Dog Breed Review

Scottish Terrier




If you’re betting on a breed to win “Best in Show,” then the Scottish Terrier is about as close as a sure bet as they come. With the second most wins at Westminster, the Scottie is as big of a performer on the big stage as they are at home.

Although there is a mystery surrounding their origins, there is no mystery surrounding their bold blood and confidence.

Aside from the show ring, this old vermin hunter is globally popular as a companion.

However, will the breed fit in your household? What makes them such a wonderful pet?

Here is what you need to know about the Scottish Terrier.


The history of the Scottish Terrier has just as much contention as the recent Brexit event. Except, it appears, the debate, then, was between two clubs, Scotland and England. 

There has never been any concrete proof as to the beginning origins of this breed. However, there has been plenty of speculation and postulating about the breed’s origins.

It all begins in the 15th and 16th century for the Scottish Terrier. A history replete with artifacts showing a dog similar to the Scottie.. In fact, a 15th century history book, “History of Scotland,” mentions a breed similar to the Scottie. Then, in the 17th century, portraits feature a dog with a strong resemblance to that of the Scottish Terrier. Additionally, historians believe that King James I of England sent six forerunners of the Scottie as we know them today to a French monarch as a gift.

Yet, there is no doubt that the breed began to pop up and appear as the Scottish Terrier during the 19th century. Indeed, the 1829 book, Biological Sketches and Authentic Anecdotes of Dogs mentions the breed by name — even going as far as calling the Scottie the ‘purest of the English Terriers.’ Moreover, it appears a Scottie in a lithograph working in the West Highlands.

Furthermore, the breed’s development took place later in the 1800’s, as breeders would separate them from the other terriers of England. At one point, the breed went by the name Skye Terrier, which is now its own breed, quite distinct from the Scottish Terrier. The first written standard would occur in 1880 and the formation of the Scottish Terrier Club of England in 1881 would help promote the breed. A few years later, the Scottish Terrier Club of Scotland forms, which brought a little contention among the breed between clubs. 

In 1930, the breed would gain recognition by the U.K. Kennel Club and the club would adopt a new standard of the breed.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the breed had recognition since 1885. In spite of the breed not making their first appearance until the 1890’s. The first American standard was written in 1923, and with the breed being such a success at dog shows — Scottish Terriers became a top 5 popular breed in America. The United Kennel Club would add to their popularity by granting recognition in 1934.

Since then, the breed is a true talent inside the show rings at venues like Crufts and Westminster. Today, the Scottish Terrier is the AKC’s 58th most popular breed. While they are still viable flushers, natural diggers, and mischief makers, the breed thrives as companions.


As a small breed both male and female Scotties should stand at 10 inches.

With regards to weight, a male should range between 19 to 22 pounds and females between 18 to 21 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

Scotties can be little troublemakers and enjoy digging up the backyard. Of course, most of that is instincts as burrowers. Centuries ago, the Scottish Terrier’s job was to flush predators out of tight ground holes. Not only did this involve digging and resilience, but Scotties definitely had to be courageous. That they are, like a true terrier, the Scottie may be small but their hearts are massive. Their bravery is large. Alert and responsive, the Scottie is willing and ready to go.

But that’s at work and during play. Inside their home, they are steady going and stable. Many enthusiasts note the Scottie as a dog with plenty of spirit. Thoughtful and not afraid to let you in on their thoughts and feelings.

Depending on their socialization as pups, they may have a bit of aggression towards other dogs. Whether this is territorial, jealousy or just a proclivity. While other dogs may have a hard time making friends with them — people won’t. 

With their people, the Scottie is sweet and loving. Always poking around for attention and unleashing affection. Very good with children and will match their charisma for play time. They enjoy plenty of mental stimulation to keep their deep thoughts active. This breed bores easy, so they are always on the go. They can be quite active as well, and enjoy fetch, digging and other activities that involve them being on the run. 

As the above mentions, the Scottie is a terrier, an may be stubborn during training. They can respond well to training when it’s interesting and different daily. 

All in all, a great family dog with plenty of spunk. This is a one dog family, a bit anti-social with other canines. They love engaging with their people, being part of their endeavors and thrive off close contact. 


According to the American Kennel Club, the Scottish Terrier has a 12 year life expectancy. You can get those twelve years by scheduling regular veterinarian visits and using preventative care to keep your Scottie as healthy as you can manage.

Additionally, when you buy a Scottish Terrier from a breeder, you should only purchase from a reputable breeder. This person should be able to provide you with the proper documents and health clearances. Never be afraid to ask the questions, read the reviews and inquire from others regarding the breeder’s reputation. 

CMO or Craniomandibular Osteopathy isn’t a severe threat to the breed’s wellbeing but it is of annoyance. CMO makes it difficult for a Scottie to properly function with their mouth. That is because there is extra bone development along the mandible. Furthermore, this disorder can be aggravating and painful for the dog. Swelling around the jaw, difficulty eating are a few symptoms. There is no treatment, however, experts claim that therapy may help ease the pain and aggravation. Breeds like Doberman’s, Boston Terriers, and Labrador Retrievers also suffer from CMO.

A unique condition, Scottie Cramp, which is almost exclusive to the breed and hereditary,  derives  out of street, which causes the legs to move out abnormally and their spine’s to arch. This can result in loss of movement for a temporary period of time and cause your Scottie to fall unexpectedly. No treatment is typical but meds and Vitamin E may help with this peculiar condition.

Cerebellar Abiotrophy is a genetic neurological disorder that effects mobilization, coordination and balance. After the cerebellum cells die off systematically, it causes tremors, tilting of the head and loss of coordination. Likewise, there is no treatment for this disorder.

Williebrand Disease is another problem for the breed. However, this is the most common blood clotting disorder among dogs. It is due to a lack of plasma protein, which helps the blood to clot. According to the site, Mercola, excessive and dangerous bleeding from minor cuts can result from this disease. Medication and other forms of treatment are available — always consult a veterinarian. Symptoms include: bloody urine, skin bruising and bleeding at the gums.

You may have heard of Hypothyroidism, which is a lack of thyroid hormones causing the Scottish Terrier’s metabolism to slow. According to a survey from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, the breed ranks 50 with a 3/1% rating for autoimmune thyroiditis and an 86.1% normal rating. This puts them in the company of the Schipperke and Cardigan Corgi Welsh.

Additionally, the breed may suffer from these problems: Liver issues such as liver shunts, allergies, cancer and epilepsy.


Because the Scottish Terrier can be stubborn during training — it is best to keep sessions short and interesting. This is a breed that needs excitement and a challenge during the training session. They will require positive and gentle training as well, and early socialization as pups.

The Scottish Terrier may have a high prey drive. This means keep your eye out on them when around smaller animals like the birdie and mouse. You will also want to supervise interactions between them and other dogs. 

This is a very playful breed, with a flare for wandering off. You’ll want to invest in a fence and at the least a fence. They do need plenty of play time, plenty of physical and mental stimulation.

You shouldn’t leave them alone for long periods of time because the breed may get jealous easily. Expect them to jump up on your lap, meet you at the door, dig in the backyard and beg for some fetch. This breed can be very active.


Like most other breeds, a high quality diet or formula is best for this breed. Experts suggest keeping their protein levels in the range of 24 to 26 percent. Meat should be the first ingredient. Always feed them the best sources of calories, protein, crude fat and carbs.

Of course, how much your Scottish Terrier will depend on their age, metabolism and energy rate. However, most owners see success feeding their Scottie between 1 to 1.5 cups per day. To reduce the chances of Bloat, you can break that meal up into one. As puppies, and like any pup, the Scottish Terrier will eat 2 to 4 times per day until the age of six months.

If you have Scottish Terrier with typical energy, and between 18 to 22 pounds; 610 to 709 calories per day should suffice. Conversely, a more active and moderate working dog should retain 1016 to 1181 calories per day.

As always, you should provide your Scottish Terrier with fresh drinking water.


Get ready to brush, the Scottish Terrier is a seasonal shedder, which mean heavier twice a year. They require weekly grooming and brushing of two to three times per week.

Scotties have a soft and dense undercoat, and the outercoat is wiry and hard.  The outside coat should be medium length and there is a unique blend with longer lengths around their face and lower body.

According to the American kennel Club, there are six acceptable coat color options: Black, black brindle, brindle, red brindle, silver brindle, and wheaten. There are no markings.

Fun Scottish Terrier Facts

  • The Scottish Terrier is second all-time winning the Best in Show at Westminster. The breed’s 8 victories fall behind the first place, Wire Fox Terrier.  The breed has also won Best in Show at Crufts twice, once in 2015 and the first time in 1929.
  • 122nd most intelligent breed out of 138 on Stanley Coren’s “Intelligence of Dogs.” This means they obey the first command 30 percent of the time.
  • The most famous Scottie was Fala, which was the dog of former president, Franklin Roosevelt.
  • Equally as popular in Germany as the breed was in the U.S. during the 30’s,  according to the breed’s club of Germany, there are over 66,000 registrations in Germany.
  • Other famous owners of this breed include: George W. Bush, Queen Elizabeth, Jackie Kennedy and Dwight Eisenhower.

Closing Words

They call the Scottish Terrier steady going and stable. But the real word for this breed should be… consistent. Consistently, the breed has been great at flushing out predators, winning the second most Westminster — Best in Show titles, and most importantly —  being a great family companion.

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