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15 Scottish Dog Breeds: An Overview

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By Nicole Cosgrove

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When you imagine Scotland, what do you think of? Do you picture kilts, bagpipes, haggis, or even whiskey? Or is it their beautifully stunning landscapes and moors? Truth be told, Scotland has a lot to offer.

But did you know that Scotland is also the home of several extremely popular dog breeds?

In this article, we’ll take a look at 15 different dog breeds that originated in Scotland.

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The 15 Scotland Dog Breeds

1. Bloodhound

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Perhaps one of the most famous scent hounds of all time is the Bloodhound. Although now they’re trained primarily for tracking people, the Bloodhound was originally bred to assist and track in the hunting of deer and wild boar.

They have a loving, gentle, and somewhat sleepy disposition accentuated by their droopy faces and long floppy ears. And the Bloodhound is one of the lovers of the dog world, preferring to lick their targets to death than be outwardly aggressive.

2. Scottish Deerhound

scottish deerhound
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The Scottish Deerhound is easily the largest of the Scottish breeds. Standing up to 32 inches at the withers, this majestic hound is known as the “Royal Dog of Scotland”. They’re actually giant coursing hounds and closely related to ancient Greyhounds.

Scottish Deerhounds are hunting dogs used to track and take down massive deer within the Scottish Highlands. But don’t let their size or work fool you, they’re deeply loving and affectionate with their families.

3. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever eating
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Did you know that the Golden Retriever is originally from Scotland? These gentle, loving pups are among the world’s most popular dogs for a reason. They’re intelligent, gentle, patient, and eager to please.

While they aren’t the best guard dogs, Golden Retrievers are easily one of the best family dogs in all of dogkind. They’re especially great for families with children of all ages.

4. Gordon Setter

Gordon Setter
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Named after the Duke of Gordon, this breed was originally bred as bird hunting dogs for use through the Scottish hills. They’re extremely fast and intelligent dogs, but they have a bit of a wild streak.

They need a firm, but gentle hand to train and properly handle. We don’t recommend these dogs for families with smaller children. While they are friendly and loving, Gordon Setters are just so boisterous that they may accidentally injure a small child during play.

5. Shetland Sheepdog

shetland sheepdogs in field
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The Shetland Sheepdog — more commonly known as the Sheltie — is a herding dog that originated from the Shetland Islands off the northeast coast of Scotland. Shelties were originally called Shetland Collies due to their resemblance to the Rough Collie; however, this caused controversy among Collie breeders at the time and they were renamed.

They are an extremely hard-working and intelligent dog that absolutely excels at herding. But most Shelties nowadays are raised as family pets or farm dogs.

6. Scottish Terrier

scottish terrier
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These little terriers are among the most regal of all dogs. They carry themselves with the dignity of a military general and the poise of a member of a royal family. Initially called Aberdeen Terriers, Scotties were originally bred to hunt rats and vermin.

Now, they mostly serve as companion animals to their masters — some of which have included the likes of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Humphrey Bogart.

7. Border Terrier

cute purebred border terrier portrait_xkunclova_shutterstock
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Due to the rugged Scottish terrain and their knack for hunting in hard to reach places, terriers have thrived in Scotland. And that honor definitely extends to the Border Terrier.

Named the Border Terrier due to their time spent on the English-Scottish border, these pups are feisty dogs with an extreme talent for fox hunting. But today, they’re doing less and less hunting and more snuggling as one of the most popular terrier breeds in the United Kingdom.

8. Cairn Terrier

cairn terrier in grass flowers
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The Cairn Terrier is living proof that big things do come in small packages. Cairn Terriers are the smallest of the Scottish terriers, but they’ve got huge personalities! They’ve acquired their name by their ability to fit between and under cairn stones to drive out vermin.

But that’s not there only claim to fame. In fact, a Cairn Terrier may be one of the most famous dogs ever as one named Terry played Toto in the Wizard of Oz.

9. Skye Terrier

Skye Terrier
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The Skye Terrier receives its name from its point of origin, the Isle of Skye — a part of the Inner Hebrides Islands. Their long hair and big ears make them super adorable, but don’t be fooled. They’re extremely proficient vermin hunters and working dogs.

They quickly became a favorite of Queen Victoria, and she began to breed them in 1840. Nowadays, they’re very popular show dogs and are held in high esteem throughout the country.

10. West Highland White Terrier

West Highland White Terrier
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The West Highland White Terrier — or Westie — comes from Cairn Terrier ancestry. They were a purposely bred all-white strain of the Cairn Terrier.

The Westie is a popular terrier breed throughout the UK for their intelligent and energetic demeanor. And since they’re hypoallergenic, even individuals with dog allergies can enjoy their company.

11. Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Dandie Dinmont Terrier
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It’s only slightly larger than the Cairn Terrier and that mainly due to its long tubular body. Similar to a German Dachshund, these terriers were bred to hunt badger and otters.

But this breed doesn’t do too much hunting these days. Being among the gentlest and most reserved of all the Scottish terriers, the Dandie often finds itself relegated to be a loving companion dog.

12. Border Collie

tri colored border collie
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Not only is Scotland home to one of the sweetest dogs of all time — the Golden Retriever — but they also can claim one of the smartest. Considered by many to be the most intelligent dog breed1, the Border Collie is a marvelous herding dog and super-fast learner.

And while they’re loyal and loving dogs, we don’t recommend them for all families. That’s because they require an insane amount of mental and physical stimulation every single day. But if you’ve got a farm or a very active family, a Border Collie might be a welcome addition to your home.

13. Rough Collie

Rough Collie
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When someone mentions a Collie, this breed is probably the first that comes to mind. The Rough Collie is one of the most recognizable breeds on the planet — no small thanks to Lassie — with its long nose and big fluffy coat.

They are herding dogs like other Collies and have an exceptional fondness in caring for children. Rough Collies make for great nanny dogs and family pets.

14. Smooth Collie

Smooth Collie
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Although the Smooth Collie tends to take a backseat to its Rough Collie counterpart, there’s not too much difference between them. The only real point of note is that the Smooth Collie is lacking the long coat.

As a matter of fact, Smooth Collies and Rough Collies are considered the same breed according to kennel clubs in the US and Canada. Only in the UK are Smooth Collies considered their own distinct breed.

However, many people actually prefer the short coat of the Smooth Collies because grooming is made so much easier.

15. Bearded Collie

Bearded Collies
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Last, but not least in our list is the Bearded Collie. Bearded Collies are another of Scotland’s super-powered herding dogs. Although this breed may look a bit more like the sheep they’re protecting.

The Bearded Collie has a very long, thick double coat that can make them look like a four-legged mop. This breed requires extra care while grooming in order to minimize mattes and knots.

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Summary: Scottish Dogs

Whether you want to take home your very own Toto or Lassie, or any canine hailing from Scotland, know that you can’t go wrong with any of those breeds on our list. They each have their own history steeped in Scottish culture and are a joy to have around the house, no matter where you reside.

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