The six Scottish breeds of terrier
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The six Scottish breeds of terrier

Dogs
Breed Facts

Scotland boasts being the country of origin for almost 20 dog breeds, of which most are extant to this day. As well as being the ancestral home of four separate breeds of collie, Scotland is also the country of origin of six different terrier breeds too, and we will take a quick look at each of these within this article.

The Border terrier

The Border terrier hails from the Scottish borders, as the name suggests, and was originally used to hunt for vermin such as rats and foxes. They are plucky little dogs that are brave, active and bold, and like to spend lots of time outside.

They have harsh, rough coats that are double layered and wiry, designed to repel rain while providing a layer of insulation underneath. They are muscular yet lithe and all in proportion, and can be seen in a range of colours from wheaten to red to grizzle.

The Cairn terrier

The Cairn terrier is another small breed that is feisty and hardy, with a harsh, weather resistant coat to protect them from the cold and the rain. Like the Border terrier, the Cairn terrier was historically worked as a ratter and earth dog, to pursue burrowing vermin under the ground. They tend to be adept diggers to this day, and love burying their toys!

The Cairn terrier hails from the Highlands of Scotland and was originally named the short haired Skye terrier, however, this led to confusion between this breed and the Skye terrier, and so the name was changed. The Cairn terrier can be seen in any colour except white, and the shade of the coat is also apt to change over the course of the dog’s life.

The Dandie Dinmont terrier

The Dandie Dinmont terrier has a rather interesting history when it comes to the naming of the breed in particular; during the 1700’s, an author named Walter Scott mentioned a character called Dandie Dinmont in his book “Guy Mannering,” who owned several small dogs whose breed was described but not named. Ultimately, dogs of the breed that we now call the Dandie Dinmont were bred from the crossing of the Dachshund, with local non-pedigree dogs of the terrier breed.

The Dandie Dinmont is a small breed with a long back comparatively to their legs, and with much longer ears than is the norm for a terrier. The fur on the top of their head is long and stands proud, giving a topknot effect to the fur.

The Scottish terrier

The Scottish terrier is also sometimes known simply as the Scottie dog, and this breed is one that has been much talked about in recent months, as this year’s Crufts Dog Show winner was a Scottish terrier!

The Scottish terrier is muscular and compact, with a coat that is usually black but can be seen in lighter shades of grey too. Their fur is long and often fringed around the legs and belly, with a long, rain resistant topcoat and a thicker, softer undercoat to provide warmth. The breed is also noted for having very large paws in proportion to their size, which hails back to their original working roles as digging earth dogs for vermin control.

The Skye terrier

The Skye terrier is one of the oldest of the Scottish dog breeds, and their known ancestry goes back for several centuries to a shipwreck in the waters around the Isle of Skye, during which some Spanish dogs (thought to be similar to today’s Maltese breed) swum ashore, and later bred with the local terrier population. Despite their long history in Scotland, The Kennel Club only formally recognised the breed in 1993, and since they became recognised, have been classed as a vulnerable native breed, due to the small number of dogs of the breed that are registered each year.

The Skye terrier is a small, short breed with heavily fringed ears that can be either drooping or erect. They can be found in a range of colours from black to cream and most shades in between, and have a double layered coat to provide warmth and protection from the elements.

The West Highland terrier

The West Highland terrier or West Highland white terrier is often simply called the “Westie” for short, and can only be found in white or off white colours! They are a small breed that weighs 9kg or less, and are very muscular for their size, with a deep chest and being longer in the body than they are tall. The whiter the coat, the more in demand the dogs, and owners of Westies often bathe and groom their dogs regularly to keep them in good condition.

Originally bred, like the other Scottish terriers, to hunt for vermin, the Westie is bold, adventurous and confident, but also very loving and an excellent choice of pet.

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