AKC Dog Breeds: Scottish Terrier

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Terrier Group
Height:10-11 inches   Weight: 19-23 pounds  Color: black, brindle or wheaten

The Scottish Terrier, often called the "Scottie," is best recognized for its distinctive profile and hard, wiry, weather-resistant outer coat in a black, brindle or wheaten color. Its beard, eyebrows, legs and lower body furnishings are traditionally shaggy. Like many breeds in the Terrier Group, Scotties are small yet strong and known as fast, alert and playful dogs. The Scottish Terrier originated in Scotland and is considered to be the most ancient of any Highland Terrier. They are curious and playful, small and muscular. The Scottie makes a good companion for the right family. They have a compact and sturdy build. The Scottish Terrier is the only breed of dog that has lived in the White House three times, with Presidents Roosevelt and George W. Bush. Naturally a "digger" at heart, the Scottie was originally bred to hunt and kill vermin on farms. King James VI, known to adore the breed, is said to be responsible for the rise in popularity in Scotland during his reign. Scotties were introduced to America in the 1890’s and continue to remain a common fixture in American households. The breed was registered with the AKC in 1885.

General Appearance
This sturdy little dog has short legs and the way it is groomed makes them look even shorter. Even so, it is a strong, active animal and surprisingly agile. The coat is compact, course, and hard as bristles with a soft undercoat that protects it thoroughly from bad weather. It comes in black, wheaten, or brindle of any color.  Sharply pricked ears give the Scottish Terrier a thoughtful look. It has a large nose and large teeth, and there is a stop between the skull and the muzzle. Its dark eyes are almond-shaped, and its neck is muscular. Its tail is medium-length, carried straight or slightly curved.

The Scottish Terrier is a very independent, assertive, and confident dog, and can have a stubborn and very willful streak. These bold and determined dogs can make good pets and companions, but need a confident and assertive owner, so are best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership and training. Those with little experience may find training the Scottish Terrier very challenging, and may soon find that the little dog quickly takes charge. Housebreaking can also be difficult with particularly stubborn Scottish Terriers. These small dogs have plenty of energy and spirit, and exercises enthusiasm in everything that he does - proving he wants to do it. The Scottish Terrier is a very loyal dog, and their alert and protective nature makes them effective watchdogs. Some Scottish Terriers can be very possessive of their food and belongings, and many love to bark and dig. Their tendency to chase and wander off, coupled with their naturally inquisitive nature, means that a safe and secured play and exercise area is essential. The Scottish Terrier gets along well with children that are older, gentle, and will not pester him. He is not particularly sociable around strangers, and tends to be wary around them, which adds to his watchdog abilities. He may not get along well with other dogs, and needs early socialization with other pets. Early socialization with people is also recommended to promote a stable and sociable attitude. These dogs have a certain dignity about them, and can be very haughty and offended if they consider themselves to have been treated roughly or unfairly.


The Scottish Terrier has a long shaggy coat that requires regular brushing to prevent knots from forming and to remove dead hair. Grooming of the hair should be done every 6-8 weeks to maintain their characteristic look and shape. They will need haircuts or trimming at least twice a year.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
The Scottish Terrier is a hardy and healthy breed in general, and there are not many health issues to worry about with these dogs. A few of the health problems to look out for include thyroid problems, cancer, allergies, luxating patella, and seizures. At least one of the parents of the Scottish Terrier puppy should be vWD clear. The life expectancy of the Scottish Terrier is around 12-14 years.

Activity Level

The Scottish Terrier needs exercise just like every dog but due to their small size, much of their exercise and romping around takes place indoors. There are many indoor activities this small dog enjoys such as playing catch and hide and seek. They love to play ball and derive great pleasure from playing fetch. They do well in apartment living provided they are exercised appropriately. The Scottie will become bored and destructive if they do not receive stimulation and exercise and may dig and bark excessively. They love going for walks outdoors. They enjoy cooler temperatures so enjoy spending time outside unless it's hot.


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Scottish Terrier profile on dog encyclopedia
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