The Scottish Terrier

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Scottish Terrier "Scottie"
Weight: 18 — 22 lbs
Height: 9” — 10”
AKC Rank 2008 #47
Lifespan: 11—13 yrs
Group Terrier
Origin Scotland

Dog Breed Info - The Scottish terrier

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Breed Overview

Origin 1800’s. Original function: Vermin hunting. Today, companion. It is a hunter and will chase small animals including cats and rats or anything that resembles a rat. Colors: Black, wheaten, brindle any color.

The Scottie is one of the several short-legged harsh-coated terriers. The dog now known as the Scottish Terrier was most favored in the Aberdeen area, and for a time it was called the Aberdeen Terrier. By the 1870’s, the situation had become so confusing that a lot of protests had been made, and led to a true description of how this dog should look. Around 1880, the first breed standard was submitted. The first Scottie came to America in 1883. It gradually gained popularity until WWII, after which the breed’s popularity really took off. The best known Scottie in America was Fala, owned by President FDR. Fala was his constant companion in life and was buried with FDR when he died.


Not easy to train. The Scottie has a reputation of being independent and stubborn. However, clicker training and patience with positive reinforcement work quite well. They ARE trainable.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Scottish Terrier? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

The Scottish Terrier puppies are usually not too difficult to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.


The Scottie is nicknamed “The Diehard” in reference to his rugged character. This guy is a tough, determined character ready for action. He is fearless and feisty. He can be aggressive toward other dogs and animals. He is reserved but somewhat friendly to strangers and devoted to his family. Although independent and stubborn, the Scottish Terrier is sensitive. If left alone, he tends to dig and bark.

The Scotty must be heavily socialized and trained starting at around 4 or 5 weeks and continued on. If not, he will grow up snapping, biting and growling at people and other dogs, as well as having separation anxiety and other problems.

If you happen to get a Scottie with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Scotty in a hollow log
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Friendly Toward Other Dogs

Somewhat. Scotties pick their dog friends. Some remain wary, some can be aggressive.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

If raised with pets and socialized early, they may adjust to other pets.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Okay with most. Slow to adjust to some strangers.


Moderately playful. Scotties don’t overdo anything. They are up to anything the family wants to do, but they don’t get carried away with toys.


Very loyal to family, but always a bit independent. Not a lap dog but will stick close to you.

Good with children?

Maybe. If raised with children, okay. Scottish Terriers don’t tolerate nonsense, poking, prodding and all the other stuff kids do. There are better choices for children.

Good with Seniors over 65?

Yes, the Scottie is good for the senior who is into walking. The Scottie is not the most playful or affectionate of breeds, but it might work out. If longevity is an issue, find a Scottish Terrier Rescue group and get an older dog that is house trained and settled. That will save a lot of aggravation.

Living environment

Apartment, farm, suburb, condo, big city, all OK. If you have a small back yard, fine. Your Scotty can snoop, sniff and investigate to pass the time.

A Scotty on the back lawn
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Energy level


Exercise needs, daily

Moderate. A walk on leash twice a day or some hefty play in the yard will do it. This dog needs some exciting exercise every day.


Excellent. Very protective.

Guard dog

No. Might nip, but too small to do any damage.


No, very little.


Yes, needs brushing and some combing two to three times a week. Also needs to see a groomer every 6 to 8 weeks for a good shaping with the scissors.


Suggested Reading - The Scottish Terrier

Click on the cover photos for more book information and reviews.

The book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog emergencies, illnesses and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners to keep on hand. Vol 2 and includes a DVD.


Scottish Terrier Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Scottish Terrier puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
Scottish Terrier Breeders with puppies for sale.

Scottish Terrier Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of a Scotty and are looking for a Scottish Terrier Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Scottish Terrier Rescue At the time of this writing, Petfinder is showing only 127 Scotties available for the entire USA. The breed appears scarce. Go online and see if you can find Scottish Terrier Rescue groups. If you do adopt one, try to locate previous dog health records and save for possible future reference.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site but it may not get the job done. After checking online for Scottish Terrier Rescue groups, look for breeders that might have adult dogs left over and also kennels or dog pounds of interest.

Dog Health Issues For The Scottish Terrier
Below are the dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Scottish Terrier by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical problems this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Von Willebrand"s Disease—A deficiency in clotting factor in the blood. The affected dog does not properly utilize the blood-platelets for blood-clotting. Thus, the dog is prone to excessive bleeding if in an accident or surgery.

  • Scottish Terrier cramp—Occasional muscle cramping usually associated with excitement in Scottish Terriers.

  • Demodicosis—Demodectic mange—A skin disease known as “Red Mange.” Loss of hair, itching, reddening of skin and areas can become crusty. Sometimes cured with topical creams. May spread. Treatment is in the form of medications.

  • Lymphosarcoma—Cancer of the lymph glands which amounts to “cancer everywhere in the body.” Middle age and older Scottish Terriers are the likely candidates. No appetite, weight loss, no energy and increased thirst and urination are signs of the disease. When a lymph node become cancerous, you can begin to feel the hardness of the node at the angle of the jaws and in front of the shoulder blades, for example because the nodes become enlarged. There are many other nodes you can’t feel. With chemotherapy, the dog may have a year to live. Without chemotherapy, she has up to 6 weeks to live. About 45% of all dogs in the USA will die of cancer by age 10 and only a third will die of old age. (Current statistics) Common to the Flat-Coated Retriever, Golden Retriever and Rottweiler.

  • Lens luxation—Hereditary. Weak fibers holding the lens of the eye allow the lens to dislocate. The eye can not focus. This leads to painful, red eyes that tear a lot and can lead to Uveitis or Glaucoma if not treated right away. If detected early, surgery and medication might solve the problem.

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the dog's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the dog’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

  • Cerebellar abiotrophy—Brain disorder with no known treatment. It’s a degenerative condition that indicates loss of necessary nutritional substances. Cerebellar nerve cells form normally and then degenerate and die off causing inability to control distance and speed. Loss of muscular control is not seen at birth of the dog but gradually appears over time until finally disabling completely. Cause, unknown. The diagnosis is made when there is increasing neurological dysfunction seen day to day in the Scottish Terrier.

  • Atopic dermatitis's—Hereditary. Shows at 1 to 3 years age. Skin allergy triggered by dust mites, pollen, poor quality foods and other garbage we put into the dog’s environment. Many breeds are prone to this. The dog will lick, rub, chew and scratch the infected areas. Allergens can also come from fleas, bacteria and yeast infections. See your vet. There are many treatments ranging from medicines, antihistamines, diets, bathing, cleansing the house of dust mites and so on.

  • Craniomandibular osteopathy (CMO) - Hereditary. A disorder that affects the bones of the jaw in dogs under 10 months. Dogs with this have trouble chewing, swallowing and may drool. There is pain upon opening the mouth. Shrinking of muscles over the head and jaw as well as some fever can occur. Treatment is medication for pain, surgery for severe cases and often the problem will lessen as the dog matures. Found in Westies, Cairn and Scottish Terriers.

  • Patellar luxation—Limping, Hind Leg Held Up, Can’t straighten back leg. Caused by an unusually shallow spot on the femur, weak ligaments and misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint and allow the knee cap (patella) to float sideways in and out of position. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. It’s most common in small and toy dogs. If your dog has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

  • Mast Cell Tumors—Mast cells are found throughout the body and help maintain the Scottish Terrier’s normal immune response, health and body functions. The tumors in question are CANCEROUS and spread through the body. There is no known cause for mast cell cancer and no cure, other than surgery for early-detected, low degree tumors that haven't spread too far. The best formula is to keep the dog as healthy as possible and be aware of any signs of tumors or poor health. Whether the dog survives or not depends on how advanced and fast moving the malignant tumor is.

  • Urinary Bladder Cancer—Life threatening bladder stones blocking and making urination impossible. Can cancer metastasize and spread quickly. Look for blood in urine, difficulty pooping, difficulty urinating, breathing problems, more frequent trips to urinate with little coming out. Go to the vet immediately for checkup. Survival will depend on where the cancer is, how far along it is and if it has metastasized or not.Bladder cancer is unfortunately relatively common. Of all the AKC breeds, the Scottie has the highest rate of this type of cancer.

  • Cataracts - Hazy or cloudy vision and if not treated can cause total blindness.

Other health problems could occur in your Scottish Terrier. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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