A good chuck of the Scottish Terrier’s AKC breed standard is devoted to the head, largely because it establishes breed type and differentiates it from the Scottie’s closest terrier cousins. An equal proportion of skull to muzzle length is crucial, as is the appearance of a long head when viewed from the side. The head length is relative to the length of the back and overall size of the dog, and why it matters is because of the dog’s original job. A Scottie was expected to rid the farm of vermin, and to do that, the dog had to be small enough to fit into a den and get back out again. A delicate, narrow pin head was not up to the rigors of work where anything less than a strong head interfered with the breed’s job. This is not only reflected in the standard, but on a scale of ten points, the head counts for a full half of those points.
Another value worth five points is the muzzle which, according to the standard, should fill an average man’s hand. One way to get a Scottie muzzle into one’s hand is with a mug in which the head is the handle as is seen in the photograph, but joking aside, a true “hands-on” examination means resting the muzzle in the hand. This ascertains if the muzzle and head are narrow (undesirable), if there is a slight but definite stop between the skull and muzzle at eye level (a good thing), if the proportion of skull to muzzle length is equal (critically important!), and that the muzzle is well filled in under the eyes.
A powerful muzzle is a vital feature of the breed.
The Illustrated Guide adds that the muzzle is “well filled throughout and there should be a strong under jaw. In evaluation, the muzzle should be examined for strength, noting teeth of surprisingly large size that could grasp a badger or fox.” It comes back to getting the job done.
The aforementioned attributes contribute to proper Scottish Terrier expression, and when they are sound and in harmony, there are few things more pleasing to the eye of a Scottie person.