The Scottish Terrier

Scotties are typically described as "a lot of dog in a small package." The Scottish Terrier is alert and spirited but also stable and steady-going. He is a determined and thoughtful dog whose "heads up, tails up" attitude conveys both fire and control. A Scottie exudes ruggedness and power, living up to his nickname, the "Diehard." A Scottish terrier is an absolutely dependable and loyal companion. While spirited in the company of others, a Scottie likes nothing more than to sit on your lap and watch television, snuggle with you in bed (They are bed-hogs), lick the salt off your face, play ball and sit up and beg for treats. Although a Scottie enjoys his independence and can fire off at other dogs, a Scottie is very sensitive to praise. Any harsh words and the ears go back and a Scottie slinks to the corner, upset that his owner is mad. Because they get their feelings hurt easily, Scotties (particularly Scottie lassies) may sometimes appear aloof and independent. This is usually temporary. Soon, they are back, begging for treats or an ear scratch.

Overall, a Scottie makes a great pet for an individual who understands a Scotty is feisty, independent but loyal nature. A Scottie is not the right breed for the person who wants a "yes sir" dog who does as he is told without thinking about whether the request is reasonable. Scotties are not recommended for families with small children under the age of five. A Scottie does not take kindly to being dropped; having his hair pulled, or playing baby-doll. When backed into a corner, a Scottie, like any dog, will react. A Scottie is too independent to tolerate such childish games.


The Scottish Terrier is one of the descendants of the Old Scotch Terrier, along with the Dandie Dinmont, Cairn, and West Highland White Terriers. A dog of the general description dates back to some of the earliest treatises on dogs in Britain. The Scottish Terrier was bred to hunt and kill the various species of wildlife (e.g. fox, badger, wildcat, weasel, otter, and the ubiquitous rat) that made life hard for the Scottish farmer and crofter. Losing one or two lambs could mean the difference between eating well that winter and starving to the poor farmer, and so a dog was developed that had exceptional strength and courage, in a compact, tough package. These traits are still the hallmark of the breed today. A Scottie needed strong lungs to breath under sod. He needed strong legs to dig and ferret out rodents. He needed a strong rear assembly to back out of the quarry with his prey. And he needed a tail in case he needed a hand out of the den.

Scotties first entered the show ring in 1860 in England. It was not long after that John Naylor introduced the Scottish Terrier to the United States. The first registered Scottie in America was "Duke" whelped on September 15, 1884.

Scotties particularly gained popularity when Franklin .D. Roosevelt was president. His "Fala" was extremely popular with the masses. FDR had a great love for dogs. He enjoyed escaping and taking the dogs for a "scamper". "All of us were incorrigible dog lovers" wrote James Roosevelt, his son. "There was usually a Scottie in the family, starting with the first, "Duffy", bought in Scotland by Mother and Father on their honeymoon.

A later "Duffy" was the family pet when father was stricken with polio in 1921, and he was followed by "Mr. Duffy"." Three other presidents have been owned by Scottish Terriers. They include "Scotch" who ran circles around Ronald Reagan; Jessie who gave executive briefings to Theodore Roosevelt; and "Cacie" and " Telek" who taught Dwight D. Eisenhower a thing or two about strategy. Those dogs could really run circles around him! Jackie Kennedy also is purported to have owned a Scottish Terrier. In Great Britain, Prince Charles has forsaken his mother's Pembroke Corgis for Scottish Terriers. Charles takes his Scots hunting on his farm in Scotland

Several movie stars also have been owned by Scottish Terriers. The Barrymore family and the Marx brothers have both owned a series of Scotties. Other fanciers have included Shirley Temple, Dorothy Parker, Walter Pidgeon, Julie Andrews, Ali McGraw and Liza Minnelli. In April 1989, Liza brought her Scottish Terrier into Sweden aboard a car ferry while on tour with Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. Officials found the Scottie in her hotel but she refused to hand over the dog. She threatened to cancel her show. "Lily", the Scottie, was expelled from Sweden to Paris for violation of the country's quarantine laws.

Appearance and Personality

wpeD.jpg (17660 bytes) The Standard is the physical "blueprint" of the breed. It describes the physical appearance and other desired qualities of the breed. This is typically referred to as type. Some characteristics, such as size, coat quality, and movement, are based on the original (or current) function of the dog. Other characteristics are more cosmetic such as eye color; but taken together they set this breed apart from all others. No individual dog is perfect, but the Standard provides an ideal for the breeder to strive towards. A Scottie dog can still have major faults (big ears, crooked teeth, long back ) and be a good companion Scottie. But only the very best representatives of any breed should reproduce. The reader is referred to the publications at the end of this document or to the National Breed Club for a copy of the Standard.

As specified in the standard, the Scottish Terrier is a small, compact, short-legged, sturdily-built dog of good bone and substance. His head is long in proportion to his size. He has a hard, wiry, weather-resistant coat and a thick-set, cobby body which is hung between short, heavy legs. These characteristics, joined with his very special keen, piercing, "varminty" expression, and his erect ears and tail are salient features of the breed. The Scottish Terrier's bold, confident, dignified aspect exemplifies power in a small package.

The Scottish Terrier should have a thick body and heavy bone. The principal objective must be symmetry and balance without exaggeration. Equal consideration shall be given to height, weight, length of back and length of head. Height at withers (base of the neck) for either sex should be about 10 inches. The length of back from withers to set-on of tail (where the tail joins the back) should be approximately 11 inches. Generally, a well-balanced Scottish Terrier dog should weigh from 19 to 25 pounds and a bitch from 18 to 23 pounds.

Gender Preference.

Most people assume that a female pup makes the best companion. This is NOT true with Scottish Terriers. Bitches tend to be more reserved with strangers and moody. By comparison, Scottie dogs are more outgoing and happy-go-lucky. A male Scot always has his heart open to you.


Black, shades of brindle, and wheaten are the major classes of color. Black Scotties typically have a few white guard hairs in their coats. Many Scotties also have a white ring around the middle of their tail. Called a Bardene Bingo ring, the ring is due to a gland in the tail that is activated at puberty. Brindling in a Scottie's coat can be red, wheaten or silver. A silver brindle Scot is glorious behold Wheaten ranges from a pale golden to a deep red (strawberry blonde). White, however, is not an acceptable shade of wheaten. Sometimes Scottish Terriers (particularly if they are clippers (not hand stripped) may appear almost white like a West Highland White terrier. But a Scottie is not a Westie; the two breeds differ in size, head structure, weight, type and temperament from a Scottish Terrier

Scottie Talk.

Relative to many other breeds, Scotties can be noisy. They are territorial, and will announce visitors repeatedly and loudly. Some say their bark can be heard for miles! Human visitors who are known by a Scottie are greeted at the door with tail wags. However, animal visitors, invited or not, are repulsed with serious fury! As a protection breed, a Scottie is not a serious contender. Still, they will inflict damage to even the most threatening person, if they feel their owner is in danger. The teeth of a Scot are bigger than you would suppose.

Personality Plus.

Scotties have a personality all their own. They love to play ball, sit up like prairie dogs to see what is going on . They will also chase animals on television and give them a loud bark or two until they are gone. They enthusiastically kill stuffed toys, shaking them to and fro until they are most certainly "dead." Scotties also talk. Their a-a-a-roughs when frolicking are distinct and very characteristic of a happy Scottie at play. Some other typical Scottie behaviors include:

• Sitting up and begging for treats with the most soulful, sad, pleading eyes

• Mad, passionate, lightning-fast 'kissing' (your face, ears, hands)

• Sleeping on the back with feet up

• Beard wiping

• Resting their head on your knee or the arm of a chair

• Madly dashing and racing around the house. A pair of Scotties love to play tag, darting in, under and around furniture.

The Scot is an active breed, and can become destructive if not given enough mental and physical stimulation. Given their short legs, a Scot is not a good jogging or marathon partner. However, he is an ideal ON LEASH walking companion. The lead is critical as a Scottie's hunting instincts can draw the dog after a rabbit or into the path of a car. The Scot is tough for it's size, but not that tough! The majority of time, however, a Scottie is a quiet, soulful companion who gives its owner unquestioned love.

Grooming and Upkeep

All dogs shed, but the wire-coated terriers, which includes the Scotties, grow hair differently than many dogs, so they shed less than the short haired breeds. That's the good news. The bad news is that a Scottie does require a significant amount of grooming and care to look his Scottish best. Companion Scotties minimally require regular brushing. Scottie furnishings need to brushed out at least once a week to prevent them from matting. Top coats are typically clippered about ever two months. Because their skin dries out easily, Scotties should be bathed no more than once a week. Lemon scented Joy dish soap is a low-cost shampoo that also helps with flea control. A Scottie's anal glands should be regularly expressed as they tend to clog up. Your veterinarian can instruct you in this chore. Show Scotties are handed stripped. The process involves pulling out the long, dead or blown hairs. A stripping knife, pumice stone or the groomer's hands are used the pull out the hair. Young show potential Scotties often complain about the stripping process but as Scotties mature, they will sit patiently on the grooming table -- actually seeming to like the extra attention.