Scottish Terrier: An Independent Dog

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
The famous Scottish Terrier is an independent dog with high spirits. This breed went a long way from hunting days to being a companion dog. Read on to discover more.
Dog Breed Group:
Terrier Dogs
Up to 10 inches tall at the shoulder
18 to 22 pounds
Life Span:
11 to 13 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The Scottish Terrier is a compact dog with a firm personality and confident attitude. This breed has an almost-human character. They are known for being extremely independent and persistent.

Due to their persistence, they earned the nickname ‘the Diehard.’ Here is everything that you should know about this small breed.

Quick Facts

Real name: Scottish Terrier
Other names: Scottie, Aberdeenie
Origin: Scotland
Breed type: Hunting breed
Weight: Male 8.5–10 kg (19–22 lb), Female 8–9.5 kg (18–21 lb)
Height: Male 25 cm (9.8 in), Female 25 cm (9.8 in)
Lifespan: 11 to 13 years
Litter Size: 1-6
Color: Black, Brindle, Wheaten
Coat: Double (hard wiry & soft undercoat)

Scottish Terrier History

The Scottish Terrier was originally bred to hunt foxes, rats, and badgers on the craggy Scottish Highlands. This is one of the oldest Highland terriers. Some dog experts claim that this breed is the oldest variety of the canine race indigenous to Britain.

Experts can’t agree on the breed’s origin completely, due to the controversy surrounding this small breed.

Dog experts spent much of the 1800s arguing over what was a Scottish Terrier and what was a terrier that happened to be Scottish.

This farm-dog impressed some important people, and in the 17th century, England’s King James I, a Scot by birth, was well acquainted with the breed and gave them as gifts. That’s how he manages to spread the breed across the world.

When it comes to the States, the very first Scottish Terrier arrived in 1883. Teo years later, AKC registered its first Scottish Terrier, a male named Prince Charlie.

The breed’s pick of popularity was during the 1930s and early ’40. Celebrities, Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis were proud owners of this sturdy breed and increased the breed’s popularity.

Presidents have a special affection toward this intelligent dog. Fala was the most famous Scottish Terrier because she was a constant companion of President Franklin Roosevelt during World War II.

Scottish Terrier Physical Appearance

The Scottish Terrier is a small, short-legged, and compact dog of good bone and substance. One look on this breed, and it’s clear that the dog’s head is long in proportion to his size. He has a wiry, hard, and weather-resistant coat.

These characters are giving the breed piercing expression. His ears and tail are salient features of the breed. Overall, this breed can be defined as confident and bold.

The head is always long longer than the rest of the body, while the nose is black. Teeth are large and evenly spaced, having a scissor or level bite, while the jaw should be square and powerful.

Eyes are set wide apart and well in under the brow. The body is moderately short with ribs extending well back into a short, strong loin, and very muscular hindquarters. The chest should be broad and deep.

The shoulders should be well laid back, while the forelegs should be very heavy in bone. Dewclaws may be removed.

The Scottish Terrier should always have a good coat. It is a hard, wiry outer coat with a soft, dense undercoat.

The coat should be trimmed and blended to give that specific Scottish Terrier outline. The coating on the beard, legs, and lower body may be slightly softer than the body coat is. Hindquarters are muscular and powerful.

Scottish Terrier Personality

When it comes to personality, this is a no-nonsense dog. He may seem harsh and stubborn on the surface, but secretly Scottish Terrier is a true softie who really adores his humans.

The nickname Diehard didn’t come in vain. After all, this small dog was bred to hunt and not give up until he catches his prey. This dog has a vigilant nature, which makes him an excellent watchdog.

In general, this breed isn’t a barker, although you might expect some barking here and there unless you give him nothing to do.

This is a breed that can survive being left alone for a few hours, but you will still have to keep him busy.

So make sure that you know how to keep your dog entertained indoors. This is an outgoing dog, but he will take his time to know other people.

Before he decides to accept someone, he will watch the person decide if a person is the right fit for him or not. Like all terriers, the Scottie has a mind of his own. However, with the right person and the right motivation, he learns well.

So, start the training process as soon as your Scottish Terrier comes to his new home.

Scottish Terrier Training

Scottish Terriers do best with short and engaging training sessions. If you want to have a well-behaved Scotie, you shouldn’t have training sessions longer than 15 minutes at a time.

Be creative; do not repeat the training the same way all the time. This is an intelligent breed, a thinker, and they love to think and be challenged. However, if they are bored, they will immediately respond.

Don’t forget that farmers loved animals who could solve problems, those who could figure things out. Your Scotie will test you.

He wants to see if he could train you. Since they are independent, they love to have separate time and actions. All in, don’t be surprised when they test you.

They respond perfectly to vocal tones and know why you are displeased by your voice. Just be persistent, and reward good behavior. Always use positive reinforcement.

Scottish Terrier Exercise

Next to proper training, you must provide enough physical activity to your Scotie. Dogs love when they have something to do, even if it’s just a longe walk to the park.

Playtime is essential both for their physique and mental state. This dog will love to play tug with a favorite toy, and if they want to play, nothing can stop them in that.

Any activity is welcome as long as it’s designed for them. For example, you mustn’t push your Scotie to have an identical exercise like a German Shepherd should have or Basenji.

Be well-informed on the breed, took to a dog trainer, and educate yourself on how to keep your Scotie fit and happy. This breed is excellent for living in a small home or even apartment living.

Scottish Terrier Grooming

Scottish Terriers require regularly scheduled grooming. This may be a small dog, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t have to invest your time in grooming your Scotie.

Since this is a dual-coated breed, with a harsh layer and dense and soft undercoat, you must provide regular brushing to avoid any tangles. It would help if you could start with grooming your Scotie when they are young puppies, so they get used to the process.

Brushing once a month is a bare minimum, while the best-case scenario would be if you could brush your Scotie once a week. If you don’t have time for regular brushing, find a good groomer.

Everything else is regular maintenance:

  • Check ears regularly and clean them.
  • Check gums and provide food that’s good for teeth. You can tell the dog’s healthy by his teeth.
  • Clip nails on time.
  • Bath only when really needed.
  • Check coat for fleas.
  • Provide proper and mandatory vaccination, parasite medicine, and have regular veterinarian check-ups.

Scottish Terrier Health

As you already know, all dogs – just like humans – can develop genetic problems, or inherit them.

If you don’t get a health guarantee on puppies from a breeder, you should know that you aren’t getting a puppy from a responsible breeder.

Any breeder who knows the process of breeding dogs understands how important it is to have healthy puppies and dogs. Therefore, they will always provide the necessary documentation and even let you meet the puppy’s parents.

If you are adopting a dog, a shelter will inform you about everything that they know about the dog so far.

Also, it’s essential to have an honest breeder who will openly talk about potential health problems in the breed.

Scottish Terrier can suffer from several genetic health problems.

The most common health problems with this breed are:

  • Cataracts
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Neurological problems
  • Brain cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Bladder stones
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • von Willebrand’s disease (a blood clotting disorder)
  • Hemophilia
  • Deafness

One condition that affects the Scottish Terrier is called craniomandibular osteopathy. It’s an abnormal growth of the jaw that occurs in puppyhood.

This is a painful condition, but it usually resolves by the time. There are no screening tests for CMO. Since this is a small size dog, obesity can be a dangerous occurrence.

You should also know that Scottish Terriers are one of the top 10 breeds that can gain weight fast.

Once Scotie enters your home, you are responsible for the breed’s health. A breed-specific problem occurring in the Scottish Terrier is a strange condition known as Scottie cramp. Dogs with this condition react strongly to stress.

This is a neurological disorder, and it usually manifests with their legs flying out on the side. This is a rare condition.

Recommended Health Tests for the Breed:

  • Von Willebrand’s Disease DNA Test
  • Patella Evaluation

The Scottish Terrier Club of America is the breed’s national parent club and they provide any health-related information, and progress, in this breed.

The Bottom Line

Scotties are one of the most popular dogs in the States. They are playful, lively, and great companions. They are small in size, but their heart is huge, making their personality unique.

If you are ready to welcome a dog who is intelligent and highly stubborn and are willing to invest your time and energy into training your Scottie, this may be the dog for you.

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