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Scottie Cramp is a condition seen primarily in Scottish Terriers, affecting their ability to move. It’s not painful but can be distressing to watch, as affected dogs exhibit abnormal postures and movements during episodes.

This hereditary disorder becomes evident when the dog is excited or exercises, though it does not impact the dog’s lifespan or overall health outside of these episodes.


Scottie Cramp is a neurological disorder that affects the way nerve signals are transmitted to the muscles. The specific gene responsible for Scottie Cramp has been identified, making genetic testing possible to identify carriers and affected dogs.

This condition is characterized by episodic muscle hypertonicity, meaning that the muscles contract too much and too often.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs of Scottie Cramp become apparent when an affected dog is exercising or experiencing stress. Symptoms typically include:

Abnormal Movements

Dogs may appear to have a stiff gait, with exaggerated flexing and extending of the rear legs. In severe cases, the dog might seem to hop or walk on tiptoe.

Muscle Spasms

During an episode, the dog’s muscles can contract involuntarily, causing awkward movements. The spasms are more pronounced in the limbs and back.

Difficulty Walking

Affected dogs may have trouble walking during an episode, although they recover quickly once the stimulus (such as excitement or exercise) is removed.

Treatment of Scottie Cramp

Management Strategies

Since Scottie Cramp is not painful and does not affect the dog’s overall health, treatment is typically not required. Management focuses on understanding and avoiding triggers:

  • Exercise Moderation: Avoiding overly strenuous activities that could trigger an episode.
  • Stress Management: Keeping the dog’s environment calm to prevent episodes caused by excitement.


In severe cases, veterinarians may prescribe muscle relaxants or antispasmodic medications to reduce the frequency and severity of episodes.


The prognosis for dogs with Scottie Cramp is excellent. While the condition is chronic, it does not worsen over time, and affected dogs can live full, normal lives with appropriate management.

Living with Scottie Cramp

Living with a dog that has Scottie Cramp requires some adjustments to ensure the dog does not frequently encounter triggers. This includes regular, moderate exercise and minimizing situations that cause excitement or stress.

Choosing a Veterinarian

When managing Scottie Cramp, it’s helpful to work with a veterinarian familiar with neurological disorders or a neurologist. While general practitioners can manage most cases, complicated scenarios might benefit from specialized care.


Scottie Cramp in dogs is a manageable condition that does not diminish the quality of life for affected animals. With proper care and precaution, Scottish Terriers with this condition can lead happy, active lives despite their episodes.

Further Reading

Thank you for your interest in our Scottie Cramp in Dogs article. Be sure to check out the many comprehensive articles on our Dog Health Problems home page.

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