Types of Scottish Dog Breeds
See files for Dogs
There are more than 300 officially recognized dog breeds in the world, although there are many more crosses and mixed-breed types. Although the origin of some remain a mystery, there are some cultures with a rich tradition of dog breeding. More importantly, in terms of breed standardization, they have a recorded history which details the origins of these breeds. Despite having a relatively small population, Scotland has at least 14 dog breeds which can be recognized as being of Scottish origin.
At AnimalWised, we bring you the different types of Scottish dog breeds. We provide some information on each one, as well as photos you can use for reference.
1. Cairn Terrier
The Cairn Terrier is a small dog breed which weighs between 10 and 16 lb. They originate from the west of Scotland and became popular in the 16th Century. This was a time when their courage and determination was harnessed to catch foxes and other small mammals to protect livestock and prevent pests. Often their prey would hide in manmade rock mounds, known as ‘cairns’ in Scotland.
They are a very active and energetic dog with a playful temperament. Education and training is highly recommended as they can be stubborn and impulsive if their energies are not channeled correctly. Their coat helps them to adapt to different climates, partly the reason Cairn Terriers can be found all over the world.
Although they can be prone to certain hereditary diseases, the Cairn Terrier is considered a relatively healthy breed. They can live as apartment dogs, but they will still need plenty of walking and engagement, especially as they can be very active within the home.
2. Bearded Collie
Collies are types of herding dogs which originate in Scotland and parts of Northern England. The Bearded Collie is one of the most prominent breeds from Scotland. They are a medium-sized dog which weigh up to 60 lb, although heavier dogs have been recorded. They have a spectacular long cat which is both smooth and wavy. It can come in various colors, but blue and white is common.
As a herding dog, they were traditionally used to herd sheep and cattle, a role they continue to this day. An active, attentive and intelligent dog, they require training to maintain their well-being. They are suitable for families with children due to their gentle nature.
Although generally resistant, they have a tendency to suffer from ocular and musculoskeletal pathologies, such as hip dysplasia. It is necessary to carry out veterinary check-ups at least once a year. Take a look at our list of dogs most commonly prone to hip dysplasia for more information.
3. Rough Collie
The Rough Collie, also known as the Long-Haired Collie, is one of the most famous Scottish dog breeds, although their vast global distribution means not everyone associates them with their country of origin. As we said, there are different types of Collie dog breeds, but this majestic and elegant dog breed stands out. They have been used as working dogs since the 18th century, but they became particularly visible in the 20th Century when used as acting dogs for Lassie and other roles.
As with the Bearded Collie, the Rough Collie enjoye working outside, has a lot of energy and needs to be well trained. Rough Collie puppies are known for being mischievous, but they will become calm and affectionate with their family once mature and educated. They are a lonf-lived and healthy breed, but do suffer from congenital diseases, including the ocular diseases Collie eye anomaly (CEA) and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA).
Some breeders consider there to be another separate breed known as the Smooth Collie. This is a herding breed with much of the same characteristics as the Rough Collie, but with a smooth dense undercoat and short rough guard hairs. However, other breed organizations consider the Rough Collie and the Smooth Collie to be variations of the same breed.
4. Dandie Dinmont Terrier
This small Scottish dog breed is noted for their elongated body, similar to that of a Dachshund. However, their coat can be a peppery or mustard color with more abundant hair on the legs and head. Although this breed became famous for badger hunting in the 17th century, their current name was given in honor of a character from one of Scotland's most well-known writers Sir Walter Scott in 1815.
As with most breeds of Scottish dogs, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier has a soft undercoat to protect them from cold temperatures. Despite being a dog with an average weight of only 20 lb, they are very strong and muscular. They are somewhat independent and determined, but they are also very noble and develop strong bonds with their human guardians.
In regards to their health, their particular morphology makes the Dandie Dinmont a breed with a predisposition to suffer problems in the spine, such as herniated discs. Appropriate play, exercise and regular checkups are important.
5. Golden Retriever
When thinking of Scottish dog types, the Golden Retriever may be one of the first that come to mind. A large dog, their name derives from their golden-colored coat. They are undoubtedly one of the most popular dog breeds in the world, noted for being a sociable, playful, affectionate, versatile and very intelligent dog. This makes them the ideal companion for almost any type of family, with or without children.
The Golden Retriever's abilities extend far beyond the family. They are one of the most-used working dogs in the world. Their aptitude for training and diversity of skill make them an ideal dog is support work, security and many other assistance roles. It is easy for them to follow tracks, carry objects, recognize smells and perform various tasks. They love to be outside and are a breed particularly fond of swimming.
Golden Retrievers tend to gain weight if they lead a sedentary life, so we need to be careful with diet and exercise. Although very easy-going, these dogs will not stand for mistreatment. Appropriate training is necessary to keep them physically and cognitively healthy. In addition to obesity, the most common diseases in Golden Retrievers are hip and elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism or skin allergies.
If you are thinking of adopting this type of Scottish dog breed, first take a look at our article on the pros and cons of adopting a Golden Retriever.
6. Gordon Setter
One of the most excellent Scottish hunting dogs is the Gordon Setter. They have a sleek appearance, physical stamina and great speed. This allows them to be active and focused during long hunting trips. They are a large dog with an athletic and proportionate body. Their coat is a beautiful black and tan which has fringes hanging down over their legs and tails. Regular brushing is required to avoid knots.
In terms of temperament, the Gordon Setter is a noble and affectionate dog, especially with their guardians. They love to interact with other people and animals, as long as they are well socialized as puppies. They tend to be confident, cheerful and playful with other dogs. They are not a type of dog suitable for sedentary guardians. It takes a lot of engagement and exercise to ensure their physical and mental well-being.
The main health problems that the Gordon Setter include eye pathologies and ear infections. Most strikingly is a certain propensity towards gastric torsion, a potentially fatal condition. You can learn how to avoid and treat this condition with our guide to gastric torsion in dogs.
7. Scottish Deerhound
Another of the great Scottish dog breeds is the Scottish Deerhound, sometimes mistakenly referred to as a Scottish Greyhound. The reason for this is their appearance, but they are more closely related to the Irish Deerhound than true Greyhound breeds. They have a strong athletic appearance and an imposing size. In terms of appearance, they have a similar body shape to Greyhound breeds, but their have a thick, rough and shaggy coat, ideal for Highland conditions.
Scottish deerhounds have a marked hunting instinct which can make them difficult to be in homes with other pets such as cats or rabbits. Even when well-socialized, we always need to be careful with animals they would otherwise consider prey. Despite this instinct, they are a very calm breed which does not require as much exercise as many other Scottish dogs on our list. They rarely show aggression and can even be good for first-time guardians.
As with all large or giant dog breeds, they have a shorter life expectancy than most smaller dog breeds. When they reach old age, usually around 6-7 years, Scottish Deerhounds have an increased risk of certain diseases such as congestive heart failure and bone cancer.
8. Shetland Sheepdog
The Shetland Sheepdog, perhaps better known as ‘Sheltie’, is a small dog (about 20 lb in weight). Their name is derived from the Shetland Islands of northeast Scotland where we can still find them herding today. Their physical appearance is very similar to that of the Rough Collie, but of a much smaller size. They have a long rounded snout with very characteristic and responsive ears. Their coat is dense and long, like the Long-Haired Collie.
Shelties are very strong and energetic dogs, despite their diminutive size. They are always ready to learn and love to play dog agility sports such as flyball. They can be a little shy and distrustful in front of strangers, but they are not generally aggressive. They are a herding breed which has been used to protect livestock, so they are very attentive to their surroundings and will be provoked by anything they consider a potential threat.
The Shetland Sheepdog can suffer from some important hereditary pathologies such as Collie eye anomaly or deafness.
9. Skye Terrier
One of the oldest Scottish breeds, the Skye Terrier comes from the Isle of Skye in the northwest of Scotland. They have an elongated body with proportionately short legs. Their coat is straight and can be black, gray, fawn or cream-colored. Although the majority of individuals have erect ears with fringes, some have ears which are quite long and droop quite close to the face.
They are a dog with a cheerful character which are very faithful to their guardians. However, they can be somewhat stubborn. This makes education difficult for some. They are also often distrustful of strangers. For this reason, it is imperative they are well socialized as puppies and they receive consistent socialization as adults. Take a look at our guide to socializing puppies and adult dogs to learn more.
The most frequent health problems in the Skye Terrier are those related to their morphology. These include herniated discs, bone deformities and arthritis.
10. Scottish Terrier
The Scottish Terrier is commonly referred to as a ‘Scottie’ dog. They are very closely associated with Scottish culture, appearing on tourist souvenirs and the like. They are small dog with a robust body. They have an elongated snout with prominent fringe whiskers and eyebrows, giving them their characteristic appearance. Their ears are erect relatively tall. Their hair is smooth and dense, usually being either black or wheat in color. Their tail is usually kept upright.
The Scottish Terrier has a large personality for such a small dog. They are brave, determine and somewhat independent. However, they are very affectionate and loyal with their guardians. Education can be a challenge with them, but they will adapt well to life in apartments or houses. They have an average energy level, but they will require sufficient daily walks.
Unfortunately, this breed shows a certain predisposition to suffer from different types of cancer. They are also prone to dermatological and allergy problems, as well as a hereditary pathology known as craniomandibular osteopathy. However, with a good diet, hygiene and periodic check-ups at the vet, they are a dog with a high life expectancy.
11. West Highland White Terrier
Another Scottish dog breed closely associated with Scottish culture is the West Highland White Terrier, commonly known as a ‘Westie’. They are found in homes all over the world and are prized for their loveable personality, as well as their white coat and small stature. Their double-layered coat requires regular maintenance to preserve its shine and softness. Their white coat and contrasts with its black eyes and nose.
They are a small white dog breed, with a very compact and robust body. They have a lot of energy and a marked hunting instinct that predisposes them to chase other animals or objects. The Westie is a confident, mischievous and affectionate dog. They can be stubborn and will not be force to do anything they don't want to. With patience, sufficient education, environmental enrichment and proper engagement, they will have a balanced character.
Westies have a reputation for barking. They will respond to stimuli easily and can even be a destructive with objects. Again, training and education will go some way to prevent this, but we should not scold them every time they bark.
Take a look at our related article for more information on small white dog breeds.
Other Scottish dog breeds
The types of dog breed listed above are all considered Scottish dogs, but it is important to note that not all can be traced exactly. Still, they are considered the most common Scottish breeds, even if their current distribution is worldwide. Here are some of the other Scottish dog breeds not listed above:
- Bloodhound: although closely associated with Belgium, there are some reports of a dog fitting the Bloodhound description existing at the time of Robert the Bruce.
- Border Terrier: a rough-coated Terrier breed which originates in the area of the Scottish Borders.
- Sporting Lucas Terrier: developed from the English breed the Lucas Terrier as well as some others. This is one of the most recent Scottish dog breeds as they were not developed until the 1990s.
Since Scotland is part of the United Kingdom, some of these breeds share lineages with their neighbor England. Take a look at our list of English dog breeds to learn more.
If you want to read similar articles to Types of Scottish Dog Breeds, we recommend you visit our What you need to know category.