For the avoidance of doubt, the title of this post refers to the breed of dog. It might also refer to the human inhabitants of this country, but, that is a topic for another day. Furthermore, on the point of nomenclature, I prefer the breed's original name Aberdeen Terrier, but, most people probably know them as Scottish Terriers (Scotties for short), and that is the term I will continue to use in this article.
All the Scottish terrier breeds are great wee dugs, and they share many of the same characteristics, but, to me, Scotties just seem to have that something extra. How can I say that? Well, I might be biased as we have a Scottie boy, called Neachdainn (shown in the photo above). However, I also know some of the other terriers of Scottish origin1 quite well. My formative years were spent in the company of a Westie (West Highland White Terrier) called Sandy, he was a wee character, too. Many years later we had several Cairns (Cairn Terriers), and our last dog was another Cairn. Strangely, people often used to mis-identify the Cairns as Scotties, but, now we have a Scottie, a correct identification still isn't made.
The origin of the word terrier comes from the Latin word terra, meaning earth, probably because the dogs of this group would go to ground in search of their quarry. All the terriers were originally bred as working dogs, and the small ones were typically used for vermin and pest control.
To do their jobs the terriers had to be resilient, fearsome and willing to go down burrows. They were selectively bred for hundreds of years to enhance these desired characteristics. I have read that strong tails was a desired characteristic so that dogs could be pulled out of collapsed burrows. I don't know if this is true, but, I can confirm that Neachdainn does have a sturdy tail.
In more recent times the majority of Scotties will be family pets, rather than working dogs, but, some of the original characteristics will still be there. I can certainly see it in our Scottie, as he, for example, likes to do his own thing, and he has a very high prey instinct. It is probably this history that adds to the great wee personalities that Scotties possess.
The following descriptions apply specifically to our Scottie, but, many will apply to other Scotties, too.
- Scotties don't make friends with everybody, but, when they do, it is for keeps.
- Scotties don't lack intelligence, but, sometimes they just aren't interested in doing something. Live with it.
- It doesn't matter if you're a Chihuahua or a Great Dane, don't mess with a Scottie. Scotties are the doggie equivalent of Robert De Niro (link contains a swear word).
- I can be working outside all day, but, when I return I get greeted by a metaphorical shrug of the shoulders. However, if I go away in the car, even for just five minutes, I'll get the best welcome back ever! OK, maybe this is just our dog.
- Little furry creatures: stay away, you are in mortal danger.
- After 9pm it is the start of sleepie-time. Touch Neachdainn at this time and he will immediately roll onto his back and expect a tummie-rub.
- Sometimes, Scotties have important terrier business to attend to, nothing else matters.
- Scotties are not small dogs, they just have short legs.
- Neachdainn loves his routine. First thing every morning he comes downstairs (he gets up after the humans), and goes to the back door to check the weather. If it is dry he will go outside and check further, if it is wet he will stand inside and sniff from a distance.
- Nothing is more important than walkies, except meeting other dogs. Walkies with other dogs is the best thing ever.
- Neachdainn will do everything to stay clean and dry. However, if he does get wet and mucky he may as well make a proper job of it.
- Bathtime? You're kiddin', right?
- Neachdainn hardly ever barks, but, when he does it is for a reason. Scotties make excellent guard dogs.
- Fresh coconut and whipped double cream are two of Neachdainn's favourite things.
- Neachdainn never bites or nips. When accepting a treat, in the mouth, he is incredibly gentle.
- For a dog his size, he has BIG paws.
- Neachdainn loves snow.
- He also has these enormous brown eyes that look up at you, and you just melt.
The video below is from our good friends at Agility Scottie, it shows Finnlay & Islay playing at Formula 1. Keep an eye out for the famous Hitchcock, as he looks on with bemusement.
Check out the other videos from Agility Scottie, they're all great.
- There are some other terriers of Scottish origin, specifically the Dandie Dinmont and Skye Terrier, that I haven't had the pleasure of knowing.