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History of the Scottish Terrier


This short article cannot hope to cover the complete history of the Scottish Terrier but the breed is fortunate to have included, in its pioneers, a number who wrote extensively about the dogs and their development. The formalization of the dog show process, the founding of breed clubs and the growth of national registries have all contributed to our knowledge of the Scotties who were the forerunners of our modern breed. If the information which follows does not satisfy your curiosity, dig into the books which I have used as reference material and hear the details from some of the people who were there.

Origins of the Breed

Scottish Terriers at Work on a Cairn in the West Highlands

Sadly, but as should be expected, little verifiable information is known about the distant origins of the Scottie. We do know that there were rough coated, short legged dogs, used to hunt fox and vermin in the farms of the Western Highlands and the Islands of the Hebrides, probably for hundreds of years. There may even have been distinctive types of dogs in specific areas as the rough and wild nature of the land and the lack of roads of hundreds of years ago necessitated a degree of isolation which would lead to those specific types being developed. However, as the people of the area were more given to survival than to art and literature, little formal information, describing the Scottish Terrier as a breed, has survived.

By contrast, there is no doubt that dogs similar in type, temperament and hunting ability to the Scottie were valuable working dogs in the Highlands for those hundreds of years. John Lesley, Bishop of Ross, in his “History of Scotland from 1436 to 1561” wrote of“a dog of low height, which creeping into subterraneous burrows, routs out foxes, badgers, martens, and wildcats from their lurking places in dens”. Two hundred years later, Sir Joshua Reynolds painted a portrait of a young girl caressing a dog remarkably similar to a Scottie. In 1822 there is reference to “rough, short legged, long-backed and very strong dogs” by Samuel Bewick, in his History of Quadrupeds and there exists an 1835 lithograph, entitled “Scottish Terriers at Work on a Cairn in the West Highlands”, (seen aovee) showing terrier type dogs very similar to those described in the first Scottish Terrier Standard. Other writers in the 1830’s described the distinctive shape and the paintings of Reynolds and Sir Edwin Landseer both depict the early terrier in their paintings.

So, from this "type" of short legged, rough coated dogs probably came the terrier breeds we associate now with Scotland– the Cairn, the West Highland White, the Skye, the Dandie Dinmont and the Scottie. The Westie, the Skye and the Dandie are probably the easiest in which to trace breed development as the MacDonalds of Skye had been breeding long haired, long backed dogs for over two hundred years and the Malcolms of Poltalloch preferred a smaller, shorter headed dog with a family preference for cream or white colours. Dandie Dinmont, from Sir Walter Scott’s novel,“Guy Mannering”, had two terriers, Mustard and Pepper and his name has remained with this distinctive breed ever since.

Five Scotties sitting on a bench

There are two names which have attached themselves to the dog we now know as the Scottie. In the 1860’s, in the very early days of dog shows and preceeding the development of breed standards, the name “Aberdeen Terrier” was used to describe the Scottie “type” and it may be that the breed came out of the Highlands through the town of Aberdeen. The other name associated with the Scottie is the “Diehard”. George, the fourth Earl of Dumbarton, had a famous pack of Scottish Terriers, so brave that they were named “Diehards”. They were supposed to have inspired the name of his Regiment, The Royal Scots, Dumbarton’s Diehard.

Development of the Breed

Recorded history, and the initial development of the breed started in the late 1870’s wih tthe grwth of dog shows. The exhibiting of dogs required that they be compared to a standard for the breed and the appearance and temperament of the Scottie was written down for the first time. In those early days of dog shows, the names of the Scotties which became the foundation of the breed began to appear. Roger Rough, owned by Mr JA Adamson of Aberdeen, Tartan, owned by Mr Paynton Piggott, Bon Accord, shown above, owned by Messrs Ludlow and Bromfield and Splinter II, owned by Mr Ludlow were early winners and are the four dogs from whence all Scottish Terrier pedigrees ultimately begin.

Their progeny, such as Bon Accord son Rambler and grandson Alister, (at left) were show winners and much sought after as stud dogs. Mr John Napier Reynard owned Champion (Ch) Revival and Capt WW Mackie, considered the “Father of the Scottish Terrier in Scotland”, owned another Bon Accord grandson (Ch) Dundee.Mr Robert Chapman’s Heather Prince and Mr Andrew Kinnear’s Seafield were alsoimportant dogs in the period 1880-1910.

Ch Dundee

The description of the Scottie was first written by Mr James B Morrison and Mr Thompson Grey in 1880 and the breed is clearly recognizable from this document. With the formation of the Scottish Terrier Club of Scotland in 1888, a more formal standard was developed, based heavily on the work done by Morrison, and remained in use until revised by theScottish Terrier Club (England) in 1933. The early clubs, the English club formed in 1882 and the Scottish club were full of the men who were active inthe development of the breed and many of their kennel names began to beprefixed to the dogs. Mr WL McCandlish bred Scotties under the “Ems” prefix and wrote extensively about the breed. Robert Chapman's "Heather" prefix was important as his sons continued his interest in the breed into the 20’s an d30's. Mrs Hannay of Heworth Castle used the "Heworth" prefix for her dogs and Mr HRB Tweed (Laindon) and Mr AG Cowley (Albourne) were other important pioneers in the breed.

Albourne Annie Laurie Marksman of Docken Heather Necessity Albourne Barty

With the resumption of dog shows following the First World War, the Scottish Terrier was slowly but steadily recognized and appreciated for the great little dog that he is. Further development of the "modern" Scottie took place in the 1920's and 30's with the appearance of four prepotent dogs which Fayette C Ewing, in his "The Book of the Scottish Terrier"(1936) called "the Four Horsemen". The dogs were Robert and James Chapman's Heather Necessity, Albourne Barty, bred by AG Cowley, Albourne Annie Laurie, bred by Miss Wijk and Miss Wijk's Marksman of Docken, litter brother of Annie Laurie. These four dogs, through their progeny, modified the look of the dogs, particularly in the length of the head, closeness to the ground and the squareness of body, and the success of their get in the show ring made them so much in demand that they revolutionized the breed.

The Scottie came to North America, to the United States, in the early 1880's but had little popular support in those early years. A club was formed in 1900 and a standard written in 1925 and the breed gradually gained in popularity as more good dogs were imported, shown and bred in the US. Fayette Ewing was one of the early pioneers and his Nosegay Kennels include the bloodlines of many of the early English dogs. Ewing was a Co-Founder of the Scottish Terrier Club of America, wrote extensively about the breed and visited his counterparts in England. He is considered the "Father of the Scottie" in North America.

The ever growing popularity of the Scottie, his migration to a surprisingly large number of countries and his record in dog shows around the world make his "history" an ongoing story. On occasion, outstanding dogs appear which history will indicate are "turning points" and the evolution, and therefore the history of the breed, continues. Kennelgarth Viking, bred by Betty Penn-Bull, had a significant influence on the breed in England in the 1960’s and also in the 60's the English bred dog, Bardene Bingo won all there was to win in the US. Three Bardene dogs, Bingo, Blue Boy and Bingo's son, Bobby Dazzler, had a tremendous influence on the breed in the US. History will tell us who the other influential dogs are, in due course.

Ch Gaelforce Postscript (Peggy Sue)

And so it continues...


The Scottish Terrier, WL McCandlish, "Our Dogs" Publishing

The Book of the Scottish Terrier, Fayette C Ewing, Orange Judd Publishing, 1936

The Scottish Terrier, Dorothy Caspersz, Third Edition, Popular Dogs, 1976

The Kennelgarth Scottish Terrier Book, Betty Penn-Bull, Scottish Terrier Emergency Care Scheme, Second Edition, 1995

The New Scottish Terrier, Cindy Cooke, Howell Book House, 1996

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