The Declining Popularity of the Scottish Terrier
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 less 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.
They Are Not Lap Dogs
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.
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 more easy 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.
They Are Very Strong Willed
The Scottie did not gain the nickname 'Little Diehard' for nothing. They are intelligent, 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 posses a desire to be involved in their families day to day lives (they see themselves as little helpers). Furthermore, they have a delightful sense of humour. 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). Regardless of its charm, the headstrong Scottish terrier may have lost some deal of popularity due to an energetic and challenging persona.
Did They Simply Lose Their Popularity?
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 are 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! Thus making 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.
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.