Scottish Terrier

Nicknamed “The Diehard” for its bravery and tenacity, the Scottish Terrier is a self-assured, intelligent, and feisty companion. Also called the “Scottie,” its short legs, sturdy build, and rough, weather-proof coat characterize it. One of the oldest and most recognizable breeds, it is incredibly loyal to its owner and craves companionship and playtime.

Scottish Terrier Pictures

Quick Information

Other namesScottie, Aberdeen Terrier, Aberdeenie
CoatMedium long double coat, with a hard, wiry outer coat and a soft undercoat
ColorBlack, gray, brindle, or wheaten
Breed typePurebred
Group Terrier
Life expectancy11 – 13 years
Height10 inches
WeightMale – 19 – 22 pounds
Female – 18 – 22 pounds
Litter Size1-6 puppies
Behavioral Characteristics Loyal, feisty, intelligent, independent, and playful
Good with children Moderate; may react poorly to younger children
Barking Tendency Deep, powerful barks when faced with unfamiliar or suspicious people; does not yap
Climate compatibilityHigh: They do well in both cold and hot climates
Apartment compatibilityHigh
Do they shedThey are mild shedders
Are they hypoallergenicYes
TrainabilityModerate: They can be independent and stubborn
How much do they cost$1,400 – $2,000
Competitive Registration Qualification/InformationAKC, UKC, FCI

History and Origin

Believed to be the oldest Highland Terrier, much of the Scottish Terrier’s initial history is obscure. The earliest written record dates back to Don Leslie’s 1436 book, “A History of Scotland 1436-1561.” Originally bred to hunt foxes, vermin, and badgers in the rough Scottish Highlands, it found favor among the aristocracy. Notably, King James I sent numerous dogs as gifts to the French Monarchy, helping popularize the breed throughout Europe. Breeders set about fixing the standard in the 1800s, with most of the century debating the difference between a Scottish Terrier and a terrier from Scotland. The discussion separated the various breeds into two classes: the Skye and the Dandie Dinmont. The Scottish variety was part of the Skye class till the 1870s, when it was split into the Scottish, Skye, Cairn, and West Highland White Terriers.

John Naylor introduced this breed to America in 1883, and the AKC registered the first Scottie Dake in 1885. This breed reached the height of its popularity in the 1930s and 40s, with various celebrities and politicians owning one. A fixture of the Depression era, its image is sought after by retro collectors and textile makers. It has also featured in several print and film media over the centuries.

Temperament and Personality

Scottish Terriers are territorial, loyal, and steadfast companions. Despite their high energy, they don’t require vigorous exercise, which, along with their small size, makes them ideal apartment pets. Generally aloof around strangers, they are excellent watchdogs. Their devotion and need for companionship are incredibly high. They are sensitive and will adapt themselves to their family’s moods. These enthusiastic diggers can dig up your backyard if you do not pay attention. Their high intelligence and wilfulness might make them challenging to train. Still, Scottish Terriers are a joy once correctly handled by an experienced owner.

These dogs are great with older children and seniors but can become irritable around younger kids. Also, their high prey drive can make them chase after other pets like rabbits, cats, and mice. As true Terriers, they are prone to aggression around other dogs. Careful training and socialization are vital to overcoming these instincts and helping them become well-behaved.



Their short legs prevent them from running around without getting tired. Instead, they enjoy daily walks, romping in fenced areas, and indoor playtime. Exercises such as tug-of-war, throwing a ball, and learning tricks provide the necessary mental and physical stimulation. However, you must be careful not to aggravate their aggression while playing forceful games. These dogs love water, but their short legs make them bad swimmers. Thus, always ensure they are kept away from pools and bodies of water. Dog games like agility and earthdog trials are also great options to explore.


Despite being relatively low shedders, their wiry coat requires much grooming and upkeep. Ideally, the coat should be hand-stripped at least once a month or weekly for show dogs. It is best to start this process early to get your pup used to it. Other useful tools for grooming are stiff brushes, hound gloves, scissors for trimming, knives for stripping, and wide-toothed combs for the beard. You can choose to get your dog professionally clipped for easier handling. However, this is not recommended for show dogs as it changes their hair texture. Clipped coats need maintenance every six to eight weeks.

They are severely sensitive to fleas and are known to chew themselves bald. Regular brushing and utilizing a flea comb are essential to prevent this. Occasional baths with a moisturizing shampoo are acceptable. Brush your pet’s teeth twice or thrice weekly to avoid tartar buildup. Check its ears for infection and redness, and give the nails periodic trimmings.

Health Concerns

This breed is generally healthy, although it can suffer from conditions such as von Willebrand’s disease, craniomandibular osteopathy, patellar luxation, eye problems, and thyroid issues. Scottie cramp is a breed-specific condition causing muscle spasms when excited or stressed. They are also prone to developing various cancers, with bladder cancer being the most common. Other common ones are mast cell tumors, bone cancer, and skin cancers.


Daily, they do well on one to one-and-a-half cups of high-quality dry dog food. Some breeders have seen improvements on a moderate protein diet with around twenty percent protein, supplemented by canned food. A dog’s diet should be relative to its age, weight, and activity level, so please consult your veterinarian while making a meal plan.


Clever, independent, and stubborn, the Scottish Terrier can be difficult to train unless handled with patience and kindness. A well-trained Scottie is gentle and well-adjusted.

Socialization: Early socialization is vital to reduce aggression and unruly behavior in your dog. It is attuned to its owner’s moods and will respond negatively to harshness. Confident and firm training with plenty of positive reinforcement is recommended. Exposing your pet to unknown people, places, and pets from a young age is critical to its development.

Crate training is incredibly beneficial for your pet, giving it a safe space for naps and preventing it from getting into unwanted places. However, avoid keeping your Scottie in for long periods. Additionally, providing a designated digging area helps satisfy your dog’s needs.

Obedience: Make training sessions short and non-repetitive to avoid your dog getting bored. Up to fifteen minutes at a time is enough. It will try to push back against its master, so be very firm and ensure your command gets followed.

Leash: Keep your pet leashed outside; otherwise, it may run after prey. Only allow off-leash play in securely fenced yards to prevent it from getting into dangerous situations. However, avoid electric fences as they will run straight into them.

Interesting Facts

  • They are the second-best prize winners at the Westminster Dog Show, taking the Best in Show prize eight times, with the most recent victory in 2010.
  • The Scottish Terrier was introduced as a Monopoly piece in 1942, making it the fourth-longest serving game token, after the battleship, the top hat, and the race car. 
  • It featured in the 1955 Disney Movie, “The Lady and The Tramp,” playing the role of Jock.
  • Many aristocrats, politicians, and celebrities have owned these dogs, including Humphrey Bogart, Betty Davis, Shirley Temple, Rudyard Kipling, Queen Victoria, Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and George W. Bush. Of these, the most famous is Fala, owned by President Roosevelt. She is the only presidential pet to be honored as part of the presidential memorial, included in the statue of President Roosevelt at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Washington, D.C.


1. How much bite force does a Scottish Terrier have?

Despite its tendency to chew or bite, it does not have a strong bite force compared to larger breeds.

2. What is the difference between a Scottish Terrier and a Westie?

They are roughly the same size, with the Westie or West Highland Terrier being taller and the Scottish variety a few pounds heavier. The most significant difference is that the Westie is always white, while the other never occurs in that shade. It also has smaller, triangular ears, giving it a comparatively foxy appearance.

3. How is a Scottish Terrier different from a Cairn Terrier?

The Cairn Terrier is longer-lived and suitable for new owners. Also, it lacks a double coat like the other and comes in lighter colors like cream.

4. How does a Scottish Terrier differ from a Miniature Schnauzer?

Although similarly sized, the Schnauzer has a square body and longer legs. Its wiry coat is only available in black and salt and pepper, compared to the Scottish breed’s many colors.

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