Breed Characteristics

The following information about Scotties and the Scottish Terrier Standard is an excerpt used with permission from Scottish Terriers: Strength and Courage in a Compact Package, by Camille Partridge, Gaelforce Scottish Terriers.

What is a Scottish Terrier?

The Scottish Terrier is one of the descendants of the Old Scotch Terrier, along with the Dandie Dinmont, Cairn, and West Highland White Terriers. The exact origins of the breed are obscure, but a dog of the general description dates back to some of the earliest treatises on dogs in Britain. The low stature and wiry coat have always been important characteristics to the original purpose of the breed, which was to hunt and kill the various species of wildlife that made life hard for the Scottish farmer and crofter. These species included fox, badger, wildcat, weasel, otter, and the ubiquitous rat. 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.


Do Scotties shed?

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.


Are they good with children?

Yes, if the child is old enough to respect the dog’s body, and to understand that the dog has feelings, too. Scotties will generally try to hide from an abusive child, but will bite if cornered, or pushed hard. For this reason, they are not generally recommended for families with very small children.

Does this breed require lots of grooming?

In a word, yes! They require regular brushing, and trimming four to six times a year.  Regular bathing is NOT recommended, however, as the skin dries out too easily.  Show dogs are stripped, the hair being pulled out when long and dead (a “blown” coat), but pets should be clipped, as stripping is time-consuming and expensive at a groomer.  The regular things such as tooth brushing, nail clipping, and anal gland care are easily done at home, and clipping isn’t hard, either, if one wants to invest in the clippers. Related to skin care is the flea question.  I wage nuclear war on fleas, as the breed is relatively sensitive to them.  A Scot can chew itself almost bald in next to no time, trying to get one flea!

What about exercise requirements?

The Scot is actually an active breed, and can become destructive if not given enough mental and physical stimulation. The short legs do mean less walking for the human partner to get the dog its daily requirements! 😉 Seriously, this is not a good jogging or marathon partner, but an ideal walking companion.  ON LEASH, please, as the hunting instincts can draw the dog after a rabbit, into the path of a car. The Scot is tough for it’s size, but not that tough!

Are Scotties noisy?

They can be, but this varies a lot within the breed. They are territorial, and will announce visitors repeatedly and loudly. Human visitors they know are welcome, but animal visitors, invited or not, are repulsed with serious fury! One cannot consider the Scot a serious protection breed, but they will inflict damage to even the most threatening person, if they feel their owner is in danger. The teeth are bigger than you would suppose.


What sex makes the best pet?

Most of the people who contact me assume that a female pup will make the best pet. Since both sexes will be neutered, the former reasons for this being the case no longer apply. In general, I feel that the male pup makes a better pet for most people. Bitches I have owned tend to be more reserved with strangers, while the male dogs I have owned, bred or rescued have been more outgoing and happy-go-lucky. From my experience, I recommend the male as the “better pet” although there will be other opinions among other fanciers and breeders.

Do they make good obedience dogs?

If you are looking for a High-In-Trial, no.  A challenge, yes. The Scot is one of the breeds bred to work independent of human direction. If the dog is nose to nose with a badger, it cannot take the time to come out and ask “may I attack now, please, or would you prefer me to wait?” Thus, obedience as a formal task is rather foreign to the breed. Some Scots obtain advanced degrees, but the majority are not temperamentally suited to it. HOWEVER, all dogs should learn basic good manners and certain general behaviors, such as coming when called. Puppy Kindergarten Training is wonderful socialization for a young Scot to learn, to avoid dog-aggressiveness later in life.


Are the blonde ones Scotties, too?

This is definitely the most asked question to anyone with a wheaten Scot. There are many different colors acceptable in the breed; black, shades of brindle, and wheaten being the major classes of color. Wheaten ranges from a pale golden to a deep red. White, however, is not an acceptable shade of wheaten, nor is it in the standard as an approved color.


The Standard

The Scottish Terrier Standard can be found at:
The standard of the breed describes the ideal Scottish Terrier, and no one dog lives up perfectly in every regard. In general, a Scottie should resemble the standard as closely as possible. The closer to perfect, the more likely the dog is to earn a championship. However, just because a Scottie is not quite championship caliber, that does not mean it cannot be a star in some other field, be it an agility field, a tracking field, an earthdog field, the obedience ring, or, most importantly, your home. After all, the most important title a Scottie can attain is the championship of it’s owner’s heart! But with the pet overpopulation problem in this country, only the very best representatives of any breed should reproduce. This is not just in conformation terms of course, but temperamentally and medically as well.

Copyright 2001 by Camille Partridge. All rights reserved. Used by permission. No part of this article to be reprinted without author’s permission. Camille Partridge is a breeder, owner, and tireless champion of Scottish Terriers. She is active in earthdog activities through the Oregon Trail’s End Earthdog Club. Camille is the breeder of “Peggy Sue” who won the “Best In Show” at Westminster in 1995.