Scottish Terrier – Everything You Need to Know

Scottish Terriers, also known as Scottie, is a tenacious, intelligent, and affectionate dog that exhibits all the traits of a faithful terrier. Scotties are among the world’s oldest, best-established, and most recognizable breeds. They exhibit an independent streak serving them well in their early days of roaming the Highlands tracking down badgers. However, these days, their intelligence and the need for freedom make them trainable, but with a bit of stubbornness. Patience and consistency are the keys to getting Scotties to follow your rules.

Scotties earned the title “the Diehard” for their terrier persistence. Their working style has been defined as efficient and businesslike, and their aloofness toward outsiders makes them excellent watchdogs. In addition, their hunting instinct remains strong, which can complicate life for the next-door’s cat, and Scotties are known to be fussy around other dogs. However, this fearless and spirited Scotsman enjoys brisk walks and upbeat play. If you are looking for a dog with boundless energy and an all-rounder who is playful, adaptable, and devoted to their family, you will see your ideal partner in a Scottish Terrier.

Scottish Terrier Overview

The Scottish Terrier is an all-rounder blending agility, speed, endurance, and ability to perform various jobs. These short-legged puppies were initially bred to hunt prey such as foxes and badgers, and he has developed into a self-directed and opinionated companion. Their brains have drawn many pet lovers to the breed, but others find Scottie’s aloofness less than endearing. They never innately trust outsiders and always take their time figuring out a person or situation. But if they decide to befriend you, that will last a lifetime.

Scotties are highly loyal companions and can protect their owners with an extraordinary guard dog and watchdog ability. However, they may prefer to be the solo pet in the house. In addition, their intelligence and high energy help them respond well to training. Early socialization and proper training can aid them in warming up to other dogs and pets. They adore kids and are great playmates, primarily when raised with them. Apartment dwellers and those who must leave the house for extended hours daily may have difficulty meeting the Scottish Terrier’s physical needs. But if you can provide plenty of patience, attention, and space to move, you’ll have a devoted, lifelong companion.

Scottish Terrier Pros and Cons

Loyal and people-orientedHigh prey drive
Doesn’t shed muchCan be stubborn about training
Needs moderate exerciseNeeds more than basic grooming

Scottish Terrier Basic Information 

  • Name: Scottish Terrier
  • Origin: Scotland
  • Group: Terrier group
  • Size: Medium
  • Height: 10 inches
  • Weight: 18 – 22 pounds 
  • Coat: Wiry, double coat
  • Color: Black with or without white, wheaten, brindle 
  • Energy: High
  • Activities: Agility, confirmation, field trials, hunting tests, watchdog, obedience, rally, farm dogs, companions, and guard dogs.
  • Barking Level: High
  • Shedding Level: Medium
  • Hypoallergenic: Yes
  • Litter Size: 6 puppies
  • Other Names: Scottie, Aberdeen Terrier
  • Breed’s Original Pastimes: Vermin hunting
  • Life Span: 11 – 13 years

History of Scottish Terrier

Going by their name, the Scottish Terrier is derived from terrier roots. They are a venerable breed developed to hunt rats, foxes, and badgers in the Scottish Highlands. It is believed that Scotties are the oldest variety of the Highland terriers. Despite being an old breed, Scottie’s history is obscure and undocumented. Their origin dates back to a dog named Pliny, the Elder, in 55 B.C. Scotland had many terriers during the 1800s. Later, the dogs were separated into two groups: the Skye Terriers and the Dandie Dinmont Terriers. Scotties were grouped under the Skye Terriers and shown under the category in the show ring until the 1870s. The Skye Terriers were classified into the four breeds we know today: the Scottish Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, Skye Terrier, and the Cairn Terrier by the end of the 19th century.

  • The first Scottish Terrier arrived in America in 1883, and two years later, the AKC registered its first Scottie, Prince Charlie.

Scottish Terrier Highlights

  • Even though many terriers are known as yappy, Scotties are not. Their tone is a loud, alert bark. Some Scotties know the difference between a friend’s or an outsider’s steps, only giving the alert if it’s the latter.
  • Initially bred for hunting and tracking prey, Scotties are designed to dig and still have that drive today. 
  • Scotties tend to be aloof with outsiders and can be aggressive to other canines if they are not adequately socialized when young.
  • Although Scotties enjoy exercise, they are not recommended as jogging partners. With their short legs, a short, brisk walk around your house is sufficient.
  • Scotties have been positioned third in alarm barking after Rottweilers and German Shepherds.
  • Scotties are not recommended for households with toddlers or small kids because of their small size, delicate structure, and terrier nature.
  • Scotties require significant grooming, and their coats should be clipped several times a year.

Scottish Terrier Personality

The Scottish Terrier is a fun, good-tempered, devoted companion who is feisty, active, domineering, and highly bonded to its owners. The sight of a Scottie is a scene of striking beauty. They are excellent watchdogs but can be snappy towards kids if not treated gently or respectfully. Some Scotties might be aggressive toward other small animals, but they live peacefully with dogs and cats if introduced to them from the very initial stage. In addition, they can be severe barkers and tend to be diggers with sturdy nails and feet.

Friendliness Overview

Affection level High
Family-friendly Medium to high
Kid-friendly Medium to high
Pet-friendly Medium to high
Stranger -friendly Medium to high

Adaptability Overview

Good for apartment living Medium to high
Good to new owners Low to medium
Sensitivity level Medium to high
Tolerates being alone Medium
Cold-tolerance Medium to high
Heat-tolerance Medium

Scottish Terrier Physical Features

Head: Powerful and long head with a short, slightly domed, flat skull, black nose, scissor or level bite teeth, square-shaped jaw, almond-shaped dark eyes, and small, erect ears.

Neck: The neck is short, strong, thick, and muscular, mixing smoothly into well-laid-back shoulders. 

Topline and Body: Firm and well-proportioned topline with a deep, broad chest, a short body with ribs extending into a short, strong loin, deep flanks, and very muscular hindquarters.

Tail: The tail should be set about seven inches long and is carried erect.

Forequarters: The front is solid, and the shoulders should be well laid back and knit at the withers. The forelegs should be straight or slightly bent and set under the shoulder blade with a solid forecast in front of them. Scotties should not be out at the elbows. The front feet should point straight, and the forefeet should be larger than the hind, compact, and round with strong nails.

Hindquarters: Their thighs are very muscular and powerful for the dog’s size, with the stifles bent and straight legs from hock to heel. 

Coat: Scotties have a hard, wiry outer coat with a soft, dense undercoat. 

Color: Black, wheaten, or brindle. White color can be allowed only on the chest and chin.

Gait: Their gait is free, smooth, effortless, and agile, with a powerful drive from the rear and good reach in front.

Scottish Terrier Temperament

Scotties are bold, assertive, playful, energetic dogs that are also perceived as strong-willed, friendly, and hyperactive. They are sportive, excel in any canine game, and are prepared for action and adventure. They are affectionate, prefer to be around their human families, and make ideal companions. They will quickly get along with kids, provided they are socialized as pups. 

Scotties have excellent hunting skills and a strong desire to strive out and destroy vermin. Thus, a fenced yard and leashed walks are important for their safety. Furthermore, because of their herding instincts, Scotties might attempt to herd smaller animals. So, sharing a home with a pet bird is not typically an ideal option. In addition, Scotties are mischievous beings who love fun and frolic. Hence, they frequently dig, chew, and exhibit destructive behaviors when not assigned a job. Therefore, it would help if you kept them mentally and physically stimulated.

Scottish Terrier Training

Training is the most substantial aspect while domesticating a Scottish Terrier. This is because Scotties are pretty stubborn. Hence, enrolling them in advanced obedience and crate training sessions is recommended. Without this training, they tend to become bold, detrimental, and challenging to manage. However, they are stubborn, so successful training depends on finding a firm positive trainer to increase their confidence. It is necessary to use positive reinforcement, and an ideal way is to break their routine training into shorter daily sessions to maintain their attention span higher. Enrolling your Scottie in training exercises at a very young age is recommended to challenge their minds to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. Also, leash training is essential due to their high prey drive. These are some of the training that you need to do with your Scottish Terrier:

Trainability Overview

Easy to train Low
Intelligence Medium to high
Mouthiness tendencies Medium 
Barking and howling tendencies Medium to high
Prey drive Medium
Wanderlust tendenciesHigh

Scottish Terrier Exercise Needs

Scotties require much time and space to spend their high energy levels. You don’t have to take them for a jog or a long walk if you have a backyard where they can run and play. However, without a yard, you must invest your time in the dog’s park with a leash. However, they can easily adapt to an apartment if their requirements are fulfilled. Furthermore, early socialization can avoid unnecessary guarding instincts and timidness. Hence, it is vital to encourage them to be occupied mentally. You can meet your Scottish Terrier’s daily exercise essentials by:

  • Teaching new tricks 
  • Walking 
  • Fetching 
  • Chasing 
  • Playing with puzzle toys 
  • Playing tug of war 
  • Schutzhund 
  • Frisbee 
  • Herding trials 
  • Flyball 
  • Agility training 
  • Hiking 
  • Dog park

Exercise Needs Overview

Energy level Medium to high
Exercise needs Medium to high
Intensity Medium to high
Playfulness Medium to high

Scottish Terrier Grooming

Scotties are hypoallergenic, highly mild shedders. However, their trademark double coat will require a great deal of grooming. Their coarse, wiry topcoat must be brushed twice or thrice a week to keep it straight and tangle-free. Also, their thick, soft undercoat will need to be treated regularly, preferably through hand-stripping, in which the roots remove hair. If hand-stripping your dog doesn’t appeal to you, trimming their hair short is the alternative. Like all terriers, Scottish terriers need their nails kept tidy and trim, their ears should be checked and cleaned regularly, and they need a regular dental care routine. And, if your Scottie smells less than their best, a bath will be necessary.

Grooming Overview 

Easy to groomLow to medium
Drooling tendency Low
Amount of shedding Low to medium

Scottish Terrier Health

Scotties are generally healthy, but like other dog breeds, they’re prone to certain conditions and diseases. Thus, to keep them healthy, it is important to take your dog to the vet for regular health check-ups and ensure they are updated with vaccinations.

Health Overview

Overall health Medium to high
Weight gain tendencies Medium
Size Low to medium

Scottie cramp is a disorder in Scottish Terriers considered harmless to the breed. The signs of Scottie cramps occur when they are stressed or overstimulated, such as during mating, exercise, or fights. 

Von Willebrand’s Disease: This is a genetically transmitted blood disorder characterized by an incapability to clot. 


  • Excessive bleeding post-surgery or injury  
  • Nosebleeds 
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bleeding in the stomach or intestines.

Craniomandibular Osteopathy: While a puppy grows, this disorder affects the skull bones, causing them to become irregularly enlarged. Signs usually occur between the ages of four to eight months. There is no cure, but anti-inflammatories and pain relievers will enable the dog to cope with the discomfort. 

Patellar Luxation: When the dog patella (kneecap), which commonly lies in the cleft of the femur (thighbone), slips out of position, it is referred to as the luxating patella. Your puppy may feel periodic hind limb “skipping,” lameness, or locking up the leg at an irregular angle if the patella luxates. 

Cancer: This disease can be cured by surgically removing tumors and chemotherapy. However, it is essential not to ignore the symptoms and diagnose them earlier.

Recommended Health Tests

  • Patella Evaluation
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease DNA Test

Scottish Terrier Diet and Nutrition

It is recommended to measure food 1 to 1.5 cups that are high in quality, dry food to your Scotties twice a day rather than letting the food on the plate all day long to eat. Since these breeds are potential weight gainers, it is better to monitor the quantity of food you offer. However, ensure the diet you provide is measured and tailored to your dog’s size, activity level, age, and weight. Likewise, limit the treats you give your Scottie, specifically while training.

Scottish Terrier Living Condition

Scotties are adaptable and can thrive in any environment. However, they prefer human companionship, who can value and fulfill the needs of these affectionate, caring breeds. Also, they may locate an unwanted medium to keep themselves engaged when bored or lonely. Owing to their short size and less exercise requirements, the Scotties can make their living in apartments too. Hence, they should not be left alone for long periods, mostly without toys to keep them equipped. On the downside, they undergo separation anxiety when left alone for extended periods.

Did You Know?

  • The Scottie’s peak of popularity was in the 1930s and early ’40s, with celebrity owners such as Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis under the spell of the breed’s spicy charm. 
  • The Scottie was forever immortalized in Pewter when they were included as one of the game parts in Monopoly. That remains the fourth longest-serving token in the box, behind the top hat, battleship, and race car.
  • Scotties are the second-winningest breed at the Westminster Canine Show, taking home the Best in Show prize eight times, most recently in 2010.
  • John Naylor is attributed with being the first to introduce the Scottish Terrier to the country.
  • The first registered Scottie in the U.S. was “Dake,” whelped Sept 15, 1884.
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Scottie “Fala” reportedly received more fan mail than many presidents did. 

Scottish Terrier Club Recognition

Adding a Scottish Terrier to Your Family

Getting a Scottish Terrier from a reputable breeder is best to prevent inevitable circumstances like health diseases and provide you with vaccination certificates. Also, checking with the puppy’s parents is best to ensure their health and happiness. 

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