If ever there was a time when small terriers did not abound in Scotland, it has not been recorded. They were true working dogs, whose job it was to rout such vermin as the fox, otter, and wild cat, and because of their efficiency and gameness the terriers were highly regarded as gamekeepers' helpers.
The first writers to describe these dogs under the broad name "Scotch Terriers" wrote that they were of two distinct types: one being rather high on leg with a short, smooth coat; the other short-legged with a rough coat. Colours ranged from white through wheaten to black. It is from the latter type that particular strains and later distinct breeds of terriers were developed. Each was bred for a specific purpose and thus acquired unique characteristics and conformation. Today we know them as the Cairn, the West Highland White and Scottish Terriers. But it took several years before the three were sorted out, agreement on breed names achieved, and uniformity of type established. The sorting out process began with the advent of the dog show in 1859. The following year at the Birmingham event in the north of England the Scotch terriers were first exhibited under a variety of names. These included the Roughhaired, Paisley, Highland, Aberdeen, and to add to the confusion, the Skye. The most persistent of these was Aberdeen because many of the early winners were exhibited by a breeder from Aberdeen. Eventually some order was brought to bear and in 1881 the name "Hard-Haired Scotch Terrier" was agreed to by breed supporters. The following year a specialty club was formed in Scotland and in 1883 the first breed standard was adopted. Later the breed name was revised to the present one.
Evidently Canada was the first country on this side of the Atlantic to import the Scottish Terrier. The first Scotty to be registered in America was a Canadian-bred whelped in April 1881. The dog's name was Prince Charlie and he was bred by D. O'Shea of London, Ontario.
The first Canadian Kennel Club Stud Book ( 1888-1889) records that five Scottish Terriers were registered.