black scottish terrier standing on rock

Scottish Terrier

A complete breed guide for Scottie dogs

Last Updated September 2023

This article is written by Pet Circle veterinarian, Dr Maree Monaghan Bvsc (HONS)

It's hard to miss a Scottish Terrier trotting confidently along with its magnificent eyebrows, beard and skirts. Small in stature with the heart of a lion, the Scottie's serious face hides a loyal and intelligent companion dog.

1. Scottish Terrier Facts
2. History
3. Personality
4. Diet
5. Health Issues
6. Related Breeds

Scottish Terrier Facts

Breed size: Place of origin: Other names:
Small Scotland Scottie, Aberdeen Terrier
Breed group: Energy level: Weight range:
Terrier Medium 8.5 - 10.5kg
Life expectancy: Tendency to bark: Height range:
11 - 15 years Low 25 - 28 cm
Drool factor: Coat length: Colours:
Low Short, double coat; undercoat short, dense and soft; outer coat harsh, dense and wiry Black, wheaten or brindle
Shedding factor: Overall grooming needs: Activity needs:
Low Moderate Medium

Do Scottish Terriers shed?

Scottish Terriers don't usually shed much hair. They require weekly brushing and combing especially around their mouth where food can get caught in their beard and moustache. Many owners prefer to have their Scotties professionally clipped or stripped 3 or 4 times a year. Check out our dog grooming guide for how to groom your Scottie at home.

How much does a Scottish Terriers cost?

The cost of a Scottish Terrier will vary widely based on where the puppy comes from and pedigree of the parents. For a pedigree puppy, you can expect to pay between $6,000 and $6,500.

Are Scottish Terriers good pets?

Scotties are intelligent, confident and easily bored which can make them difficult to train. This independent breed prefers to live life on their own terms and does not appreciate interference from small children and other pets. The Scottie's hunting instinct is strong and they will quite happily dig out of their yard and run off in hot pursuit of anything that catches their attention.

Are Scottish Terriers hypoallergenic?

Scottish Terriers are a low shedding breed, however they are not considered to be hypoallergenic.

How long do Scottish Terriers live?

The average life expectancy of Scottish Terriers is 11 to 15 years.

Do Scottish Terriers bark?

Scotties are unique amongst terriers in that they are not prone to barking and, when they do, they have a very good reason. This makes Scotties excellent watch dogs as their loud alert bark means there is something that needs attention.

How big do Scottish Terriers get?

The average weight for a Scottie ranges from 8.5 - 10.5 kg. They stand around 25-28 cm in height at the shoulder.

How do I know which Scottie breeder to choose?

The golden rule when purchasing a puppy or dog is to do your research. Never purchase a puppy without inspecting the breeder's premises and asking them the 10 Breeder Checklist Questions. Responsible breeders are proud to show prospective parents their kennels and will have tested their breeding stock for inheritable diseases. If you are looking for an adult Scottie, you may be able to adopt one through a shelter or rescue organisation.

Scottish Terrier History

Scottish Terriers were developed on the rugged farms around Aberdeen, Scotland to hunt foxes, rabbits and badgers. The harsh terrain required an independent, self-sufficient dog that could do its job without help from humans - traits still displayed by today's Scotties.

The breed has been known since the 1700's and, in 1881, the Scottish Terrier was officially recognised as a breed. The first Scottish Terriers were imported into America in 1883 and became hugely popular there in the 1930's. Famous Scottie owners include Humphrey Bogart, Bette Davis and President Franklin Roosevelt whose Scottie, Fala, accompanied him everywhere during World War II. The first Scottish Terriers were imported into Australia in 1889, however, the breed did not gain popularity and are not commonly seen today.

2 black Scottie dogs sitting together

Scottish Terrier Personality

The Scottish Terrier was bred for hunting on their own and this independent streak can lead to Scotties being aloof and stubborn. However, the Scottish Terrier is also extremely loyal, faithful, courageous and highly intelligent. Scottie puppies do best with short training sessions that change frequently because their high intelligence makes them become bored very easily.

Scotties enjoy a brisk walk everyday so they can stretch their little legs and check out what's happening in their neighbourhood. Despite their small size, Scottish Terriers are extremely strong and despite their short legs, Scotties are very agile and active and will chase anything that moves, so it is not recommended to let your Scottie off lead when outside their home. Scottish Terriers don't play well with small children and other pets and are not recommended for families. They do adapt well to most environments and are quite happy living in apartments.

Scottish Terrier Diet and Nutrition

Scottish Terrier Puppies

Like all small breed puppies, Scottie pups require a premium, complete and balanced diet. They mature early and have a short, intense growth period when compared to medium and large breed pups.

Best Food for Scottish Terrier Puppies

Our Vet Squad recommends the following premium diets for Scottie puppies as they provide all the essential nutrients to ensure your pup will thrive. Premium diets contain consistent, highly digestible ingredients and often contain additional beneficial ingredients such as omega fatty acids and antioxidants for skin, coat and immune health.

Advance Small Puppy

This super premium, Australian made, dry puppy food is complete and balanced and is also able to be rehydrated with warm water to make it easier for very young puppies to eat.

Royal Canin Mini Puppy

Royal Canin Mini Puppy has an optimal energy content to support your small breed puppy through their growth period, as well as balanced levels of calcium and phosphorus to promote healthy bone and joint development.

Hills Puppy Small Paws

Hill's Science Diet Small Paws Puppy dry food is tailored nutrition for the developmental needs of Small & Mini puppies, so they get the best start in life & grow to their full potential

Shop All Small Breed Puppy Food Now

Bringing your new Scottish Terrier puppy home

The arrival of a new puppy in the home is an exciting time although it can be a little overwhelming for your new pup. Socialisation in the first 12 weeks of a puppy's life is crucial to ensure they become a confident and well-behaved adult. Exposing them in a positive way to new people, animals, environments, sounds and situations will help to prevent fear and anxiety in later life. We recommend puppy preschools as a great way to introduce these new things in a safe way.

These first few weeks will also involve organising your puppy's vaccinations, parasite control, toilet training and crate training. For detailed tips and advice in these areas and more, take a look through our New Puppy Guide. Our Puppy Training Guide will give you the information you need to combat any undesirable behaviours like digging and chewing.

Best foods for Adult Scottish Terriers

It is very important to feed your adult Scottie a premium diet in order for them to stay healthy. Their diet needs to be age appropriate and meet all of their daily nutritional and energy demands. Scotties are prone to weight gain and a weight management diet may be appropriate for your Scottie.

Advance, Royal Canin and Hills Science Diet Small Breed Adult Diets are suitable for Scottish Terriers. These scientifically-formulated diets contain balanced levels of protein, fat and carbohydrate plus vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for health and wellbeing.

Advance Adult Terriers Ocean Fish

Made with fish as the protein source, this super premium, Australian made, dry dog food is complete and balanced to support the unique nutritional requirements of small Terrier breeds.

Royal Canin Mini Adult

This premium dry dog food is made from highly digestible ingredients to deliver optimally balanced nutrition that keeps your adult small breed dog in peak condition.

Hills Science Diet Perfect Weight

This high quality dry food contains a proprietary ingredient blend proven to support healthy weight loss and lean muscle maintenance to keep your Scottie trim, taut and terrific!

Shop All Small Breed Dog Food Now

Scottish Terrier Health Concerns

Scotties are a generally hardy breed however, they can suffer from some inherited conditions and other diseases.

Von Willebrand disease

Von Willebrand disease is an inherited disease of Scottish Terriers in which affected dogs have extremely low or undetectable levels of von Willebrand coagulation factor (vWf) - an essential protein needed for normal blood clotting. Affected dogs bruise easily, have frequent nosebleeds, bleed from the mouth spontaneously or when juvenile teeth are lost, and experience prolonged bleeding after surgery or trauma. The gene responsible for this disease in Scotties has been identified and reputable breeders will have their dogs screened for Von Willebrand disease before breeding with them.

Scottie Cramp

This is another inherited disease that causes affected dogs to have short episodes (usually around 10 minutes) of muscle spasms after periods of exercise or stress. Signs of the disease usually occur when Scotties are between 1 and 18 months of age and females are more likely to be affected than males. The disease is lifelong however, mildly affected dogs rarely require treatment and more severely affected dogs can be treated with muscle relaxants. Scottie Cramp is another genetic disease that breeders can test for before breeding.

Luxating Patella

A luxating patella is a knee cap which dislocates or 'luxates' out of place from the groove in the bottom of the femur bone that it normally sits in. It can occur medially (moves to the midline of the body or towards the other leg - which is the most common) or laterally (moves towards the outside/away from the other leg). This condition is common in small breed dogs and is successfully treated surgically.

Cushing's Disease

Cushing's Disease is the common name for Hyperadrenocorticism - a condition in which the adrenal glands (small glands that sit on top of the kidneys) overproduce cortisol in the dog's body. In most cases, Cushing's Disease is caused by a benign or malignant tumour in the pituitary gland, or occasionally by a tumour in an adrenal gland. In some cases, Cushing's may be caused by corticosteroid treatment over a long period of time. Symptoms of Cushings Disease include a swollen abdomen, dull or thinning fur, increased thirst and urination, increased hunger, reduced energy and muscle loss.

Related Breeds to the Scottish Terrier

Skye Terrier

One of the least well known of Scotland's terriers is the Skye Terrier which originated on the remote Isle of Skye. These terriers are twice as long as they are high and usually have distinctive "bat wing" style ears although they can also have drop ears. Like most terriers, they have a double coat with a short woolly undercoat, however, their topcoat is long and lies flat. Unfortunately, these lovely little dogs are one of the rarest breeds of terrier.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier

This diminutive terrier is also much longer than it is high and sports an adorable silky topknot of hair on the top of their head. The Dandie Dinmont is named after a character in Sir Walter Scott's novel "Guy Mannering" and was virtually unknown outside the Scottish Borders until this book was published. This breed is also one of the rarest terrier breeds native to the British Isles.

Cairn Terrier

The Cairn Terrier also originated in Scotland and is recognized as one of Scotland's earliest working dogs. The name Cairn comes from the word for a pile of rocks that were often used as road markers or memorials. Rats, mice and other small mammals that used these cairns as shelters were flushed out by these feisty little terriers. A female Cairn Terrier called Terry went on to become famous as Dorothy's faithful companion Toto in the movie The Wizard of Oz.

Further Reading

Complete Beginner's Guide To Puppy Care

How To Help Your Dog Lose Weight

Breed diets: Are they worth the hype?

How to Groom Your Dog