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 his 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 & 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.


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 4 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)

Von Willebrand disease is also called vWD and is the most common inherited blood clotting disorder in pet dogs. Dogs with the condition have an insufficient amount of von Willebrand factor, called vWF, which is a plasma protein. This protein is needed in order for the blood to clot properly. The disease inhibits normal clotting function and causes excessive bleeding even for minor skin wounds. For this reason, it can be a serious and even deadly bleeding disorder.

Von Willebrand is caused by a genetic mutation and is equally common in both male and female dogs, though the severity of the condition varies.

Read more about VWD and watch a video explaining it.

Craniomandibular Osteopathy (CMO)

Also known as ‘Lion’s Jaw’, is a developmental disease in dogs causing extensive bony changes in the mandible and skull. In this disease, a cyclical resorption of normal bone and replacement by immature bone occurs along the inner and outer surfaces of the affected bones. It usually occurs between the ages of 3 and 8 months. Symptoms include firm swelling of the jaw, drooling, pain, and difficulty eating.

Watch a video about CMO.

Scottie Cramp

Affected dogs are normal at rest but as the animal’s level of stress increase, loss of muscle control occurs. The dog temporarily loses his coordination in his movements.

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.


Can be caused by low blood sugar, heat stroke, poison (as in the dog eating poisonous plants), brain tumour or nutritional deficiency.