Scottish Terriers

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Breed: Scottish Terrier
Temperament: Active, stubborn
Lifespan: 10-14 years
Recommended for: Older adults, families
Maintenance: Medium


Scottish Terriers are no-nonsense dogs, sturdy enough to maintain a reputation almost too big for their neatly-trimmed frame. They are small and strong, with short legs, a deep chest and powerful muzzle. They stand about 25-28cm (10-11″) tall and weigh around 8.5-10.5kg (20-25lb). ‘Scotties’ have a short, soft undercoat and a harsh, wiry outer coat which is water-resistant. Colours include black, brindle and wheaten (which is rare in Australia).


They are bold, alert, bright and are said to be good watchdogs. Some owners claim they’ve inherited the character of the Scottish people: dour and faithful but fiery if provoked.

Ideal Owner:

Scotties appeal to many older people seeking a small dog with spark for company, and most will suit families with older children. You need to be watchful around children as Scotties will defend themselves if teased.


A few diseases are known to affect them. One is Von Willebrand’s disease, a blood-clotting disorder. This can be detected by DNA testing, which can reveal if the dog is disease-free, afflicted or a carrier. ‘Scottie cramp’ is a problem peculiar to these terriers. Affected dogs suddenly appear to cramp up, roll over, and then be back on their feet within a few seconds. It usually occurs when the dog is over-tired or excited. It is neither common nor fatal.


Breeding is not recommended for the novice, and litters average four to five pups. Caesarean births are quite common due to their stocky build and the puppies’ large heads.

Housepet potential:

Scottish Terriers are good-sized dogs for a suburban backyard, and some will cope quite well in a unit if they are walked regularly. In either case, a 20 minute walk each day is ideal. It’s a good idea to keep them on a leash as they may run off, and terriers are not renowned for coming back when called! While Scotties are usually easy to house train, patience may be needed to train them to perform tasks beyond this.


Some time and effort is needed to keep the coat looking neat. You will need to brush their coat weekly, and many owners trim the coat themselves twice a year. Show dogs are brushed two to three times a week and the coat is stripped back almost to the skin twice a year.


In its early development, the Scottish Terrier was used in the Highlands as a hunting dog for badgers, foxes, weasels and wild cats. The breed was once known as the Aberdeen Terrier and they were exhibited in the UK in the 1870s and probably came to Australia in the late 1800s.

National contacts

To find up-to-date contacts for breeders, contact the following organisations.

Dogs NSW
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872

Dogs Victoria
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599

Dogs ACT
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 – Fax: (02) 6241 1129.

Dogs West
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190

Dogs SA
Phone: (08) 8349 4797

Canine Control Council of Queensland
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864

Tasmanian Canine Association
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844

Dogs NT
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409