Scottish Terrier

  • Overview

    Scottish Terriers are undeniably dogs of distinction, famous for their appearances in the White House and on the Monopoly board. They are small, sturdy little dogs who are longer than they are tall and generally don't weigh over 22 pounds. The terrier's stereotypical feistiness is present in the Scottie, but they also make loyal, devoted companions.

    The Scottish Terrier will do best in a home where he has firm boundaries and respectful companions who will take is occasionally morose and reserved disposition seriously. If you win his trust, he will prove to be a devoted, dignified companion and an effective watchdog.

    View Grooming Diagram for scottish terrier
  • Personality

    This stocky little dog takes himself almost comically seriously. As a result, he can occasionally be snappish when provoked, especially with other dogs. The Scottie was bred as a vermin hunter, and he holds on to many of his predatory instincts. Scotties are resilient in pursuit of their prey, which makes them aggressive diggers. They are also vocal watchdogs who will delight in barking at squirrels and trespassers. The Scottie's intelligent and protective nature makes him independent and brave, so he must be carefully trained not to become territorial or stubborn. If the Scottie feels he has been mistreated, he can become aloof and resentful. They respond best to clear boundaries and dominant masters.

    Scotties are quite perceptive. Their mood often reflects the mood of their owner or the character of their household. They tend to form strong bonds with one family member and respond best to people they trust.

  • Coat Care

    Although Scottish Terriers are generally depicted in black, their coats also come in white, wheaten, brindle and grizzle. The Scottie's soft undercoat gives them the distinct outline that has come to be an identifying feature of the breed. Their rugged, wiry outer coats are bristly and oily to the touch. To better suit them to the dreary moors of their homeland, the coat is water resistant. Their ears and tails point straight up, which gives them an alert, determined appearance. To keep your Scottie looking his best, trimming, stripping and brushing can be done at home.

Scottish Terrier
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The Scottie's softer coat around his beard, legs and underbelly requires significant brushing to stay smooth and shiny, but not fluffy. His wirehaired coat will look best if it is stripped every few months and brushed at least twice a week.

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With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.

The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but wire-coated dogs can be done with greater frequency, often within a four-to-six week range. The coat should end up fresh smelling, shiny, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry. The coat should be fresh smelling, with no loose or shedding hair.

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Hair Clipping

The Scottie's coat is left longer to give him his distinct shape, but his undercoat must be carefully trimmed and blended into the furnishings around his neck, face and legs to make sure he casts the right shadow. His hair does not shed and will grow consistently, so make sure your Scottie is clipped about every two or three months so that his hair does not touch the floor. Scotties who are professionally groomed more frequently will develop softer hair and a duller coat, which is undesirable in the show ring but just fine for pet Scotties.

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Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

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Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Wire coated dogs have sensitive ears covered in hair that  need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. West Highland Terriers and other small terriers with white coats are prone to developing tear stains around the eyes, so clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.

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Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.