Scottish Terrier

Other names: Scottie, Aberdeen Terrier

Scottish Terrier

The Scottish Terrier is a friendly dog, albeit rather feisty at times. They make charming companions and are suitable for most family environments. These terrier dogs are small-sized, with short legs. They look quite charming with the feathering around their legs and muzzles. Sometimes known as Aberdeen Terriers, they are a popular pet worldwide, not only in the United Kingdom. Playful and friendly as a small puppy, the Scottish Terrier, when more mature, can be a steady, jaunty and bold adult dog. The breed is quite independent and fearless, however also quite stern and stubborn at times.

Key facts about the Scottish Terrier

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Temperament :


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Origins and history

Despite some confusion around the Scottish Terrier breed, as many terriers in Scotland are known as Scottish or Scotch Terriers, this breed was first documented during the late 1800s. A group of Highlanders used the terriers to hunt vermin in the forests and mountains of Scotland. JB Morrison drafted the first breed standard while John Naylor has the claim to fame of introducing the Scottish Terrier to the United States around 1883. The word terrier is taken from the Latin word “Terra”, meaning earth.

After World War II, the breeds’ popularity soared. Several of the American Presidents have owned Scottish terriers and today, the breed is a popular show and pet dog.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 3 - Terriers


Section 2 : Small sized Terriers

Physical characteristics of the Scottish Terrier

  • Scottish Terrier
    Scottish Terrier

    Adult size

    Female : Between 10 and 11 in

    Male : Between 10 and 11 in


    Female : Between 18 and 22 lb

    Male : Between 18 and 22 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    The Scottie is a muscular, robust small dog, with a dignified and feisty look about their long heads. Their endearing appearance is due not only to their eyebrows, but also the feathery beard. A Scottish Terrier’s eyes always look intelligent, alert and keen. With a large black nose and pointed ears which are always standing erect. A moderately long neck and sloping shoulders, together with broad front legs and chest give the dog a powerful stance.

    In addition, a short back, broad rump and muscular hindquarters give a well-balanced body shape. The dog’s feet are well-padded with the front paws being larger than the rear. The Scottie holds his moderately long tail erect or with just a slight curve.

    Good to know

    Scottish Terriers are tough little canines who are not only independent but also very determined. Very loving pets, who are fine with children and their family, but quite wary of any strangers. They are very affectionate and do like a cuddle. They can be very vocal when someone is at the door and likewise, often quite snappy when unsure of certain situations.


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      Scotties are very friendly and playful dogs, rather feisty, but loving to snuggle on the sofa, on their terms of course. A very loyal breed, totally committed to their family members.

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      Certainly a very playful and sometimes mischievous dog. A Scottie dog loves nothing better than any interactive games such as “hunt the toy” and “fetch the ball."

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      These tough little dogs can be quite dominant and stubborn too, but for most of the time they are calm and non-aggressive. However, they can sometimes be quite possessive and won’t stand any teasing.

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      Often appearing quite aloof, but nevertheless, very independent dogs too. They do however, have a very strong, determined mind, and this needs to be considered when training the Scottie.

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      As with most terrier breeds, the Scottish terrier has a high drive to chase after prey. He will very easily chase anything that moves in front of him, given the opportunity. Because of this hunting instinct, care needs to be taken when walking him off the lead, to prevent him rushing off after wild animals.

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      This breed tends to be quite reserved around strangers, yet is very loyal towards their owners. If given extensive exposure to many sights, sounds and other people at an early age it should be quite accepting of strangers. In some cases, Scottish Terriers can be suspicious and possessive which can sometimes lead to nastiness.

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      The majority of Scottish Terriers are very independent, neither needing nor wanting instructions from their owners. As a breed in general they can be quite aloof, stubborn too, which tends to make them selectively deaf in certain situations.

      Behaviour of the Scottish Terrier

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        Tolerates solitude

        These dogs tend to form strong bonds with their owners and in reality, anyone who cares for them. Because of this, they love nothing more than being in someone’s company and aren’t very happy at being left alone for longer periods during the daytime. Separation anxiety can make a dog destructive in the home, as they see this as a way of relieving boredom.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        As a smart dog who is keen to learn, training must be consistent and begin early in the dog’s life. However, they very easily pick up bad habits too. A terrier is never happier than when he has something to keep him busy, but likewise, is happy to chill out at home relaxing. Successful training routines must not be too repetitive and be very interesting to keep the dog focused on the task in hand. Avoid heavy handed training and harsh reprimands and always provide positive reinforcement for the best results.

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        You may discover that your Scottish Terrier likes to hear his own voice and will bark quite often. On the other hand, he may only bark at something he’s not sure about, or when strangers are around. As with any dog that’s left alone for too long, he may bark to let you know his displeasure.

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        Tendency to run away

        With his terrier tendencies to hunt for prey, if he’s not kept on a leash during your daily walks, there is a chance that the Scottish terrier will chase off after the odd squirrel. Quite stubborn at times, but will generally come back when you call him.

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        As with most terrier breeds, boredom and being left alone for long periods will result in destructive behaviour. Scotties love nothing better than digging with their large paws so take care of your flower beds if you leave the dog out in the garden alone.

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        Greedy / Gluttony

        Providing this terrier dog is fed a nutritious diet and receives sufficient exercise, his diet needs will be met. Of course, he loves treats and will always look for more, but overall he is not a greedy dog.

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        Guard dog

        This small dog will soon let you know when any strangers are in the vicinity. However, his bark is certainly worse than his bite, as he will prefer to bark to alert you, rather than approach anyone in an aggressive manner.

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        First dog

        Scottie dogs are quite people-orientated and amenable, loving nothing more than entertaining or pleasing their family. However, as they are strong-minded and stubborn, they fare best with people who have experience in training dogs.

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          Scottish Terrier in a flat

          As a highly adaptable canine breed, providing these dogs are given sufficient mental stimulation so they don’t get bored, and plenty of physical exercise each day, they are equally happy living in a townhouse apartment, or in a country house with extensive outside space. Bear in mind that these terriers love to dig, so care needs to be taken with any lawns and flower beds.

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          Need for exercise / Sporty

          Certainly not built for running long distances, but quite content with a daily walk. He will, however, chase after squirrels and birds with great enthusiasm. A minimum of one hour a day should be sufficient to stimulate and exercise this smart, high energy dog.

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          Travelling / easy to transport

          As a small-sized dog, these dogs are very happy to travel in a car using a dog safety harness. Public transport doesn’t pose a problem either, although the Scottie will be quite wary around strangers and in crowds.


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            Scottish Terrier and cats

            If a terrier has grown up with a kitten in the home, everything should be fine. However, with a normal terrier instinct to prey, he will think nothing of seeing off a cat or any other small animal too.

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            Scottish Terrier and dogs

            As a territorial breed, care should be taken when introducing another dog into the home. If a Scottie feels threatened by another dog, he will certainly stand his ground, yet on his own, he is quite happy to just do his own thing. As with most terriers, conflict can arise between same sex dogs and this will certainly end in a fight.

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            Scottish Terrier and children

            The majority of Scottie dogs are good when in the company of children, however they are more suited towards older children who have an understanding of dog behaviour. Many of these dogs react quickly to teasing and won’t tolerate small toddlers pulling at their ears or tails. Close supervision is required when this breed is around small children.

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            Scottish Terrier and the elderly

            As an affectionate breed, the Scottie is certainly suited to living as a companion dog with an elderly person. Providing he gets a daily walk he will be quite content getting along in a quieter environment. Bear in mind that his coat needs to be groomed professionally several times each year.



            If you are researching for a Scottish terrier, expect the cost to be anywhere from £710 for a non-registered pup to over £990 for a pedigree, KC registered dog. Add on the costs of vaccinations, insurance and weekly food bills and you are looking at between £50 to £80 each month in additional costs.


            Extensive grooming routines are required to keep these small dogs looking their very best. They have a double coat, with a wiry outer coat which needs almost daily brushing. In addition, they need to be clipped and trimmed professionally every 8 to 12 weeks, to keep their coats free from tangles. When eating their meals, the Scottie’s beard will very easily become matted with his food. The dog’s ears need to be inspected regularly, to prevent any wax build up.


            These terriers shed hair steadily all year round, but even more so during the Spring and Autumn seasons.

            Nutrition of the Scottish Terrier

            Although most terriers aren’t fussy eaters, they still need to be given a high quality, nutritious diet. A mature dog requires meals twice daily. As these small dogs are quite prone to gaining weight too, an adequate daily exercise routine must be scheduled.

            Health of the Scottish Terrier

            Life expectancy

            The Scottish Terrier, with a healthy disposition, has a life expectancy of between 12 to 14 years.

            Strong / robust

            Originally bred as a hunter, to search out prey such as foxes and badgers, the Scottie is definitely a robust little character. Although he has the appearance of a small, short-legged dog, he is of a compact and sturdy build.

            Withstand heat

            Dogs breeds that have thick, double, dense coats can often overheat in high temperatures. Although the Scottish Terrier needs frequent grooming, his thick hair will raise his body temperature during the hot summer months.

            Withstand cold

            Considering that your Scottish Terrier is in good health, has a good level of activity and a thick, dense coat, he should tolerate the cold weather very well. His coarse coat will certainly keep him warm, but his short legs won’t enjoy plodding through cold snow and icy conditions.

            Tendency to put on weight

            As with the majority of small dogs, control over the amount of food and treats given must be monitored. Likewise, adequate exercise on a daily basis must be provided to prevent weight gain. Obesity can be a problem for Scottie dogs that live a sedentary lifestyle.

            Common illnesses

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