Dog Health & More
An independent and stubborn character, the Scottish Terrier dog breed is also quite sensitive to praise and blame. Independent, intelligent, and hilarious in his dignified seriousness, he's a true terrier, which makes him an excellent watchdog. Thanks to those incredibly short legs, he's not going to train for a marathon with you — heck, he won't even go jogging with you — but he is a perfect walking companion, especially if you appreciate his vocal approach to bicycles and squirrels. Despite his size, he doesn't yap: he has a powerful bark that can scare the wits out of the unsuspecting burglar or delivery person. He totally rocks at agility and earthdog trials (those vermin have got to go). You'll enjoy a rodent-free yard with him around, but watch out for the holes he's dug.
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As the gruff friend of an animated cocker spaniel, who portrayed loyalty and protectiveness when he told an equally animated Tramp to take a walk without the Lady, the Scottish Terrier Jock evoked an image that generations of children have enjoyed. Disney's Lady and the Tramp is a time-cherished animated movie that caused many people to fall in love with the Scottie. Stoic and aristocratic, he is easily recognized and is plastered on everything that can be decorated, including clothing, photographs, pictures, cards, and ornaments.
This short-legged wonder was originally bred to hunt prey such as badgers and foxes, and he has therefore developed into a self-directed and opinionated companion. His independence and intelligence have drawn many dog lovers to the breed, but others find the Scottie's aloofness less than endearing. He doesn't naturally trust strangers (so he needs proper socialization as a puppy), and he'll take his own sweet time figuring out a situation or person. But if he decides to befriend you, it will be for life. Too smart to forget anything, the Scottie is also brave and loyal.
He likes all living arrangements but needs a short daily walk if you're in an apartment. He loves family companionship and is gentle and playful with children, and he's considerate of the elderly. Although he loves youngsters, he's not suited for homes with babies and toddlers, because it's the Scottie's nature to stand up for himself when prodded and pulled. That can translate into a bite.
A Scottie enjoys digging holes throughout your backyard, and he doesn't grasp that you might not like it. He will chase "prey" out of yards right into traffic, so a fence is a necessity (those electronic ones won't cut it; he'll just charge right through them). He'll rid your yard of any squirrels or other vermin.
Although many terriers are known as yappy, the Scottish Terrier is not. His style is a loud alert bark. Some Scotties know the difference between steps made by a friend or steps made by a stranger, only giving the alert if it's the latter.
Scottish Terriers can be difficult to train because they were bred to work apart from their owner, without needing direction. A Scottie won't stop and ask you what to do next but will do it on his own. That's why Scotties generally don't score high in obedience rallies (they're better suited to agility), although there are exceptions. This isn't to say that he's untrainable, but rather that his temperament is suited to working separately from his owners, as he often sets his own course. He doesn't do well with aggressive training, as he has a kind heart that can be broken easily if he perceives mistreatment. He thrives on positive reinforcement.
Today the Scottish Terrier enjoys the title of family dog, but he is in essence a working dog and is much happier with a job to do, even if it's just simple tricks. Historically, the Scottie was bred by farmers to help them manage vermin problems. He would follow prey, such as badgers, foxes, and other vermin, right into their burrows and then try to dig them out. Such breeds of dogs are known as Earth dogs. Scottish Terriers do well in earthdog trials, which are a simulated hunt.
The breed's stubbornness often translates into bravery. In the nineteenth century a military man, George the fourth Earl of Dumbarton, had a famous pack of Scotties. These dogs were so brave in battle that they were nicknamed "diehards." George's regiment, the Royal Scots, were called "Dumbarton's Diehards" after the dogs. Today that bravery has a different application in home protection, but the nature of it hasn't changed.
There are Scottish Terriers that can be hardheaded, serious, energetic, and introverted — and some that can be sweet, playful, placid, and tolerant of everyone. They have been loved by many, including Shirley Temple, Franklin Roosevelt, and George W. Bush; even Hitler got two Scottish Terriers for his fiancé, Eva Braun.
There is no denying that this brave and jaunty little aristocrat of the dog world is loved, respected, and adored for all his idiosyncrasies. Having a dog that is more partner than servant can be a wonderful experience — but it's not for everyone. If you prefer a dog that is eager to please, think twice about living with a Scottish Terrier.