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the scottish dog breeds

The many and varied dogs that originated in Scotland

These 15 Scottish Dog Breeds can account for some of the most popular dog breeds, period.

The varied landscapes of Scotland, the Scottish Highlands and the Scottish Borders have resulted in very different appearances of many Scottish Dog Breeds. Some breeds were needed to tackle vermin, such as the Cairn Terrier; some were needed for herding sheep, such as the Shetland Sheepdog; And some were used for hunting and protection, such as the Scottish Deerhound.

Silhouette of a Deerhound on the SaltireScottish Dog Breeds

As always, if you are interested in one of these breeds, be sure to find a reputable breeder, recognized by the American Kennel Club ( if you are in the USA).

So, let's take a look at the Scottish Dog Breeds. Some may be a surprise!



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Scottish Dog Breeds

Aberdeen Terrier

A Scottish Terrier standing on grass

Also called the Scottish Terrier

Origins: Scotland

Size: Small

Grooming: Time Consuming

Training: Time Consuming

Recognition:, FCI: Group 3, AKC: Terriers, ANKC: Terriers, CKC: Terriers, KC: Terriers, NZKC:Terriers, UKC: Terriers


The "Scottie", as they are also known, was bred to hunt small rodents, foxes and badgers in its home country of Scotland. It is believed to be the oldest British dog breed. It is one of 5 terrier breeds from Scotland, the others being the Cairn Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, the Skye Terrier, and the West Highland White Terrier.

Bearded Collie

Origins: Scotland
Size: Medium to Large
Grooming:  Extensive
Training:  Easy to Moderate
Recognition: AKC (Herding), ANKC (Working Dogs), CKC (Herding), FCI (Group 1), KC (Pastoral), NZKC (Working), UKC (Herding)

Also called:  Highland Collie, Beardie

This breed has a natural exuberance and energy. They are very lively, and love romping around a large backyard or out in the countryside. Of course, some individual dogs are more active than others, but in general they are more boisterous than most other breeds.

As a herding breed at heart, they still retain the inherent urge to round things up, whether it's children or other animals. This means that they may chase other animals and children, to try to herd them, nipping at ankles and barking. This rowdy behavior should be minimized as a puppy during training.

Scottish Dog Breeds

Border Collie

Origins:  England and Scotland
Size:  Medium
Grooming:  Average
Training:  Easy
Recognition:  ANKC (Working),  CKC (Herding),  AKC (Herding),  FCI (Group 1),  KC (Pastoral),  NZKC (Working),  UKC (Herding)

The Border Collie - If you are someone who is truly looking for a pet to fill the definition of “Man’s Best Friend”, then look no further than this ever so lovely dog breed.

This breed, however, is not to be confused with Welsh Sheepdog, which is actually related, or the Collie, which is a slightly different breed as well, falling under the “Standard Collie” category. You should be aware of their exercise needs - These are very active dogs, and need plenty of exercise. This is also a very intelligent dog breed.

Scottish Dog Breeds

Border Terrier

Origins:  England & Scotland
Size:  Small
Grooming:  Average
Training:  Average
Recognition:  ANKC:  Terriers,  CKC:  Terriers,  AKC (Terrier),  FCI (Group 3),  KC (Terrier),  NZKC (Terrier),  UKC (Terrier)

The Border terrier is often described as independent, courageous, persistent, agile and intelligent. They are friendly dogs and will greet every visitor by jumping up on them to lick and welcome them into the house.

They are frequent, loud barkers and may howl and sing several times a day so are possibly not the best dog to have if you have close neighbors!

Cairn Terrier

Origins:  Scotland
Size:  Small
Grooming:  Average
Training:  Average
Recognition: CKC (Terriers), ANKC (Terriers), AKC (Terriers),  NZKC (Terriers),  UKC (Terrier,  (UK)  Terrier,  FCI  Group 3

The Cairn Terrier was originally bred in Scotland to detect and dig out small rodents, larger animals in burrows, and even foxes. They still keep the instinct to dig and burrow, and will chase any small animals they see. This is a small dog, and they are small enough to fit comfortably on your lap, yet tough enough for a romp around the garden in any weather.

Scottish Dog Breeds

Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Origins:  Scotland / England border
Size: Small
Grooming: Average
Training: Average
Recognition:  AKC (Terrier),  FCI (Group 3),  KC (Terrier),  UKC (Terrier),  ANKC (Terriers),  CKC  (Terriers),  NZKC (Terriers)

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a big dog in a small body, according to the AKC, bursting with confidence and energy, ready to chase anything that moves. Their ancestors were bred in the Border area between Scotland and England for controlling small wildlife, taking on badgers and otters. The Dandie has a long body, short legs, a large head and a thick and muscular neck. These are feisty dogs!

Scottish Dog Breeds

Scottish Dog Breeds

Golden Retriever

Origins:  Scotland
Size: Large to Giant
Grooming: Average
Training: Easy
Recognition:  FCI:  Group 8,  AKC:  Sporting,  ANKC:  Gundog,  CKC:  Sporting,  KC:  Sporting,  NZKC:  Gundog,  UKC:  Gundog

The Golden Retriever is a popular breed with a long coat, friendly, family dog. Their owners love their calm, social tendencies and for good reason – they might just be the quintessential pet every child should have growing up. They make a great family pet.

The Golden is an intelligent dog and can be trained to work with people on many levels. Their intelligence makes them easy to train and their loyalty just comes naturally.They are often crossed with Labrador retrievers for Guide Dogs for the blind, especially in the U.K.

Scottish Dog Breeds

Gordon Setter

Origins:  Scotland
Size:  Large to Giant
Grooming: Extensive
Training: Easy
Recognition:  FCI:  Group 7,  AKC:  Sporting,  ANKC:  Gundog,  CKC:  Sporting,  KC:  Gundog,  NZKC:  Gundog,  UKC:  Gundog

The Gordon Setter originated in Scotland, developed by the Duke of Gordon, and is the largest of the Setter dog breeds, standing up to 27 inches at the shoulder and weighing up to 80 lbs. They have a striking appearance, with a glossy black coat set off by tan markings.

They may look slender, athletic and somewhat frail, but make no mistake - these dogs were bred to withstand the rough terrain and foul weather that can occur in Scotland. This is one tough nut!

Rough Collie

Origins:  Scotland
Size: Large
Grooming: Time Consuming
Training: Average
Recognition:  CKC (Herding),  ANKC (Working),  KC (Pastoral),  AKC (Herding),  NZKC (Working),  UKC (Herding),  FCI (Group 1)

Probably belongs to the most famous Scottish dog breeds. The Collie Dog Breed and the name Lassie became almost synonymous at one point in history, where children simply called it "the Lassie dog."  This fictional TV hero is the best known Rough Collie of all times. 

We think of the this breed as a loving, loyal family dog that is courageous, full of energy, and very smart because that is what Lassie symbolized. They have a rough coat, hence the name, and they also have long hair. These are popular dogs due to their faithful nature.

Scottish Dog Breeds

Scottish Deerhound

Origins: Scotland
Size: Giant
Grooming: Time Consuming
Training: Time Consuming
Recognition:  FCI: Group 10,  AKC: Hound,  ANKC: Hounds,  CKC: Hounds,  KC: Hounds,  NZKC: Hounds,  UKC: Sighthound & Pariah

The Scottish Deerhound is one of the world's largest breeds, almost as tall as the Irish Wolfhound. It is tall and rangy, with a short but shaggy coat giving it an unkempt look. This is a very old breed, used by Scotland's clan chiefs to hunt and bring down big Red Deer, which could weigh up to 400lbs.

Scottish Terrier

Origins: Scotland
Size: Small
Grooming: Time Consuming
Training: Time Consuming
Recognition:,  FCI: Group 3,  AKC: Terriers,  ANKC: Terriers,  CKC: Terriers,  KC: Terriers,  NZKC:Terriers,  UKC:  Terriers

The "Scottie", as they are also known, was bred to hunt small rodents, foxes and badgers in its home country of Scotland. It is believed to be the oldest British dog breed. It is one of 5 terrier breeds from Scotland, the others being the Cairn Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, the Skye Terrier, and the West Highland White Terrier.

Shetland Sheepdog

Origins: Scotland
Size: Small
Grooming: Time Consuming
Training: Easy
Recognition:  FCI: Group 1,  AKC: Herding,  ANKC: Working,  CKC: Herding,  KC: Pastoral,  NZKC: Working,  UKC:  Herding

The Shetland Sheepdog breed looks like a small version of the Rough Collie, and originated on the Shetland Islands, north of Scotland, the most northerly point of the United Kingdom. These dogs are bright, playful and have lots of energy. Shetland Sheepdogs are affectionately known as the 'Sheltie' for short.

Skye Terrier

Origins: Scotland
Size: Small
Grooming:  Time Consuming
Training: Time Consuming
Recognition:  FCI: Group 3,  AKC: Terrier,  ANKC: Terrier,  CKC: Terrier,  KC:Terrier,  NZKC: Terrier,  UKC:  Terrier

The Skye Terrier comes from the Isle of Skye, the northernmost island of the Inner Hebrides, off the West coast of Scotland. Bred by farmers hundreds of years ago to control the local fox and badger populations, the Skye has a long body and short legs, to allow it to get down holes.

This is one of the calmest of the Terrier breeds, but retains an interest and curiosity in new smells and sight when out for a walk. Small enough to be a great apartment dog, they love living indoors as long as they can get outdoors for a walk each day.

Scottish Dog Breeds

Smooth Collie

Origins:  Scotland
Size: Large
Grooming: Time Consuming
Training: Average
Recognition:  CKC (Herding),  ANKC (Working),  KC (Pastoral),  AKC (Herding),  NZKC (Working),  UKC (Herding),  FCI (Group 1)

The Smooth Collie is a breed of dog developed originally for herding. It is a short-coated version of the Rough Collie of Lassie fame. Some breed organizations consider the smooth-coat and rough-coat dogs to be variations of the same breed.

Scottish Dog Breeds

West Highland White Terrier

Origins: Scotland
Size: Small
Grooming: Time Consuming
Training: Average
Recognition: FCC:  Group 8, AKC:  Terriers,  ANKC:  Terriers,  CKC:  Terriers,  KC:  Terriers,  NZKC:  Terriers,  UKC:  Terriers

The West Highland White Terrier is best described as alert, active, independent and friendly. They are quick to win your heart with their energetic persona and their bright white coat that just accents their button eyes, making them an initial hit among anyone who loves a people oriented canine. 

Scottish Dog Breeds

I hope you enjoyed our guide to Scottish Dog Breeds; if you think we have missed an important one, please let us know by using the Contact Me link. Thank you!


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