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Scottish Terrier Temperament – Meet the Fearless and Sensitive Scottie

When you think of the Scottish Terrier temperament, you may remember the dapper little Jock and his undying loyalty for his friend Lady in the Disney film Lady and the Tramp.

These little dogs, often called “Scotties,” are as brave as they are cute – but there is more to their personality than meets the eye.

Scottish Terrier temperament . Scotty and Girl
Teenage girl holds her Scottish Terrier nose to nose.

Scottish Terrier Temperament and Personality

There are many things about the Scottish Terrier temperament that make him a great dog for the right person.

Great Watchdogs

Though low to the ground, Scottish Terriers are not “small dogs,” and they have a deep, intimidating bark to prove it.

The fearless side of the Scottish Terrier temperament means he will stand up to intruders and sound the alarm when necessary.

Good Head on His Shoulders

Some dogs, like the Labrador and the Golden Retriever, never seem to outgrow their puppyhood, but such is not the case with the Scottie.

While playful and silly as puppies, the adult Scottish Terrier temperament is more stoic, and so they are usually calmer than most other terriers.


The Scottie is a loyal dog, especially with that one special person.

This is the kind of dog that will pick a favorite in the family, and everyone else just has to learn to live with it.

For this reason, many refer to the Scottie as aloof, while the objects of their affection simply believe them to be “loving.”

The Not-So-Great Scottish Terrier Temperament

While there is much to love about the Scottie Terrier temperament, there are some things that you should be aware of before you bring one of these fellas home.


All Terriers have self-reliance about them, but the Scottie is more independent by nature than most other Terriers are.

This can be a problem if you don’t know how to handle this type of dog. The ideal Scottish Terrier owner will be able to establish himself as the leader of the pack and be consistent in his expectations.

Aggressive with Other Dogs

Scotties can be aggressive toward other dogs from time to time.

While Scotties can get along with other dogs that they grew up with, they tend to be aggressive with stranger dogs and are not intimidated in the slightest by those who are bigger than them.

For this reason, you need to keep an eye on him when he’s in the presence of other, larger dogs.

You don’t need him going off and picking a fight with a dog who could easily tear him limb from limb.

He’s a Digger

Because it’s in the Scottie’s blood to hunt animals who tend to hide underground, like mice and other rodents, he is also, unfortunately, a digger by nature.

Make sure he doesn’t make a plan to dig under your fence or through your rose garden – and use the opportunity as a training experience if he does.

Not the Friendliest Dog

Scottish Terriers are very loving once they get to know a person, but it can take a while before they let someone into their elite circle of friends.

scottish terrier temperament. Girl with 5 scottish terriers

You’ll want to make sure to socialize your young Scottie early and often to keep him from thinking of everyone he meets as a danger to his family.

If not properly socialized, the naturally discriminatory Scottish Terrier temperament can make him overly suspicious of anyone who enters the house.

He Can Be a Barker

Terriers tend to be barkers, and this is no different for the Scottish Terrier. You can train him to use his bark for good, though.

When he uses it in a watchdog capacity, this is a good thing, but when he just likes to hear himself, this isn’t good for you or your neighbors.


Once this dog has his mind set on something, he won’t stop until he sees it through. This is what makes playing with a Scottie so much fun.

He is determined to win to the point where he refuses to quit until you do.

A Brief History of the Scottish Terrier Breed

Unfortunately, like many of the older breeds out there, the history is a bit murky when it comes to the Scottish Terrier.

One thing experts do know for sure is that the creation of the Scottie was for the purpose of hunting vermin like rodents and other crop destroyers on farms, as well as badgers and foxes in Scotland.


Scottish Terriers learn best when you keep their training sessions short – like, no more than 15-minute sessions.

They also get bored rather easily, so try to vary the training up to keep him focused, else he’ll just shut down on you.

scottish terrier temperament

As with any other intelligent dog, the Scottie sometimes likes to think he’s smarter than you.

Some call this “independence,” while others call it “stubborn.”

Stay persistent and consistent, and he will eventually come around.

Also, do not rely on harsh training methods, like yelling or spanking.

He knows when you’re pleased or displeased just by how you sound, so simply using your tone is more than enough to let him know what’s going on.

Helpful Dog Training Resource:

For help with training your Scottie dog, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in