Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Scottish Terrier
Average Cost to keep/care for a Scottish Terrier
The Scottish Terrier is a delightful dog and although feisty, they make wonderful companions and family pets. Their coats are typically black, but brindle and wheaten is also acceptable under their breed standard. Scotties are small dogs with short legs and lots of feathering around their muzzles and on their legs which adds to their charming looks. Often called Aberdeenies, they have found their way into the hearts and homes of many people not only in the UK, but elsewhere in the world too.
There is some belief that Scottish Terriers may be closely related to the West Highland Terrier, although their exact origins are a little unclear since no records of the breed were kept. With this said, they are thought to be an ancient breed and one that dates back to 55 BC when similar dogs were described by a Roman philosopher by the name of Pliny the Elder. Roman invaders named these dogs "terrarii" which translated means "workers of the earth".
It is also thought that the Old Scotch Terrier is the foundation breed of all terrier breeds we see today and although these dogs no longer exist, they were highly prized for being strong, courageous and reliable more especially when they went about the job they were bred to do. Old Scotch Terriers had black or sand coloured coats with short legs and long hair and they boasted having half pricked ears, much like Scottish Terriers.
Another similar dog was described in a book called A History of Scotland which was published in 1436. However, by the beginning of the 18th century, there were many descriptions of two distinct terrier breeds with the rough coated Scottish Terrier being one of them and the smooth coated English Terrier being the other. During the 17th century, James I of England offered a few terriers to the King of France and it's thought these dogs would well be the foundation breed for the Scottish Terriers we see today. Thanks to the King's love of the breed, their popularity continued to grow.
There were many terrier breeds found in Scotland during the following century, but by the end of the 1800's, two distinct breeds emerged namely the Dandie Dinmont and the Skye Terrier. These two breeds were classed as Skye Terriers and were exhibited as such right up until the late 1800's. A breed standard was drawn up for the Scottish Terrier around the same time and Skye Terriers were eventually classed as four separate breeds being the Scottish Terrier, the Skye Terrier, the West Highland White Terrier and lastly, the Cairn Terrier. Today, the Scottish Terrier remains a popular choice both as a companion and family pet thanks to their charming looks and their kind, albeit feisty natures.
Height at the withers: Males 25 - 28 cm, Females 25 - 28 cm
Average weight: Males 8.5 - 10 kg, Females 8 - 9.5 kg
The Scottish Terrier is a robust, muscular little dog and one that boasts a feisty appearance about them. They are well balanced although they boast having extremely large paws which are perfect for digging. They also have a dignified look about them with their long heads and slight stops. They have almond shaped, dark brown eyes that are set nicely apart on a dog's face. Their eyes are framed by eyebrows which adds to their endearing appearance. Scotties always have a keen, alert and intelligent look about their eyes.
Noses are large and black and their ears are pointed, fine to the touch and set nicely on a dog's head which they always carry erect. The Scottish Terrier has a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their necks are moderately long and well-muscled. Shoulders are sloping with briskets being well let down between a dog's front legs. Their chests are broad and front legs, powerful and straight.
Scottish Terriers have well balanced bodies with nicely rounded ribs that carry well back. Their backs are short and extremely muscular with dogs having a straight, level topline and muscular, deep loins. Their hindquarters are strong with large, broad rumps and their back legs boast having well developed thighs. They have large, well-padded feet with well arched, tight toes with their front feet being a little larger than their back ones. Tails are moderately long and thicker at the base before tapering to the tip which adds to the overall well balanced look of a dog. Their tails are set quite high which dogs carry erect or with a slight curve in them.
When it comes to their coat, the Scottish Terrier boasts having a double, close lying coat the consists of a short, dense and soft undercoat and a much harsher top coat which is also dense, but wiry. The accepted breed colours are as follows:
Scottish Terriers are renowned for being loyal, devoted, highly intelligent dogs that form strong bonds with their owners. They thrive in a home environment loving nothing more than to be included in everything that goes on around them. They are dignified, sometimes reserved and often quite independent characters, but they also boast being quite feisty by nature. Although they are affectionate towards all family members, they tend to form a strong tie with one person. This is usually the person who takes the most care of them.
They are known to have a bit of a stubborn streak in them and can be a little aloof around people they don't already know. However, rarely would a Scottie show any sort of aggression towards a stranger, preferring to keep their distance until they get to know them.
They love digging which can be a problem if a dog starts digging up flower beds or the lawn and which is something that needs to be gently nipped in the bud when dogs are still young before it turns into a real problem. They also boast a high prey drive even in a home environment. They are quite sensitive to their owner's feelings which means that if someone is quiet, a Scottie would follow suit, but as soon as a person gets up to do something more exciting, a Scottish Terrier would be right there with them, ready to go.
It's really important for these dogs to be well socialised from a young age so they grow up to be confident, outgoing mature dogs. Their socialisation has to include introducing them to lots of new situations, noises, people, other animals and dogs once they have been fully vaccinated. It's also crucial for their training to start early too and it has to be consistent throughout a dog's life. A Scottie is never happier than when they know their place in the pack and who they can look to for direction and guidance. If they don't know who is the alpha dog in a household, they may quickly take on the role of a dominant dog which can make them harder to live with and handle.
The Scottie is a smart dog and a fast learner. The downside to this is they are just as quick to pick up bad habits as they are the good. As such, their training has to begin early too. It also has to be very consistent and always fair throughout a dog’s life so they understand what their owner expects of them. Scottish Terriers are never happier than when they are given something to do, but once they are back home they are just as happy to relax and chill out with their owners.
The key to successfully training a Scottie is to make their training as interesting as possible and to avoid too much repetition. It's also a good idea to keep training sessions short which helps dogs stay more focussed on what it’s being asked of them, bearing in mind that the more intelligent a dog is, the faster they get bored and the Scottish Terrier is a very smart dog.
They do not answer well to harsh correction or any sort of heavy handed training methods, but they do respond extremely well to positive reinforcement which always brings the best out of these intelligent and quick witted dogs, especially when there are high value rewards involved. However, care has to be taken as to how many food rewards are given to a Scottie because they have a tendency to put on too much weight all too easily.
Scottish Terriers are known to be good around children. However, they are best suited to households where the children are older and who therefore know how to behave around dogs. They are not the best choice for families with very young children and any interaction between toddlers and a dog should always be well supervised by an adult to make sure things stay nice and calm.
Scotties can be quite territorial which means care has to be taken when other dogs come into their environment. They will stand their ground if they feel threatened by another dog, but if they are left alone they generally keep to themselves preferring to do their own thing. If they have grown up with a family cat in a household, they usually get on well together. However, a Scottie would think nothing of chasing off any other cats they encounter because they would see them as fair game. Care has to be taken when they are around any smaller animals and pets because of their high prey drive as such any contact is best avoided.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of a Scottish Terrier is between 13 and 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
The Scottie is known to suffer from a few hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are planning share your home with one of these feisty little dogs. The conditions that seem to affect the breed the most include the following:
As with any other breed, Scotties need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and healthy. On top of this, dogs need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
The Scottish Terrier boasts having a double coat that consists of a wiry top coat and a much softer, dense undercoat. As such they need to be brushed several times a week paying particular attention to the feathers on their legs, bellies and the longer hair around their muzzles which need to be wiped every day to remove any food that gets stuck around their mouths once they've eaten. They need to be professionally groomed every 8 to 12 weeks which makes it that much easier to keep their coats looking good and nicely trimmed.
They shed steadily throughout the year only more so during the Spring and then again in the Autumn when more frequent grooming is usually necessary to stay on top of things and to remove dead and shed hair from a dog's coat. It's also important to check a dog's ears on a regular basis and to clean them when necessary. If too much wax is allowed to build up, it can lead to a painful infection which can be hard to clear up. In short, prevention is often easier than cure with ear infections.
The Scottish Terrier is a high energy, intelligent dog and as such they need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded dogs. They need a minimum of 1 hour's exercise a day with as much off the lead time as possible, but only in a safe environment taking care when they are around other dogs. If they are not given the right amount of mental stimulation and exercise every day, a Scottie would quickly get bored and could even begin to show some destructive behaviours around the home which is their way of relieving any stress they are feeling and not necessarily because they are being naughty.
A shorter walk in the morning would be fine, but a longer more interesting one in the afternoon is a must with as much off the lead time as possible. These dogs also like to be able to roam around a back garden so they can really let off steam. However, the fencing has to be extremely secure to keep these active, high-energy dogs in because if they find a weakness in the fence, they will soon escape and could get into all sorts of trouble, bearing in mind that Scotties are expert diggers.
With this said, Scottie puppies should not be over exercised because their joints and bones are still growing. This includes not letting a dog jump up and down from furniture or going up or down the stairs. Too much pressure placed on their joints and spines at an early age could result in a dog developing serious problems later in their lives.
If you get a Scottie puppy from a breeder, they would give you a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to the same routine, feeding the same puppy food to avoid any tummy upsets. You can change a puppy's diet, but this needs to be done very gradually always making sure they don't develop any digestive upsets and if they do, it's best to put them back on their original diet and to discuss things with the vet before attempting to change it again.
Older dogs are not known to be fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be given a lower quality diet. It's best to feed a mature dog twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening, making sure it's good quality food that meets all their nutritional requirements. It's also important that dogs be given the right amount of exercise so they burn off any excess calories or they might gain too much weight which can lead to all sorts of health issues. Obesity can shorten a dog's life by several years so it's important to keep an eye on their waistline from the word go.
If you are looking to buy a Scottish Terrier, you would need to pay anything from £400 to over £900 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Scottish Terrier in northern England would be £18.35 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £41.75 a month (quote as of August 2016). When insurance companies calculate a pet's premium, they factor in several things which includes where you live in the UK, a dog's age and whether or not they have been neutered or spayed among other things.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry making sure it suits the different stages of a dog’s life. This would set you back between £20 - £30 a month. On top of all of this, you need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with a Scottie and this includes their initial vaccinations, their annual boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying a dog when the time is right and their yearly health checks, all of which quickly adds up to over £800 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for a Scottish Terrier would be between £50 to £80 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a well-bred puppy.
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