Scottish Terriers dying younger due to bad genes

Thank goodness for the Terrierman. While the Scottie News has been moving its world headquarters westward to Toronto, he’s been tracking the latest Scottish Terrier goings-on. Oh wait, it’s not quite the latest, news but we’d never heard it before and Terrierman has a whole lot more Terriers to cover than just Scotties so we’re going to cut him some slack. Not to mention that he also has a very nice photo of a hot young Humphrey Bogart in the company of a Scottish Terrier.

But I digress. As regular readers know, the Terrierman is a fierce critic of the AKC, over breeding and the whole dog show circuit. And yesterday, he lavished praise on the 2005 Scottish Terrier Health Survey produced by Great Scots Magazine publisher and editor Joseph Harvill, calling it “a monument to solid canine research and clear writing.”

Terrierman continues by summarizing some of the report’s key findings:

  • Nearly half of all Scotties die from cancer, and the lifespan of the breed is just 10.15 years.
  • Scottie health issues are very clearly genetic. “Underlying today’s short-lived Scotties appears to be impaired immunity and lack of general genetic fitness as manifested in the breed’s susceptibility (and even predisposition) to cancers.”
  • Scottie health is not improving; it is getting worse. Comparisons between the 1995 and 2005 Great Scots Magazine health survey suggest the breed has lost a tenth of its lifespan in the past decade. Harvill notes that “This is an alarming trend … and may signal the rapid declension in a gene pool which can happen when inbreeding depression reaches critical mass in a small, closed population.”


Finally, he has compiled a complete list of previous health articles, which is an excellent reference.

On amore cheerful note, here are more pictures of Humphrey Bogart with Scottie puppies. Bogie even co-starred with a Scottish Terrier in Stand-In.

Update: Joseph Harvill has a comment on the latest dog inbreeding controversies.

One thought on “Scottish Terriers dying younger due to bad genes

  1. I read the article in Great Scotts and it just makes me so sad. But I’m wondering what we can do about it? Are there responsible breeders out there who are trying to improve rather than limit the gene pool? I don’t know enough about genetics to really understand how the situation can be remedied. Does anyone know?

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