The Scottish Terrier Front

Two Scottish Terrier dogs lying on the grass


The front of the Scottish Terrier is important to understand and appreciate correctly. The breed is a short-legged dog with a deep chest. Upon examination, you will find almost equal dimensions of the length of measurement from point of withers to elbow and then elbow to ground. If the shoulder layback and assembly into the upper arm has the correct angulation it will create a pronounced prosternum. When added with a proper shelf off the rear it visually creates a rectangular shape in a dog with a compact cobby body.

Illustration of the Scottish Terrier dog


Breed Specific Examination of the Scottish Terrier Front

We have a breed specific examination of the Scottish Terrier front that we like to see our judges perform. As you approach the dog and finish examining the head you drop your hand down the front of the dog and find that a proper chest will fill the cup of your hand. Typically, this will be your left hand as you move your right hand to the point of withers where the shoulder blades join at the base of their moderate neck.

You should notice that there is good distance between your hands. You then drop the left hand to the ground to check spacing and straightness of the front legs. With your right hand still on the point of withers you can feel/check the angulation of the shoulder blade to the upper arms which should be “well laid back and moderately well knit.” You will note that the elbow is in line with and under the point of withers. Remember as low as he is, the resultant reach for this low stationed dog can only be achieved by the proper front with equal length of well laid back shoulder and upper arm.

In continuing your examination remember that the standard states the “lowest point of the brisket should be such that and average man’s fist would fit under it with little or no overhead clearance”. In order to determine correct depth of chest you will be making a fist.

This continues the breed specific examine to discover that the chest is “broad, very deep and well let down between the forelegs”. The key phrase is an average man’s fist. For myself that means spreading my fingers slightly to adjust for size difference. You then slide your fist from behind the front leg/elbow under the lowest point of the dogs’ chest.

In a mature Scottie your fist should barely if at all go under that point. If you have easy clearance than you must re-evaluate the height or structure of the dog. Puppies should be considered for their proportionality, since a well-developed chest may not appear until three-four years of age.

When judging this breed you should always have the impression of a big dog in a little body especially during your examination an adult Scottish Terrier. This particular feeling is especially noted when going over their distinctive front. As a final note as much as that prosternum will fill the cup of your hand, so should the rear shelf behind the tail. A favorite saying in the breed is the “the tail should never be the end of this dog.

Illustrations of the Scottish Terrier front

  • Shoulders: well-knit and laid back. 90° angle
  • Fore Chest: broad, deep, hangs between front legs
  • Ribcage: heart shaped, well-sprung, protruding brisket
  • Legs: thick boned, straight or slightly bent, front paws larger

The Scottish Terrier Front – From the July 2018 Issue of Showsight Magazine. Click to subscribe.


Scottish Terrier Dog Breed Magazine

Showsight Magazine is the only publication to offer dedicated Digital Breed Magazines for ALL recognized AKC Breeds.

Read and learn more about the confident Scottish Terrier dog breed with articles and information in our Scottish Terrier Dog Breed Magazine.


Scottish Terrier Breed Magazine - Showsight


  • Kathleen Ferris is a second generation breeder of Scottish Terriers since 1972. She was also a Professional Handler and now is an AKC licensed Judge.  She serves on the STCA Board and is a Parent Club Breed Mentor.

  • Show Comments

  • Larae Shafer

    Great article. Fronts are so very important and critical in this breed. Form and function is essential for this breeds existence.

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