Pippa Elliott
Dr Pippa Elliott (BVMS MRCVS, University of Glasgow)
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The Scotchon, also known as the Scottychon, is a hybrid dog. This ‘designer’ breed are the result of mating a Scottish Terrier with a Bichon Frise. The result is a small, sturdy dog with an abundance of curly fur, floppy ears, and plenty of playful energy.

The Scotchon has a reputation for being a cheerful, happy fellow. They are smart, friendly, and affectionate, which paired with a compact size, makes them a great companion for active seniors or as a family pet. But as with any dog, they do have downsides. For the Scotchon, it is their bark, since they do like the sound of their own voice and therefore may not be suited to apartment living.

About & History

The Scotchon hybrid started out in the United States in the past couple of decades. But the parent breeds have a much longer history, going back centuries.

The Scottish Terrier

Firstly, the Scottish Terrier, whose story goes back to around 55BC or possibly even earlier. As the name suggests, those early ancestors were a terrier, or hunting dog, originating from Scotland. Indeed, the invading Romans made note of a small, determined hunting dog with an accomplished skill for digging, and it is from these dogs the Scottish Terrier derived.

Over the centuries the Old Scottish Terrier provided the foundation stock from which the modern version derives. Other closely related breeds include the Dandie Dinmont Terrier and Skye Terrier.

The Bichon Frise

Another venerable breed, the Bichon Frise’s roots date back to the 14th century. They originated from the Mediterranean region have blood in common with the Maltese, Coton de Tulear, Havanese, and Bolognese.

When in the 16th century the Bichon Frise was imported to France, they became extremely popular with both French, and then English, aristocracy. However, their fortunes waxed and waned, an example of the latter being when they were best known as circus performers. After World War I efforts to preserve the purity of the breed led to the development of a breed standard and accepted description of the dog we now know as the Bichon Frise.


Both parent breeds are hirsute, so it is no surprise the Scotchon has a dense, double-coat. Their hair is medium length, with a tendency to curl. The texture may be somewhat coarse (if they take after the Scottish Terrier) or softer (from the Bichon influence). Common coat colours include fawn, black, grey, golden, or bi-coloured (such as black and white).

A small to medium-sized dog, they tend to stand slightly shorter than they are long, with a sturdy trunk and strong, well-proportioned skull. The majority have folded or drop ears, and an inquiring expression. This shaggy, character of a dog is topped off with a short, straight tail, festooned with curly fur.

Character & Temperament

Character and temperament is partly formed by inherited traits and in part by early life experiences (or ‘socialisation’). A hybrid, such as the Scotchon, may take after one parent more strongly than the other, which makes predicting their character even more tricky than usual.

We can make sweeping generalisations about both breeds. For example, the Scottish Terrier can be stubborn and err towards being intolerant of rough treatment. Whilst the Bichon Frise is more chilled and generally more forgiving when outside their comfort zone. The hybrid upshot tends to be an affectionate dog but not clingy, and indeed may be independent at times. But when well-socialised as a puppy, they love human company, enjoy long walks, and respond well to training.

However, beware of their traits for digging, barking, and chasing. This can be ameliorated by providing an outlet for these natural tendencies, in the form of plenty of exercise and training.


The Scotchon is an intelligent dog that responds well to reward-based training methods. As a hybrid, their character may be a true blend of both parent breeds. If this is the case, they are clever and keen to learn, making them suitable for owners with some previous experience. Indeed, the Bichon side of their character makes the Scotchon eager to please, which is of huge benefit when training.

However, if the Scotchon leans more toward their Scottish Terrier parent, then the pup may be more of a handful. Scottish Terriers know their own minds and can be stubborn at times. In practical terms, this means if they don’t want to do something, they may dig their heels in. The trick to overcoming this, as with any training, is to find a treat or toy that motivates the dog and enables their owner to reward required behaviour. Then work patiently, on a regular basis, to train the dog to obey.


As a relative newcomer on the scene, there is little data on the health problems to which the Scotchon is prone. However, certain diseases are common in the parent breeds, which means it’s reasonable to assume an increased chance of these showing up in their hybrid pups.

Wobbly Kneecaps (Patellar Luxation)

This problem relates to the position of the kneecap over the stifle and a lack of stability, which causes the patella to move out of position. The result is a mechanical lameness, which results in the dog skipping a step when the kneecap pops out of position.

Patellar luxation ranges from mild (requiring occasional pain relief) to severe (corrective surgery is needed). In the worst affected dogs, the condition can be disabling and lead to premature arthritis forming in the knee joint.

Westie Jaw (Craniomandibular Osteopathy)

This condition affects the jaw bone of growing puppies. Although a rare condition, Westies and Scottish Terriers are over-represented amongst affected dogs. The condition causes an excess growth of bone along the jaw and can also affect the temporomandibular joint (the hinge joint, which allows the mouth to open and close).

This is a painful condition, which requires pain relief during the active phase. However, once the pup stops growing the condition settles down. Also, any extra bone in the area of the joint may have a lasting impact on how wide the dog is able to open their mouth.

Allergic Skin Disease (Atopy)

Allergies in the dog tend to manifest as itchy skin, resulting in excessive scratching or licking. Common allergens (substances that trigger an allergic reaction) include pollens, grasses, and dust mites.

Allergies cannot be cured but can be controlled. We are fortunate that a number of excellent medications are available that reduce the irritating itch and help the dog to maintain a healthy skin.

Exercise and Activity Levels

The Scotchon needs the stimulation of daily walks, but their enthusiasm is somewhat hampered by their relatively short legs. Thus, they are better suited to long walks rather than sprints, and prefer to go out for two medium-length walks a day rather than for one long one.

As an intelligent dog, they enjoy the mental stimulation that getting out an about provides. Conversely, a bored Scotchon may redirect their energy into unwelcome pursuits, such as digging or barking, in order to entertain themselves.


The curly, course coat of the Scotchon does require a moderate amount of maintenance. It requires brushing and combing regularly each week, to remove debris that could cause knots and tangles to form. In addition, they require parlour trips every couple of months, to trim or strip the fur, to keep the coat in good shape.

Both Scottish Terriers and Bichon Frise can suffer with skin allergies, so the wise Scotchon owner uses only mild shampoos that are free from harsh chemicals. A gently moisturising shampoo containing oatmeal is ideal, as this gently conditions the skin. However, avoid excessive bathing (unless advised differently by the vet) as this can strip away naturally protective oils from the skin and coat.

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