Scottish Dog Breeds
Scotland seems to have been particularly noted for the development of terrier breeds. Perhaps this is because with their thick coats, robust constitutions and general determination, suits the rugged terrain of much of Scotland,
Shepherding breeds, such as the bearded collie, have also been developed in Scotland, not surprisingly given the flocks of hill sheep that abound. Hunting dogs and gundogs also feature. Scotland is well known for it's red deer population which led to the development of the deerhound and to accompany hunters intent on shooting smaller game there is the Gordon setter.
Some breeds, including the border collie and golden retriever have claims to being developed in both Scotland and England. I have covered them in my English Dog Breeds hub.
Thanks to Lassie, the smooth collie's sister breed; the rough collie, is known to almost everyone. Far fewer know about the smooth collie. In most ways they are pretty much identical to the rough collie, but with the obvious exception of the short coat. This makes them an ideal breed for someone who wants the temperament and elegance of a rough collie, but doesn't feel they will be able to keep up with the extensive grooming required with that breed.
The Shetland Isles lie north of mainland Scotland. They are a remote and testing place to live and have given rise to a number of comparatively small but tough animal breeds including; Shetland sheep, Shetland ponies and the Shetland sheepdog.
Shetland sheepdogs, familiarly known as shelties, were bred as general purpose 'crofting dogs'. They could herd sheep, guard crops from being eaten by birds, alert the crofter to approaching strangers and keep you warm in winter as a living hot water bottle.
Although bearded collies look rather glamorous with their long silky coats, they can still be capable working dogs and are used to herd cattle and sheep.
Potential bearded collie owners must be prepared for a dog that likes to be active, whether that's walking, agility or flyball etc. and needs quite a lot of grooming to keep their coat in good condition.
It is believed that the bearded collie shares ancestors from 500 years ago, with the Polish lowland sheepdog. There are records of trade between Poland and Scotland around that time.
Bearded Collie Working Sheep
A Skye terrier called Salena The Special One, won the terrier group at Crufts dog show this year (2013), which will have brought this little known breed into the limelight briefly.
They are a very unusual looking terrier with very extravagant ears - more so even than the papillon, whose ears are similar. Although pricked ears are more common dropped ears are permissible too.
Unlike the other three very well known terriers of Scottish origin, the Skye terrier is a vulnerable native breed with only 30 puppies registered in 2006.
West Highland White Terrier
One of the most popular dog breeds worldwide, the west highland terrier, familiarly known as the westie, is a distinctive breed with its white coat and classic terrier appearance.
The breed was developed from working terriers in the West Highlands, by people such as the duke of Argyll. They were bred to be sure footed and tenacious to work following foxes and badgers through the screes and rocks of the West Highland's terrain.
It would be very remiss to talk about Scottish dog breeds but neglect to mention the Scottish Terrier, also known as the scottie. Like the westie it evolved from working terriers perhaps as far back as the 16th century (The Scottish Terrier Breeders and Exhibitors association).
They are well known in black, you might be surprised to discover that they also come in a pale wheaten colour (pictured right) and brindle.
The cairn terrier is another breed developed from the working Scottish terriers of six centuries ago. They were put up against rats, rabbits ,foxes, badgers and otters and were known for being exceptionally feisty. They remained purely working dogs, unregistered with the kennel club, for longer than the other breeds.
Careful breeding for temperament has taken some of the edge off the cairn temperament and they can make cheerful and lively companions. The best known cairn companion of all is the original 'Toto' from the Wizard of Oz film who was actually a bitch called Terry.
The deerhound, surely one of the most aristocratic looking breeds, is sadly listed by the Kennel Club as a vulnerable native breed, which means that few puppies of the breed are registered annually,
Although rare as a pure breed it remains popular as part of the mix in many lurchers. A lot of the rough coated lurchers owe their coat to deerhound ancestry.
The Gordon setter was developed by Alexander Gordon, 4th Duke of Gordon around C1800. He kept an extensive kennels of hunting dogs and bred his dogs with those of other grand houses both in England and Scotland aiming for a top class working setter for use by shooting parties.
In his day the breed came in a variety of colours. These gradually died out leaving the black and tan as the only accepted colour in modern Gordon setters.