vol 111, Chapter XL 'The Scottish Terrier' Pages 381-387

[3] T.W.Tyzack and C.S. Turner "Tyzack's Annual" published by the Victorian Poultry and Kennel Club, printed by Bellmaine Bros., Printers 66 - 70 Flinders Lane Melbourne Australia P. 75 - 78 (Stud Book) and P.97 and 99 (Importations)

[4] Betty McIntyre ''The History of Purebred Dogs in Australia' published by OzDog Newspaper 1997 - the Scottish Terrier Page 269

Jane Harvey DVD 'Terriers Then & Now' Pub 2002 - 2004 Rangeaire Vision ISBN 978-0-9804296-4-0


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