OVERVIEW OF THE SCOTTISH TERRIER
Scottish Terriers hardly need an introduction. The stocky terriers with their distinctive beard, erect ears and aristocratic stature are depicted on almost anything from shirts and shorts to mugs, handbags and ornaments. Although generally associated with having a black coat, Scotties can also be gray, brindle or fawn. They average 10 inches in height and weigh between 18 and 22 pounds.
Scottish Terriers were originally bred to help farmers manage vermin problems and hunt badgers and foxes. This hunting instinct is still ingrained in these intelligent pets and they’re always ready to chase a squirrel, mouse and even the neighbor’s cat. For this reason, make sure your yard is fenced, because once they spot their target, they’ll easily run into the road, focused solely on the chase.
Scotties are highly independent and confident. They don’t trust strangers and may come across as somewhat aloof. This makes them good watchdogs. Although Scotties each have their own personality, be assured that if you welcome one of these into your home you’ll have a companion and not a people pleaser. They are considerate of the elderly, playful and high-spirited, but can also be stubborn and won’t necessarily wait for you to give instructions before doing what they think is best. Having been bred to work apart from their owners, it’s in their nature to set their own course.
If you’re looking to get a loyal and brave four-legged companion for your home, here’s what you need to know.
SCOTTISH TERRIER FOOD AND HEALTH
Like all dog breeds, Scottish Terriers are more prone to developing certain illnesses than others. They are generally healthy but can suffer from patellar luxation, Scottie cramp and craniomandibular osteopathy.
Patellar luxation is when the knee joint (generally of a hind leg) slides out of place. This causes great pain and can be crippling. It is common in many small dog breeds. Depending on the severity it can be treated with anti-inflammatories, by wearing a leg brace, physical therapy or surgery.
Scottie cramp is considered harmless, and terriers live healthy and long lives even with the disease. It is not progressive and treatment is generally not necessary. In severe cases, the disorder has been treated with diazepam, vitamin E or Prozac.
If your dog has Scottie cramps, they overarch their spine, over flex their back legs and their front legs move outward when they get overstimulated or stressed. Some dogs have trouble walking or running when stressed. When at rest, the dog will appear and function normally.
Craniomandibular osteopathy symptoms usually appear in puppies between four to eight months. Due to the skull bones becoming irregularly enlarged, the puppy’s jaw and glands swell, making it hard to open its mouth. They may drool, display a fever every couple of weeks and struggle to eat. In severe cases, a feeding tube might be necessary.
The cause is not known but is thought to be hereditary. Anti-inflammatories and pain medication can help ease discomfort, but there is no official treatment. The irregular growth of the bones generally stops when the puppy is a year old and lesions can regress. In some cases, there can be permanent damage and jaw surgery can help to correct that.
When it comes to feeding your Scottie the amount of food they require will depend on how active they are and their age. Grown dogs are recommended 1 to 1.5 cups of food daily, divided into two portions.
If you have a puppy, make sure you are feeding them food specifically formulated for puppies and follow the recommended feeding amount on the packaging.
Regardless of your pup’s age, it is important that they get good quality nutrition. Dogs can be very sensitive to some human foods and quickly get sick when eating just a small amount. Always check that you’re giving your pup dog-friendly, low-calorie snacks when training or rewarding good behavior.
LEASHES AND COLLARS FOR YOUR SCOTTISH TERRIER
Scottish Terriers are better suited to agility skills than obedience training. They are used to being independent dogs and working without needing direction, but this doesn’t mean they can’t be trained. When training your pup always use positive reinforcement and be assured that if your pet pal gets mistreated it won’t be forgotten and training won’t be successful. Your Scottie has a soft, kind heart and needs lots of positive affirmation.
Scotties need to be socialized from an early age. This will temper their general distrust of others which can translate into aggression when they’re older if left unchecked. By getting them used to being with other dogs and people they’ll enjoy going out with you rather than being suspicious of everyone.
Scotties love to exercise, but because of their short legs, they’re not recommended as running partners. A run around the block can feel like a marathon to your pet pal. They should always be leashed on walks or when going to the park for training. Since they have an inherent chase instinct, they’ll dash away at the sniff of a squirrel, even when they’re well trained.
Collars are best for identification and tags while a harness is recommended for walking. A collar can cause trauma to your small pup’s neck when they pull or get very excited. Using a harness that fits around your dog’s torso and chest doesn’t place any strain on the neck and is more comfortable for your pup.
There are many different harness styles. A back clip harness works well for small dogs. If your dog pulls a lot, you may want to opt for a Y-shaped front harness for a little more control. Be careful, however, that a front clip harness doesn’t put too much pressure on their chest.
Always check the size frequently if you have a puppy. They grow quickly and a collar or harness can become too tight easily.
BEST CRATES, BEDS, AND DOG HOUSES FOR SCOTTISH TERRIER
A Scottie is a companion dog and enjoys being with you. They adapt well to your mood. If you’re ready for a walk, they’ll be right by your side and when you’re relaxing they’ll be peaceful too. Although this can quickly change if a cat or squirrel is spotted.
Since your Scottie will be living inside with you, you won’t need a dog house for the outdoors. A crate can serve as their indoor retreat if you make it a comfortable haven for them. To avoid having to upsize the crate as they grow, get a large enough one to fit them as an adult from the beginning. Simply section it off inside while they are still a puppy and remove the divider as they grow. A comfy dog bed or blanket is a must for inside the crate. A soft stuffed toy can also serve as a cuddle companion when you are out.
Getting a crate cover that is washable and breathable is also a great idea. This creates a cozy and comforting environment, yet still allows them to enter and exit as they wish.
When it comes to a dog bed for your pup, keep in mind that they have short legs so an elevated bed might not be the best option for them. An orthopedic dog bed made from medical-grade memory foam can be especially beneficial as they get older to support their joints.
BEST TOYS FOR SCOTTISH TERRIER
Besides their daily walk, your pup needs play time with you and with other dogs. Letting your pup get bored without daily play can lead to destructive behavior. Scotties love to chew. When your pet is still a puppy, having chew toys on hand will save your furniture and shoes. They’ll probably love to chew toys even as older dogs. Teeth cleaning toys can help with dental care, although it doesn’t replace the need for brushing their teeth.
A snowman-shaped Kong toy is also a great option since it serves as an intelligence toy, a fetch toy and a snack toy all in one. Rubber toys usually allow you to pop a treat inside. As you throw it, it will bounce in all directions due to its odd shape. Once your pup retrieves the Kong and brings it back to you, they can get the treat as a reward.
Other ball games are also a classic winner with most dogs. Just keep in mind that your Scottie is fairly small so if you want him to retrieve the ball make sure it’s size appropriate.
Scotties like water but because of their short legs and heavy bodies they can’t swim. If you have a pool, make sure it’s fenced or covered to avoid a disaster. Something like a splash mat with water fountains they can run through are better ways for your pup to cool down in warm weather.
Puzzle toys are another good option to keep your pup’s intelligence engaged. Puzzle toys require your pup to solve a puzzle to get to the treat inside. Some versions have different levels so you can progress the difficulty as they figure it out.
GROOMING INSIGHTS FOR SCOTTISH TERRIER OWNERS
Although Scotties shed only lightly, be prepared for a lot of grooming. If you have a show dog, you’ll want to groom them daily. For a house pet, grooming once or twice a week may be sufficient depending on their activities and lifestyle. Don’t bathe your pup too often as their skin dries out quickly.
They have a topcoat (overcoat) and an undercoat. The top coat is wiry while the undercoat is soft and dense. Use a slicker brush or pin brush for daily grooming and to effectively remove dead undercoat hairs. A wide-toothed comb is best for brushing their beard.
Scottish Terriers will chew themselves bald if they get fleas. It’s a good idea to brush your Scottie regularly with a flea comb or to apply other preventative measures.
Get your Scottie used to being groomed and having their paws handled from the puppy stage. Always make grooming a very positive experience for them with lots of praise and encouragement. Not getting your pet accustomed to being checked can make grooming very unpleasant for both of you when they are older.
Check your dog’s ears and eyes regularly. If you are trimming their nails yourself, make sure you know how to do it since dogs have blood vessels in their nails which can make a wrong clip bloody and painful.
Since their teeth are large and close together, Scotties need to have their teeth brushed a minimum of three times weekly. Daily brushing is best to avoid decay and gum disease. Only use toothpaste specifically designed for dogs. Some human toothpaste contains ingredients that are harmful to dogs.
BEST SCOTTISH TERRIER ACCESSORIES
With so many dog accessories available, it can be hard to know which ones are the best for your new pup.
If you and your Scottie often walk in dim-light conditions, get a reflective collar or harness. This will make your pup more visible to other people and traffic. If you have a large yard, a reflective collar will also make it easier for you to find your pup outside in the dark.
If you and your Scottie enjoy spending days out at the park, consider getting a water bottle with a collapsible water bowl lid. These handy bottles ensure that both of you stay well hydrated without having to carry a large water bottle and bowl everywhere with you.
A dog car seat is a great accessory to have for your little aristocrat. The car seat should have a non-slip base and attach securely around the back of the seat and the headrest to prevent it from moving during travel or when the car stops suddenly. A seat that forms a box or basket is ideal since your pup can comfortably curl up during the commute when not playing co-pilot.
To learn more about small breeds like the Scottish Terrier, check out our breed hub page.