Caring for a Wheaten Scottish Terrier

Scotch terriers come in various shades.
i black and white scotties image by Christopher Martin from

Most people are familiar with black Scottish terriers, such as FDR's beloved little dog, Fala. However, the breed appears in other colors, including white, brindle and wheaten. The latter shade ranges from nearly white, soft tan to dark reddish-brown. Wheatens appear in litters of other colored puppies.


Obviously originating from Scotland, these fiercely intelligent little dogs were bred for vermin control on farms. Give them a job, and you'll probably have a happier dog. That doesn't mean replacing the cats as mousers, but your Scottie will enjoy taking obedience classes or participating in canine sports such as agility. There's also a special sport for terrier types, Earthdog Trials, that simulates vermin hunting. The typical Scottie barks a lot at everything that moves, and while this makes her a good watchdog, you need to train her not to bark incessantly or you'll have the neighbors complaining.


Your wheaten Scottie requires daily exercise. She's a terrier, always on the alert. If her exercise needs aren't met, destructive behavior might result because of that pent-up energy. Because she's short-legged, she can't keep up with you if jogging or cycling, but long walks that include time for terrier territorial exploration suit her fine. She can do well in a fenced-in yard, but check the fence line constantly for holes through which she might escape. For a terrier, digging is second nature, and she could determine to dig her way to freedom.


Scotties need regular grooming at least several times a week, which also reduces shedding. Comb her regularly yourself, and take her to the groomers every two or three months for shaping, or clipping of the coat. She may end up a lighter color, almost white, after clipping. You can do clip her yourself if your dog cooperates and you don't mind her looking a little odd until you get the hang of it. Of course, if you intend to show her, professional grooming is necessary, as this includes stripping the coat by hand for the show-ring standard. While tear stains aren't noticeable in a black Scottie, they will be in a wheaten. If your dog tears and leave brown stains around her eyes, ask your vet or groomer for the best removal product. You can also purchase shampoos especially formulated for light coats.

Kids and Dogs

FDR's large family and many grandchildren not withstanding, Scotties aren't usually good with kids. If you have kids, or relatives or friends' kids who visit frequently, take precautions. Your dog might start nipping at them, so the best bet is to put him away when visitors with children are present or warn everyone not to touch him. He often doesn't get along that well with other dogs, so take care on your walks to avoid any canine confrontations. Like many terriers, he'll go after cats and other small house pets. This doesn't mean he has to be the only pet in your household, but acclimating your Scottie to other dogs or cats may take some time and effort. It's easiest to start young with a puppy, enrolling him in puppy class, but older Scotties can also make progress in group obedience classes.

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