Let's talk Scottish Terriers

A Scottish Terrier certainly has that cuddly toy side to them but behind that adorable face lies a hardworking and independent canine. Reserved at first, they often take their time figuring people out. But once you have earned their trust, it’s a best friends forever situation. When it comes to barking, Scottish Terriers believe in quality over quantity. They use their powerful bark sparingly and make for loyal, family watchdogs. Scottish Terriers adapt well to apartment, house or farm life and are highly respectful of their human elders.

Official name: Scottish Terrier

Other names: Aberrdeen Terrier, Scottie

Origins: Scotland

Close-up of Scottish Terrier in black and white

 

 Drooling tendencies  Very low  Warm weather? Medium
 Shedding level    Suited to apartment living? High
 Energy level*  Medium  Family pet?* High
 Compatibility with other pets     Can stay alone?*

* We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behavior. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

Every pet is different, even within a breed; this snapshot of this breed specifics should be taken as an indication.

For a happy healthy and well-behaved pet, we recommend educating and socializing your pet as well as covering their basic welfare needs (and their social and behavioral needs).

Pets should never be left unsupervised with a child.

Contact your breeder or veterinarian for further advice.

All domestic pets are sociable and prefer company. However, they can be taught to cope with solitude from an early age. Seek the advice of your veterinarian or trainer to help you do this.

 

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Illustration of a Scottish Terrier
Male
25 - 26 cm Height
9 - 10 kg Weight
Female
25 - 26 cm Height
8 - 9 kg Weight

 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2 to 10 months
 Adult age 10 months to 8 years  
 Mature age  8 to 12 years
 Senior age  From 12 years

Scottish Terrier sitting on grass

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Get to know the Scottish Terrier

All you need to know about the breed

Standing at a diminutive 25 cm (10 in), Scottish Terriers are small dogs with mighty personalities. Their inquisitive expression denotes the serious temperament of a Scottish Terrier, which only makes the breed more endearing.

Scottish Terriers were originally bred by farmers to hunt badgers and foxes, so they are task-driven dogs who are content to stay busy and prefer to work alone. Scottish Terriers are not difficult to train but their independent streak means that they benefit from a firm but kind approach to training. Otherwise, they’ll go their own way, which is probably in the opposite direction to you.

The breed displays classic terrier traits, such as being alert, agile and energetic so a Scottish Terrier needs plenty of exercise throughout the day. Their short legs mean that one daily walk - around the calmest part of your neighbourhood - will keep them healthy, while playing fetch or tug helps them to stay trim. Their hunting heritage means that Scottish Terriers have a tendency to go after the first moving object that they set eyes on. This could be a squirrel. Or a bike. Either way, it’s easily avoided by keeping them on a leash during your walk.

Scottish Terriers adapt quickly to the household mood. Inside, they’ll stay calm but are always ready to go when it’s time for walkies. Once trained, the breed is good with children, acting as their bodyguard. Their respectful manner makes Scottish Terriers ideal companions for older owners and they are not fussy about the size of where you live. Just add this, along with their unwavering loyalty, to the long list of what makes the Scottish Terrier such a great canine addition to the family.

Three Scottish Terriers looking over a log

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2 facts about Scottish Terriers

1. No petting please

Their pint-sized dimensions are not an open invitation for strangers to fuss over them. The same goes for sitting in your lap. If you’re looking for a dog who will just sit pretty then a Scottish Terrier is not the breed for you. Places to go, people to see. Next!

2. Dig up dirt 

Digging is a favourite pastime for Scottish Terriers, which makes sense given their hunting heritage. If you have a back garden, make sure that you and your Scottish Terrier agree on a selected spot for digging. A good way to establish this is by burying some of your Scottish Terrier’s favorite toys for them to find. A solid fence is also a must, otherwise they will keep on digging - to infinity and beyond. Or your neighbour’s garden, which could be a bit awkward.

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History of the breed

Hailing from the sweeping drama of the Scottish Highlands, the breed is believed to be the oldest out of all the Highland Terriers, dating all the way back to 55BC. The Scottish Terrier’s ancestors were sturdy and strong, capable of navigating the rocky landscape with ease, and excelling at hunting badgers and farmers, keeping their farmer owners happy.

Fast forward to the 17th century and we find the origins of the Scottish Terrier as we know him today. James I of England sent the French monarch of the time several Scottish Terriers, his favourite breed, as a present - this gesture helped them to gain popularity that continued up until the 20th century.

The Scottish Terrier was officially recognised as a breed in 1859, in Birmingham, England. They were then registered by the American Kennel Club in 1885, just two years after being brought over, by Englishman John Naylor. The Scottish Terrier’s star also ascended Stateside, with celebrity owners such as Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis and President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Today, they are a brave and loyal canine companion for all.

Side view of Scottish Terrier in black and white

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From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Scottish Terriers

1. Head

A long head with a bushy beard and matching eyebrows.

2. Body

Compact, muscular body with short legs.

3. Ears and Tail

Ears and tail are small in size and sit straight.

4. Coat

Wiry coat in shades of black, wheaten, brindle, red, brown or silver.

5. Eyes

Almond-shaped eyes.

Scottish Terrier sitting on grass looking at camera

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Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Scottish Terrier
Side view of Scottish Terrier running across grass

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Caring for your Scottish Terrier

Grooming, training and exercise tips

Their dual coat consists of a wiry outer coat and a soft under coat, which requires a weekly brush. A wide-toothed comb works best for the beard, whereas a stiff brush or hound glove will keep their coat beautiful and shiny. Scottish Terriers don’t shed much, so you can let them have longer hair, which means clipping their coat several times a year. Keep your Scottish Terrier in tiptop shape with bursts of exercise throughout the day, combined with play sessions. They particularly enjoy chasing after their favourite toy - at their own pace of course. Early training and socialisation is important for Scottish Terriers, due to their independent streak and standoffishness with new people. Keep sessions short to avoid boredom. The breed is sensitive to vocal changes, so it’s a great way to signal to them when you are pleased. Scottish Terriers will be hurt by any shouting - and rightly so! But food rewards should be removed from daily rations to ensure they maintain a healthy weight.

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All about Scottish Terriers

Yes, Scottish Terriers do like water, but not all of them are natural born swimmers due to their short legs and compact build. If you introduce your Scottish Terrier to water as a puppy and supervise them, it is possible to teach them to competently swim. They will enjoy it immensely and it’s another fun way to play together.

Scottish Terriers have a feisty temperament and if another dog behaves disrespectfully towards them, especially a male, they will defend their rank and get scrappy. However, if another dog leaves a Scottish Terrier alone, he will not go looking for a fight. This breed is likely to be most content in a household where they are the only pet. 

Other breeds that might interest you.

Sources

1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/