Scottish terrier

The Scottish Terrier is a small dog breed with short legs and a lot of character. His image can be seen on clothing, pictures, cards, ornaments and photographs. The most famous cinematic portrayal of this breed was in Disney’s animated movie Lady and the Tramp.  


The Scottish Terrier was originally developed to hunt foxes and badgers. Considered an old breed, he is fondly known as the Scottie and also known as the Aberdeen Terrier.  

Although presently extinct, the Old Scotch Terrier from Scotland is the ancestor of all terrier breeds. The Scottie is believed to have been around in 55 BC where the Romans used the breed as a hunter.

This dog is related to the Skye, Cairn, West Highland White and Dandie Dinmont Terriers. 

In the 19th century, a pack of Scotties worked for a military man called George the fourth Earl of Dumbarton. These dogs were called diehards because they fought bravely in battle. 

Famous people who owned Scotties include film actress Shirley Temple and former US presidents Franklin Roosevelt and George W. Bush

Physical Characteristics

The Scottish Terrier has short legs and has a compact body. Scotties are double-coated with short fur. The topcoat is hard and wiry while the undercoat is dense and soft. 

Scottie dogs come in a range of colors:

  • black
  • brindle
  • wheaten


When fully grown the Scottish Terrier usually grows to a height of 10 inches (25cm) and weighs 18 to 22 pounds (8 to 10kg).

Character & abilities

The Scottish Terrier is endearing and sweet. He can be aloof around unfamiliar people but with proper introduction, he will warm up to them. 

This dog is brave and loyal. He is protective over the home and family, and he doesn’t trust strangers. He has a loud bark to alert when strangers are approaching. 

The Scottie is gentle and considerate to children and the elderly. Because of his small size, he is best suited for homes with older children who are educated on how to handle him. 

He can be serious, dignified and reserved. He does not respond to people exclaiming in admiration when in social settings. Slow to accept outsiders, he can also be aggressive to other dogs, especially those of the same gender. 

If provoked by another dog, the Scottie will fight back. It is critical to provide proper socialization from puppyhood to ensure he doesn’t mature into an aggressive dog. 

Trainability & Intelligence

Like other terrier breeds, this dog is intelligent, opinionated and confident. He has an excellent memory. 

Bred to work alone, Scottie is independent. Training can be challenging because he prefers to do something on his own without waiting for direction.  

In dog sports, this terrier is best suited for agility and earthdog trials since he can set his own pace, unlike in obedience rallies where he needs guidance. 

Scottie is sensitive with a kind heart and thrives on positive reinforcement. Any harsh training will break his spirit. Crate training can prevent accidents in the home but the dog shouldn’t be confined in it all day.

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

This Terrier is the ideal active companion and he needs regular short walks. His short legs impede him from running but he enjoys going for walks.

When Scottie doesn’t get adequate exercise and stimulation, he becomes bored and can become destructive. 

An adult Scottie needs 1 to 1 ½ cups of dog food a day. Providing complete and wholesome nutrition will make all the difference in the dog’s overall health and well-being. 


The Scottie sheds minimally but is high maintenance. Because he is short, a dog grooming table can bring him up to a comfortable level during coat care. Some of the tools required include:

  • Stiff brush
  • Grooming mitten or glove
  • Wide toothed comb
  • Scissors
  • Stripping knife

Some Scottie owners prefer to take their dog every two months to a professional dog groomer to keep his hair short. Regular coat clipping results in softer hair and duller coat color. Any Scottie shown in conformation should avoid clipping.

Baths should be infrequent because the dog’s skin dries out quickly. Daily dental care will ensure that Scottie doesn’t suffer from gum disease or tooth decay. 

Living Conditions & Adaptability

When prodded and disturbed, Scottie can get irritated and will defend himself. This is why he is not suited for homes with young children. He can be a good nanny and guardian to older well-behaved children. 

It is best to train this terrier to dig at an allocated place in the yard than to completely deny him the joy he gets out of it. He also likes to chase little mammals like rodents. For his safety, it is important to erect a fence around the yard so he doesn’t chase prey onto a busy road.  

The Scottie is adaptable and can live in an apartment. Even though he has a loud bark, he is not yappy like other terriers.

Because of his hunting nature, he is not suited for homes with small mammals like rats and hamsters. 

This terrier breed should not live outside or in a kennel. He thrives on human companionship and adapts to the changing moods in the home. 

Although he likes water, he can sink easily if he falls in an uncovered swimming pool because his short legs and heavy body makes it impossible for him to swim. 


Scottie’s skin reacts harshly to flea bites. To avoid him chewing himself bald, it is essential to regularly run a flea comb through his coat. 

Like all dogs, the Scottie is prone to developing certain health concerns like:

  • Patellar luxation
  • Von Willebrand’s disease
  • Scottie cramp
  • Craniomandibular osteopathy
  • Eye cataracts
  • Glaucoma 
  • Bladder cancer 

When provided the best of care, the Scottish Terrier can live as long as 13 years. 


The Scottish Terrier has a rich character and is beloved by many. He makes an excellent companion for households that can provide daily moderate walks and stimulation. He is protective and has a powerful bark. 

Here at All The Small Dog Breeds, we provide quick facts and characteristics of each breed to help you identify the ideal dog for your home and lifestyle. Our small dog breed descriptions show the important factors to consider. When ready to adopt, we recommend visiting your local shelter or registered breeder. 


1.5 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds


5 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds

Energy Level

4 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds


5 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds

Good with kids

5 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds


4 stars - All The Small Dog Breeds

Do you want to have your beloved small dog breed featured here on our site? We’d love to feature your pics – tag us over on Facebook or Instagram @allthesmalldogbreeds and we’ll be sure to give your pet a shout-out.