Scottish Terrier

Table of Contents

The Scottish Terrier, often known as the “Scottie,” is a small but sturdy breed with a distinctive silhouette. Originating from Scotland, they were initially bred for hunting and vermin control. They are known for their wiry outer coat and softer undercoat, commonly seen in black, wheaten, or brindle colors. Characteristically, they have a long head, erect ears, and a bushy beard, giving them a distinguished appearance.

Scotties are known for their bold, confident personality. They are often described as feisty, independent, and sometimes aloof, but they can be very loyal and affectionate with their families. Despite their small size, they are energetic and enjoy regular exercise. They are generally good with children if raised with them, but their strong prey drive means they might not be suitable for households with small pets.

Training and socialization are important for Scotties, given their strong-willed nature. They are intelligent and can learn quickly but may also have a stubborn streak. Health-wise, they are a relatively healthy breed but can be prone to certain genetic conditions. Their grooming needs are moderate, requiring regular brushing and professional grooming to maintain their coat’s condition.

Overall, Scottish Terriers make a great companion for those who appreciate their unique characteristics and are able to meet their exercise, grooming, and training needs.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:

12 to 14 years



Maintenance Level:


Shed Level


Best For

Scottish Terriers are well-suited for owners who value a dog with a bold and independent character. They thrive with consistent training and firm guidance, given their strong-willed temperament. Ideal for homes without small pets due to their natural prey drive, they can be great companions in families with older children who understand how to interact with smaller breeds. Their loyal and affectionate nature makes them excellent companions for those who can meet their moderate grooming needs, including regular brushing and professional care. In the right environment, a Scottie can be a charming and devoted pet.

Scottish Terrier Traits

Breed Characteristics

Scottish Terriers, known for their sturdy build and wiry coat, exhibit a bold and independent temperament. They are intelligent and loyal, yet can be aloof with strangers. These dogs require regular grooming and benefit from consistent training due to their strong character and prey drive. Ideal for owners who appreciate a spirited and affectionate companion, Scotties are a breed full of personality.


Exercise Needs
Health Issues
Barking Tendencies
Grooming Needs
Shedding Level
Training Needs
Good With Kids
Good With Cats
Good As A Service Dog
Good For Apartments & Small Homes
Biting Tendencies
Energy Level
Good With Other Dogs
Sensitive to Cold Weather
Sensitive to Warm Weather
Good For First Time Pet Parents

Breed Appearance

The Scottish Terrier, commonly known as a “Scottie,” has a distinctive appearance:

1. Ears
Small, almond-shaped, and dark, giving them an intelligent and alert expression.
2. Eyes
Erect, small, and pointed, set high on their head.
3. Nose
Black and prominent, fitting well with their facial features.
4. Height
Typically about 10 inches at the shoulder.
5. Coat Length
Double-coated with a hard, wiry outer coat and a softer undercoat.
6. Coat Color
Most commonly black, but also found in wheaten or brindle.
7. Tail
Upright and of medium length, complementing their confident posture.
8. Weight
Generally ranges from 18 to 22 pounds for both males and females.

Scottish Terrier Temperament

Scottish Terriers display a bold, independent temperament with a deep sense of loyalty to their families. They are intelligent but can be stubborn, requiring consistent training. Typically reserved with strangers, they benefit from early socialization. Despite their compact size, they have a confident demeanor, balancing feistiness with affection towards familiar faces.

  • Independent Nature: Scottish Terriers are known for their strong independence. They are confident and have a mind of their own, which can sometimes be perceived as stubbornness.

  • Loyalty and Affection: While reserved with strangers, they are incredibly loyal and affectionate with their family members, often forming a strong bond with one particular person.

  • Prey Drive: Their hunting background gives them a high prey drive, making them keen chasers of small animals.

  • Intelligence: They are intelligent and quick learners but may require creative training methods due to their independent streak.

  • Socialization Needs: Early socialization is important to help them become well-adjusted, as they can be aloof or cautious in new situations.

  • Adaptability: Despite their strong personality, they can adapt well to various living situations, including apartments, as long as they receive adequate exercise.

  • Vocalization: Scotties can be vocal, using their bark to express themselves, especially if they sense something amiss.

Understanding the temperament of the Scottish Terrier is crucial for a harmonious relationship. They require an owner who respects their independence while providing firm, consistent guidance and ample socialization opportunities.

How to Care for a Scottish Terrier

Caring for a Scottish Terrier requires regular grooming of their wiry coat, consistent and firm training, and daily physical activity. A balanced diet and routine health check-ups are essential. Early socialization and understanding their bold, independent nature ensure their well-being and happiness.

Caring for a Scottish Terrier’s grooming needs includes regular brushing to maintain their wiry coat, occasional professional grooming for coat health, and routine baths. Nail trimming, ear cleaning, and teeth brushing are also essential for their overall well-being. This regimen keeps them looking tidy and helps in maintaining good health.

Coat Maintenance

  • Brushing: Regular brushing is crucial to maintain their wiry coat and prevent matting. Use a slicker brush and a metal comb.
  • Stripping: Hand-stripping or professional grooming every few months helps maintain the coat’s texture and appearance.

Bathing and Skin Care

  • Bathing Frequency: Bathe your Scottish Terrier every 4-6 weeks or as needed.
  • Shampoo: Use a mild dog shampoo to protect their skin and coat.

Nail Trimming and Paw Care

  • Nail Clipping: Regularly trim their nails to prevent overgrowth and discomfort.
  • Paw Inspection: Check their paws for any signs of injury or irritation, especially after outdoor activities.

Ear and Dental Health

  • Ear Cleaning: Clean their ears regularly to prevent infections.
  • Teeth Brushing: Brush their teeth several times a week to maintain oral health.

Regular grooming not only keeps a Scottish Terrier looking sharp but also promotes overall health, preventing skin issues and other health problems.

Training a Scottish Terrier involves consistent, positive reinforcement and patience, considering their independent temperament. Early socialization is essential, and training sessions should be short and engaging to maintain their interest. This approach helps in overcoming their natural stubbornness and shaping them into well-behaved companions.

  • Understanding Their Temperament Acknowledge their independent and strong-willed nature to tailor your training approach.

  • Consistency is Key: Maintain consistency in commands and routines to establish clear expectations.

  • Positive Reinforcement: Utilize treats, praise, and play as rewards for good behavior, as Scottish Terriers respond well to positive reinforcement.

  • Early Socialization: Introduce your Scottie to various people, animals, and environments early on to encourage well-rounded social skills.

  • Managing Prey Drive: Address their natural prey drive through controlled training exercises and leash training.

  • Short, Engaging Training Sessions: Keep training sessions brief and varied to hold their interest and prevent boredom.

  • Patience and Persistence: Be patient and persistent, as their independent nature might require more time to learn and adhere to commands.

Training a Scottish Terrier involves understanding and working with their unique personality traits, using consistent and positive techniques, and ensuring early socialization for a well-behaved companion.

A Scottish Terrier’s diet should be balanced, tailored to their small size and moderate energy needs. It’s important to control portion sizes to avoid obesity and to ensure their food includes necessary nutrients for overall health. Treats should be used sparingly, and fresh water should always be available. Regular veterinary consultations can help adjust their diet as needed, taking into account their age and any specific health requirements.

Balanced Diet

  • Provide a diet that’s appropriate for their size and energy level, including a good balance of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and essential nutrients.

Portion Control and Feeding Schedule

  • Monitor food portions to prevent obesity, a common issue among smaller breeds.
  • Establish a consistent feeding schedule, typically twice daily.

Treats and Supplements

  • Use treats judiciously during training and as rewards.
  • Consider supplements if recommended by a vet, especially for skin, coat, and joint health.

Fresh Water

  • Ensure they have access to fresh water at all times.

Specific Dietary Needs

  • Pay attention to any signs of food allergies or sensitivities.
  • Adjust their diet as needed based on age, activity level, and health conditions.

Regular Health Check-Ups

  • Regular veterinary visits can help manage diet-related health issues and maintain overall health.

A well-balanced diet and proper nutrition play a crucial role in the health and longevity of a Scottish Terrier, alongside regular veterinary care to address any specific dietary needs.

Scottish Terriers require daily walks and play sessions to meet their moderate energy needs. They benefit from both physical activities and mental stimulation, such as training exercises and puzzle toys. It’s important to balance their active periods with rest, as they don’t need excessive exercise. This routine keeps them healthy and content, catering to their lively yet manageable nature.

Regular Exercise Routine

  • Daily Walks: Provide daily walks to maintain their physical health and satisfy their curiosity.
  • Play Sessions: Engage in play sessions, which are vital for their mental stimulation.

Balancing Exercise and Rest

  • Moderate Intensity: Balance their activity with periods of rest, as excessive exercise isn’t necessary for this breed.
  • Adaptability: Adjust exercise routines based on age, health, and energy levels.

Mental Stimulation

  • Training Exercises: Incorporate training exercises into their routine to engage their mind.
  • Puzzle Toys: Use puzzle toys to keep them mentally stimulated.

Regular and balanced exercise is key for a Scottish Terrier’s overall well-being, combining physical activity with mental challenges to keep them healthy and content.

Scottish Terriers are adaptable and can thrive in various living environments, from apartments to homes with yards. They require a balance of interaction and quiet time, making them suitable for families or individuals who can meet their moderate exercise needs. A secure outdoor space is ideal for them to safely explore and play, but they are also comfortable spending time indoors.

In terms of family life, they fit well in homes where they can participate in daily activities and receive consistent attention and training. While they have an independent nature and can handle some alone time, Scottish Terriers enjoy being part of the family’s routine, benefiting from a loving and engaging environment.

Scottish Terrier Health

Scottish Terriers are generally healthy but have predispositions to certain conditions.

Common Health Issues

  • Skin Allergies: Prone to skin allergies, which require attention to diet and grooming.
  • Scottie Cramp: A condition affecting movement, though not painful or life-threatening.
  • Bladder Cancer: Higher incidence in this breed; watch for early symptoms.
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease: A blood disorder leading to clotting issues.

Preventive Health Care

  • Regular vet check-ups are crucial for early detection and management of health issues.
  • Vaccinations and parasite control help in maintaining overall health.

Diet and Exercise

  • Balanced diet and regular exercise are key to preventing obesity, which can exacerbate health problems.

Monitoring and Early Detection

  • Stay vigilant for signs of illness, especially skin issues or changes in urination habits.

By being aware of and proactive in managing these health aspects, owners can help ensure the well-being and longevity of their Scottish Terrier.

Scottish Terrier Breed Comparison and Consideration

When comparing Scottish Terriers with other breeds, note their independent and somewhat reserved nature. They require consistent training and adapt well to various living spaces, including apartments, if exercised regularly. Their grooming needs are moderate, involving more care than short-coated breeds. Potential owners should consider their strong-willed temperament, high prey drive, and how they interact with children and other pets to ensure a harmonious fit for their home and lifestyle.

Scottish Terrier vs. West Highland White Terrier (Westie):

  • Appearance: Scotties have a distinct beard and bushy eyebrows, larger than the all-white, smaller Westie.
  • Temperament: Scotties are more independent and reserved, while Westies show a more outgoing personality.
  • Exercise Needs: Similar needs, but Scotties may have a stronger prey drive.

Scottish Terrier vs. Cairn Terrier:

  • Appearance: Similar in size, but Scotties have a distinct beard and are often black, while Cairns have a varied color palette.
  • Temperament: Both breeds are independent, but Cairns might be more sociable.
  • Exercise Needs: Comparable exercise requirements, suitable for active families.

Scottish Terrier vs. Jack Russell Terrier:

  • Appearance: Jack Russells are leaner and more athletic, while Scotties have a sturdier build.
  • Temperament: Jack Russells are extremely energetic and bold, whereas Scotties are steady and dignified.
  • Exercise Needs: Jack Russells require more intensive exercise compared to the moderate needs of Scotties.

When considering a Scottish Terrier, it’s important to reflect on their unique characteristics, especially in comparison to other terrier breeds, to ensure they fit well into your lifestyle and family dynamics.


Scottish Terriers are known for their bold, independent, and sometimes aloof nature. They are loyal and affectionate with their families.

They require regular grooming, including brushing and professional trimming, due to their wiry coat.

They can be good with older children who understand how to interact with them respectfully.

They can be territorial and have a high prey drive, so careful introduction and socialization with other pets are necessary.

They need moderate exercise, such as daily walks and play sessions.

They can be prone to certain conditions like skin allergies, Scottie Cramp, and bladder cancer.

Top Takeaways

Scottish Terriers stand out with their unique look characterized by a wiry coat, distinct beard, and bushy eyebrows, often in black, brindle, or wheaten colors. Their bold and independent temperament is a defining trait, displaying both confidence and a certain level of aloofness, particularly with strangers. These dogs require regular, moderate exercise to maintain their physical health and mental well-being, enjoying daily walks and playful activities.

In terms of care, their grooming needs are notable, necessitating regular brushing and professional grooming to keep their coat in good condition. While they can be excellent family pets, particularly with older children, their strong personality calls for early socialization and consistent training. Awareness of breed-specific health issues, including skin allergies and Scottie Cramp, is important for prospective Scottish Terrier owners, ensuring a well-informed approach to their care and well-being.

Top Scottish Terrier Names

For a Scottish Terrier, consider names that reflect their distinguished character and Scottish heritage. Here are some suggestions.

Female Names











Male Names











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