Scottish Terrier Dog Breed

The Scottish Terrier is smart, feisty and fearless — and completely devoted to its family.
By: PawCulture Editors
Scottish Terrier Dog Breed

About the Scottish Terrier Dog Breed

Developed in Scotland in the 1800s, the Scottish Terrier is a compact, energetic and independent dog is especially known for its bearded muzzle and unique profile.

Scottish Terrier Physical Characteristics

The heavy boned, short-legged, and compact Scottish Terrier also packs a lot of power in its small body – qualities needed in a dog that has to face formidable opponents in narrow places.


The outer coat of the breed, which comes in wheaten, black, or brindle of any color, frequently has sprinklings of white or silver hairs.


The breed has two coats, a two inch long, wiry and very hardy outer coat, and a dense undercoat. Its beard and eyebrows enhance its keen and sharp expression. 

Scottish Terrier Personality and Temperament

Activity Level



Nicknamed “little diehard,” the Scottish Terrier is smart, feisty and fearless. It is known for its stubbornness and independence but is always devoted to its human family. 

Things to Consider

While the Scottish Terrier is usually friendly towards humans, it can be aggressive toward other animals and dogs. When left alone, it may bark and/or dig.

Scottish Terrier Care

Ideal Living Conditions

The Scottish Terrier is a good housedog, but can live outside in warm and temperate climates. The consummate adventure seeker, it loves to play games outside and requires daily leash-led walks.

Special Requirements

The breed’s coat should be combed twice or thrice a week, and shaped once every three months. 

Scottish Terrier Health

The Scottish Terrier, with a lifespan of 11 to 13 years, may suffer from minor problems like Scotty Cramp (muscle cramps in the breed’s legs), patellar luxation, and cerebellar abiotrophy, or major health issues like von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD). To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run hip, knee, and DNA tests.

Scottish Terrier History and Background

There is a lot of confusion regarding the Scottish Terrier’s background, as all terriers in Scotland are referred as Scotch or Scottish Terriers. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the modern Scottish Terrier was originally placed under the group of the Skye Terriers, denoting a family of terriers belonging to Scottish Isle of Skye.

Irrespective of the origin, the earliest Scottish Terriers were first documented in the late 19th century, belonging to a group of hardy Highlanders whom they served as vermin hunters. The first breed standard was drafted by J.B. Morrison and later published in Vero Shaw’s Illustrated Book of the Dog in 1880. John Naylor is credited with introducing the breed to the United States in 1883.

The breed’s popularity gradually grew until World War II, after which its popularity surged. It is also the only breed of dog that has lived in the White House three times, beginning with Fala, a male Scottish Terrier gifted to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. President Roosevelt rarely went anywhere without his steady companion, even being buried by next to Fala. Most recently, President George W. Bush has owned two Scottish Terriers, Barney and Miss Beazley. Today, the breed is a popular pet and show dog.