Scottish Terrier Coat Color, Based on DNA

an update and information page for owners and breeders of Scottish Terriers

This webpage was posted on May 1, 2015 and last updated on May 1, 2015 by Sheila Schmutz

The Scotties Tested

In 2014, we were interested in studying wheaten and brindle in Scottish Terriers. We only had a few Scottish Terrier samples in our DNA collection. Karen Prokopetz offered to help us collect DNA cheek brushes and photos from a wide range of Scotties of various coat colors. This study is not comprehensive, but provides some DNA genotype data.

Call names that were provided are used here, not the registered names of the dogs. All of these Scotties are from North America.

The coat colors listed for the Scottish Terrier in the FCI standard include:


We received samples from 4 Scotties that were reported as black by their owners. None of these four were homozygous black. Cooper, shown on the right, is an example.


Wheaten is a pale reddish color that might remind one of the color of wheat. Wheaten Scotties occur in various shades however. It would appear that wheaten is caused by an e/e genotype at the MC1R gene. The e/e genotype is epistatic to all the alleles at the DEFB103 or K locus.

Red Rouge is one of the 4 wheaten Scotties we DNA tested. It's had a swim in this photo, so is wet, but is considered a darker shade of wheaten than some other Scotties.


The photo above is a collage of three brindle Scotties. There is no difference in the shade of their black, but Abby on the left has cream hairs, whereas Forte has a hint of red in her pale hairs and Maggie on the right has a bit more reddish tone to her pale hairs. They demonstrate that there is a gene that causes paling of reddish or phaeomelanin pigment and not black or eumelanin pigment.

They all have a DEFB103 genotype that is expected in brindle dogs. We are not able to distinguish yet if dogs are homozygous or heterozygous brindle, however.

All brindle Scotties have at least one E allele at the MC1R gene.


Dog Coat Color Genetics Main Page

Sheila M. Schmutz, Ph.D.

Department of Animal and Poultry Science

University of Saskatchewan

Saskatoon, Canada S7N 5A8

phone: (306)966-4153 fax: (306)966-4151