The Scottie was once the “it” dog of Hollywood stars, it inspired a poem by Rudyard Kipling and is the Monopoly piece your mother insists on. But could the breed have had its day?
The Kennel Club has placed the Scottish terrier on its at-risk register as people favour trendier designer cross-breeds such as the cockapoo and labradoodle, and migrants such as the French bulldog and miniature dachshund.
Figures released before Crufts showed a 38% fall in registrations of Scotties over the past five years. Because the number of puppy registrations was below 450, the cut-off point for the club’s register, it became a new entry. Only 438 Scottie puppies were registered in 2018, an all-time low.
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Of the native British and Irish breeds, 29 are considered “vulnerable” with fewer than 300 registrations. They include the bearded collie and Irish wolfhound, which are back on the list after a short resurgence.
There is worrying news too for the old English sheepdog, which last year hit its lowest registration level of 318. Registrations for the Irish red and white setter are now so low at 51 that its breed club fears it will die out.
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The Kennel Club’s secretary, Caroline Kisko, said the number of native breeds on the list was rising and some would be lost “if people don’t look beyond the most obvious choices – such as the increasingly popular French bulldog – and start to explore the huge diversity of breeds we’re lucky enough to have in this country”.
One possible factor is the apparent lack of celebrity owners of a breed which was once used on Highland farms to hunt badgers and rats.
That was not always the case. They were once frequently pictured with glamorous owners such as Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Humphrey Bogart and Shirley Temple .
Queen Victoria was a fan – her dog was called Laddie - as were a striking number of US presidents. Dwight Eisenhower had Telek and Caacie, Ronald Reagan had Scotch and Soda, and George W Bush had Miss Beazley and Barney. A statue of Franklin D Roosevelt’s trusty Scottie, Fala, sits beside the president at his memorial in Washington .
In film there was Jock the Scottie – “with a bonnie bonnie bone, that I’ll bury for me own” – in Lady and the Tramp . In literature Beatrix Potter suggested the breed could push a wheelbarrow and use a saw in the shape of John Joiner the carpenter.
Kipling is one of the best known Scottie devotees and the breed is said to have inspired his poem The Power of a Dog, in which he wrote: “Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware/Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.”
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Til Tovey, the secretary of the Scottish Terrier Club of England, said she was saddened by the decline. “The Scottish terrier is a great breed for those who want a small companion dog with plenty of character and an independent streak, and have time to train them consistently.
“Scotties are brimming with personality so sometimes can be a little stubborn. It would be very sad to no longer see this historic and much-loved breed in our streets and parks in a few generations’ time.”Topics