Scottish Terrier

About Scottish Terriers


General Appearance

Scottish Terriers are thick set with short legs. Head is distinctive and gives the impression of being long for size of dog. Very agile and active in spite of their short legs. Suggestive of great power and activity in small body.


Loyal and faithful, dignified, independent and reserved, but courageous and highly intelligent. Known for the reserved nature of a true Scotsman.


Alert and active. Bold, but should never be aggressive. A big dog in a compact body.


The coat is a double one. The outer coat is harsh, dense and wiry, the undercoat short, dense and soft. These coats make a weather-resistant covering for the dogs and provide warmth and resistance to wet. Another reason for such a thick coat is protection for the dog in its original work, hunting. A mouth full of hair was often the only protection provided for the skin when attacked.


Black, wheaten or brindle of any shade.







  • Height: 25.4-28 cms (10-11 ins) high at the neck
  • Weight: 8.6-10.4 kg (19-23 lbs)


As with all breeds of any antiquity, the origin of the Scottish Terrier is unknown. All that is known is that in the Western Highlands of Scotland and the Islands of the Hebrides there existed a terrier on short legs with a rough coat. It was not until 1879 that the breed was officially recognised as the Scottish Terrier. They are closely related to the Skye Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont, the Cairn Terrier and the West Highland White.


Scottish Terriers were used to control vermin such as the badger and fox. Dogs were selected for their gameness and hunting ability. They had to be fearless enough to attack any prey, small enough to go down burrows , strong enough to fight their way back out and hardy enough to withstand a rough life and rigorous climate.


scottie about 2



Grooming is best done once a week, brushing energetically with a hard bristle brush. Normally, the dog’s coat should be brushed against the growth and then be brushed thoroughly back with the growth to remove burrs and dead hair.

Pets need to be trimmed using clippers and scissors about four to six times a year to keep the ‘Scottie’ look. If left untrimmed their hair will grow and the dogs will lose their distinctive body shape. Show dogs coats are hand stripped to maintain the harsh dense coat.

Hereditary Health Problems

Scotties are fortunate to have few serious genetic problems compared to other pure bred dogs. Responsible breeders work to eliminate these problems from the gene pool. Although rarely seen, the most common genetic problems we see in Scotties.

Von Willebrand’s Disease (VWD)

This serious blood clotting disorder was previously recognised in the Scottie but today is not often seen thanks to the widespread use of a simple DNA test to identify the mutation. Used by all reputable breeders before producing their litters, this cheek swab test identifies the Affected individual (having both copies of the mutated gene), the Carrier individual (having one copy of the mutated gene and one normal copy but not showing signs of the disease), and the Clear individual (having two normal copies of the genes). Affected dogs are removed from the breeding program, and the carrier dogs are monitored closely and eventually retired. This strategy has resulted in the near elimination of the disease in litters today. If you are looking for a Scottie pup, always ask the breeder for evidence that parents are free of the vWD mutation and don't accept a pup sold to you with the breeder's assertion of 'clear by parentage'.  Without either the DNA vWD test of the pup or the DNA proof of parentage, you may be running the risk that your pup is vWD affected.  We unfortunately do see unscrupulous breeders representing certain dogs as the sire or dam of a litter when they are not and via this dishonest behaviour, vWD is beginning to creep back into the breed.

Read more about VWD and watch a video explaining it.

Craniomandibular Osteopathy (CMO)

Thankfully rare in the Scottie, CMO is a genetic disease of the bones of the jaw, typically seen in the 4-7-month-old pup. The disorder causes over-growth and painful swelling in the lower jaw. The puppy may be feverish, reluctant to open the mouth or to eat. A diagnosis of CMO is confirmed by a veterinarian using x-ray. This disorder is transient and can be successfully treated with appropriate medication. There is a DNA test now available to identify the Affected, Carrier and Clear individuals. With this tool, breeders are able to avoid this disease entirely in their programs.

Watch a video about CMO.

Scottie Cramp

Scottie Cramp is not actually a muscle “cramping” disorder, nor is it a seizure. Cramp is a genetic dysfunction of the chemical neurotransmitter made by the nerves that control the dog’s muscles. Affected Scotties are normal at rest and exhibit normal ability to walk until they become stressed. After several minutes of strenuous activity and/or excitement, an affected dog may arch its back, walk stiffly, become immobilized, and may even roll to its side. A short while after the stimulation abates, the dog will recover and appear completely normal. Scottie Cramp is a non-painful, episodic disorder, not constantly present; nor does it compromise the dog’s quality or length of life. Many affected dogs learn to manage the problem on their own and will stop running before symptoms appear. Sometimes an affected dog that is only leash-walked or that never has the opportunity to run strenuously will fail to exhibit clear symptoms at all. The mutation causing Scottie Cramp has not yet been identified, so there is no current DNA test available. The incidence of Scottie Cramp has dramatically decreased in litters where the breeders carefully research and avoid the pedigrees with a history of this disorder.

Cerebellar Abiotrophy

CA is an uncommon neurologic disorder caused by a genetic mutation leading to gradual death of the Purkinje cells in the cerebellum of the brain. Scotties with CA are born without symptoms of this disorder, but after a few months or even years in some cases, they begin to develop a wobbly gait, incoordination, and the inability to run smoothly or to navigate stairs. CA is not a painful disease, nor does it cause weakness or affect the mental abilities of the dog. But CA is ever-present, and it usually progresses over the life of the dog. CA does affect the quality but not necessarily the length of life. Although a genetically-based test is not yet available, conscientious breeders screen potential parents for any history of CA in their lineage.

Cushing’s Disease

There are two main causes, a tumour on the pituitary or adrenal gland or over prescribed corticosteroids to treat skin problems. Symptoms include drinking large amounts of water and urinating frequently, losing coat, loss of muscle tone and developing a pot belly.  Often, depending upon the cause of the Cushing's Disease, it can be effectively managed so that the Scottie lives a normal life.