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Scottish Terrier Dog Breed Info: Pictures, Personality & Facts

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By Nicole Cosgrove

scottish terrier

Height: 10 – 11 inches
Weight: 18 – 22 pounds
Lifespan: 11 – 13 years
Colors: Black, brindle, black brindle, red brindle, silver brindle, wheaten
Suitable for: Active families without small children, elderly or those who are looking for companionship, those looking for a low-shedding dog, homes without pools
Temperament: Stubborn, Independent, Confident, Dignified, Smart, Loyal, Alert

Many of us had our first experience with the Scottish Terrier in Walt Disney’s Lady and the Tramp. Jock the Scottish Terrier was Lady’s mentor and protector throughout the film, and he had a certain dignified air about him.

In all reality, Disney did a pretty solid job of capturing the spirit of the Scottish Terrier in their film. Scottie Dogs are stubborn, headstrong, and can be a bit of a grump. However, they’re just about as loyal as they come to their masters.

That being said, their independent streak doesn’t always allow for them to seek out great deals of praise and attention. And as a Scottie parent, you may find that they really prefer time alone more to anything else.

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Scottish Terrier Puppies

Scottish Terrier Puppies
Image Credit: Agnali, Pixabay

There are definitely a few considerations you need to think about before getting a Scottish Terrier. While they’re a deeply loyal breed, they may show preferential treatment and respect to particular family members.

There are many stories where a Scottie will be over-protective of a certain family member, even nipping at those who come too close. They are among the nippiest of pups, especially if they feel threatened, uncomfortable, or bothered.

This is why we don’t recommend picking up a Scottie Dog if you have small children. There are many times when smaller children take things a bit too far when it comes to playing with dogs. And the Scottish Terrier won’t tolerate it as much as a Golden Retriever or an American Bully.

Their independent and often defiant streak also makes them much more difficult to train than other dogs. And that’s because they were originally bred to work on their own terms, digging through burrowing animal dens. Scottish Terriers can also be prolific barkers. They’re set to defend their territory and master at all costs, and they’re not afraid to let you know.

Another thing to keep in mind is their love for water. Scotties have been known to just love wading around in puddles and small pools. But due to their physical build, they aren’t swimmers. Their short legs and dense bodies cause them to sink too fast. If you own a pool that remains uncovered, you’ll need to be extra careful and monitor your pup around it.

Also, due to their original backgrounds, they’re diggers. No way around it. What’s best though is to allow them a designated digging zone somewhere in the yard to let them get it out of their systems. And if you’re feeling really froggy, go fill back in their holes after and let them start again.

However, these traits don’t mean that the Scottish Terrier isn’t a great dog breed. In fact, they’re one of the best companion dogs around. These are just a few things you should think about depending on your home life and situation.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Scottish Terrier

1. Scottish Terriers make excellent alarm dogs.

Scotties are notorious barkers, especially towards strangers or individuals they feel uneasy about. And as a matter of fact, they are often ranked right alongside German Shepherds and Rottweilers in alarm barking.

2. They had an aristocratic military unit named after them.

The first Earl of Dumbarton, George Douglas, once owned an exceptionally fierce and brave pack of Scotties that would ride into battle with him. They were nicknamed “Diehards”—a moniker still held by the pups today.  But not only were the dogs called diehards, the name spread to the entire Royal Scots regiment.

3. They were originally named the Aberdeen Terrier.

These dogs were first bred in Aberdeen, Scotland in the 1700s and were meant to chase den animals around the area. It wasn’t until the late 1800s until they were formally recognized as Scottish Terriers.

Scottish Terrier
Image credit: Pavel Shlykov, Shutterstock

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Scottish Terrier 🧠

Just because the Scottie has a few personality quirks doesn’t mean they’re not that bright. As a matter of fact, they’re actually extremely intelligent. And that’s what makes them a bit more difficult to handle. They like to do things their way. And while they’ll still love you, they’re just going to do it their way. This could mean being loving and playful. Or it could just mean staring at you from across the room. Each case and personality is different with the Scottish Terrier.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 🏡

Scottie Dogs can make good family dogs despite their quirks. For a Scottie, it’s not about you adopting them into your home — it’s about them taking you on as their people. And once that happens, they’re fiercely loyal to the end. The biggest concern would be with smaller children. Scotties do have a tendency to nip when they are put in uncomfortable positions.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

If raised alongside another dog, there will be zero issues at all. The Scottie would simply accept that dog as family. However, introducing a new dog needs to be done gently. Once your Scottish Terrier has accepted the new dog’s place in the family, there are little to no issues. And they may really enjoy having a new playmate!

But that’s with other dogs. Scottish Terriers have extremely high prey drives. Cats, rodents, or other pets may become targets of unwarranted aggression for your Scottie — so be sure to keep an eye on this.

White Scottish Terrier walking
Image Credit: TesaPhotography, Pixabay

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Things to Know When Owning a Scottish Terrier:

Now that we’ve got their quirks out of the way, let’s talk about the basics. You’ll need to know just how much food, exercise, and grooming your Scottie is going to need in order to be a successful parent.

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Scotties are big dogs only at heart, which means they only require a smaller amount of food. Feeding them 1-1.5 cups of high-quality dry food per day should be sufficient to keep them full and energized. We recommend Blue Wilderness Small Bite Grain Free Chicken Recipe to provide maximum nutrition in a neat, Scottie bite-sized package.

Exercise 🐕

Scottish Terriers have high energy levels, but they’re easily batted down with a short walk or some good playtime. They don’t need as long of an exercise period because of how they’re built. A simple walk around the block may just whet another breed’s appetite for exercise. However, the same walk may tire a Scottie right out.

Training 🦮

The key to training a Scottie is to start early and adapt throughout the process. Their independent streak can make them exceptionally difficult to train. However, by starting young and adapting to processes that actually work, you can make some serious headway.

Also, if you need to start socializing your Scottish Terrier at an early age as well. The older they get, the more grumpy and stubborn they get. And that makes it much more difficult to socialize or train.

scottsh terrier
Credit: Ondrej Prosicky, Shutterstock

Grooming ✂️

Scottish Terriers require special grooming considerations. They tend to have sensitive skin, so bathing should only really be done when necessary. And their double layer coat requires constant grooming. Some owners recommend a weekly grooming including haircut — and that’s just for family dogs! Show dogs may need daily grooming.

This is because they’re coat doesn’t stop growing, and it grows very quickly. But that’s good news for those looking for a low-shedding dog. Since their hair keeps growing, it doesn’t tend to fall out or shed as much when compared to other dogs.

Health Conditions ❤️

All in all, Scottish Terriers are a generally healthy breed. However, there are a few ailments that tend to show up more often than others.

Serious conditions to look out for include von Willebrand’s Disease and craniomandibular osteopathy. The former is an inherited blood disease that affects the dog’s blood’s ability to clot. This could mean simple cuts or surgeries can become complicated. However, this trait is often isolated from the breeding pool. Craniomandibular osteopathy normally only happens during the first year of life and is often outgrown as the dog matures. This is where the skull bones of the puppy become abnormally enlarged during the growing process.

Scotties also have their very own ailment called the Scottie cramp. This only happens when the dog is stressed or overstimulated. Their muscles will flex out in certain positions in these situations making movement difficult. However, Scotties with this disorder generally live long healthy lives.

Minor Conditions
  • Scottie cramp
  • Sensitive skin
Serious Conditions
  • von Willebrand’s Disease
  • Craniomandibular osteopathy

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Male vs Female

There are no real discernable characteristics between males and females other than sex. Males may be slightly larger and consume more food than females who aren’t pregnant. But other than that, Scotties are quite similar between the sexes.

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Final Thoughts:

The Scottish Terrier is a feisty, yet stoic breed that believes no challenge is too big. And the air of dignity in which this pup holds themselves is second-to-none.

However, they are an amazing companion and deeply loyal to their owners and family. So, if you’re looking for a new addition to your family and can handle the eccentricities of this breed, a Scottie Dog might be a great option for you.

See Also: 

Featured Image Credit: Ondrej Prosicky, Shutterstock

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