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Scottish Terrier: The Ultimate Guide

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Getting any breed of dog is one of the most exciting things you can do, but all breeds will come with their own challenges too. There are so many things that you need to learn about before bringing any dog into your home, and the Scottish Terrier is no exception to this rule.

The Scottish Terrier is often referred to as the Scottie dog, and they are self-assured dogs that can be both playful and feisty. These are small dogs that can suit a variety of different households as long as you know what you are getting yourself into. It is important to be as prepared as possible, armed with all the information you could need.

Scottish terrier

Thankfully, we are here to help you with this. We have created the ultimate guide to the Scottish Terrier breed, so you can find all of the information that you need to know, all in one place. This will help you to find out exactly what Scottish Terriers are like and allow you to be prepared for a future of living with one.

Key Facts

Before we get into your detailed guide to the Scottish Terrier breed, there are some things that you should know about first. We are going to take a quick look at the lifespan, exercise requirements, coat, and monthly costs of the Scottish Terrier below.

Average Lifespan

On Average, the Scottish Terrier will live for between 12 and 15 years, which is a really long time to commit to any dog. 

Minimum Exercise (Per Day)

You should provide these dogs with at least 60 minutes of exercise per day. Despite their short legs, they are very fond of long walks and have lots of energy that needs to be burned off throughout the day.

They also love playing games like fetch and tug of war, which can be really helpful when trying to tire out your dog.

Coat Length

The Scottish Terrier is known for their short hair that is almost velvety in texture. These dogs also have two coats: the topcoat and the underneath.

The topcoat should be hard and wiry, offering more protection, and the undercoat should be soft and dense. Their hair just keeps on growing, which is why they do not shed as much as other short-coated breeds.

Minimum Cost (Per Month)

The minimum monthly cost of a Scottish Terrier is going to be around $65. This will cover things like food, insurance, essential items, and more. There are lots of ongoing costs that you will need to be prepared for when owning a dog.


The Scottish Terrier is a small, compact dog with short legs and a sturdy build. They have good bones and substance and a hard, wiry, and weather-resistant coat with a thick-set body.

The body is hung between short and heavy legs, and these characteristics, combined with a keen and piercing expression, are all key features of the breed. Other distinctive features of the Scottish Terrier are their erect ears and tails.

Their eyes should be small in size, yet bright and piercing, and they should be almond-shaped instead of round. The color of these dogs can range from black, greyish black, and even white. Their ears should be small, prick, and set well up on the skull and pointed. They should be covered with short and velvety hair.


The Scottish Terrier is a small, short-legged dog with a compact and sturdy build.

Average Height

The average height of the Scottish Terrier is around 10 inches tall for males and females.

Average Weight

The average weight of the Scottish Terrier can range between 19 and 22 pounds for males and 18 to 21 pounds for females.


The Scottish Terrier isn’t the most outgoing or adventurous of the Terriers, and they are much more serious.

They don’t typically get over-excited, but they approve of dignity and reserve regarding their personalities. They are opinionated dogs that are very independent and clever. They do tend to be aloof, but not typically towards their families. 

These dogs are not very likely to give much of a response to people that are showering them with attention when they are in public, and they are slow to accept anyone that is outside of their immediate family.

However, their devotion to their families is incredible. They need to live inside the house as they thrive on companionship and can be very sensitive to praise and anger. 

They are also great at adapting to the changing moods of the household, and they are likely to be quiet when you are unless they see something out of the ordinary. When it is time to go for a walk, they will head straight toward you.

You should be aware that they can be easily provoked by other dogs, and if this happens, they will fish until the end. Although, if other dogs leave them alone, they will leave other dogs alone.

It is really important to take your Scottish Terrier to socialization classes when they are still puppies. You should allow them to be around as many new people, situations, and environments as possible when they are young. This should also help with their lack of trust when it comes to strangers.

Apartment Living

As long as their daily exercise needs are met, the Scottish Terrier can adapt well to apartment living. 

Good for Novice Owners

Due to their independence, Scottish Terriers are not always the best first-time dogs. They are better suited for experienced owners that know how to handle independent dogs. Even though they are small in size, they have a mighty will and will require someone with experience to train them.

Sensitivity Level

Scottish terriers are very sensitive and don’t do well with being scolded. When you’re training them, it is best to use positive reinforcement in their training.

Tolerates Being Alone

Scottish Terriers aren’t very needy dogs; they quite like having time to themselves. They are very tolerant of being left alone because of this, as they don’t require as much company and attention as other breeds. You could leave them alone for the typical working day without any problems.

Tolerates Cold Weather

Scottish Terriers are originally from the Scottish Highlands so they can tolerate cold weather well. They have soft undercoats and a wiry topcoat that will help to insulate them from the cold.

Tolerates Hot Weather

Scottish Terriers can also tolerate hot weather quite well as they are able to regulate their body temperatures. However, they will still need access to shade and lots of water on hotter days to ensure that they do not overheat.

Affectionate With Family

Scottish Terriers are very loving once they get to know a person, but it can take some time for them to be trusting toward new people. This is why it is so important to ensure you socialize your young dog early on, as this will help keep them from thinking of everyone he meets as a danger to their family.


Scottish Terriers are so good with children that they are often referred to as nanny’s. However, just like any other Terrier, they will not respond well to having their tail or fur being pulled.

They also aren’t well-suited to the noise and chaotic movements of toddlers and young children. However, with well-behaved children who know how to properly interact with dogs, Scottish Terriers can form close bonds and consider themselves guardians.

Dog Friendly

Scottish Terriers have been known to be aggressive with other dogs, especially with those that are of the same sex. Although they are not typically fighting dogs, it can become a real problem if they want to start a fight or if another dog starts to fight with them.

However, with that being said, they are fine with other dogs that they have been raised with.

It might also be worth being aware of the fact that these dogs are natural hunters, which means that they are not well-suited to smaller pets. They might tolerate a cat, but they should definitely not be left unsupervised around any small mammals, like hamsters.

These animals will only ever be thought of as food, as it is in their nature to hunt smaller animals. You should avoid bringing them into households with other small pets, as it won’t end well.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Scottish Terriers tend to be aloof with strangers and can become aggressive towards them if they are not socialized from a young age. They will eventually warm up to new people, but it will take them some time to trust strangers.

Health And Grooming

Scottish terrier

Now that you know pretty much everything that there is to know about the nature, temperament, and appearance of the Scottish Terrier, it is time to take a look at their health and grooming requirements.


Scottish Terriers do not shed much at all, which is why they are considered to be a hypoallergenic breed.


These dogs do not drool much, if at all. If your Scottish Terrier is drooling excessively, then it could be a sign that they have an underlying health condition.


A Scottish Terrier’s skin can dry out easily, which is why it is important only to bathe them when necessary. This is a breed that will require quite a lot of grooming,and they are not the easiest to maintain. Their coats will need to be groomed on a weekly basis.

You can use lots of different tools for brushing these dogs, like a stiff brush, a hound glove, a wide-toothed comb, and scissors. If you want to keep their hair short, you can do so yourself or take them to a groomer. To keep their hair short, they will need to be clipped every 2 months. If you are keeping the hair long, trim it several times a year.

Scottish Terriers have bad reactions to fleas and have been known to chew their fur until bald patches form. You should brush them regularly with a flea comb and take other preventative measures. You will also need to cut down their nails if they are not being ground naturally.

Something else that you will need to do is brush their teeth at least 2 to 3 times a week to remove tartar buildup and bacteria. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath. Scottish Terriers have large teeth that are close together, which is why their teeth need to be cleaned regularly. The dog can suffer from tooth decay and gum disease if the teeth are not cleaned.

General Health

Generally, Scottish Terriers are really healthy dogs. However, just like all breeds of dogs, there are some health conditions that they are more likely to develop.

Common Health Problems

Some of the most common health problems for Scottish Terriers to develop are:

  • Scottie Cramp
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease
  • Craniomandibular Osteopathy
  • Patellar Luxation

Potential For Weight Gain

These dogs will only gain too much weight if they are overfed.


These dogs can be trained, but it is going to take someone with experience with dog training to do so. 

Easy To Train

Unfortunately, these dogs are not the easiest to train. Scottish Terriers were bred to work apart from their owner without needing direction. So, they like to do things on their own and don’t respond the best to training attempts.


These dogs are very intelligent, which can be really helpful when you are training them as they will find it easier to pick up new tricks and commands.

Potential to Bite

Your Scottish Terrier is very unlikely to bite you as they are typically friendly.

Tendency To Bark Or Howl

Scottish Terriers do not tend to bark excessively, but they will bark if they feel that they need to alert you of something. They will also bark if they feel that they need to alert you of something or if they see something they are unfamiliar with.


Even though the Scottish Terrier is an older breed, their history is somewhat obscure as a lot of it is undocumented. It is believed that these dogs originate back from a dog that was described by Pliny the Elder in 55 B.C.

When the Romans invaded Britain, it was written that they found small dogs that would follow their quarry to the ground. The Romans called the dogs the terrai, which means ‘workers of the Earth’. The Scottish Terrier was a hunter and still hunts by instinct today.

The Old Scotch Terrier is believed to be one of the oldest breeds in Scotland and is thought to be the foundation for all of today’s Terrier breeds.

The breed is actually extinct today, but they were described as stable workers with strength, courage, and stamina. The breed was a black or sandy-colored dog that was low in stature, strength, and had long hair and small, half-prick ears.

There is a written record in Don Leslie’s book A History of Scotland, which describes a dog that is very similar to that of the Scottish Terrier. By the early 1800s, there were lots of writers that had written of the Scottish Terrier, which is distinguished by its rough hair. Before this, in the 17th century,  James I of England sent several dogs to France as a present to the French monarch.

It is widely believed that these were the foundation dogs for the modern Scottish Terrier. The King loved the breed, which helped to increase its popularity, which only continued to rise over the next 3 centuries.

Scotland had many Terriers during the 1800s, and these were separated into two groups. These were the Dandie Dinmont Terriers and the Skye Terriers. The Scottish Terrier was classed as a Skye Terrier until the 1870s.

After this point, the standard for the Scottish Terrier was written, and by the end of the 19th century, the Scottish Terrier was known as its own unique breed.


On average, a Scottish Terrier can cost anywhere between $1400 and $2000 if you are purchasing from a reputable breeder. Although, a top-quality Scottish Terrier can cost as much as $3500.

Fun Facts

  • The exact origin of the Scottish Terrier is a bit of a mystery
  • These are dogs that were well-loved by royalty
  • Scottish Terriers can get cramps if they are over excited
  • There is a Monopoly piece of these dogs
  • They have a history of hunting, which is an instinct that remains with the breed

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About the author


Kerry White is an avid dog lover and writer, knowing all there is to know about our furry friends. Kerry has been writing for PetDT for three years now, wanting to use her knowledge for good and share everything she can with new dog owners.Kerry has two dogs herself - a German shepherd called Banjo and a chocolate labrador called Buttons. Kerry knows more than anyone how adjusting to new life with a puppy can turn your life upside down, and she wants to ease some of the burdens through her articles.