Scottish Terrier returned due to undershot jaw

A New Zealand reader writes with a very sad story. Perhaps some of our readers who are also Scottish Terrier breeders can help out with the jaw question.

As for how to get another Scottie, we have a few readers down under who might be able to offer up advice. I know from what they’ve said in the past that they do often have to fly them in from quite far away.

Here’s Norma’s story:

I live in New Zealand and recently bought a darling Scotty terrier male puppy. I live in Nelson and the puppy came from Hamilton so I had to buy the pup – unseen – for $1,200 + huge travel costs. When he arrived, he was totally gorgeous … except for the fact that he had a badly undershot jaw. The lower jaw was 1 cm away from the upper jaw.

The breeders assured me that this was in the case with all Scotties and that “he would grow into his jaw”. I took him to 3 vets who all told me to send him back as there was no way that this little fella’s jaw would ever grow to be normal – in fact, later on in life, he would have considerable problems.

I have sent him back – sogging up numerous hankies in the process and losing a huge amount of money in travel costs. Could you tell me, who was right? Where the breeders right with their assurances or the Vets who based their knowledge over a wide spectrum of different dog breeds? I would so appreciate your help for when we go to buy another one.

Kindest regards, Norma

11 thoughts on “Scottish Terrier returned due to undershot jaw

  1. Norma:
    I'm not a breeder so I can't answer the question, but I have to say that it isn't usual to have an animal with a jaw having that much difference. Over bite or under bite can rule them out for breeding purposes if you want to be exacting, but that's quite a big difference your little pup had.

    I'm so very sorry you've had your heart broken and that you've ended up losing such a vast sum of money in the bargain.

    If I were you I'd tell the breeder that they need to share some of that expense with you, and if they don't you will post about them all over the Internet as being less than forthcoming about the quality of their dogs. It seems the only recourse.

    My two Scotties have great bites, with nice straight teeth. But, I once had a gorgeous Cairn Terrier who was not considered show quality or good for breeding simply because she had crooked bottom teeth.

    Years later, I showed her to a very reputable dog judge who was so disappointed that I hadn't bred Meggie. When I told her why she said, 'Oh, that could have been overlooked as she's a gorgeous specimen of a Cairn. However, if she had an over bite or under, that we would have to disqualify her for."

    Oh, and they can't grow into or out of that, either, so I would say that the three vets who examined the pup were giving you good, albeit heartbreaking information.

    I will say a prayer that you soon find your Scottie love.

    Warm Regards from America,

  2. Hmmm. I guess she was buying a show dog? Doesn't say. I thought reputable breeders of show animals were more responsible. But if it was purchased as a non-show animal, or she intended to have the animal nuetered….would it really have caused health problems?

  3. I know more about human jaws than canine ones, and if something is out of whack, it can cause huge problems later in life.

    I've known two adults who have had to endure eight-hour operations and years or retainers due to jaw misalignment.

    It might not have had anything to do with wanting a showdog just a healthy one.

  4. Having an over, or under, bite would definitely disqualify this puppy from the show ring, but I'm not so sure it would make him unhealthy. It is close to impossible that such a malocclusion would correct itself and it could very well get worse with age. I once had a rescued bitch whose malocclusion was approximately 24 mm. I had to cook mush for her and serve it in a pie dish so she could shovel it in her mouth with her lower jaw. Her teeth didn't align at all so she couldn't chew hard things and I had to brush her teeth after meals. Other than that additional work, she was an absolute joy to live with. Her tongue hung out of her mouth when she slept and she was quite a sight. She was a terrific pet and I miss her still.

    After saying that, if the breeder was charging you $1200 for such a dog, they sound pretty shady to me. With such people, it is questionable whether you will be able to recoup your costs. Also with such breeding practices, this poor dog may have other genetic problems which would cost you even more in the future so in spite of the heart break you went though, your decision to ship him back was sound. If you are still looking for a Scottie, I know of several people in Australia who can put you in touch with reputable breeders. If you are looking for a show quality dog, I've heard that Joseph Pendon (Jospen Scottish Terriers) is breeding again and if he doesn't have anything available now he may know of someone else that does.

    Good luck to you!

  5. I'm not a show dog person at all so I can only say that apart from possible health problems such a "defect" would for me become the thing I loved most about that little Scottie. I adore little imperfections in our pups and in all dogs. I know this is not a very supportive answer and I was hesitant to post for that reason. People that purchase dogs need to realize that they are not buying a car that has to perform to certain standards. Even when you over-spend and maybe fail to get the "quality" you had hoped for, all dogs deserve unconditional love. I'm so happy this dog was returned and will get a 2nd chance at that.

  6. Agreed with Anonymous 1 but let's hope he does get a "second chance"… we knew someone in NZ who was into breeding & showing dogs, thought they were a kindred spirit dog lovers but once spent more time & saw their attitude to animals it was an eye-opener. The heart does not enter into it!

  7. Hi – Norma here again. Firstly, thank you so much for the comments and help. I should have said in my original letter that I had bought Ferghus to breed from. Not to show ………… but to have one or two litters from for pets. Not to make money at all – just to give puppies to wonderful responsible friends of mine (all of whom adore the Scotty breed). We don't see many Scotties here in NZ. I definitely would have kept the darling wee fella for a pet (and coped with all his feeding difficulties later on (if any?) but was too reluctant to pass on a wonky jaw to other dogs. A special thanks to Holly for her prayer x

  8. A friend of mine in South Africa had a German Shepherd puppy with an undershot lower jaw, and sold her for a pet as a speyed bitch. She had the chance, 2 years later, to re-exanine her jaw and it had grown into alignment. It appears to be possible but does not always happen.
    I would agree that the breeder should be prepared to shoulder some of the costs you have incured. A Quesion – why breed when there are lots of people out there who are breeders, and many of them good breeders? To me there are so many wonderful rescued dogs in need of good homes, including Scotties. Whilst I apreciate the sentiment of wanting to share great dogs with your friends, to raise a well handled and stable litter takes many resources including time and careful exposure to socilasiation and experiences, even before 8 weeks when they are ready to go to new homes. Dr Ian Dunbar says that every puppy should have met 100 people by the age of 12 weeks. Wishing you the best and a successful time when you find your next puppy.

  9. It would be good to know who you bought the pup from so as to not go to the same breeder, as there are 2 in that area. Up here in the North Island there are quite a few Scotties around, maybe not so many down South.

    1. I am on the verge of buying a puppy from that area, so I would be very keen to find out which breeder you were dealing with!
      I don’t want/need perfection (not planning to breed or show) but I do want a healthy/happy puppy.
      Thank you

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