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Scottish Terrier

Small, independent rascals with strong prey drives

Scottish Terrier

Toni Grzunov - Last updated on June 21st, 2021

All you need to know about the Scottish Terrier

Short, sturdy, and stocky, the Scottish Terrier was originally listed under the generic name of "Skye Terrier," a grouping of Highland Terrier breeds that had their origins in Scotland. Besides the Scottie, the other four were the Cairn Terrier, the Skye Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont, and the West Highland White Terrier.

Small and with a distinctive shape, the Scottie is the only breed of dog to have had a residence in the White House three times. President Roosevelt, President Eisenhower, and President George W. Bush all owned Scottish Terriers.

Although originally bred to hunt and kill badgers, fox, and small vermin, today the Scottie is a beloved family pet that is lively and playful as a puppy, but dignified and highly independent, even stubborn, as an adult. This breed has earned the nickname "Diehard" because of its rugged determination, feistiness, and fearlessness. 

That said, these dogs are also very sensitive and intelligent, and can be completely devoted and loving with family – and even obedient, given proper direction and instruction. As with most Terrier breeds, though, a very firm (albeit gentle) hand is required at all times so that this very independent and stubborn little dog does not free rein with its own desires.

Fast Facts

Group - Hound

Weight - 19-23 Pounds (male) 19-23 Pounds (female)

Height - 10-11 Inches (male) 10-11 Inches (female)

Hair Length - Long

Shedding - Lite

Lifespan - 13-14 Years

The Appearance of the Scottish Terrier…

Small, short-legged, compact, and muscular, the Scottie is a Terrier that is most definitely built to be a working dog. With a wiry, hard, weather-resistant outer coat over a downy soft, dense undercoat which is perfect for long hours in inclement weather, and a thick body that hangs down between short, heavy legs, the Scottie's keen, piercing expression clearly broadcasts its true nature as an excellent vermin hunter

Confident, bold, and dignified, this little dog is a beloved family pet – but a truly powerful one that can do the job it's meant to do. With small, intense, exceedingly bright eyes and petite, pricked ears, the alert expression of the Scottie is no illusion. This little dog is on the task at all times.

Standing 10 to 11 inches at the shoulder and weighing 19 to 23 pounds in adulthood, the Scottie is truly a dog of substance in both personality and build.

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What colors does a Scottish Terrier come in?

Coat colors can be jet black to dark gray or can be brindle, which is a mixture of brown and black. Scotties can be born with so-called "Wheaton" coats, which are nearly white or straw-colored, but this is a relative rarity that occurs in the Scottie breed and is not to be confused with similarly colored West Highland White Terriers, or Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers.

All about the Scottish Terrier personality…

The Scottie earned the nickname "Diehard" because it is obstinate, determined, and independent – certainly ready for adventure at all times. Vigorous activity and even a little excitement are a must on a daily basis, with recommended exercise in the form of a walk on a leash or off-leash – but in a safe area. 

Scottish Terriers are diggers and can be car chasers, and can tend to "get away" very easily, so it's recommended that if you set your little dog loose, you give it a good yard with a sturdy fence to explore. Because the Scottish Terrier is a digger, make sure the fence is constructed to deter escape in spite of that activity.

Feisty and very quick, this dog can be obedient with some proper training and consistent discipline. The Scottie is also very affectionate, tender and playful, very faithful to family and friends, but can be aloof with strangers. 

Should you adopt a dog of this breed, it will become attached to you very quickly, since the Scottie tends to pick one or two favorite people, with whom it will instantly bond. Although friendly to everyone else, the "favorites" will always get Scottie's devoted, undivided attention.

Is a Scottish Terrier easy to train?

Unfortunately, Scotties can be quite difficult to train! These little pooches usually have strong ideas on what they want to do with their time, so obedience training can be quite difficult. Learning how to sit on command definitely doesn’t interest them, so you will need to dedicate time to training.

Still, these pups usually do enjoy having something to do, so it is important to find ways to keep them busy. This is why extremely stimulating training works well. Try to include many different activities in your training to prevent your Scottie from getting bored.

Of course, socialization training is super important. We’d argue it is more important than any other kind of training when it comes to this breed. You need to start early and introduce your Scottie to other people and dogs while it is still young.

If you fail to do so, your pet Scottish Terrier might become aggressive with other people around, which is naturally something you want to avoid. Also, make sure to get your pup used to the handling of its ears, paws, and mouth so that you don’t have trouble during veterinary checks or hygiene care.

Luckily, house training is not difficult at all with this breed, and it goes even easier with the usage of crate training. These pups love having their own space inside of your house.

How much Grooming does a Scottish Terrier need?

The rough outer coat must be brushed regularly, especially when shedding is occurring. Dry shampooing or bathing as necessary will keep the dog clean. Trim the fur professionally twice a year, leaving the hair on the body long and skirt-like, and the fur on the face trimmed slightly and brushed forward. Shedding is minimal for Scottie.

Although their coat needs trimming, these pups barely shed at all so they are considered hypoallergenic! You can safely adopt a Scottish Terrier if you suffer from allergies.

The Living Environment of the Scottish Terrier

Scottish Terriers are independent dogs, which makes living with them quite easy. Don’t expect any special requirements when it comes to the living environment. They can adapt to small apartments easily and will enjoy spending time with your family if properly socialized.

Of course, they will also happily accompany you on daily walks, as well as spend the day with you inside, playing various games.

Scotties are dogs that really work well with large families because of their intelligence and the fact that they easily adapt to anything. Because of this, they make wonderful pets for seniors that are not that active.

However, Scotties don’t work well with small children. They have a tendency to stand up for themselves, so if your kid touches or pulls your pet Scottie in a way it doesn’t approve, it could result in a bite!

These pups are quite stubborn and can sometimes be somewhat difficult to deal with. This is why they are not good pets for small children. They can get used to kids, of course, but it would be best to wait until your kid is a bit older before getting a Scottish Terrier.

These dogs also have quite the prey drive, so cats are out of the question as your second pets. Of course, there are always some exceptions, but it is better to not risk it. If you already have a cat, look into a different dog breed.

If you live in a house and have a yard, you will definitely need a fence if you plan to get a Scottie. These dogs are no strangers to chasing small animals and you don’t want your pup to run out into the street.

The prey drive of these pups is so strong that they can run through an electric fence and not feel the shock at all if they are chasing something. 

Scottish Terriers also love digging, so expect them to constantly dig holes in their favourite part of your yard. It will take some time before you manage to teach them to stop.

The Health of the Scottish Terrier

The Scottie is a tough, hardy little dog accustomed to chasing badgers and fox, as well as smaller vermin like rats, mice, squirrels, etc., in all kinds of weather. 

It will live between 12 and 15 years on average, with some breed-related problems like:

  • von Willebrand disease, (similar to hemophilia where hemorrhaging can occur in the event of certain injuries)
  • Scottie Cramp (a problem with movement)
  • and a propensity to develop mast cell tumors ( a malignant type of oncological skin lump)

Where does the Scottish Terrier come from?

Although today's Scottish Terrier has been bred via pure lines for many years, the actual origins are obscure simply because the breed is so old. Undocumented and ambiguous for many years, the first records indicating a dog of similar description to the Scottie date back to 1436, with a mention in Don Leslie's book, The History of Scotland, 1436-1561.

The modern-day Scottie first made its "apparent" appearance in Sir Joshua Reynolds' painting of a young girl petting a dog that looked very similar to the Scottie. King James VI of Scotland also has an important role in the development of the Scottish Terrier. He became King James I of England in the 17th century and sent six Terriers thought to be ancestors of the Scottish Terrier to a French monarch as gifts. Because he so loved the breed, it became more popular worldwide.

In the 19th century, most who wrote about dogs seemed to be in agreement that two varieties of Terrier existed in Britain at that time. The rough-haired "Scotch" Terrier, and the smooth-haired "English" Terrier.

In 1881, the Scottish Terrier Club of England was founded, the first club of its kind dedicated to the Scottie. The club's secretary, H.J. Ludlow, greatly spread the popularity of the breed throughout Great Britain. Interestingly, the Scottish Terrier Club of Scotland wasn't founded until seven years after Great Britain's club, in 1888. It was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885 as part of the Terrier group.

The breed became popular in the United States during the years between World Wars I and II. They were the third most popular breed in the US in 1936, and although they have not held this position throughout the years, they maintain their good standing among pet owners and are still a popular breed even today currently ranking within the top 60 dogs registered to the AKC among some nearly 200 overall.

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