Complete Guide To The Scottish Terrier: Care, Grooming, Feeding and More

Small, tenacious, and entertaining, the Scottish Terrier is an intelligent and lively breed of dog that owners simply can’t get enough of. Although this small dog may be slow to warm up to strangers, once you have won this dog’s affection, you have it for life. The Scottish Terrier is active but well suited for apartment life given the proper exercise and stimulation.  Adding a Scottish Terrier to your family is a wonderful choice for people with older children, or singles who want a furry friend.

How Big Do Scottish Terriers Get?

Male10″ at the shoulder`19-22 lbs
Female10″ at the shoulder18-21 lbs

What Do Scottish Terriers Look Like?

Much of this dog’s scruffy appearance is due to its thick double coat. The topcoat is wiry and dense, able to repel water and brambles from a day spent tracking through the forest. The undercoat is thick and wooly, able to keep the Scottish Terrier warm. This dog comes in several coat colors, including black, wheat, and brindle color.  

What Is The Personality Of A Scottish Terrier?

The Scottish Terrier can make a wonderful family dog as long as this little dog operates on his own schedule. The dog can take quite a long time to warm up to people and has been known to take an extended time to make up his mind about a person. But, once the dog has decided you are a friend, you can count yourself as a friend for life. The Scottish Terrier tends to do better with older children. Young toddlers who grab or prod at the little dog may not sit well with the independent Terrier. This dog has been known to nip and bite if it is pulled at.  

While this is an incredibly intelligent breed, it can be difficult training the Scottie. This dog is exceedingly clever and likes to make decisions on his own. This character trait means that if the dog decides learning a new behavior is a waste of time, it simply will not take direction. To combat this, try to keep training sessions short. About a 15-minute training session is as long as the Terrier can handle without becoming bored. Make sure to keep training exciting and unique. Monotonous and repetitive training can become tiresome to the Scottish Terrier.  

Although they are small dogs, the Scottish Terrier doesn’t have a small and yappy bark. These little dogs are always ever watchful. They are naturally aloof toward strangers and can make excellent watchdogs. Their surprisingly large bark can be intimidating to an unwanted intruder in your home. Despite their miniature size, the Scottish Terrier is steadfast and loyal.  Once you have a Scottish Terrier’s trust and affection you can count on the Terrier to be your friend for life.  

How Much Grooming Do Scottish Terriers Need?

The Scottish Terrier has a relatively short coat, but it does have rather high grooming standards. Due to the thick double coat in this breed, professional grooming is required. The thick, wiry hair on the outer coat must be hand stripped. This process pulls out the dead fur from the coat, keeping the coat neat and clean.

If you rely on a professional groomer to strip the coat, expect to have the process completed about once every six to eight weeks. If you are doing the procedure yourself, expect to strip the coat every three to four weeks. Keeping the coat cut short is not recommended for the show ring but may help to reduce the amount of grooming required. Like all dogs, it is essential to keep the ears clean and the nails trimmed short.

How Much Exercise Do Scottish Terriers Need?

The small dog is not happy to simply sit on your lap for hours every day. The Scottish Terrier will need a moderate amount of exercise to keep him happy. Take your dog for a vigorous walk or a lively play session. The dog loves to play a good game of fetch or tug-of-war to help tire him out.  Often, when playing tug-of-war, the little Scottie will not yield or give up the game until you have said it is time to quit. 

Because of this personality trait the Scottish Terrier has earned the nickname “diehard.”  The little Terrier can put his steadfast behavior and prey drive to good use and has been known to excel at tracking competitions and scent work.  The tenacious little terrier is hard to break away from a pursuit once he has started working.  

Although he has energy, his short legs, and diminutive stature do not make him a good running companion. With at least one moderate walk each day, the Scottish Terrier is happy to sit at home. With minimal but active exercise, the Scottish Terrier can make an excellent apartment dog.  

What Dog Food Is Best For Scottish Terriers?

Scotties require no special dietary considerations other than they tend to lean towards obesity as they get older (at least the dogs in my practice have). Because they’re already a small frame size, adding extra calories is easy by giving them high-calorie snacks and small bites of people food.

Before we start with the food lists, just know that grain-free dog foods are a myth. There’s zero science showing that they are helpful. In fact, there’s increasing evidence that it’s causing issues in certain breeds of dogs. Food allergies are the only reason to even consider a grain-free diet but only choose one with the help of your veterinarian.

Basic dog foods that I recommend include:

Over the Counter Weight Management Diets:

How Long Do Scottish Terriers Live?

12 years based on information provided by the AKC

What Health Concerns Do Scottish Terriers Have?

The following list is comprised both of my own experience as well as some of the most common concerns of the national breed club:

  • Patella Luxation
  • Obesity

Otherwise, I find the Scottish Terrier to be a pretty hardy breed.

Where Can I Find a Scottish Terrier?

Like many popular dog breeds, the Scottish Terrier can be found from a professional breeder. Before selecting a breeder, you will want to fully vet the breeder, asking plenty of questions about the dog breed, living environment, and any health checks and certifications. If possible, try to meet the entire litter of puppies as well as the parent dogs.

Breeder Referral from the Scottish Terrier Club of America

AKC Puppy Page

It is also possible to rescue a Scottish Terrier from a rescue dedicated to the breed. Reliable and responsible rescues for the Scottish Terrier include the North Texas Scottie Rescue, the Scottie Kingdom Rescue, Inc., and the Scottish Terrier Club of America. Rescuing a Scottish Terrier not only allows you to find a purebred dog you have been searching for but allows you to find a dog in need of a home.

How To Find Out More About Scottish Terriers

Scottish Terrier Club of America

AKC Breed Page

Regional Scottish Terrier Clubs

Fun Facts About the Scottish Terrier

This dog was developed in the Scottish Highlands and was originally bred to hunt. Much of the dog’s hunting instincts still exist today. This dog will regularly dig throughout your backyard, trying to hunt and capture prey. Although it may be possible to block this nuisance behavior, it is a common trait in Scottish Terriers worldwide.  

The history of the Scottish Terrier dates back to 55 B.C. when the first reference to this little dog was attributed to Pliny the Elder. After Romans invaded Scotland, they observed this little dog working to chase and hunt their prey. The Romans then started to call the dog “terrarii,” which roughly translates to “workers of the earth.” Today, the Terrier still carries this name and largely describes their personality.

At first, the several terriers found in Scotland were grouped into two terrier families, and the Scottish Terrier was placed with Skye Terriers designation. They were shown as a Skye Terrier until around 1870. At that point, the breed standard for the Scottish Terrier was developed, and it was eventually shown as an independent breed at the end of the 19th century.