By Kathleen Knowles
Introduction: The sixth in the series of Dogs as Pets
Choosing a dog to become a family member is a big decision. You must determine whether you want a mix-breed dog or a pedigreed one. A mix-breed dog is exactly what it implies, more than one breed of dog mixed together. A pedigreed dog is one breed only with nothing but that breed in the pedigree going back for generations. What size is right for you? Should you buy a long-haired dog or a short-coated one? A big dog or a small dog? In this series, we will examine pure-bred breeds only. So far, we have looked at the Chihuahua, the Saint Bernard, the French Bulldog, the German Shepherd, and the Labrador Retriever. In the following article, we will examine the Scottish Terrier as a pet.
The Scottish Terrier
The Scottish Terrier is one of the popular breeds in Group 4 (The Terriers) of the American Kennel Club. They were originally bred to hunt prey that would hide underground to get away from their pursuers, such as rats and badgers. The “Scottie’s” history has long been the subject of controversy. Despite that its history is not very well documented, it is believed to be one of the oldest breeds in Scotland. The Scottie was introduced into the United States in 1883 with the first of the breed registered by the American Kennel Club coming just two years later in 1885. That dog was a male name, Prince Charlie. Among some of the most famous Scotties were “Fala,” owned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and more recently, “Barney” and “Miss Beazley,” owned by President George W. Bush. “Barney” was the star of nine films the White House produced for the entertainment of children. Other famous people who have owned Scottish Terriers include Queen Victoria, Humphrey Bogart, Eva Braun, Rudyard Kipling, Bette Davis, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Cary Grant, and Tatum O’Neal.
There are many reasons why the Scottie is a favorite of so many. He is a delightful canine companion, small and compact. The American Kennel Club describes him as a dog with a thick-set, cobby body which is hung between short, heavy legs, with a wiry, weather-resistant coat, and a head long in proportion to his body with an erect tail and ears. The average height of the dog is 10 inches and his weight ranges from 19 to 22 pounds for males and 18-21 pounds for females. The Scottie is bred in black, wheaten or brindle striped patterns. His life span is about 12 years.
His temperament is bold, confident and dignified. Scotties are smart and very independent, yet a bit stubborn. They tend to be aloof with strangers, but are very loving toward their human family. It is that aloofness that makes them an excellent watchdog.
Scottish Terriers are not outside dogs. They crave the attention and companionship of their people. Due to his size, he can adjust to just about any kind of abode. He is equally at home in the country, in the city as well as apartment living. One must remember he is a terrier! If challenged, by another dog, he will not back off. He will fight until his human separates him from the canine challenger. As a rule, he interacts well with dogs he has been raised with. Scotties are generally good with kids and will act as the guardian of very small children.
Training the Scottish Terrier is not easy. They are a terrier after all, and as mentioned earlier, they are stubborn. They have a mind of their own and lots of patience will be required. In the end, with praise, they will come around.
It is important the Scottie is exercised. He is a high energy dog. He loves to go for walks. However, with his short legs, he will not make a very good jogging partner! Originally bred to “go to ground,” he loves to hunt vermin! There are trials he can be trained for if one is looking for an event to share with him. The Scottish Terrier is fairly easy to house train. As with any dog, crate training can be an invaluable tool to train a puppy until your canine friend can be trusted not to have accidents in the house.
When considering a Scottie as a pet, one must understand there is grooming involved with the breed. Not only does the coat need grooming, but there will also be visits to the local groomer to be clipped and “stripped.” Long hairs are stripped out with a stripping knife or done by hand. If your groomer only clips the coat with no stripping, it will become softer than the wiry coat described in the AKC standard. Nails will need to be trimmed. It is advisable to brush your dog’s teeth at least a couple times a week to be sure tartar does not build up. Grooming should start at a very young age to get the puppy used to what will be a life-long procedure. Occasional bathing is desired.
Fortunately, Scotties are fairly healthy, but like all other breeds, there are conditions you should be aware of if you choose to add a Scottie to your family. One condition to look out for is patellar luxation. The knee joint slips in and out. This condition can cause a great deal of pain, and depending on the severity; surgery may be needed to correct the problem.
Other health problems: Scotties can suffer from Cushing’s disease, hypothyroidism, vonWillebrand’s disease (which is a blood clotting disorder), Scottie Cramp (genetic dysfunction of the chemical neurotransmitter made by the nerves which control the Scottie’s muscles.) and Craniomandibular Osteopathy. This doesn’t mean your Scottie will develop these conditions. As with any dog, your Scottie should see a veterinarian for regular health check-ups.
If you have decided this feisty little dog is for you, the next step is to find a reputable breeder. They are recommended over “backyard breeders.” You can find a Scottie breeder in your area on the internet site of the Scottish Terrier Club of America. These breeders strive for a healthy dog that meets the breed standard. You are far more likely to purchase a healthy puppy from one of these breeders than from the “pet” breeder. Another option is the Scottish Terrier Rescue. The organization is available to adopt Scotties that have been rescued and need homes.
One thing is for sure. Once you purchase a Scottish Terrier, you will enjoy many years of loyal companionship. There’s never a dull moment with a Scottie as a member of the household!
Blue Water Healthy Living Contributing Writer
Kathleen Knowles is a life-long resident of Port Huron and a 1973 graduate of Port Huron High School. After attending St. Clair County Community College, she has worked for credit unions all of her life as well as a professional dog show handler, known for handling Pekingese. Kathleen has been writing fiction for years as a hobby, having posted many stories online.
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