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Scottish Terrier (Scottie)


General Description:



Reputable breeders will not place a Scottie in a setting that has an unfenced and unlocked gating system for a swimming pool, a pond, a lake, or any body of water he could access. The dog’s double coat and his body type will cause him to drop like a brick. He cannot be “taught” to exit water.


Fenced, secured yard:

A high privacy fence, with a locked gate, is a must if the Scottie is to be let out into an unsupervised yard.



The “Terr” in the name Terrier is from the Latin for earth, “Terra.” Ancestral Scotties were working dogs who “went to the ground,” burrowing and tunneling, to catch prey. This trait has carried over through the years. Gardens are to be dug into. Fences can be dug under. Barking Scotties seldom bark without cause, but by nature are territorial. The UPS man, the postman, passing cats and dogs, all merit his attention as well as his voice. Close neighbors may not find this an endearing attribute. Some will bark when bored, and will become nuisance barkers.



Scotties are on their best behavior when the option to interact with their humans is present. They should not be left alone for long periods as they may seek ways to wile away the time by such destructive pastimes as chewing or digging.



Under the age of eight may create problems for the independent natured Scottie. The traits of the breed can be incompatible with the innate behavior patterns of some younger children. Unless a child is mature enough to be taught to respect the rights and needs of the dog, it would be best to seek a more compliant breed.



Scotties have allergies to grass and corn, and must be fed a high quality grain free diet in some cases. If you do not keep on top of the allergies, you will be spending a lot of time at the vets. Fleas also can cause skin eruptions and infections, so we suggest Frontline (22 lbs) or the weight appropriate – for your dog.



Scotties can be trained, they find training invigorating and like to learn but they do not like repetition. They like new challenges, and they aren’t ball chasers. They do not like to be teased or they will chomp down. They can have their feelings hurt, and can be reprimanded with harsh words, there is no need for any other “correction” Terriers cannot be trusted offleash. They will take off oblivious to your frantic shouts after anything that runs.



While not considered high maintenance, the Scottie coat needs to be trimmed and clipped on a regular basis and must be brushed thoroughly several times a week. Grooming at a salon normally every 8 weeks @ approx $40 per visit.


Animal aggression:

Like all terriers, Scottish Terriers can be scrappy with other dogs of the same sex. They are a determined force to reckon with if they decide to initiate or accept a challenge to fight. And because of their hunting background, most terriers have strong instincts to chase and seize small fleeing creatures. This can make for conflict if you own a cat. It may be much worse than that if you own a pet rabbit or hamster.



Scotties need to be socialized or they will become very leash aggressive and dog aggressive. They will fence fight and when they are focused, you have a hard time breaking their concentration. The more places they go and things they see, helps them with the socialization process.



Scotties don’t normally growl before they bite. If they growl they are vocal to their objections over a situation, or warning. IF they are approached by another dog, face to face, they will stare intently and wait until that dog gets close enough to lop off pair of their nose. Never underestimate your don’ts ability to chomp down on a nose or a humans face in their face. In dog language eye to eye staring – is “fightin words”.


Strong mind of their own:

Scottish Terriers are not Golden Retrievers. They must be taught at an early age that they are not the rulers of the world. The toughness that makes them suited to killing vermin can frustrate you when you try to teach them anything. Terriers are stubborn and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.


Defensive reactions:

If you need to physically chastise a terrier, and you go beyond what THEY believe is a fair correction, terriers (as a group) are more likely than other breeds to growl or snap. It may be because they were bred to become more fierce when their prey fought back, i.e. terriers are apt to "return pain" if they "receive pain." As an obedience instructor, I'm always extra careful when putting my hands on any terrier for a correction.


Sharpness toward strangers:

Standoffish by nature, Scottish Terriers need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become suspiciousness, which is a short step to biting. Obedience instructors and behavioral consultants see a LOT of Scotties who are downright nasty.



Scotties are very loyal to their owner, and they normally only pick one person in the household as their human. They do acknowledge others in household, but their heart only lies with one human.

I find the breed charming and challenging and I wouldn’t ever be without one, but it is not a quiet little house slipper of a dog that is obedient and unassuming. If you don’t have an outgoing bold personality, you might be very upset at this breed. Scotties are not for the faint hearted.


Further Information:

Breed Details

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