Scottish Terrier

Scottish Terrier dog beed
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Scottish Terrier (also known as Scottie and Aberdeen Terrier), is a dog breed of small size that originated in Scotland. They are very popular due to their cute and bearded look, but also ferocious bark and fearless personality. Many celebrities have owned this dog, such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt and George W. Bush and you might have even noticed Scottie as a playing piece in the popular board game Monopoly.

Today we are going to cover the most important traits of this breed and the type of owner that is will suit them the best so keep reading

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
TrainabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingBelow Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsHigh

Dog Breed Group:Terrier Dogs
Height:Up to 10 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight:Generally 18 to 22 pounds
Life Span:11 to 13 years

When it comes to adaptability, Scottie’s size allows him to handle life in an apartment because he loves human companionship and being close to his owner. However; he does need daily short walks so, even if he lives in apartment that does not mean that he should never leave it. Scottie is not recommended for novice owners because he is a stubborn, independent and opinionated dog.

Additionally, he does not well in training, so unless you are an experienced, strong-willed and patient person, you should think twice before getting this breed. When it comes to his sensitivity level, Scottie is a sensitive dog. He does not respond well to noise, chaotic homes, loud environment, and children. He is not a dog suited for a hectic life even though he can be very playful and energetic.

He also does not like being alone for a long period of time, but this does not mean that he would become self-destructive if left alone for two or three hours. It is just that he should not be lonely. Scottie tolerates hot and cold weather due to his warm coat, but he prefers colder temperatures.

Speaking of friendliness, Scottie is a wonderful, playful and friendly companion. He is very protective of his family members and you will see him barking at strangers and inspecting the area. He may be small, but he has a brave personality and hunter-like instincts.

If trained and socialized properly (as with most dogs), he can be wonderful with kids, other dogs, even smaller pets. He is suspicious of strangers which can be controlled with proper training as well. However, you should be aware of the fact that Scottie is not a dog that would endure pulling and beating, so children should be well-mannered otherwise they might get bit.

When it comes to health, the Scottish Terriers are known for being more prone to cancer related diseases than other pure breeds. Some of the other common diseases and conditions that affect this breed are: von Willebrand disease (vWD), craniomandibular osteopathy (CMO), the Scottie cramp, patellar luxation and cerebellar abiotrophy. Still, they are considered to be healthy in general, it is just that it’s these conditions that are most common for this breed.

Scotties do not have drooling potential. Also, you may think that they are heavy shedders, but it is quite the opposite. They do shed but not as much as you would think with their thick coat. However, they are not easy to groom and you will probably need to take your pet to a specialized stylist. Their famous moustache also needs styling.

This breed is known for being very difficult to train, and that is not because of their intelligence, but because they are used to working on their own and getting to know things without direction. However, if you are patient enough and start on time, positive reinforcement might teach your Scottie that working with his owner might be the best thing for him and that he cannot learn everything on his own. Actually, this is also the reason for this breed’s low score in obedience rallies.

Scottie used to be a working and hunting dog that would chase foxes and other small animals; which means that he has a dose of prey drive and potential for mouthiness. He may also chase vermin which you should be thankful for.

Additionally, you might have heard of terriers to be yappy, but that is not the case with this one. On the contrary, Scottie is known for having a really strong and loud bark and he is not shy at all to prove his ability. You should also be aware of the fact that he has a strong wanderlust potential and, since he is a stubborn dog, you should avoid getting him off the leash in dangerous and unknown places.

When we speak of exercise needs, Scottish Terriers might be small, but they are high energy dogs who need daily walks, physical exercise and mental stimulation. They love games and playing and they should be trained as often as possible. Exercising is especially important if you own a stubborn dog breed that might grow into an ill-mannered adult dog that will make problems for both you and himself. However, the intensity of exercises should not be too high because their size prevents them from being as active as, for example, Dobermans.

Main Highlights
  • Scottie is one of the five terriers that originated in Scotland, the other four being the modern Skye, Dandie Dinmont, Cairn, and West Highland White Terrier.
  • Scottish Terriers love to dig, mostly because their original role was to hunt animals that would hide beneath the ground.
  • This breed is usually reserved and aloof with strangers and tends to bark at unfamiliar sounds. This can be controlled with training and socialization.
  • Scottie is a dog that is a high energy dog even though he is of small size. However, that does not mean that you should use him as a jogging companion because his short legs prevent him from jumping and running too much.
  • You should not put an electronic fence around your yard because it might hurt your dog. A physical fence is preferable.
  • Scottish Terriers are ranked #3 in alarm barking which means that they are not suitable for environments that are too urban, noise and with noise rules.
  • Scottie’s coat does not shed as much as you would think so; however it requires a high maintenance which you might not be able to provide but go to a dog stylist.
  • This dog breed is not suited for homes with toddlers because he always defends himself with biting if pulled or prodded.
Breed History

Scottie’s history and origin is undocumented and unclear; however, it is clear as day that his country of origin is Scotland. It is believed that the first records of this breed dates to the 15th century and that there used to be two varieties identified in the 19th century – a rough-haired and smooth-haired terrier. Towards the end of this century, the owners wanted to create a pure blooded terrier with sturdier and thicker coat that would be different from the others. There was an abundance of terriers back then and most of them were smooth-haired.

The interesting historical fact about this breed is that it is believed that all the present modern Scotties can be traced down to one single bitch named Splinter II. She is the ‘foundation matron’ for all of the modern Scotties today.

In terms of official recognition, there are several clubs that handle the Scottie’s affairs. Thus there is:

  • The Scottish Terrier Club of England was officially founded in 1881,
  • The Scottish Terrier Club of Scotland was founded seven years later, in 1888
  • The Scottish Terrier Club of America (STCA) was formed in 1900.

The height for both the male and female Scottish Terriers is around 25 cm (9.8 in) while the length of back from withers to tail is around 28 cm (11 in). When it comes to weight, males are just a bit heavier – they are from 8.5 to 10 kg (19 to 22 lb.) while the females are from 8 to 9.5 kg (18 to 21 lb.). Scotties have a unique appearance and a small, sturdy body.

Personality and Character

The Scottish Terriers are known for being territorial, playful, proud, brave, and feisty. This dog breed is very intelligent, independent and stubborn. Because of his temperament, that also made him famous in battles, he has been nicknames ‘Diehard’. What you should know about this breed is that their stubbornness makes them difficult to train, but if you are a patient owner and you start on time, you can make your Scottie grow into a socialized dog that would not bark on every single stranger and small animal.

You need to take your Scottie puppy and introduce him to other terriers and dogs so he would not become distrusted and aggressive. If a dog attacks him, he will probably fight him no matter the size. He loves and needs companionship, so this dog should never sleep outside, apart from his master.

Health and Potential Problems

Scottish Terriers are known for being healthy in general; however, there are certain conditions and diseases that affect them more than other pure breeds. Some of them are:

  • Scottie cramp is a condition that has been named after this breed because it is rather common. It is not progressive and it occurs when a dog is under a lot of stress or high intensity exercise. The symptoms include the inability to walk or stand for a period of time, arching of the spine, a goose-stepping gait and trouble walking whenever a dog is stressed. Treatment is not necessary for this condition but sometimes if it is too severe, it can be treated with vitamins and Prozac.
  • Von Willebrand’s disease is an inherited blood disorder prevents blood from clotting. Some of the most recognizable symptoms include the excessive bleeding from gums, nose, injuries and especially wounds after surgeries. There is no cure for this disease but there is treatment that includes transfusions and medications. Dogs with this condition should not be bred and they can lead normal lives.
  • Craniomandibular osteopathy is a condition that affects skull bones which happens when a puppy is growing and these bones become irregularly enlarged. There is no treatment except pain relievers or sometimes even a surgery. This irregular growth usually stops by the time a puppy becomes one year old; however, he might have problems with eating and moving his jaw in the future.
  • Patellar luxation is a condition that affects a kneecap, and the only treatment is surgery. The knee joint slides in and out of its place which results in severe pain.
  • Cancer: Scotties are more prone to various types of cancers than other pure breeds. The most common ones are: bladder cancer, transitional cell carcinomas of the lower urinary tract, malignant melanoma, gastric carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, lymphosarcoma and nasal carcinoma, mast cell sarcoma and hemangiosarcoma.
Care Features

This dog breed thrives on human companionship and should never be left alone for a long period of time. He needs to always be on a leash because of his prey drive and the need to hunt and track down smaller animals and weird moving objects. You can leave him roam around, but only if that space is fenced and not dangerously unfamiliar because when a Scottie gets stubborn and something interesting catches his attention, you will need to run after him.

You should also know that this dog breed cannot swim because of their short legs but sturdy bodies. However, they do find water fascinating, so you should keep them away from it in order to prevent your pet from drowning.

Feeding Schedule

Scottish Terriers are small dogs but they have a high level of energy, so they should be fed according to that. The recommended dose is 1 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry food per one day.

Always remember that this dose is based on the fact that you have an adult, healthy dog that that has a normal level of activity. However, if your dog does not spend too much energy or perhaps he is more active than other dogs, his feeding schedule will have to be arranged according to that. Also make sure to include vegetables, proteins and food of high quality so your Scottie can be healthy.

Coat, Color and Grooming

Scotties are famous for their thick, hard and wiry coat with a soft and dense undercoat. The most common coat colors are black and white, but you can also see them in bridle, grey, and a mix of both. This dog breed does not shed too much; however, the coat is very difficult to maintain.

You need to be very experienced in order to take care of it properly. Otherwise you will need to take your pet to a specialist who would cut, groom and trim your Scottie’s coat and stylize his beard. This technique is called stripping and this dog breed should be trimmed every two months in order to keep the coat short.

Scotties react badly to fleas and should be examined regularly. A proper dental hygiene is required as well.  Make sure to comb them regularly and to check their bodies so you can spot an injury or infection on time.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

Scotties are well behaved around children, but only if children are well behaved as well. This dog breed is known as being protective and territorial around their family members and they love making sure that no harm would befell them. However, Scotties are also known for defending themselves and they never tolerate beating, pulling or prodding which almost always results in biting. In order to avoid this, you need to train and socialize both the puppy and children. Also, it is not recommended for Scotties and toddlers to be together.

Scotties can be aggressive towards other dogs and small animals which should be avoided to some extent with proper training and socialization.

To sum up, we have covered the most important characterizes of the Scottish Terrier aka Scottie. You are now familiar with his physical traits, personality quirks and most importantly – his basic needs.

So, if you are a playful person who has time to spend outdoors and lives in a cozy house or an apartment – then this dog breed might be for you. The Scottie also needs an owner who is strong-willed and patient because he is very stubborn and independent and, if he is not trained on time, you might have trouble with him later on. Giving him proper love and meeting his needs will make not only him happy, but you as well.

The Scottie is a small dog but has a heart of a lion adding truth to the saying that powerful essences are stored in small containers. So what do you say? Would you like a Scottie as your companion?

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.

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