Mucklewags is a small, home-based kennel that has been producing Scottish Terriers since 2000, and is located in south central Ontario, about an hour from Toronto.
We don’t breed for show. Our breeding priorities are, in a nutshell, health and happiness in family pets. We’re more concerned with a robust, loving dog than a dog with perfectly sized ears, and a tail that’s less than six inches in length. For example: one of our favourite girls flattened her ears whenever she got excited or affectionate. It was adorable, but it doesn't "conform" to the ideal breed standard. However, she was a dear sweet girl who loved our children to distraction, and we thought she was drop dead gorgeous, too. Her puppies were delights, and we were so grateful to have her as part of our kennel.
Our breeding priorities may differ from other Ontario Scottie breeders, but we let our dogs (and their families!) speak for themselves: pictures, testimonials and references are always available, and people who visit our kennel have the chance to meet and play with our dogs, particularly the parents of puppies for sale.
Scotties are special dogs for many reasons. We like to describe them as big dogs in little dog packages: our Scotties have that nobility and gentleness that “big dog people” so value in their pets. They will have their energetic moments, particularly when new people come around, or when playing ball or chasing squirrels, but you’re just as likely to see them snoozing on the couch or cuddling on a lap. They are not, by any means, yappy terriers, and they can have a decidedly stoic streak. They’re excellent guard dogs on the vocal front, but none of our dogs are excessive barkers. Once they’ve alerted you to a “threat” (a car pulling into the driveway, a doorbell, etc.) and you thank them or give them an enthusiastic “okay!” they usually stop pretty quickly. We’ve sold many dogs to apartment and condo-dwellers and it’s worked out perfectly well.
A Scottie will run trails with you; walk briskly at your heels on a sidewalk; spend a lazy Sunday morning in bed reading the paper with you; or curl up on your lap while you both watch TV – they’re highly adaptable, versatile dogs.
Short, muscular dogs like Scotties are protected from the hip problems that plague bigger dogs. This is a definite bonus, especially since they live, on average, such long lives.
Many people also appreciate Scotties because they don’t shed any more than humans do; they’re low-dander, so you’ll find that they’re easier on allergies than many other breeds, and easier to keep clean.
We’ve read that Scotties are known to dig, but none of ours have really proven this characteristic past their puppy years. Individual dogs in every breed can be prone to digging; as with so many other traits, much depends on your dog’s unique personality and its training.
Some descriptions of Scotties in books and on websites call them “scrappy.” We have our doubts about this. It’s true that most Scotties won’t back down in a fight, even when provoked by a much bigger dog, but our dogs have always approached visitors with friendly excitement, not a “scrappy” mentality. And when our pups come back as adults to board with us, we’ve found that with some careful introductions and monitoring in the beginning, dogs that have never met before and are in a new place can still get along and become part of the pack.
It’s heartbreaking to see so many breed guides in print and on the web label Scotties as “difficult to train” and “bad with children” – these kinds of comments are certainly NOT representative of the experiences we’ve had with our wonderful brood, and the feedback we’ve gotten from our clients.
A little internet research will yield several sites that go into this stuff in more detail, but here are a few key points:
VonWillebrand’s Disease (vWD) is essentially a bleeding disease. When looking for a Scottie breeder, make sure to verify that the dogs have been genetically tested to see whether or not they’re carriers of vWD. Our dogs have, of course, been tested and cleared.
Scottie Cramp (SC) is a much more complicated (and less serious) affair than vWD: in layman’s terms, it means that when the dog is excited or exercising, messages from its brain to its back end can get garbled, resulting in anything from a little hop in the gait to a full-on “cramp” that stops the dog until it passes (in seconds or minutes). There is no genetic test for SC, and it has been estimated that up to 90% of Scotties have it. However, in the vast majority of cases it is so mild that it is unnoticeable, and even the few serious cases aren’t painful for the dog. This is the only real downside to the breed: there is a very slight chance that your dog might have a serious case of SC. In 15 years we've bred over 150 puppies, and had only one such dog, Clementine. Oddly enough, she only cramped when on a leash and around other dogs at the same time. In the garden, off leash, and in the house, her mobility was normal, and she was a lovely-tempered charmer who made an excellent companion. In her case, we took her back from the people who bought her, as they were avid walkers, and gave them a puppy from our next litter, and placed Clementine in a home with a big backyard which offered an alternative to walks.
Drowning may not seem like a breed-specific health issue, but pools are a big risk to Scotties – especially Scottie pups. They love the water and they love swimming, but they’re notoriously bad at it. Scots in the water must be closely supervised, and Scots in a pool or other abruptly deep water should be avoided at all costs. If you have a pool or pond, it must be securely fenced in before you get a Scottie, and your family must be committed to keeping things secure. We speak from experience on this: we sold a puppy to a family with a pool and pond, both fenced in, but their 10 week old puppy found a way in and drowned – this is heartbreaking for both owner and breeder. Scottie drownings in pools are such a problem that the American Kennel Club sends a warning about them to everyone who registers a Scot. Now, this doesn’t mean you can’t take your Scottie with you to the cottage! We’ve had our Scots at the lake, and they’ve been fine because the waterfront has been very gradual and shallow. As long as they have the option to swim back when they (quickly) get tired, they can enjoy the cottage lifestyle along with you. Pools don’t usually provide this option. (Scottie-sized life jackets are more and more available these days – dogs who spend a lot of time around the water should no doubt have one.)
Some say that Cushing’s Syndrome is a Scottie health issue, but according to the American Kennel Club website: “It is, as yet, unknown whether there is an inherited predisposition to Cushing's Syndrome in Scottish Terriers.” We’ve had no experience with it.
Our dogs come with a 1 year health guarantee against any medical condition supported in writing by a licenced verterinarian which causes chronic pain and suffering and/or threatens the life of the dog that can in no way be caused by diet or lifestyle.
Buying a Puppy
We ask $2000 CAD for our puppies, which includes their first shots, deworming, CKC registration, a vet check, and a microchip. Breeding Scotties is not really a money-making enterprise, and it’s certainly not how we make our income. Most of them require C-sections which range in cost from $900 to $2500, depending on the circumstances, and limit a female’s number of possible litters. (You can blame the late-Victorians for this: fanciers decided that Scotties should look as though they could fight a badger in its warren, so when faced with the choice of breeding a dog that looked muscular from the front or the back, they picked the front. Over the years, this had a predictable effect on pelvis size.) And for all that, Scotties usually have very small litters (1-5 pups), and yet live long past their breeding years. Compare this, for instance, to a Lab, which can breed for 6-7 of its 9 years, and have as many as 10 pups in a litter (and a roomy pelvis with which to deliver them!). And of course there are the puppy expenses such as deworming, first shots, microchipping, and registration, all of which can cost as much as 85.00 per puppy. So it comes as little surprise that Scotties can be hard to find. The big irony is that in Scotland, home of the Scottie, the breed is very rare. This is why we started our kennel: we love Scottish terriers and want to see them continue despite the expenses and complications associated with their breeding. We think they’re worth the extra cost and trouble. We also try to provide the best possible life for our dogs – they have good food, lots of room to run and play, and they live in the house with us. In order to give them this lifestyle, however, we incur greater costs and don’t get the monetary benefits of running a larger operation. The good news on the cost front is that you’ll get a lot of life and love from a Scottie – they live an average 11 years, and we’ve heard of many who’ve lived beyond that, to 14 years old. You can pay the same amount for an Irish Wolfhound, for example, and only get 7 years of companionship, so a Scottie looks a right bargain from this perspective. From a purely economical standpoint, you’ll also save money on food for a Scottie versus a larger dog!
Most people know about the dangers of pet store puppy sales, but let us reiterate here that one should never support this trade! Many pet store dogs come from puppy mills – even those with CKC papers. A word on CKC papers: they do NOT mean you’re getting a healthy dog! Due diligence is always the best route to finding a good breeder.
For Canadian buyers, we’d caution against getting dogs from the States via only email and/or phone connections. While they can be found much more cheaply, you probably won’t get the chance to meet the puppy’s parents or see their kennel. On top of this, you’ll likely have to pay for shipping and even customs when the puppy comes across the border, which can easily add as much as 450.00 to your price tag. It’s better to be able to meet the breeders, see the dam and sire, and get a feel for the kennel’s conditions. This is not to say, however, that there aren't great Scottie breeders in the States; we have been fortunate enough to deal with a couple of kennels in the States that have provided us with fantastic dogs.
Scotties that are pets, not showdogs, have a much easier life, coat-wise. You can keep it short or long, but always brush the furnishings (the skirt and beard) every few days to avoid matting and excess dirt. Again, start this early and do it regularly and your dog will accept it more readily. Right under the legs (the “armpits”) are the most prone to matting – if we can’t be bothered, we just cut off any mats that are resistant to brushing. You can hardly notice, and the dogs have never told us they care much about it.
Nearly all of our Scotties HATE getting their nails cut, but we ignore their drama and get it done – long nails are bad for a dog’s little arches (yes, they have foot arches too!) and once the quick descends to the end of a long nail, it’s very difficult to get those nails to the proper shorter length again. Your vet can help you figure out where the quick is to avoid nicking it, but even if you do, it’s not the end of the world.
We recommend a natural shampoo for washing your dog – right now we use unscented Oneka, which is from our local health food store.
It’s a hassle, and few owners really follow through on it, but brushing your dog’s teeth daily – even weekly – will give it a longer, healthier life. Dogs can and do die of complications from dental decay and gum disease, and less serious cases still can cost several hundred dollars to deal with. The more you do it, the more your dog will get used to it and accept it. Special toothpastes are available, but not necessary. A good brisk brushing works fine.
We believe strongly that dogs should be on a grain-free diet, so we feed ours a kibble that has a sweet potato base. Scotties should NEVER have wheat, corn or soy. A high protein diet is important. These are good supplements, treats and snacks to add to your dog’s diet: 2% cottage cheese; cooked egg; cooked chicken, beef, or fish; carrots; broccoli; cooked sweet potato; or natural yoghourt. We feed our dogs the way we feed ourselves: as much organic stuff as possible!
Please make sure that any commercially produced treats you give your dog are all natural, and corn and wheat free; there are some good liver jerky treats available in better pet stores. Another thing that many consider important regarding a dog’s health is how much medication and pesticides dogs get. We have our dogs vaccinated at 6 weeks, 8 weeks, 12 weeks, and 1 year, and then not for another seven years. We do not automatically give our dogs flea and heartworm medication such as Revolution, Heartguard, and Advantage, despite the fact that our dogs spend a tremendous amount of time outdoors and around mosquitoes. We’ve never had any problems. Most vets will swear by the necessity of these things, but there are an awful lot of people now – naturopathic vets, for instance – who caution against pumping our pets full of pesticides and unnecessary medications. We respect vets tremendously, and are grateful for the vet who helps us. However, the longer we breed dogs and the more we read about "alternative" vets, the more we think that the traditional veterinary routes are not always the best. Skin issues are most frequently tied to diet and/or reactions to heat, moisture, and/or chemicals.
NEVER give Scotties bones or rawhide – it’s bad for their system, and the Scottie’s jaws are simply too powerful and chew up too much too fast of these types of "treats.” Similarly, dogs shouldn’t have apple seeds, grapes, raisins, onion, tomato or chocolate.
The idea that dogs should only eat dog food is misleading, and largely propagated to keep unhealthy people from giving their dogs unhealthy food. Fruits and veggies are key to a dog’s health, and they make excellent treats that won’t cause weight problems. Our dogs come running to the kitchen as soon as they hear the carrot peeler working! Every night they get something green (cucumber, broccoli), something orange (carrot, sweet potato) and something purple (cabbage, blueberries). You can always jazz things up with some peanut butter if you’re feeling really generous! (Organic peanut butter is best, as regular peanuts are very high in pesticides).
Dogs fed by their owners live, on average, nearly two years longer than dogs whose food stays down all the time. It’s also valuable from a training standpoint if your dog sees you dispensing its food – it helps it know who’s boss (when it doesn’t know who’s boss, it creates all kinds of anxiety and uncertainty).