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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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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

    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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