Scottish Terrier Overview

Dog Breed:
Scottish Terrier
Breed Group:
Independent, confident, dignified, tenacious and serious
10 inches
18-22 pounds
Life Span:
12 years
Coat Colors:
Black, wheaten and brindle
Area of Origin:
Best For:
Experienced Owners/Apartment or house/Access to a fenced area for exercise.
Adult Food:
Best Dog Food for Scottish Terriers
Puppy Food:
Best Puppy Food for Scottish Terriers

Scottish Terrier Characteristics

Good for First-Time Owners
Good with Children
Easy to Train
Exercise Requirements
Ease of Grooming
Amount of Shedding
Amount of Drooling
Tendency to Bark

About The Scottish Terrier


The short-legged Scottish Terrier was initially bred to hunt prey, and so was developed to be an independent, free-thinking companion. This is a breed that adores his family but is indifferent to those he doesn’t yet know. Even when with family, you may find the Scottie prefers to lay beside you rather than curled up with you or on your lap.

Smart, brave, and loyal, he is best suited to a home with older children who will love to play games and be gentle in their handling. Never looking for trouble, the Scottie is the type of dog who also doesn’t back down when challenged. This can mean that places like dog parks may not be the best place for socializing.

This a breed that joins you as a partner rather than slavishly offering you love and affection. They are, however, incredibly loyal, and once you have earned their respect, they are devoted for life.

Scottish Terrier Breed History

  • One of the oldest British breeds

  • Originally breed as a hunter

  • Arrived in the US in 1883

One of the oldest breeds in Britain, the Scottish Terrier was developed in the Scottish Highlands as a hunter of foxes, badgers, and rats. There is some controversy over their origins, but it’s likely, they were initially bred for the hunting abilities, and then the type began to develop.

Despite these farm-dog origins, the breed had connections in high places. England’s King James I, a Scot by birth, was a fan of the Scottie and gave them as gifts. Keen to be seen as loyal to the Kind, the breed rapidly grew in popularity.

By the 1800s, there were many different types of terriers in Scotland. However, for showing, they were separated into two groups, the Dandie Dinmont Terriers and then the Skye Terriers, of which the Scottish Terrier was a member. By the end of the nineteenth century, the Skye Terrier group had finally been divided into four different breeds: the Scottish Terrier, Skye Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, and the Cairn Terrier.

The Scottie was first imported to America in 1883 with the first registration with the AKC two years later. The 1930s and 1940s saw the Scottie rise to fame with celebrity owners such as Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis, and their image is still popular today with a whole range of businesses using it within their advertising and logos.

Scottish Terrier Size & Weight

  • Small and compact breed

  • Males 11 inches tall and up to 22 pounds

  • Females 11 inches tall and up to 21 pounds

The Scottish Terrier is described as a small, compact, short-legged, sturdily-built dog. Both males and females are the same height at around 11 inches at the shoulder. The breed standard also gives a measurement of 11 inches for the length of their back from the withers through to the tail.

Male Scotties weigh from 19 to 22 pounds and 18 to 21 pounds for the females.

Scottish Terrier Personality & Temperament

  • Reserved and dignified

  • Devoted to their family

  • Supervision needed around other dogs


If you’re looking for a dog who goes running up to everyone to say hello or is a bit of a clown, then the Scottish Terrier might not be the right choice. That’s because they have a reputation as having a pretty serious outlook on life. Dignity and reserve are the order of the day when it comes to people they don’t know, and as for someone oohing and aahing over them, no thank you!

However, their devotion to their family is never in doubt, and for this, they need to live in the house and become a beloved companion. An apartment home is an option as long as there’s a daily walk as an outlet for the Scottie’s energy.

For an experienced owner, this can be a great choice as a family pet. The Scottie is known to be tolerant around children, but they are unlikely to enjoy heavy-handed petting. Supervision is always recommended when dogs and children are together.

As to sociability with other dogs, well, many Scotties just aren’t that bothered about it. Beware though that while he may not start a fight, he won’t back down from one either.

The Scottish Terrier can tolerate both warm conditions, but given a choice, a colder climate is going to be the preferred option.

Scottish Terrier Health & Grooming

  • Some genetic conditions that breeders should screen their dogs for.

  • A double coat which needs regular grooming

  • Clipping the coat can make it easier to manage for pet owners


The Scottie breed is fortunate to have relatively few genetic problems. Responsible breeders will check all their dogs before deciding to breed so, do ask to see the screening paperwork for the following conditions when viewing pups.

Von Willebrand’s Disease. This is a serious blood clotting disorder, but due to the continued DNA checking of dogs and removal of affected dogs from breeding programs, it’s now rarely seen in the breed.

Craniomandibular Osteopathy (CMO). CMO affects the jawbones of young dogs, causing over-growth and painful swelling in the lower jaw. Affected dogs can be identified through DNA testing.

Patellar Luxation. A common problem in small dogs, luxation happens when there is dislocation of the kneecap. This then results in pain and lameness, with surgery often being the only solution.

With their harsh, wiry outer coat and soft undercoat, Scottish Terriers need regular grooming. Hand stripping is often recommended to keep on top of the coat, and your breeder may be able to show you how to do this or suggest a groomer who can help.

Some pet owners decide to have their Scotties clipped every 6-8 weeks and just brushing through the coat themselves once a week. This does mean, however, that the soft undercoat begins to grow through, and the harsh texture is lost.

Scottish Terrier Training

  • Short nonrepetitive training to get the best results

  • Reward-based methods make training fun

  • Strong hunting instinct still in place


Bred to work independently, the Scottie does best in training when the sessions are short and avoid too much repetition. Reward-based methods will get good results and also come with the bonus of helping you develop a great relationship with your Scottie.

The Scottie is a highly intelligent breed but may not be the first choice if you’re looking for a dog who is easily trained to a high standard. That said, with a little patience and good humor, there’s no reason why your Scottish Terrier can’t learn all the behaviors needed to be a well-mannered member of the family.

The terrier instinct is still strong within the Scottie, and so even the most obedient Scottie may find it difficult not to give chase should they spot small furries out on a walk. The breed can also be a vocal one, and they will bark to let you know if a stranger is nearby.

Scottish Terrier Exercise Requirements

  • Short nonrepetitive training to get the best results

  • Reward-based methods make training fun

  • Strong hunting instinct still in place


Scottish Terriers need a good walk every day. They’re a high energy breed for their size and love the chance for a good run off-leash. This means that you’ll need to find a spot that is fully fenced in so that they can exercise in safety.

Do consider though that they do only have small legs, so you’re not going to need to walk miles to tire them out, and they’re not going to be an ideal jogging partner. An hour a day is probably going to be enough for most Scotties

Scotties love to play; whether it’s fetching a ball or playing tug, they’ll keep going until you have to stop. This can be a great way of tiring out your terrier while reconfirming in their mind that you’re a great person to be around!

Scottish Terrier Diet & Feeding

  • Chat to your vet for feeding advice for your dog

  • Select an adult food based on your dog's size, age and exercise level

  • Foods designed for small dogs can help prevent obesity.


Chat to your vet for personalized advice on feeding your Scottish Terrier. Most pups start off on a specially formulated puppy food which provides all the nutrients needed by a growing dog.

When switching to adult food at about 6 months, look for one which matches your dog’s age, size, and exercise level. Many manufacturers now produce small dog food, which is designed to ensure your dog’s needs are met within small portions.

You may also be interested in:

Scottish Terrier Rescue Groups

If you’re interested in offering a Scottish Terrier a new home, there are rescue organizations across the US who can provide help and support –

North Texas Scottish Rescue –

Scottie Kingdom Rescue –

St Louise Scottish Terrier Rescue –

For further information on the breed, check out the website of the Scottish Terrier Club of America –