Friday, 25 July 2014

Scotties - cramping their style

There has been a massive interest shown in Scottish Terriers following the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony earlier this week which featured several Scotties.

According to the Kennel Club, searches for the breed on its Find a Puppy service were up nearly seven-fold in just 24 hours - from 93 searches on Tuesday July 22 to 607 the following day.

Only 339 Scottie puppies were registered with the KC in the first half of 2014 so it will be interesting to see how breeders rise to the swell in interest in the next year or so.

Says the KC's Caroline Kisko:

“The breed are affectionate and cheerful, equally happy to go for a nice long walk or to curl up in a favourite armchair, as well as being very loyal and protective of the family. We are glad that the interest in the breed has been so tremendous, both on social media and the Find a Puppy service and we hope that they continue to keep the nation’s attention.”
The KC urges those who want to find out more about the breed to visit the Breed Information Centre on the Kennel Club website.

Unfortunately, there's nothing there on this breed's health - and the UK breed clubs also offer next to no health info, although I did find this rather dismissive report on the findings of the KC's 2004 Health Survey on the Northern Scottish Terrier Club's website (see here).  There is mention of an ongoing breed survey - but no reports available online.

The PDE Blog advice? Never buy a breed that has a condition named after it. And in this case it's a movement disorder called Scottie Cramp. Here's what it looks like.

Actually, Scottie Cramp is neither progressive nor life-threatening. The cancer that blights the breed is, though. The 2004 KC survey found that almost half of Scotties died it, and one US survey found Scotties suffered 20 times the average rate of bladder cancer. Oral melanomas are another problem.

This dog here, meanwhile, displays another Scottie genetic glitch - cerebellar abiotrophy. (NB turn the sound down - the music is hideous). This condition looks similar to Scottie Cramp but it's progressive.

See for more info on this and Scottie Cramp.

Then there's the bladder stones and the Cushing's. And the fact that the 2004 KC survey found that they had the fifth highest rate of C-sections - around 60 per cent of pups are not delivered naturally, the worst of all the non-brachy breeds.  Bitches commonly suffer from dystocia.

All contribute to a longevity that is poor for a Terrier (10.5yrs). And on top of all that, it has a high-maintenace coat. Today's Scottie is a hirsute little dog.

It wasn't always the case. Here's how the breed changed for a sturdy, workmanlike terrier into a short-coupled hairdresser's dog. (Pictures plundered from the ever-wonderful Pietoro's Historical Dog Breed Pictures


Ch Tattenham Treat - 1920
Ch Nortley Pilot - 1934
Best of Breed, Crufts 2010

Related post: "And while on the subject of Scottish Terriers"


  1. I have a print of various dog breeds which I bought in Edinburgh dated 1890. The Scottish Terrier looks much like a Cairn with bigger ears.

    1. Yes, the Scottie, Westie, Cairn, and Skye terriers all come from the original "Scottish Terrier," but were bred apart for aesthetic reasons (color, form, etc). Another case of excessive isolation in dog-breeding.

  2. At least the scottie at the top has legs.

    Though westies are far worse. the misery those dogs go through with their skin , ears , eyes , joints , digestive system ( look up their profile on embrace insurance ) and they are one of the most common in the UK.

    The fact is the scotties on the games will not increase sales of scotties , people who won't wait will just go out and get a westie from around the corner & maybe have a scottie haircut done on it.

  3. Did anyone else notice that even though each dog only needed to walk around the pitch twice at a normal pace, many of them were being carried?

    1. Yes they've bred the endurance right out of them. Little Finn there looks a bit over weight too.

      Im sure there will be enough showing rejects go around for all genuinely interested buyers.

      A lot of people will be surprised to find out they only look like "Scotties" because they need constant trimming, or cruel hand plucking of the hair straight from the dogs skin.

      Kilroy was a cracker! What a nice outlook, he looks like he could actually hunt and never needed stripping or any other barbaric practises to keep his coat looking gorgeous and functional.

  4. There is a famous story of one of these taking out a Thylacine. I don't think it had cramps though.

    1. That may well be, but as in many breeds, today's show dogs are rather different from their working ancestors.

  5. Harrison Havnt those Bitter Pills you took a few years back worn off yet, or do you just have to see the nasty in everything and anything to do with pedigree dogs? as for Slinky a dog being carried in a hot, very noisy arena does mean it has anything wrong with than it in a coat on a very hot evening in a very noisy place, no wonder some did not want to walk but preferred to be carried.

    1. Anon, you seem to be suggesting that it is unreasonable to expect a dog to walk two laps of an open air arena at a standard walking pace... after 9pm on a Scottish summer evening. I can categorically tell you that it was not too hot for those dogs, coat on or not.

      I fail to see the relevance of how noisy the arena was in relation to walking any given distance. Even if that statement was relevant, these dogs are bred for show and therefore, handling that environment should be their specific skill. It's not speculation.. read this statement by owners and breeders; Carol and Ian Rutherford:

      “They asked whether the dogs were used to wearing coats, could handle the noise and that sort of thing but they go to Crufts every year so they were well prepared.”

      Here's a link to the full interview:

    2. Slinky, you say "I fail to see the relevance of how noisy the arena was in relation to walking any given distance."

      Have you not considered that the roar and cheers of the spectators, the loud music and so forth might be a teeny bit scary to some dogs who are probably not brought up in that sort of environment? There wouldn't be time to reassure them that it was safe (schedules to keep to) and so picking them up and carrying them was the only humane alternative. Or would you rather have seen terrified dogs being dragged around the arena?

    3. Have you not considered the evidence you were provided with in the latter half of my comment where the breeders clearly express that the dogs were well prepped for the noise and it was therefore totally irrelevant to your arguement?

      Of course you haven't Anon, because it proved you were being speculative about the whole situation.

    4. Slinky comments show they have never been to Crufts, which may account why their knowledge of dogs shows is so poor, and why they should perhaps look for knowledge and information on the world of pedigree dogs and dog shows from other sources than just this site.

    5. One doesn't need to go to Crufts to understand that dog shows belong in the 19th century!!

      The world of pedigree dogs and dog shows is pretty warped. An owner CHOOSES to take a dog into an environment that it finds upsetting. However, this is justified by the fact that dog shows are noisy environments anyway and picking the dog up will justify your choices to stress an animal unnecesarily..
      It's this sort of warped logic that the pedigree dog world use all the time to justify their actions. It's never them, it's everybody else who doesn't understand them!!!!

      Utter B******s!

    6. Oh Anon 03:38.... Another superbly speculative comment! You really demonstrate your skill for an open-minded debate!

      Thanks for that, Anon 13:14.

      On a side note, I have actually taken Rough Collies to show several times, I just realised that the animals are worth so much more than they are paraded around as.

  6. There are still some healthy Scotties out there. When I lived in Australia, the neighbors had a 22 yr old Scotty who looked a lot like the 1915 dog in your pictures. At 22 he was still walking to the grocery store with his owner (a mile or so) without trouble, still had good eyesight, no limping, no incontinence. Was raised on supermarket dogfood and table scraps . . . minimal care.

    1. A 22-year-old dog must have been quite healthy to live to that ripe old age. A real easy-keeper. That's wonderful. But again, he was probably quite different from the inbred conformation dogs in the videos above.

  7. I fail to understand why some people get all upset at the idea that judges should put more emphasis on health.

    These older photos clearly show that the Scottish Terrier has changed a great deal in the past decades - their type will continue to change, so why not vote to have that change to be in the direction of good health?

  8. Jennifer, are you sure it was the same Scottie dog? When a purebred dog dies, it is common for it to be replaced with another of the same breed, especially if the dog was a child's pet. (For a parents' point of view you can watch the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie "The 6th day"). This is also true of show titled dogs and stud horses. If a titled stud dies, a look alike can fill his collar, and the stud fees still roll in.

    1. I don't understand the question. I am sure it WAS NOT the same dog as in the 1915 photo! I don't even know if the dog was a backyard bred dog born or a pedigree dog. He would have been born in the late 1970s. The owners called him a Scottie, and it looked a lot like the 1915 dog . . . quite terrier, no extreme coat, no silly cut. Tough little bugger. My point was that it wasn't that I'll bet you can still find relatively healthy Scotties.

    2. Hi Jennifer, Sorry it took me so long to reply. I was trying to reply from a new ipad mini tablet, but whenever I'd push "publish" my comment would just disappear, and the captcha would never show up.

      I went back to the store and tried to comment on PDE from there on an identical display model of an ipad mini, but the same thing happened, then I tried from an Apple store and still no luck and the people there said they didn't know why.

      But I can comment on other blogs from the ipad mini, and the captcha does appear to start a new email, all with no problem. And my old laptop, which I am now commenting from, still works on PDE, but the ipad mini sitting beside it doesn't get to the captcha (the funny looking word you have to type to prove you aren't a machine).

      Any good geeks here know why? Or how I can get the captcha to appear on PDE?

      Anyway, the question I was asking about the 22 year old Scottish Terrier who is still so fit: 22 is awfully old for any dog, and to still be that able to get around, are you sure that your neighbors didn't have a scottie who died at 16 years old, so they adopted a young adult scottie and called him the same name that they had named the first scottie?

  9. I have heard of pet shop/ groomers who not only sold poodles (so that they would return to the shop for grooming) but also Schnauzer puppies, but the Schnauzer puppies rarely returned for grooming, so they used a male Poodle stud but sold the puppies as pure Schnauzers. That way their grooming talents were needed more.

    At the time, I thought that sounded terrible! But now I guess the puppies might have been healthier and less extreme. Before DNA testing this must have been common. It would be interesting to study if there are many genes in common between mini Poodles and the terrier breeds who now have 'under'coats that over-grow the "outer" coat.

    Where do all these terrier breeds get their much longer coats these days? Was there a little Poodle skinny dipping in their gene pool?

  10. Why not form a group called "British Terriers" and make the terrier breeds varieties of that group? That way, people who want to breed the way they have always done will be free to continue, yet those breeders who want to out-cross for health can each choose another variety of British Terrier to enliven their own terriers.

    One Scottie breeder might use a Sealyham stud, another use a Cairn stud, and another Scottie breeder might never out-cross her dogs.

  11. On the last photo, what's the deal with the type of clip? Is it a form of face recognition dazzle for dogs? Is it like bangs hanging down over the eyes? Can the dog see through the hair? I like the older style of clip where the dog's face could be seen, bet the dog like it better too.

  12. I didn't realise Scottish had so many health issues. I find that quite sad. When I was growing up a neighbour had a Scottish and he was a bad tempered little dog but I remember him fondly. I was very concerned to see these poor dogs being brought out in such a noisy place (ceremony also ended with a firework display!), on such a hot night (29 that day in Glasgow! and of course the lights would make it even hotter) in a wool coat. I would never allow any of my dogs to be put into that position. Some of them looked quite jumpy..and who can blame the poor souls. The same effect could have been gained by parading a person in full Scottish dress with a sash showing the name of the country. Why do people always want to use animals? I don't understand it. These types of ceremonies are no place for dogs...or the animals featured in the countryside scene in the Olympic Ceremony. :(

  13. "The PDE Blog advice? Never buy a breed that has a condition named after it. "

    Westie jaw and Collie Eye Anomoly are two others you could feature.

  14. My young niece calls dogs with that coat cut 'lawn-mowers', because she says "they don't have any feet and their tails look like handles". I can't help imagining them with wheels underneath the skirts of their trailing belly fur now. I much prefer the Scotties of old, they looked to be hard-wearing, sturdy little dogs with a characterful face.

  15. I think all breeds which serve no purpose should be outcrossed an the kennel clubs closed.

    Even working dogs should be crossed with other working dogs to improve health.

    Sheepdogs could be crossed with kelpies as they both use eye.

    Loose eyed herders could be crossed together too.

    All pointing breeds could be crossed to form a healthier pointer.

    All retrievers could be crossed to form a healthier retriever.

    Terriers could be crossed (most were formed as crosses anyway - only a few are landrace).

    The dachshund should go extinct - disgusting back.

    The bulldog should go extinct - disgusting head, shoulders, hindquarters, paws, tail.

    The pit bull terrier should go extinct - disgusting temperament and drive / gameness.

    I'm sure plenty of other breeds should go extinct but I can't think of them at the moment.

    By the way - they don't have to be neutered or killed to go extinct - just cross them out so much they are no longer recognisable.

  16. And what happened to the terrier tails? (Not just scotties.)
    First they were normal, alert tails, than they were viagra-tails, then now, they should apparently lean forward so they're almost on the back.

    When did this happen?

    Oh yes... the caricaturization of a silhouette... that's all show breeding is really about. More and more and more and more and more...

  17. It might be a bit late to comment but my two common or garden, pet not show scotties took part. The dogs were well looked after in a cool environment only turning up at the last minute to go on the floor and we were all on the bus out of the area before the fireworks started. The games provided a vet at all times to monitor the dogs to make sure no-one was stressed. One of ours walked and the other was carried - she was never a fast walker but all tails were wagging.