Photo by ccho

Scottish Terrier - Breed Profile:

Origin: Scotland
Colors: Solid black, dark grey, wheaten, grizzle and brindle
Size: Small
Type of Owner: Experienced
Exercise: Moderate
Grooming: Regular
Trainability: Somewhat difficult to train
Combativeness: Tends to be fairly dog-aggressive
Dominance: High
Noise: Average barker

Physical characteristics

The Scottish Terrier is a small heavy-boned dog with a compact body, short legs, and a long, bearded head. The body is moderately short with a broad, very deep chest and well-sprung ribs. The front legs are straight or slightly bent with elbows close to the body. The back legs are very muscular and powerful for the dog's size, with the hocks parallel to each other. The stop between the skull and the muzzle is slight. The almond-shaped eyes are shielded with bushy eyebrows. The ears are small, erect, and pointed. The nose is always black regardless of the coat colour. It should somewhat project over the mouth, giving the impression that the upper jaw is longer than the lower. The teeth should meet in a scissor or level bite. The tail is about seven inches long; it is thick at the base and tapers gradually to a fine point.
Scottish Terriers weigh up to 22 pounds. Their height averages 10 inches.


Brave, alert, hardy and lovable. Charming and full of character. Playful and friendly as a puppy, the dog matures into a sporty, dignified adult. Very good watchdogs. This breed has a wilful streak and needs firm, but gentle handling from an early age or it will try to dominate the household and challenge family members who have not become the dog's leaders. A dog that is allowed to be the leader is very likely to develop behaviour issues such as being snappy, possessive, territorial, etc. Make sure to establish rules and discipline the dog should follow. Proper socialization is also necessary to avoid aggression toward other dogs. Scottish Terriers are better with older, considerate children as these dogs dislike being poked and prodded. Scotties like to dig, they enjoy walks and love playing ball games. Some individuals do well in apartments, but some need at least a small-sized yard to get away from their owner and have an independent dog life. The same independent spirit makes the Scottie somewhat difficult to train.

Coat and grooming

The coat consists of hard, wiry outer coat and a soft, thick undercoat. The dog should be trimmed about six times a year to a distinct Scottish Terrier outline, which includes longer hair on the legs and the lower part of the body. The beard and eyebrows should also be distinct. The Scottish Terrier comes in solid black, dark grey, wheaten, grizzle and brindle. Small white spots on the chest are permissible. Twice a week brushing is necessary even for non-show dogs, with extra care given in shedding periods.


Scotties tend to gain weight easily, so it's important not to overfeed them. Some bloodlines are prone to Scottie cramp (a movement problem), von Willebrand's disease, flea allergy, skin and jaw problems, and various forms of cancer, including bladder, skin, and urinary tract cancers. The lifespan is 10 to 12 years.

Other interesting facts

The Scottie was developed in Scotland in the 1700s and first named the Aberdeen Terrier, after the Scottish town of Aberdeen. Its original purpose was to hunt and kill vermin on farms. Scotties arrived in the USA in the 1890's and were recognized by the AKC in 1885.