The Scottish Terrier Dog Breed Is Spirited And Bright

Scottish Terrier Dog

The Scottish Terrier Dog Breed is bright, lively and fun to be around!

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.

A black Scottish Terrier standing outdoors on grass
A Black Scottish Terrier

Scottish Terrier Dog Breed – Temperament

The Scottie is playful, intelligent, and has a strong independent streak in its nature. They are probably best known for their tough nature and single-minded determination. If you play a tug-of-war game with your Scottish Terrier, he will not give in no matter how long you keep going. You will abandon the game before he does!

Their independent nature means that they are somewhat aloof with strangers, and will regard a newcomer with caution at first. This aloofness can also appear at training time, when the dog may appear stubborn. But in fact the dog is just thinking for itself, and gets bored quickly if training is repetitious.

The Scottie tends to regard it’s owners home and surrounding area as its own territory, and may initially become defensive with strangers and other dogs.

A Black Scottish Terrier standing outdoors on grass

Scottish Terrier Dog Breed – Breed History

The history of this breed is clouded in uncertainty and controversy. There were several terrier breeds in Scotland from as early as 1400, all of them usually referred to as “Scotch Terriers”. There are references to terrier-like dogs in writings and paintings from 1400s through to 1700s.  King James the 1st of England was a fan of the breed.

The terrier dogs in Scotland at that time were used by farmers and estate managers to control vermin such as rats and mice, and were also used for bigger animals such as badgers. The best dogs were the ones who could work without a lot of guidance, and this lead to the independent nature of the breed we have today.

At the turn of the 20th century it was decided to define the different types of terrier in Scotland, and breed the separate types. At first they were simply divided into 2 groups, which roughly reflected where they came from; dogs from the West of Scotland and Scottish Highlands were referred to as Skye Terriers, while dogs from the East side of Scotland and the borders with England were labelled ‘Dandie Dinmont’ Terriers, after the fictitious farmer in the novel ‘Guy Mannering’ by Walter Scott.

The types of terrier in the Skye Terrier group were not quite like the Skye Terrier we have today. They were a much more varied group in size and appearance, but shared the approximate geography of their origin.

A black Scottish Terrier standing outdoors
A black Scottish Terrier dog

In the 1870s, the breed standards for the terrier breeds from Scotland were laid down for the first time, mainly so that dog shows could offer appropriate classes for dogs to compete in. The Dandie Dinmont remained as an identifiable breed in its own right, but the big class of terriers from the Western side of Scotland were divided into 4 separate breeds; the Cairn Terrier, the Skye Terrier (with a much tighter breed description), the West Highland White Terrier, and the Scottish Terrier.

Most, if not all, modern Scottish Terriers are descended from 4 dogs that won numerous dog shows and exhibitions in the 1870s, one of them from Aberdeen which gives the Scottish Terrier its second name of ‘Aberdeen Terrier’.

Bizarrely, there was disagreement and argument between the Scottish Terrier Club of England and the Scottish Terrier Club of Scotland over the exact breed standard. A revised standard was finally agreed in 1930, the the Scottish Terrier was finally recognized by the U.K. Kennel Club later that same year.

Scottish Terriers first appeared in America in 1890, and the Scottish Terrier Club of America was formed in 1900.America wrote its own breed standard in 1925, and was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1934.

Vital Statistics;

Height;   10 inches

Weight;  18 lbs to 22 lbs

Life Span; 12 to14 years


Black; Black Brindle; Brindle; Red Brindle; Silver Brindle; Wheaten.

Scottish Terrier Dog Breed – Ease of Training

These dogs are moderately difficult to train. Because of their intelligence and independent nature, they quickly get bored and their attention wanders. It’s best to keep training sessions short (10 minutes or less) and frequent (say 3 times a day).

As always, it’s important to socialize your puppy as early as possible, to get him used to new sounds, smells and sights, including meeting strangers. We have a page about socializing your puppy HERE.

Once old enough, it’s a great idea to take your puppy to puppy training classes, to extend the socialization process, and introduce your dog to the concept of training. You will also learn some important dog training tips!

After that, we recommend taking your dog to obedience classes, to cement what’s been taught so far, and build on the dog’s training. While this may seem tie-consuming, it will result in a well behaved dog that is happier and a pleasure to have in the home. You may like to look at our page on the best dog training books.

Scottish Terrier Dog Breed – Protection

This is a watchful and alert breed of dog, and they normally only bark if something’s going on. Taken into account with the breed’s natural caution of strangers, and you can see that they make good watchdogs. They will quickly alert you of anything unusual happening in the vicinity.

As guard dogs, they are very brave and tenacious, and may well ‘have a go’ at an unwanted intruder. But they are not nervous or aggressive dogs, and they lack the size required to put off a determined intruder.

If you are looking for protection, I suggest you look for a bigger breed.

Scottish Terrier Dog Breed – Grooming

The Scotttie has a soft dense undercoat and a harsher, wiry, coarse topcoat. If you want to keep the natural coat length, you must be prepared to brush the coat every day or 2, and the AKC recommends hand stripping every 4 weeks. You should start doing this as soon as the adult coat appears, to get the dog used to the process.

Alternatively, if you are not intending to show your dog in the show-ring, then you may consider clipping the coat. This is usually best done by a professional dog-groomer every 6 to 8 weeks. The advantages include reduced matting of the coat, reduced need for brushing, and with a shorter ‘beard’, less food and dirt collecting around the dog’s mouth.

With a trimmed coat and beard, the dog only needs a brief brush every few days, and a more thorough brush and comb-through each week. Your dog groomer will advise you, depending on how he has trimmed the dog.

The dogs’ claws should be checked each month and trimmed if getting too long to prevent splitting and cracking. The ears should be checked each week for any signs of infection such as redness or swelling, and also for any foreign objects or a bad smell. The teeth should be brushed each day with a dog-specific toothpaste.

Scottish Terrier Dog Breed – Health Considerations

There are 3 main genetic conditions to be aware of with the Scottish Terrier dog breed. These are the blood clotting condition known as von Willebrands Disease,  a bone disorder called Craniomandibular Osteopathy, and an autosomal recessive gene that causes a condition called Scottie Cramp.

Von Willebrand’s Disease is a clotting disorder, which also affects humans, where normal blood clotting is delayed. This results in increased bleeding after surgery or after an accident. There might also be nose bleeds.

Craniomandibular Osteopathy is a bone disorder affecting only dogs. The normal process of bone resorption and growth is accelerated and out of balance, resulting in excessive bone forming in the skull and lower jaw. The condition usually slows by the time the dog is one year old, and may slowly resolve over the following years.

Scottie Cramp is a neurological condition that affects the way the dog can walk, especially when excited or under stress.  Some treatments that seem to work include Prozac, Diazepam and vitamin E supplements.

Scottish Terriers seem to be significantly more prone to developing cancers of several types, especially bladder cancer.

Other conditions that can affect any dog include;

  •  patellar luxation
  •  Hip dysplasia
  •  eye problems such as cataract and glaucoma

Famous Examples of the Scottish Terrier Dog Breed

There are a lot of famous Scottish Terriers!

Both Franklin D Roosevelt and George W Bush had Scotties while in the White House. The breed is also depicted in the Monopoly board game dog token.

Famous personalities who have owned a Scottie include G.K. Chesterton, Rudyard Kipling, Tatum O’Neal, Jackie Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Eva Braun and Queen Victoria.

The breed also features in numerous works of fiction, including the film ‘The Lady and the Tramp’, and P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster novels.

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