Britain's Beloved Breed, the Scottish Terrier, Faces Extinction

Nevena Nacic
by Nevena Nacic

Once an icon of British culture, the Scottish terrier is now facing extinction. The Scottie has a distinctive silhouette of a short-legged but sturdy dog with furnishings at the beard, legs, and lower body.

These mighty pooches decorated everything from the Monopoly board to designer bags, and shortbread tins. However, the Kennel Club has placed the Scottish terrier on its “at watch” list after only 406 puppies were registered by breeders in 2023.

The number of registered Scotties has been plummeting for five consecutive years, but this is a record low.

The Scottie was the most popular in the 1930s when there were more than 5,800 registered puppies in a single year. Presidents Franklin D Roosevelt and George W Bush enjoyed the company of Scottie dogs, while countless celebrities including Dorothy Parker and Charles Lindbergh owned a Scottish terrier. 

Originally bred to hunt foxes, badgers, and other vermin in the Highlands, the Scottish terrier has a loyal, fateful, and bold nature, but is never aggressive. Scotties are dignified, self-assured, independent, and highly intelligent dogs that make wonderful companions to people of all ages.

Unfortunately, the Scottie isn’t the only dog that has fallen out of favor with British dog lovers. On the Kennel Club’s “at watch” list are also the English pointer, the rough collie, the wire fox terrier, the Sussex spaniel, the curly-coated retriever, the otterhound, the Gordon setter, the Norwich terrier, and the Manchester terrier

The Scottish terrier has been such an icon and recognizable breed in the UK for decades and means so much to so many different people, so these latest figures are really worrying,” said Bill Lambart, a spokesman for the Kennel Club.

On the other end of the popularity spectrum are Bernese mountain dogs and miniature longhaired Dachshunds, which saw the biggest rise in registrations. The English setter, the Jack Russel terrier, and the Yorkshire terrier also experienced a surge in popularity. 

Brits are lucky to have more than two hundred wonderful dog breeds to choose from. Each of these breeds has unique personality and character traits and make amazing companions. However, most dogs seen in the parks and streets come from the top ten most popular breeds.

People often opt for well-known choices and simply forget to dig a little deeper, with the worrying knock-on effect that not only are some of our most iconic breeds in decline but also that people might not be getting the perfect match for them,” said Lambert. 

People simply forget there are so many different dog breeds, with different personalities and characteristics, and it’s not just the well-known ones that could be a great match for our lifestyles.” 

The Kennel Club is pleased to see that some of the country’s native breeds, like the English setter, are regaining their popularity. However, the organization also stresses that many breeds are at risk of extinction only because they are no longer fashionable. 

The top ten most popular breeds in the UK, including the French bulldog, Labrador retriever, and Cocker spaniel, account for more than 60 percent of annual puppy registrations for all breeds. 

Despite the low registration numbers, there’s still hope for the Scottish terrier. Breed enthusiasts and clubs have started to promote the breed’s unique traits, in hopes of increasing the public’s interest in this amazing breed. 

The plan to educate the public about the Scottish terrier’s character, history, and suitability as a companion pet could be essential for boosting the breed’s registration numbers. 

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Nevena Nacic
Nevena Nacic

Nevena is a freelance writer and a proud mom of Teo, a 17-year-old poodle, and Bob, a rescued grey tabby cat. Since childhood, she had a habit of picking up strays and bringing them home (luckily, her parents didn't know how to say NO). When she's not writing for her fellow pet parents, Nevena can be found watching Teo sleep. To her defense, that's not as creepy as it sounds!

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