≡ Menu

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.

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 New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.

The Scottish Terrier Appearance

Scottish Terriers grow to between 18 and 22 pounds as adults and are about 10 to 11 inches tall.

As far as Scottish Terrier colors go, you can find him in black, brindle, or wheaten.

How Do You Groom a Scottish Terrier?

One of the best things to love of about the Scottie is his thick, wiry coat! Not only do they shed very little, they are also hypoallergenic and so make a great pet for someone with allergies.

That being said, Scotties need regular grooming, ideally with hand-stripping. You should start this process with him while he’s still young so that he grows accustomed to it as he gets older.

In the beginning, you can start with once a month, and then kick it up to every week once you’ve both gotten into the swing of things.

If you find it difficult to hand-strip his coat, you can ask a professional groomer to do it for you.

Else, you can also clip his coat to encourage it to grow in smoother.

If you clip, you should keep up with it every six to eight weeks.

Brush and comb him every week, and give him the occasional bath when he starts to smell like “dog.”

Staying Healthy

The Scottish Terrier is a sturdy little dog in his own right, but there are still a few health concerns you should be aware of.

  • Scottie Cramp – This neuromuscular disease is caused by a disorder in the dog’s metabolism of serotonin, which can create a problem with the dog’s gait.
  • Flea Allergies – Scotties are prone to flea allergies and other skin conditions that can make them uncomfortable. You can easily avoid this, though, with a good flea control regimenand a healthy diet.
  • Cataracts
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Neurological problems, including brain cancer
  • Bladder cancer or stones
  • Cushing's disease
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Blood disorders, like von Willebrand's disease and hemophilia
  • Deafness

Despite the plethora of health problems you have to watch out for, Scottish Terriers can live to be between 12 and 15 years old. Some have lived to as old as 19!

Note: Don't let the many issues above scare you. The best way to approach health problems is to prevent them in the first place. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is a great place to start. Get a copy to keep at home. It will help you prevent the painful health issues that can plague your lovely Scottie pet from expressing his winning personality and maximizing his life expectancy.


If you are more of an armchair athlete than a weekend warrior, then you will get along great with a Scottie!

These dogs are perfectly happy with an easy stroll around the block and the occasional short game of fetch.

Keep in mind, though, that even the most stoic of Scottie dogs will develop bad behavior if he doesn’t get at least some walking in every day.

He also loves to chase the ball around. Scottish Terrier owners call the breed a “diehard,” meaning he won’t give up until you do.

This makes a game like a tug with a toy or an old towel a ton of fun!

Not only does a healthy level of exercise keep your Scottie active and healthy, but it’s also great for you, too!

Top Scottish Terrier Mixes

If you’re a sucker for a mixed breed, here are some of the more common Scottish Terrier mixed breeds for you to consider:

Of course, the list above is not all-inclusive of Scottish Terrier mixes. You may be surprised at just how many there are out there.

Finding the Perfect Scottish Terrier

Interested in adding a Scottish Terrier puppy to your family? Fantastic! You’re probably wondering, though, how to best go about doing that.

Well, you can find a Scottish Terrier for sale either from a Scottish Terrier breeder or as adoption or rescue through your local animal shelter.

How Much Do Scottish Terrier Puppies for Sale Cost?

The average Scottish Terrier price is between $800 and $2,000 but can go up to $4000, depending on the dog’s lineage.

The price of the dog depends on a bunch of different factors, including where he lives and the pedigree of his parents.

Scottish Terrier Adoption and Rescue

If you would like to adopt a Scottish Terrier, you should know that most of those who are in a rescue program are adults.

And most dogs who are up for adoption did not end up in a shelter because they did anything wrong – only that their owners could no longer properly care for them.

But think of the perks an adult dog can have! For one thing, they know they need to go outside to do their business. They’ve also outgrown the destructive puppy phase.

If you visit a Scottish Terrier rescue group and find that none of the dogs are a good match for you, definitely check out the local animal shelters in your area.

Also – if you’re okay with the idea of a Scottish Terrier mix, let the shelter know. You may end up getting a call sooner than if you had held out for a purebred.

Scottish Terrier Breeders

Some people decide they’d rather purchase a Scottish Terrier for sale from a breeder. If you decide to go this route, please, I beg you, stay away from online-only breeders and puppy mills.

Puppy mills – and unethical breeders, for that matter – do nothing more than churn out puppies for profit. They don’t care about you or the dogs – they just want to make a quick, overpriced buck.

Good breeders, on the other hand, will ask you just as many questions as you ask them. They want to make sure they’re giving their pups the kinds of homes they always dreamed of for them.  

If you’re unsure of which sources to trust, stop by some dog shows and/or canine sport competitions and ask around for their recommendations of reputable breeders.

Once you receive those recommendations, make arrangements to meet the breeders in person.

Make sure you meet the dogs, too! Make sure they are friendly, happy, and healthy. While you’re at it, try to observe the parents, too.

The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, so an aggressive parent may mean an aggressive pup, too.

Is the Scottie Right for You?

The Scottish Terrier temperament makes him a welcome addition to your home. He’s a great watchdog, and while he may be a rambunctious puppy, he will eventually mature into a classy and well-rounded dog.

He is also a loyal and independent dog. Just be sure to keep a tight leash on him – no pun intended – to ensure that his independence does not turn into stubbornness.

If you want a hypoallergenic dog who fits well in either an apartment or small house, the Scottie has a lot to offer you and your family. His loyalty and charm make this dog a good choice for the right person. Just be aware of the challenges the Scottish Terrier temperament can bring before you agree to bring one home.