The Scottish Terrier, often called the Scottie, is one of five types of terrier that originated in Scotland. It is thought to be one of the oldest of the Highland terriers, although its origin is undocumented. The breed may have originated as early as the 1400s, but did not gain popularity until the reign of King James VI, who gave a Scottish Terrier to the French monarch as a gift. The breed is closely related to the West Highland White Terrier; both breeds originated near the Blackmount region of Perthshire and the Moor of Rannoch.
The breed was originally created to hunt and kill badgers and foxes in the Highlands, as well as vermin on farms. It was bred to have a strong tail with which the owner could pull it from a hole or burrow.
Initial official development of the breed began in the 1870s when dog shows became more popular. This required a standard and marks the first time the breed standard was recorded. Twenty years later the breed was introduced to America, but it did not gain in popularity until the early 1900s. By 1936, the breed was the third most popular breed in the United States.
The Scottish Terrier is generally 10 inches long, 11 to 15 inches tall, and weighs 18 to 22 pounds. The breed has a muscular neck and barrel-like chest and body. The breed has short legs with large paws adapted for digging. The ears are erect on the Terrier’s large head. The breed has a soft undercoat with a wiry, hard, long outer coat which ranges from jet black to a dark gray. The eyes of the breed are almond shaped, bright, and dark brown to black.
The breed is independent, rugged, feisty, yet still very loving. It needs firm, gentle handling in order to quell its stubborn nature. With proper training the breed can be very sensitive and loyal. It typically attaches itself to one or two family members and will fearlessly protect them as a watchdog. The breed is reserved towards strangers and generally only barks when necessary. The breed may tend to dig and chase vermin, due to its instincts.
The breed is generally fairly healthy but may have a greater chance of developing some types of cancer than other purebreds. There are six cancers which the Scottish Terrier is at high risk for: bladder cancer, malignant melanoma, gastric carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, lymphosarcoma, and nasal carcinoma. The breed is 20 times more likely than other breeds to get bladder cancer. The Scottie may also have other health issues such as von Willebrand disease, craniomandibular osteopathy, Scottie cramp, patellar luxation, and cerebellar abiotrophy. The average lifespan of the breed ranges from 11 to 13 years.