Scottish Terrier

Scotland has been the home of various terrier breeds for many years. In the main they were small, active rough-haired dogs of strong character. Perhaps due to the geography of Scotland, different types were traced to particular areas. This led to selective breeding and the development of the five Scottish breeds, as they are known today. The similarities are still there — short legs, low-to-ground bodies and harsh, shaggy coats.


The Scottish Terrier type was favored in the Aberdeen area, so for several years they carried the title of Aberdeen Terrier. “Exports” to England and America soon took place and devotees of the Scottish Terrier were to be found in both countries. Early British Champions, Ch. Dundee (born in 1882) and Ch. Alister, were responsible for many Champion offspring on both sides of the Atlantic. Many of England's top dogs and bitches since that time have made similar journeys and the Scottish ’Perrier is now as popular as ever.

The heyday of the breed, however, seems to have been in the years following World War II. Clever fanciers were able to maintain a nucleus of sound breeding stock and so were able to continue the high standards seen before the war. The breed, like many others, has passed through fashions and fancies. Breed type, however, has been paramount. The craze for excessive body coat (furnishings) has thankfully become, like all fashions, outdated and now a more practical, sensible appearance is required in the show ring.

At one time the United States seemed to favor a taller, lighter animal than the breed’s native country, but recently type and build have become more uniform. Exports from America and Canada can and do compete with great success in shows throughout the world. American presentation is still slightly different from the British style, with the dog in a shorter, closer trim, thus accentuating its construction and shape.


The Scottish Terrier should be a sturdy, thick-set dog of a size suited to going to ground. A balance must be reached between these characteristics: too big and it would never get down a crevice to catch its prey. The height at the shoulder should be around 11 inches/28 cm, and its weight should be approximately 21 pounds/9.5 kg. The Scottie’s head, which perhaps seems rather long for its size, is carried proudly — characteristically its nose appears to slope backward. The planes of the head should be parallel and show quality. The eyes are dark and deep set under prominent eyebrows. Fine, neat ears are pointed, carried erect and set on top of the head at the corners of the flat skull. The neck should be moderately thick, not too long and lead to well-laid shoulders. The forearm slopes well back, which allows for a good overhang or forechest, and the short legs are then placed well under the body. This is slung between the well-boned front legs. The well-rounded ribs flatten to a deep chest. The “rule of thumb” in Scotties is that a man's clenched fist held upright should fit beneath the Scottie’s chest and the ground, and that the chest should be wide enough to accommodate the same man’s open hands with fingers together.

The Scottish Terrier's body is short and well muscled, the hindquarters creating great power in action. The undocked short tail is carried erect and should be clothed with enough coat to have a carrot shape. The Scottish Terrier should always be seen to be moving with purpose and drive. The coat color may be black, brindle or wheaten of any shade. Unfortunately fashion took its toll in Britain when black coats were given preference. Wheaten is very popular in the United States and hopefully there will now be a resurgence of interest in the country’s homeland for this most attractive color.


The original Standard for the Scottish Terrier asked for a dog which was willing to go anywhere and do anything, and today this still holds true. It should be bold, dignified and upright. It should be willing to stand its ground but not be aggressive without reason. It is at home with adults and children alike, and many Scotties have played both guard and nanny over the years.


Usually the Scottish Terrier is sound in mind and limb. Pre-war problems included skin troubles, but thankfully these have to a large extent been eliminated. However, Scottie cramp is still a problem. It resembles a slight seizure and for a few moments the Scottie is unable to walk. Stock should be bought from families where this has not been a problem. A healthy appetite with plenty of activity tends to provide a happy and contented dog.

Special Care and Training

Like most dogs, the Scottish Terrier needs training from an early age. An uncontrolled dog is an unhappy dog, having to fight for its rights. It needs basic training and socializing to bring out the best of its character. Scotties should be stripped twice yearly to maintain a healthy coat.


Scottish Terriers can turn up in the most unlikely of places — for instance, President Roosevelt had a Scottie named Fala in the White House and Hitler gave two to his mistress Eva Braun, while numerous other celebrities have given their affection to the breed. This demonstrates their ability to adapt. Scotties are equally at home wherever their owner happens to be, whether in an apartment, airplane or mansion. It must be remembered that the Scottie is not a “gushing” breed, but needs time to make its own introductions. It will usually sit back and survey the scene before committing itself. Once your friend, the Scottish Terrier is your friend for life. Loyalty, to a Scottie, is all important.

Gallery of Scottish Terrier