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The Declining Popularity of the Scottish Terrier

Claire is interested in canine history and the evolution of pedigree dogs. She adores animals and lives in a multi-pet household.

Explore some possibilities for the seeming decline in the popularity of Scottish Terriers.

Explore some possibilities for the seeming decline in the popularity of Scottish Terriers.

Native British Breeds Are Declining in Number

Whilst not making an appearance in the list of the UK Kennel Club vulnerable native breeds, the Scottie does share some attributes with those that do, such as the Dandie Dinmont and the Skye Terrier. The Skye Terrier only had 43 registrations in 2015. The Scottish Terrier certainly is not at risk to the same extent as these breeds, yet there do appear to be fewer of them about, and they are nowhere near as common as their close relative the West Highland White Terrier, which regularly appears in the top 10 list of breeds in the UK.

I suppose the big question is why? They are cute, fun, not too large and shed minimally. Here are a few ideas why they might not be as popular as they once were.

  1. They are not lapdogs.
  2. They need a lot of grooming.
  3. They are very strong-willed.
  4. They've lost their popularity due to changing fashions and designer dogs.
Scotties are cute, fun and fairly small!

Scotties are cute, fun and fairly small!

1. They Are Not Lapdogs

The Scottish Terrier is an incredibly devoted companion. Despite this, many Scotties would rather sit by the side, or at the feet, of their owner rather than lay in their lap and smother them in kisses. Also, they are not likely to be happy to be carried around; they would prefer to be exploring.

A fully grown Scottish Terrier is also quite a sturdy little dog. Sure, it has short legs, but it's stocky and strong. Nevertheless, it does not take up much room in the house.

These Scotties are enjoying the backyard.

These Scotties are enjoying the backyard.

2. They Need a Lot of Grooming

That wiry double coat is going to need the attention of a professional groomer three times a year at the very minimum. The classic Scottish Terrier cut includes a long skirt, which requires specific attention when grooming. It also acts much like a mop on walks, collecting mud, leaves and twigs.

A pet trim can be chosen as an alternative for owners who do not show their dogs, which is much easier to maintain. A pet trim does still, however, require regular brushing to avoid matting.

Perhaps this makes the Scottie less desirable to those who would prefer not to have the expense and hassle of this type of coat. Despite this, similar requirements have not influenced a decline in popularity of the Westie, and for those who do not want a dog that sheds excessively, the Scottie is a good choice.



3. They Are Very Strong-Willed

The Scottie did not gain the nickname 'Little Diehard' for nothing. They are intelligent and know exactly what they want to do—and what they don't want to do. Some owners would even describe them as having somewhat selective hearing. They will need a firm yet patient owner; guidelines should be set at a young age, and training may take a good while longer than with other breeds. They are, however, incredibly sensitive and want their owners to be happy.

They also possess a desire to be involved in their family's day-to-day lives (they see themselves as little helpers). Furthermore, they have a delightful sense of humour.

The Scottie's Prey Drive

Where small animals are concerned, caution is required with this breed. Originally bred to catch rats, rabbits and even badgers, some exhibit a strong prey drive. They can be taught to live peacefully with such animals; for example, mine share their house with a chinchilla and tolerate semi-tame ducks in the garden. I would not be confident enough to say this is typical behaviour for the Scottish Terrier; many have a desire to chase after small animals (or worse).

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Regardless of its charm, the headstrong Scottish Terrier may have lost some deal of popularity due to an energetic and challenging persona.

4. They've Lost Their Popularity Due to Changing Fashions and Designer Dogs

It could be argued that the workman-like, sharp profile of the Scottish Terrier is not as fashionable as it was, partially due to the recent development of 'designer dogs.' There is now a huge range of extremely cute hybrid pups soaring in popularity, many of which appear to be small to medium, amiable and non-shedding! This makes them an ideal choice for families and those who suffer from pet hair allergies.

However, the pups in the hybrid litters can vary greatly in terms of coat and size. Because they are crossbreeds, it is more difficult for a breeder to make promises as to how the puppy will turn out. Additionally, many of these dogs come from dubious places, and it has been argued that their fashion status is fuelling puppy farms (but that is a debate for another time and place).

The Scottie also shares many of the positive traits of designer dogs and is also a great family dog, if raised correctly. They tend to be good with children, with a tendency to be protective, but be warned: They will not tolerate being teased.

Scotties Are Faithful, Quirky Friends

If fashion really is the reason for the decline in interest in the Scottish Terrier, it would be a shame, as they are fantastic and fun companions. Admittedly, living with two of them, I would stress that they are not the breed for everyone. But for those who do not mind their quirks, Scotties make true and faithful friends.


Evelyn is on June 13, 2020:

Andy, my wonderful Scotty companion is ten years old. He is bright, intelligent, and without doubt a true guardian. He knows me so well and when I come in with the grocery shopping will put his nose in the bags looking for his treat, his eyes light up when I put on my outdoor shoes and he he has the most adorable little dance when I reach for his lead. Recently he has become a little deaf but apart from that he is in great health and as playful as a young puppy.

Robert on May 27, 2020:

My two year old is my third scottie girl that I own. All of them are/were hole digging, stubborn attitude, little brats and I love/loved them.

John on May 03, 2020:

I grew up with a Scottie. Incredibly loyal, intelligent, and not for someone who needs a lapdog. Slept under my bed every night. A couragous little fellow.

Janie on May 02, 2019:

I have had 2 Scottie’s. One a few years ago. He was an amazing friend and companion. He died at 12 years old. I now have another Scotty. He is 10. He also is an amazing pet. They both are very different. But very intelligent. My vet even asked me why chose a Scotty. I told her. I love the breed. To me the most intelligent of them all. And very loyal.

Cheryl on May 01, 2019:

I have 3 Scotties. One of which is a service dog. Amazing breed, I couldn’t live without them.

Stephen on April 26, 2019:

First Scottie was ‘rescued’ from a pet store. Since then we’ve had seven more, all Rescue Scotties. We’d take older ones, the hard to place ones, maybe health issues. All have been unique unto themselves, true stalwarts and wonderful companions. Our last, Nora Jane, is in decline after being diagnosed last Nov. with an inoperable stomach tumor. No telling when she’ll be crossing the Rainbow Bridge (soon) but her passing from our lives won’t mean she’ll ever leave our hearts.

Vicki on April 25, 2019:

My first Scotty dog was a rescue from animal control, since then I have become smitten with the breed. Each one died prematurely, from liver disease, heart disease and lymphoma, they seem prone to devastating expensive health conditions. I have had 3 and now have a rescue mixed breed dog, but miss my last Scotty Kyra no end,considering adopting a Scotty dog from a rescue group some day, they are bright, entertaining and very curious, miss one in my life.

Sue on March 26, 2019:

Have 3 Scottie’s and my life would be empty without them in it. Yes they take some work but what dog doesn’t? They are a fantastic breed and more people need to know that.

Ben on March 25, 2019:

I have had 3 Scottie’s. There’s no better best friend in the world. My last one died recently and it took a part of me with him.

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