Scottish Terrier: The Ultimate Dog Guide


The Scottish Terrier, affectionately known as the “Scottie,” has a rich history dating back to Scotland’s early days. Known for their unique appearance and strong personality, these small dogs have found a special place in the hearts of dog lovers worldwide.

Aspect Information
Origin Scotland
Size and Weight 18-22 pounds, about 10 inches tall at the shoulder
Coat and Color Wiry coat in black, wheaten, or brindle
Temperament Bold, confident, independent, intelligent, sometimes stubborn
Exercise Needs Moderate: Daily walks and playtime
Grooming Regular brushing, occasional professional grooming
Health Concerns Von Willebrand’s disease, patellar luxation, certain cancers
Diet High-quality dog food; consult a vet for specific dietary needs
Living Conditions Adaptable to both apartments and homes with yards
Life Span 12-15 years on average

Origins and History

Scotland’s early terriers

Scotland has been home to many types of terriers, each bred for specific tasks. The ancestors of the modern Scottish Terrier were developed in the highlands, serving as vermin hunters and guarding properties.

Evolution into the modern Scottish Terrier

Over time, selective breeding refined the breed, emphasizing traits such as a sturdy build, wiry coat, and distinct appearance.

Historical roles and jobs

Scottish Terriers were valued as hunters, especially efficient at hunting foxes, rats, and other small animals. Their small size allowed them to chase prey into burrows, and their fearless nature made them excellent watchdogs.

Physical Characteristics

Size and weight

Typically, Scottish Terriers weigh between 18-22 pounds and stand about 10 inches tall at the shoulder.

Coat and color variations

Their wiry coat can come in various colors, including black, wheaten, and brindle. This coat is designed to protect them from harsh weather conditions and rough terrains.

Unique physical traits

Scotties have a distinct profile with a long head, erect ears, and a bushy beard and eyebrows. Their deep-set eyes give them an endearing yet keen expression.

Temperament and Behavior

Personality traits

Scotties are known for their bold and confident nature. They are independent, intelligent, and can sometimes be a bit stubborn.

Behavior with other animals

While they can coexist with other pets, early socialization is essential. Due to their hunting background, they might exhibit a strong prey drive around smaller animals.

Suitability for families and children

Scottish Terriers make wonderful family pets. They are loyal and protective but should always be introduced to children under supervision, teaching kids to respect their space.

Training and Socialization

Importance of early socialization

Introducing a Scottish Terrier to different people, pets, and environments during puppyhood can result in a well-rounded adult dog.

Training techniques specific to Scottish Terriers

Consistency is key with Scotties. Positive reinforcement methods, like treats and praise, work best. Training sessions should be short and engaging.

Common challenges and solutions

Their independent nature might make them a bit stubborn at times. Patience and persistence, coupled with understanding their personality, are crucial for effective training.

Health and Care

Common health issues and genetic predispositions

Scottish Terriers, like all breeds, can be prone to specific health issues. These might include Von Willebrand’s disease, patellar luxation, and certain types of cancers.

Diet and nutrition

Feeding a balanced diet is essential. Opt for high-quality dog foods, and always consult a vet regarding any dietary changes or concerns.

Exercise requirements

While not overly energetic, Scottish Terriers benefit from daily walks and playtime.

Grooming needs

Their wiry coat requires regular brushing to prevent matting and occasional professional grooming to maintain its shape.

Living Conditions

Adapting to apartments vs. houses with yards

Scotties can adapt to both apartment living and homes with yards, as long as they get their daily exercise.

Climate considerations

Their dense coat provides some protection against colder climates, but they should not be exposed to extreme temperatures for extended periods.

Potential hazards to avoid

Being curious and tenacious, it’s essential to ensure that your home is safe for a Scottie. Secure trash cans, avoid toxic plants and be wary of small spaces where they might get stuck.

Activities and Play

Recommended toys and games

Interactive toys, puzzle feeders, and tug toys are favorites among Scottish Terriers.

Participation in dog sports and competitions

Their intelligence and agility make them suitable for activities like agility trials and obedience competitions.

Tips for stimulating a Scottish Terrier’s mind

Regular training sessions, new toys, and interactive playtimes are excellent ways to keep a Scottish Terrier mentally stimulated.

Breeding and Puppy Care

Finding reputable breeders

Always opt for breeders who prioritize health, temperament, and breed standards over profits.

Considerations before breeding

Before breeding, ensure that the dogs have been health checked and are of suitable age and temperament.

Caring for Scottish Terrier puppies

Scottie puppies are lively and curious. Provide them with a safe environment, proper nutrition, and early socialization.

Adoption and Rescue

Benefits of adopting a Scottish Terrier

Adopting gives a dog a second chance for a happy life while freeing up space in shelters for other animals.

Where to find Scottish Terrier rescues

Numerous breed-specific rescues and general dog rescues have Scottish Terriers looking for homes.

Preparing your home for an adopted dog

Ensure your home is safe, have a comfortable space ready for the dog, and slowly introduce the new pet to other members of the household.

Historical Popularity

While the Scottish Terrier has its roots firmly in Scotland, its charm is not limited to its homeland. Over the years, the breed has gained significant popularity internationally. In fact, in the United States, the Scottish Terrier enjoyed a surge in popularity during the 1930s and 1940s. Part of this appeal came from famous figures and presidents like Franklin D. Roosevelt, whose Scottish Terrier, Fala, often made public appearances. The close association of such a dignified breed with prominent personalities undoubtedly raised its profile.

Scottish Terrier in Pop Culture

Scotties have not only been favorites among world leaders but have also found their way into popular culture. From the Monopoly game piece to starring roles in movies and TV shows, their distinct appearance and demeanor make them easily recognizable. Their portrayals often highlight their brave, feisty, and loyal nature, further cementing their reputation as more than just lapdogs but as companions with a large presence.

Traveling with a Scottish Terrier

Considering their adaptable nature, Scottish Terriers can be great travel companions. However, if you’re planning a trip with your Scottie, it’s essential to prepare. Always ensure they have a comfortable carrier for longer journeys and remember to take breaks if traveling by car. Familiar toys and blankets can ease the stress of unfamiliar surroundings. Additionally, be mindful of their dietary and exercise needs even when on vacation. A happy, well-cared-for Scottie will make your travels even more memorable.

Interacting with Other Breeds

Given the Scottish Terrier’s strong-willed nature, interactions with other breeds can vary. While they can be friendly and sociable, it’s not uncommon for a Scottie to display dominance or territorial behavior, especially with dogs of the same gender. Early socialization, as with any breed, plays a pivotal role in shaping these interactions. However, always supervise play sessions and introductions, ensuring all involved pets feel safe and comfortable.


The Scottish Terrier, with its rich history, distinctive look, and charming personality, is truly a unique breed. Whether you’re considering adopting, buying, or just getting to know the breed, understanding their needs and characteristics will undoubtedly deepen your appreciation for these remarkable dogs.


Sergey Uhanov, a certified veterinarian, has authored all of the content here. With over 20 years of experience in dog care and breeding three dogs of his own, he has a deep passion for these furry friends. Sergey owns a pet clinic in Israel where he provides care and treatment to dogs. He enjoys sharing his expertise and knowledge to assist others in caring for their dogs.

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