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A black Scottish terrier standing outside.

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Terrier group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 10 inches
  • Weight — 18-22 pounds
  • Coat length & texture —  A dual-coated breed, with a harsh, wiry coat on the outer layer and dense, soft undercoat.
  • Coat color — Scottish terriers come in black, wheaten, or brindle. Their coats typically have no markings.
  • Exercise needs — Average, consistent walks and playtime recommended
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Rarely, only when necessary
  • Life span — 12-15 years
  • Temperament — Independent, confident, alert, playful, and feisty
  • Hypoallergenic — Yes
  • Origin — Scotland

Scottish terrier fun facts 

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Scottish Terriers Charlie; Max is the 2nd most popular male name. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Scottish Terriers love Bella, then Lola.

  • Scotties were bred to burrow. Strong-willed and fierce, the dogs were used to clear out vermin from buildings and drive badgers from their homes.
  • Scotties have been well-loved by royals for centuries. King James VI and Queen Victoria had Scotties. Additionally, there have been many presidents and stars who are Scottie lovers, like President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Humphrey Bogart.
  • They are nicknamed “the Diehard.” Scotties are especially brave and tough, which makes for great watchdogs.
A Scottish terrier in training.

Scottish terrier temperament and characteristics 

The Scottie, as they are affectionately called, is well known even by its silhouette. They are sometimes described as being a big dog in a little dog’s body because of their feisty and independent nature. Loyal and devoted to their families, Scotties are great watch dogs because they’re incredibly brave and tough.

They are intelligent, inquisitive, and energetic dogs that require mental and physical stimulation to prevent boredom and destructive behaviors. Despite their strong-willed nature, Scotties respond well to consistent, positive reinforcement obedience training. They are very affectionate with their family and, due to their small size, are a good fit for families with young children.


The Scottish Terrier is a small dog with a hard, wiry coat and distinctive beards and eyebrows. The AKC breed standard includes several colors, including black, wheaten, or brindle of any color. White can be allowed only on the chest and chin, and that to a slight extent only. We teamed up with FidoTabby Alert, and according to their database, the common coat color for the Scottish Terrier is (89%) black.

Common Scottish terrier health problems 

Scottish Terriers are generally a healthy breed, and with regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and proper exercise, your Scottie can live a long, happy life. But, there are a handful of common genetic and/or environmental health conditions to be aware of.

  • Von Willebrand’s disease . An inherited bleeding disorder resulting from a lack or reduced level of a normal blood clotting protein called von Willebrand factor (vWF). Disease presentation varies from asymptomatic to spontaneous hemorrhaging and prolonged bleeding after injury, surgery, or giving birth.
  • Craniomandibular osteopathy. A bone disease affecting West Highland white terriers, cairn terriers, and Scottish terriers—also known as Lion Jaw. The disease is characterized by excess bone growth in young dogs.
  • Bladder cancer. Scotties have a 20 times higher risk of developing bladder cancer than other breeds due to their genetic predisposition.

Cost of caring for a Scottish terrier

While some conditions are easy to avoid or treat, others can become costly to manage. Health insurance may be a way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. Pet owners who sign their pets up early will reap the greatest benefits. Alternatively, you might consider starting a pet savings account.

A white Scottish terrier resting on a chair.

History of the Scottish terrier

The Scottish terrier’s origins date back to the early 18th century when they were bred as working dogs on farms in the Scottish Highlands’ harsh terrain. Tasked with hunting vermin, foxes, and badgers, the Scottie’s tenacity, strength, and agility made them invaluable assets.

Although their exact ancestry is unclear, it is believed that the Scottie’s forebears include the “Scotch” terriers: the longhaired Skye terrier, the long-legged Scotch terrier, the Dandie Dinmont, and the Highland terrier. The breed’s popularity surged in the 20th century, with Scotties becoming a symbol of elegance and prestige, often seen in the company of celebrities and world leaders.


Terriers are a diverse group of dog breeds that share a common ancestry and purpose: hunting and exterminating vermin. Originally bred to dig into burrows, chase out, and catch small mammals such as rats and rabbits, terriers have become popular family pets and show dogs. Although terriers vary greatly in size, appearance, and temperament, they generally possess a high energy level, strong prey drive, and a spirited personality. Some notable terrier breeds include:

Caring for your Scottish terrier

Scottish terriers are beloved for their devotion to their families, but caring for a new puppy of any breed can be overwhelming. First and foremost, make sure your puppy receives all necessary  vaccinations. On your Scottie’s first trip to the vet, your veterinarian will be able to provide you with a vaccination schedule based on their age and health.

You may also want to prepare by puppy-proofing your home to ensure your pet’s safety and get acquainted with the teething process.

Lastly, no one likes to think about losing their new dog, but FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared just in case.


Scotties are fairly active and will need at least one daily walk. As traditional hunters, they are easily distracted by other animals that they mistake for prey, so it’s a good idea to walk your Scottie on a leash. Because of their suitability to walk on a leash and their modest exercise requirements, Scotties are suited to life in a flat/apartment or urbanized area.

A white Scottish terrier on a leashed walk.


The Scottish terrier’s double coat requires regular grooming to keep it in top condition. Weekly brushing is necessary to prevent matting and tangling, while professional grooming or hand-stripping every 3 to 4 months will help maintain the coat’s texture and appearance. Regular nail trims, ear cleanings, and dental care are also essential for the overall health and well-being of your Scottie.

No breed is truly hypoallergenic. Allergic reactions occur due to the protein found in a dog’s dander, hair, and saliva. Dogs that are considered hypoallergenic simply shed less, and thus have a smaller effect on those with dog allergies.

Diet and nutrition

A well-balanced diet is crucial for the overall health and well-being of your Scottish terrier. To start, choose a high-quality dog food. Select a premium dog food formulated for small breeds; look for brands that use high-quality protein sources, such as chicken, fish, or beef, as the primary ingredient.

Also, consider age, weight, and activity level—the nutritional needs of your Scottie will vary based on their age, weight, and activity level. Puppies require more calories and protein than adult dogs, while senior dogs may need fewer calories to prevent weight gain. Be sure to consult your veterinarian for personalized feeding recommendations.

It’s important to monitor portion sizes and limit treats. Overfeeding can lead to obesity, which can exacerbate health issues in Scottish terriers. Choose healthy treats, such as small pieces of lean meat or dog-safe vegetables, and use them sparingly.

Training your Scottish terrier

Scottish terriers are intelligent and independent, which can make training both rewarding and challenging. Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are essential when training your Scottie.

We recommend starting early, ideally when your Scottie is still a puppy. This helps to establish good habits and prevent undesirable behaviors from becoming ingrained. Using positive reinforcement is key to encouraging them to repeat the action and strengthen the bond between you and your dog. Crate training and house training can take time, but are worth the effort.

Be consistent and keep sessions short (10-15 minutes). Ensure that all family members use the same commands and techniques to avoid confusion and reinforce desired behaviors. Due to their independent nature, Scottish terriers may become bored or disinterested in lengthy training sessions.

A black Scottish terrier exercising in a yard.

Breeds similar to the Scottish terrier

Not quite sure that a Scottish terrier is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Yorkshire terrier. Still in the terrier group, the Yorkshire terrier is even smaller and spunkier than their Scottish counterpart. Scottish terriers are much more tolerant of children.
  • Patterdale terrier. Also great watchdogs and made to burrow, Patterdales are great small breed companions, but are much more vocal than Scotties.
  • Miniature schnauzer. Schnauzers and Scotties are commonly mistaken for each other—the body of a Schnauzer is more square in shape, and they have average-sized legs compared to the Scottie’s small ones.

Frequently asked questions

Are Scottish terriers good with children and other pets?

Scottish terriers can be good with children and other pets if properly socialized from a young age. However, due to their strong prey drive and terrier instincts, they may not be suitable for homes with small animals like rodents or birds.

How much exercise do Scottish terriers need?

Scottish terriers require moderate daily exercise to stay healthy and happy. A brisk walk or play session in a securely fenced yard should suffice. Remember that mental stimulation is also important for this intelligent breed, so incorporating obedience training sessions can help prevent boredom.

What type of coat does a Scottish terrier have?

Scottish terriers have a double coat consisting of a soft, dense undercoat and a hard, wiry coat underneath. Their coats are usually black, brindle, or wheaten in color.

How often should I groom my Scottish terrier?

Scottish terriers should be brushed weekly to prevent matting and tangling. Additionally, their coats should be professionally groomed or hand-stripped every 3 to 4 months to maintain the coat’s texture and appearance. Regular nail trims, ear cleanings, and dental care are also essential for the overall health of your Scottie.

Are Scottish terriers hypoallergenic?

While no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic, Scottish terriers are considered a low-shedding breed with a low tendency to cause allergies. Regular grooming can further minimize the amount of hair and dander they release into the environment.