Scottish Terrier

The Scottie, also known as the Aberdeen Terrier or Scottish Terrier is thought to be an ancient breed, native to Scotland. Have a read of the guide below for all the breed information you need.

scottish terrier on green grass lawn

Height: 10 inches
Weight: Male 8.5-10 kilos, female 8-9.5 kilos
Scottish Terrier Lifespan: 12 years
Pedigree? (registered with the KC?): Yes, this breed is registered with the Kennel Club.

Positives and Negatives

Check out the pros and cons of the Scottish Terrier below:

Pros:

  • Hypoallergenic, low shedding coat
  • Suitable for apartment living
  • Child-friendly
  • Independent and can be left on their own

Cons:

  • Typical Terrier temperament
  • High grooming maintenance
  • Strong prey drive
  • Stubborn, may not be ideal for first-time owners

brown scottish terrier

Overview

The Scottish Terrier is a small yet sturdy dog that is most certainly related to the Terrier family!

Fiesty but friendly, this canine has a unique personality and with the right owner, they make an excellent pet. Scotties also get along well with children which is why they are popular family companions.

It was tradition for the working Scottish Terrier to have its tail docked. This prevented injury to the dog when flushing out prey.

In 1993 by law, only vets could carry out this procedure, but this was changed in 2007 for only working or medical reasons. Scotland passed their Animal Health and Welfare Act a year earlier.

Scottish Terriers have a strong prey drive and could easily wander off on a chase. They should only be exercised off-leash in enclosed spaces.

Be it a smaller animal or even a bicycle, this pooch will initiate a chase but could easily come into harm’s way.

Those in positions of power such as Queen Victoria, George W. Bush, Franklin D. Roosevelt were all mesmerized by the Scottish Terrier.

Even Hitler’s long term companion Eva Braun owned two Scottish Terriers herself names, Negus and Stasi. These were often kept away from Hitler’s German Shepherd.

scottish terrier on yard

History

The beginning of the Scottish Terrier’s history is fairly unknown. They are the oldest of the native Scottish Highland Terriers and share a genetic background with the West Highland Terrier.

Both originated from the Blackmount area of Perthshire and the Rannoch Moor.

At one stage the Scottish Terrier and other Terrier breeds were all listed as Skye Terriers. Hence the reason their historical background is vague.

Many believe Don Leslie’s book, The History of Scotland 1436-1561 describes a canine similar to the Scottie.

In the 1600s, a painting by Sir Joshua Reynolds features a pooch whose features are remarkably close to the Scottie.

This dog was bred to go to ground chasing prey such as badgers, foxes, and vermin.

They were known as the Aberdeen Terrier until 1879 when their name was changed by breed enthusiast Captain Gordon Murray.

The first official breed club was established in 1882. That same year breed standards were drawn up.

King James I is Scottish by birth and is believed to have given the breed out as gifts. In 1883 Scotties arrived in America and were handed their AKC recognition by 1885.

President Roosevelts Scottish Terrier Fala is the most well-known Scottie in American history.

Whilst the breed has always maintained popularity and is the in fact the dog featured in the Monopoly set, their registration numbers have reduced.

Unfortunately in 2019, the breed was put on the Kennel Clubs ‘watch list’, although since then breed numbers have begun to pick up.

Related: Don’t miss our guide to famous Scottish dog breeds.

Personality

Scottish Terrier Temperament:

The typical Terrier temperament is something the Scottie won’t be able to escape. Digging, barking, alertness, and stubbornness are just some of the traits to be expected.

First-time owners should only consider the Scottie if they have the time necessary for training. A Scottish Terrier puppy is born with independence!

scottish terrier on snow

Like most in the Terrier family, feistiness is certain. Due to their size, this could land them in trouble with bigger dogs. Scottie’s won’t back down if challenged!

They may also be territorial and have a strong prey drive, so if they have access to a garden, it must be secure.

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Are Scottish Terriers Good with Strangers?

No, a Scottie is aloof and reserved with strangers. They’re territorial and always on the alert which makes them an excellent watchdog.

They should be more accepting towards strangers in their early years and need socialization to encourage friendly behaviour.

Are Scottish Terriers Good with Children?

Yes, this breed makes an excellent family pet although older children are recommended. They may be offended by the poking and prodding of toddlers and could react.

Scotties are known to be loyal and devoted to their families although they may bond better with one household member.

Are Scottish Terriers Ok with Other Dogs?

No, Scottie dogs can be dominant and even aggressive towards other dogs of the same sex. Due to their strong prey drive, they will instinctively chase smaller animals.

They can live alongside dogs they have grown up with and can learn to live with felines.

Exercise

Scottish Terriers will need up to one hour of exercise each day. Scottish Terrier puppies may need longer.

It is recommended they have access to a small garden although they can also live in apartments.

Due to their strong prey drive and independence, the Scottie could wander off and should always be kept on a leash.

If a Scottie dog has access to a garden, don’t plant any nice flower beds, this canine will destroy it in seconds!

When bored destruction will follow which is why mental stimulation is important for this working Terrier. Dog sports such as earthdog trials and agility are great ways to do this.

scottish terrier on beach

Recommended next: The Dogue de Bordeaux is also known as the French Mastiff. Check them out in our guide.

Health

Check out the breed-related health condition

  • Atopy- This skin disease will cause itchiness and is lifelong. Owners will need to learn how to manage the condition as there is no cure.
  • Von Willebrands Disease- This condition is a deficiency in blood platelets which causes excessive bleeding. It is common in both dogs and humans.
  • Cardiomyopathy- The heart’s muscle degenerates and becomes thinner. It will eventually lead to heart failure or death.
  • Cushing’s Syndrome- The excessive production of the hormone Cortisol, a chemical that controls stress, blood sugar levels, weight, and the ability to fight infections.
  • Lens Luxation- The lens zonules are threads that hold the eye in position. As these deteriorate the eye may become dislocated either partially or completely. This hereditary condition is commonly seen in Terrier breeds.
  • Cataracts- An abnormal cloudiness appears in the eye after a change of lens. If the cloud is large enough it will lead to blindness.
  • Luxating Patella- The kneecap dislocates out of position before quickly relocating back into place. Affected dogs won’t be able to fully extend their leg.
  • Scottie Cramp- An inherited condition affecting the Scottish Terrier. It’s a neurological condition that prevents the affected dog from moving its limbs temporarily.
  • Craniomandibular Osteopathy- This developmental condition is also known as ‘Lion’s Jaw’ and causes changes to the bone in the skull and lower jaw. It is linked to the Scottish, Cairn, Boston, and West Highland Terriers.

Intelligence & Training

Scottish Terriers are known to be stubborn, just like other members of the Terrier family. To overcome this, patience and consistency will be needed.

Their independent nature can be challenging at times. Outdoor training is also a struggle due to the numerous distractions diverting a Scottie’s mind.

It is important the owner holds the Alpha position and not the Scottie! Once they understand their position in the pack, obedience training can take place.

scottish terrier inside a vintage box

Sessions should never surpass 15 minutes and even then, some find this too long!

Multiple sessions a day over a period of months will help shape the Scottie into the well-rounded Terrier they can be.

Only first-time owners that have time and determination should be considering this breed. This small canine has a mind of its own and will test the boundaries. Never give in!

Otherwise, training will start right back at square one. Food rewards are a good way to keep this breed focused. Small portions will help avoid weight gain.

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Grooming

The Scottish Terrier dog is hypoallergenic with a low shedding coat. This makes them a more ideal breed choice for those suffering from allergies.

Yet because of this, they will need consistent grooming to remove dead hair from their coat. On occasion, a professional groomer could be beneficial.

This breed has a double coat with the outer layer being weather-resistant, repelling debris. Brush through their coat once or twice a week.

scottish terrier with fishing rod resting on the shoreline of a river

A soft bristle brush would be the most ideal tool to use. Hand stripping will be needed every 4-12 weeks and can be done with a stripping knife.

Scottish Terriers should be bathed every 6-8 weeks. Wash through and massage the coat with doggy shampoo.

Ensure any products are washed out thoroughly before drying. In summer, air drying is fine, but it is better to blow dry during the winter months.

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