The Breed History
This breed has common roots with other Highland Terriers including the Skye, Dandie Dinmont, and Cairn terrier group. Early writings in the 1500s from Aberdeen Scotland refer to a dog of Scottie type, but the first time the breed was shown was in 1860 in England. In 1882, the first club was formed in the British Isles, and in 1883, the first specimens were imported to the USA. AKC recognition occurred in 1885. President Franklin Roosevelt chose a Scottie and this brought the breed into the limelight.
Breeding for Function
This compact terrier is built to withstand harsh weather and to be agile and work long days under rough conditions. Although bred to do terrier work such as ratting and hunting otter, badger, fox and rabbits, this breed of dog also makes a very good companion.
Height at Withers: female 10" (25.4 cm), male 10" (25.4 cm)
Weight: females 18-21 lb (8-9.5 kg), males 19-22 lb(8.5-10 kg).
Coat: The colors of these double-coated dogs include brindle, black and wheaten. The outer haircoat is long, wiry and wavy.
Longevity: 12-15 years.
Points of Conformation: This plucky terrier has a very alert demeanor and is noted for pricked up small, fine ears and tail, long head in proportion to body, and stocky build with short and heavy legs. The nose should be black and large and the stop should be moderate. Eyes are deep-set and almond shaped, set under a distinct brow that is black or dark-brown in color. Their beard is also well developed. They possess a somewhat short thick neck and very muscular hindquarters, joined by a level topline. The tail is never docked, and it tapers towards the tip. Feet are compact; a slight toe-out is accepted, and the dewclaws can be removed.
Recognized Behavior Issues and Traits
This terrier is equally at home in country or town, and is a loyal dog, but quite spirited and independent minded. He is sometimes called the "Diehard" because of his stamina. They may become one-man dogs. They are suitable for homes with calm, older children. Some care should be taken with other dogs since Scotties may show aggression. This is also a protective dog for the home, being a keen alarm barker. The Scottie needs firm, gentle training at an early age. Scotties are considered a low shedder and require regular grooming and periodic clipping. They require moderate exercise.
Normal Physiologic Variations
Hyperphosphatasemia: Benign elevations of alkaline phosphatase can occur in Scottish Terriers without any liver, adrenal, or skeletal abnormalities. These levels can be 1.7 to 17 time the reference range, occasionally going over 1,000 U/L. However, Scottish Terriers are also prone to liver and adrenal diseases that can raise AlkP, so they should be worked up.
In a UK study, 59.8% of litters were born via Cesarean section.
Hip Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing degenerative joint disease and hip arthritis. OFA reports 15.8% affected.
Patella Luxation: Polygenically inherited laxity of patellar ligaments, causing luxation, lameness, and later degenerative joint disease. Treat surgically if causing clinical signs. OFA reports 6.9% affected.
Cerebellar Abiotrophy (CA, Cerebellar Ataxia): Autosomal recessive disorder causing cerebellar hypermetria, and an uncoordinated high stepping gait. Mild clinical signs are usually recognized from three months to one year of age; however some affected dogs with mild clinical signs may not be recognized for several years. The clinical signs usually progress slowly throughout the life of the dog; however some can progress more rapidly to constant stumbling. Diagnosis by clinical signs, CSF, MRI/CT, or post-mortem. Occurs at a low frequency, with a wide pedigree spread worldwide. Reported at a frequency of 1.6% in the 2005 STCA Health Survey. No genetic test is available.
Scotty Cramp: An autosomal recessive inherited disorder of muscle cramping, spasticity, and limb hyperflexion or extension, most often in the pelvic limbs. Clinical signs usually appear after a stressful event or during exercise, and can last from 1-30 minutes. The age of first episode can be 6 weeks to 18 months. Scotty cramp is thought to be caused by a disorder in serotonin metabolism. Medical treatment is usually not necessary although fluoxetene can help in severe cases. Reported at a frequency of 1.2% in the 2005 STCA Health Survey. No genetic test is available.
von Willebrand's Disease (vWD): Type III vWD in the Scottish Terrier is a serious, sometimes fatal, autosomal recessive bleeding disorder. Cryoprecipitate is more effective, with less side effects, than fresh frozen plasma in controlling bleeding episodes. A genetic test is available through VetGen, and shows 0.2% of Scottish Terriers affected, and 10.0% are carriers.
Craniomandibular Osteopathy (CMO): Autosomal recessive, painful non-neoplastic proliferation of bone on the ramus of the mandible and/or the tympanic bulla. Affected dogs present between 3-10 months of age, with varying degrees of difficulty prehending and chewing food, secondary weight loss and atrophy of the temporal and masseter muscles. In most cases, affected dogs are normal after bony remodeling. No genetic test is available.
Elbow Dysplasia: Polygenically inherited trait causing elbow arthritis. Too few Scottish Terriers have been screened by OFA to determine an accurate frequency.
Persistent Pupillary Membranes: Strands of fetal remnant connecting; iris to iris, cornea, lens, or involving sheets of tissue. The later three forms can impair vision, and dogs affected with these forms should not be bred. Iris to lens strands are prevalent in the breed, and can be associated with punctate cataracts. Identified in 19.89% of Scottish Terriers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. Reported at a frequency of 1.6% in the 2005 STCA Health Survey.
Dystocia (difficulty whelping): A Swedish study reports 12.7% of Scottish Terrier pregnancies result in dystocia, often requiring a Caesarian section. It is hypothesized that this is due to some Scottish terriers having a dorso-ventrally flattened pelvic canal that increases the risk of obstruction.
Cataracts: Anterior, posterior, intermediate and punctate cataracts are seen in the breed. Identified in 6.99% of Scottish Terriers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005. Reported at a frequency of 1.4% in the 2005 STCA Health Survey. CERF does not recommend breeding any Scottish Terrier with a cataract.
Hypothyroidism: Inherited autoimmune thyroiditis. 6.7% positive for thyroid autoantibodies based on testing at Michigan State University. (Ave. for all breeds is 7.5%). Reported at a frequency of 3.9% in the 2005 STCA Health Survey.
Transitional Cell Carcinoma (TCC, Bladder Cancer): Scottish Terriers have an 18x greater risk of developing TCC versus other breeds. Glickman et. al. found an increased risk for TCC in Scottish Terriers exposed to phenoxy-based lawn herbicides, and a decreased risk for TCC in Scottish Terriers that consumed green leafy or yellow-orange vegetables three times a week. TCC is a malignant cancer that can be controlled with surgery and piroxicam treatment. Reported at a frequency of 4.6% in the 2005 STCA Health Survey.
Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing's disease): Hyperfunction of the adrenal gland caused by a pituitary or adrenal tumor. Clinical signs may include increased thirst and urination, symmetrical truncal alopecia, and abdominal distention. Dorn reports a 3.97x odds ratio versus other breeds. Reported at a frequency of 3.5% in the 2005 STCA Health Survey.
Vitreous Degeneration: Liquefaction of the vitreous gel which may predispose to retinal detachment. Identified in 2.15% of Scottish Terriers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Idiopathic Epilepsy: Inherited seizures can be generalized or partial seizures. Control with anticonvulsant medication. Reported at a frequency of 2.1% in the 2005 STCA Health Survey. Unknown mode of inheritance.
Vacuolar Hepatopathy: Breed related liver condition characterized by hepatocyte swelling (vacuolar hepatopathy) and at different stages associated with variable inflammatory activity and fibrosis. All affected dogs have elevated alkaline phosphatase activity. It is not determined if this condition is primary or secondary to the AlkP elevation.
Retinal Dysplasia: Focal retinal dysplasia and retinal folds are recognized in the breed. Can progress to retinal detachment and blindness. Identified in 1.61% of Scottish Terriers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Allergic Dermatitis: Inhalant or food allergy presents with pruritis and pyotraumatic dermatitis (hot spots). Reported at a frequency of 1.4% in the 2005 STCA Health Survey.
Aggression: Reported at a frequency of 1.4% in the 2005 STCA Health Survey.
Kinked Tails: Congenital disorder caused by caudal hemivertebra. Reported at a frequency of 1.3% in the 2005 STCA Health Survey.
Demodicosis: Overgrowth of demodex mites in hair follicles due to an underlying immunodeficiency. Dorn reports a 1.73x odds ratio of developing demodectic mange versus other breeds. Reported at a frequency of 1.1% in the 2005 STCA Health Survey.
Corneal Dystrophy: Either the epithelial/stromal, or endothelial form of corneal dystrophy can be seen in the breed. Identified in 1.08% of Scottish Terriers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Distichiasis: Abnormally placed eyelashes that irritate the cornea and conjunctiva. Can cause secondary corneal ulceration. Identified in 1.08% of Scottish Terriers CERF examined by veterinary ophthalmologists between 2000-2005.
Acquired Myasthenia Gravis: Scottish Terriers are a breed at increased risk of developing generalized or focal acquired myasthenia gravis. The most common presenting signs were generalized weakness, with or without megaesophagus. Diagnosis is by identifying acetylcholine receptor antibodies.Undetermined mode of inheritance.
Superficial Necrolytic Dermatitis (Hepatocutaneous syndrome): Three Scottish Terriers were identified in a study of 36 dogs with diagnoses of superficial necrolytic dermatitis, suggesting a breed prevalence. Affected dogs present with erythema, crusting, exudation, ulceration and alopecia involving footpads, peri-ocular or peri-oral regions, analвЂ“genital regions, and pressure points on the trunk and limbs. Average age of presentation is 10 years. Diagnosis is by biopsy.
Brachygnathism, Copper Toxicosis, Cystinuria, Fibrinoid Leukodystrophy, Lens Luxation, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Renal Glycosuria, Seasonal Flank Alopecia, and Sebaceous Adenitis are reported.
Isolated Case Studies
Idiopathic Multifocal Osteopathy: Fatal disease identified in four related Scottish Terriers between 16 months and 4.5 years of age presented with reluctance to move, stiff/stilted gait, carpal valgus/ laxity, and drooling/dysphagia. Histopathology showed osteoclastic osteolysis and replacement of bone with fibrous tissue in the skull, cervical spine, and proximal radii, ulna, and femora.
Central Axonopathy with Tremors: Three related Scottish Terrier puppies presented at 10 to 12 weeks with signs of severe whole-body tremors, ataxia, and paraparesis that worsened with activity and excitement and diminished during rest or sleep. Widespread CNS white matter axonal changes, vacuolation, and gliosis were found pathologically.
Quadricuspid Aortic Valve: An 11-month-old, female Scottish terrier with a heart murmur was found to have four equally sized aortic valve cusps, a ventricular septal defect, with systolic left-to-right shunting, and aortic regurgitation into both ventricles. The dog was free of clinical signs 1 year after diagnosis.
Suprasellar Cystic Papillary Meningioma: An 8-year-old spayed Scottish Terrier presented with intermittent abnormal behavior that progressed to hind limb ataxia and eventually to recumbency with opisthotonos. CT revealed a radiolucent mass in the area of the hypothalamus, pathologically identified as a cystic papillary meningioma in the sella turcica.
Multiple Cartilaginous Exostoses: Case study of a 3 month old female Scottish terrier with multiple cartilaginous exostoses involving the right and left metatarsals and phalanges, left scapula, ends of several distal ribs, and the spinous processes of several thoracic and lumbar vertebrae. Neurological deficits were due to spinal cord compression at several thoracolumbar vertebrae.
Factor IX Deficiency (Hemophilia B): X-linked recessive bleeding disorder identified in a male Scottish Terrier.
Myeloencephalopathy (Alexander's Disease): Case study of a 9 month-old Scottish Terrier with progressive tetraparesis. Pathology revealed myeloencephalopathy with diffuse Rosenthal fiber formation.
Tests of Genotype: Direct test for von Willebrand's disease (vWD) is available from Vetgen.
Direct test for brindle and wheaten coat color is available from VetGen.
Tests of Phenotype: CHIC Certification: Required testing includes direct genetic test for vWD, patella evaluation, and either a thyroid profile including autoantibodies or a CERF eye examination. (See CHIC website; www.caninehealthinfo.org).
Recommend hip and elbow radiographs, and cardiac examination.
- Breed name synonyms: Scottie, Aberdeen Terrier (historical)
- Registries: CKC, AKC, UKC,, KCGB (Kennel Club of Great Britain), ANKC(Australian National Kennel Club), NKC (National Kennel Club)
- AKC rank (year 2008): 49 (2,429 dogs registered)
- Internet resources: Scottish Terrier Club of America: http://clubs.akc.org/stca
The Scottish Terrier Club (England): www.stcengland.co.uk
The Canadian Scottish Terrier Club: www.canadianscottishterrierclub.org
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