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Scottish Terrier

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Feisty and with an independent streak, Scottish terriers have attitude but in a good way! The are loyal and devoted dogs, suited to family life and they are friendly, but they can also be a little stubborn. Their large paws are perfect for digging up the garden and they can be barkers. However, Scotties don’t require huge amounts of exercise and they can be left home alone for a while. In other words, they are adaptable characters which don’t place too many demands on their owners.

Which breed group is the Scottish terrier in?

Breed group: Terrier

Scottish terrier breed history

Quite possibly Scotland’s oldest terrier breed, the Scottish Terrier boasts a lengthy history. Unfortunately, there are no records to consult and so the origins of this popular dog remain shrouded in mystery. There is some debate over whether the Skye terriers which appear in 16th century records are the ancestors of the Scottish terrier or whether they are the descendants of the Scottie. It is certain that Scottish terriers and West Highland terriers are closely related.

Scottish terriers were bred to hunt and kill vermin on farms and to hunt both badgers and foxes. By the 19th century, small terriers were abundant in Scotland and it was eventually decided that specific breeds and bloodlines should be developed. The Skye terriers were divided into what are known today as the Scottish terrier, Skye terrier, West Highland white terrier and Cairn terrier. The first written standard for the Scottish terrier breed was created in 1880. This was revised in 1930, the year in which the breed became recognised by the Kennel Club.

Scottish terrier breed characteristics

Boasting feisty and dignified looks, Scottish terriers always command your attention. They have very large paws which are ideal for digging together with long heads. Their almond-shaped eyes appear very alert and their ears are pointed, soft and carried erect. They have moderately long necks, sloping shoulders and powerful legs. Tails are set high and carried erect while the coats of Scotties are double, featyring a soft dense undercoat and a harsher top coat. Black, brindle and wheaten are acceptable coat colours.

These characterful dogs are valued for their loyalty and intelligence. They can be quite reserved and a little independent, but they are feisty by nature. They tend to form a strong bond with one person, and they possess a stubborn streak.

  • Lifespan: 13-14 years
  • Height: up to 28cm
  • Weight: up to 10kg
  • Black, brindle or wheaten double coats
  • Large paws
  • Long necks
  • Long heads
  • Powerful legs
  • Loyal
  • Intelligent
  • Independent
  • May be stubborn

Health issues with Scottish terriers

Robust and athletic, the Scottish terrier is nonetheless prone to numerous health issues:

  • Scottie Cramp
  • Cushing's Syndrome (Hyperadrenocorticism)
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Epilepsy
  • Craniomandibular Osteopathy
  • Liver Shunts
  • Juvenile Cataracts
  • Cerebellar Abiotrophy
  • Congenital deafness -
  • Melanomas (cancer)
  • Von Willebrand's Disease
  • Patellar luxation
  • Transitional cell carcinomas (TCC) - bladder cancer
  • Wobbly Dog Syndrome/Ataxia (Cerebellar abiotrophy)

What is the Scottish terrier bred for?

Scotties were originally bred for vermin control. They remain popular choices as farm dogs north of the border but in England are generally pets or show dogs.

What sort of owners does the Scottish terrier suit?

Loyal and devoted, Scotties are excellent family pets. They are great with children of all ages and learn quickly. As they are also quite independent, they don’t mind being left on their own for a while but not for too long. They can be a little reserved with strangers but are rarely aggressive. Scottish terriers are good choices for inexperienced owners and adapt well to apartment living. They don’t require huge amounts of exercise. However, they should be groomed regularly. Their high prey drives can lead them into trouble and they love to dig up the garden. Some Scotties will bark a little too much and barking should be addressed when the dogs are young, to avoid annoying neighbours.

Scottish terriers will do well in most households. They can tolerate other dogs and even cats that they have grown up with but are not suited to living with small pets due to their strong prey drive.


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