Scottish Terrier Breed Guide

Scottish Terriers are small dogs with wiry, hard, and weather-resistant coats. They come in brindle, black, or wheaten, and their eyebrows, beard, and legs are shaggy. These short-legged dogs should have a broken coat, a dense and soft undercoat, prick ears, a black nose, and an erect tail. Their eyes are dark, small, and almond shaped. Ideally, Scottish Terriers measure 10 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 18 to 22 pounds.

They make great watchdogs, despite their small size, and are protective of their property and people.

Playful, alert, and loving, Scottish Terriers are wonderful house pets that thrive in active households. These dogs need regular exercise, and their coat requires a moderate amount of grooming, so they are not the best choice for very busy people desiring a low-maintenance breed. Scottish Terriers are known for their scrappiness and feisty attitudes.

Often called the "Scottie," and nicknamed "the diehard," the Scottish Terrier is the only dog breed to live in the White House three times. Presidents Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and George W. Bush have all kept Scotties.

Spirited, thoughtful, and steady-going, Scottish Terriers are best suited for active homes with no or older children. They may tolerate other pets, provided they are raised together, but they generally prefer not to share their space or their humans. This breed may be aggressive toward other dogs.

Scotties are a happy, tough, and sporty breed that adapt equally well to apartments, single-family homes, or large estates. They make great watchdogs, despite their small size, and are protective of their property and people. While outgoing and affectionate around loved ones, these dogs tend to be reserved or aloof around unfamiliar people.

Always in search of excitement and adventure, Scottish Terriers appreciate time outdoors and need regular exercise to remain mentally and physically healthy. Daily walks, vigorous play sessions, and off-leash exploration in a securely fenced yard are all great activities for the Scottie.

If left alone for long periods or otherwise neglected, these dogs will dig and get into trouble. This is not a breed meant to live outdoors.

Scottish Terriers are known to suffer from a number of serious health problems that may negatively affect quality or length of life. Some of these conditions are manageable. Purchasing or adopting a Scottie from a reputable source is a good first step toward obtaining a healthy puppy. It will also help reduce the risk of certain genetic temperament problems that occur in the breed, such as unexplained aggression.

Common health problems seen in the breed include epilepsy, intervertebral disc disease, Cushing's disease, bladder stones, hypothyroidism, hemophilia, and deafness. Scottish Terriers are also prone to von Willebrand's disease, which is a clotting disorder, craniomandibular osteopathy, cerebella abiotrophy and other neurological disorders, and certain cancers, including brain and bladder cancer. Progressive retinal atrophy, cataracts, and other eye conditions are also common in these dogs. Additionally, Scottish Terriers are susceptible to "Scottie Cramps," which are severe cramps that occur during exercise.

Routine veterinary care, timely vaccinations, proper nutrition, and regular exercise help ensure Scottish Terriers live a full and active life of up to 13 years.

Scottish Terriers need obedience training due to their strong and spirited natures, but they aren't an easy breed to train. These dogs need firm handling and positive reinforcement. They typically respond well to praise and treat rewards, but it's important to find the right motivational tool for each specific dog.

This breed has a strong mind and an even stronger will. Harsh criticism, scolding, and other punishments will backfire and result is a worsening of behavior. These dogs will remember being punished and may refuse to come when called or participate in future training sessions because of it.

Dog sports are a good way to tire these dogs out while building a stronger relationship and reinforcing previous training. Scotties do well in ability, and they are also eligible to compete in earthdog trials.

This is not an easy breed to groom. Scottish Terriers need combing most days, and during shedding seasons they require brushing at least once daily. Additionally, the breed should be clipped and shaped every three months. Show Scotties require hand-stripping. This should be done only by someone with experience. The Scottish Terrier Club of America published a grooming guide, complete with illustrations, that contains detailed instructions for grooming pets, show dogs, and puppies.

The beard tends to become wet and dirty after drinks and meals, and it should be cleaned and combed frequently to remove food and other debris. Bathing with a gentle, pH-balanced canine shampoo will clean the coat without irritating the Scottie's skin.

The nails need clipping every week or two, or more often if they tend to snag and break. Daily toothbrushing with a canine toothpaste is important to prevent gum disease, bad breath, and tooth decay. About once weekly, the ears should be cleaned with an otic cleanser and cotton balls and checked for redness, discharge, odor, and other signs of infection.

Scottish Terriers were developed to hunt and destroy rats and other vermin on farms. Because of the breed's long and low build, these dogs also excelled at following rabbits, foxes, and badgers into their dens. There is a great deal of confusion surrounding the Scottie's origin, mostly because all terriers were called Scottish or Scotch terriers during the 15th and 16th centuries. These dogs were very popular in Scotland during that time, due in part to the adoration King James VI had for the breed.

By the 1870s, so much confusion existed about the names and types of terriers in Scotland, that breeders and dog fanciers began protesting. This resulted in the writing of a breed standard around 1880.

Scotties first came to the United States in the late 1800s. The breed increased in popularity following World War II, and it remains popular today. The most well known Scottish Terrier in America for a long time was Fala, Franklin Roosevelt's dog.

The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Scottish Terrier in 1885.