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Small Dog Breeds: Terriers from Scotland

Updated on August 10, 2012

Several dog breeds hail from Scotland. Amongst the most recognisable of these are the five cute little terriers shown below. Each has its own individual look and personality traits and they make great pets for people who have the time and patience to give a dog the attention it needs and deserves.

My own West Highland White Terrier
My own West Highland White Terrier | Source

The Westie

Energetic, enthusiastic and inquisitive, the West Highland White Terrier can be a handful at times but, on the other hand, they are eager to please and they tend to slot right in with your routine. If you want to play, they're always ready. If you'd prefer a quiet afternoon relaxing on the sofa with a book, your little companion will be happy to curl up at your feet and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Westies were first bred in the early 1800s. Prior to that, breeders tended not to want white puppies and they were destroyed. Since the little white dogs have been bred, they have become extremely popular across the globe.

Typically, a Westie has a life expectancy of around 14 years, but they are susceptible to a number of illnesses including skin conditions and hip problems.

Skye Terrier puppies
Skye Terrier puppies | Source

Skye Terrier

Perhaps the most famous Skye Terrier is Greyfriars Bobby, a little dog who gained a reputation for loyalty in the 19th century when he spent 14 years guarding the grave of his owner, Old Jock, in the Greyfriars churchyard in Edinburgh. Greyfriars Bobby died in 1872 and a statue was erected in his honour. Several books have been written about Bobby and there have been a couple of films, including The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby (2006) where a Westie was used instead of a Skye Terrier.

These cute little terriers make good pets for people who have the time to care for a dog. They generally live to about 12 years of age and often fit and active. However, as with other terriers, there are particular health issues faced by this breed including types of canine cancer and joint problems leading to a condition known as 'Skye limp'.

In recent years, the popularity of the Skye Terrier has declined and the breed is now considered to be one of the UK's most endangered native breeds.


Cairn Terrier

Originating from the Highlands of Scotland, the Cairn Terrier is a hardy breed of dog, perhaps most recognisable from the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz, where one of these adorable little creatures played Toto.

Cairn Terriers are adventurous little dogs, with tough, weather-resistant outer coats that can be cream, wheaten, red, grey or brindle (a mix of two colours). As with other terriers, they were originally bred to hunt vermin and they still love to dig and chase 'prey'. They can be stubborn and need to be trained early to avoid behavioural issues later on but, they are fiercely loyal and great companions.

The Cairn has a life expectancy of around 14 years, but there are several hereditary health problems to which they can succumb, including issues with their eyes, their joints and their thyroid.


Scottish Terrier

The Scottie has become something of a national symbol for Scotland and its image is often found on merchandise created for tourists. This feisty little breed has something of a reputation for being a bit snappy and bad-tempered but proper obedience training and a loving home environment should eliminate problems.

Although most people would expect the Scottie to have a black coat, some are born with a wheaten colour coat. These hardy little dogs are more susceptible to canine cancer and life expectancy overall is about 12 years.

Some famous examples of the Scottie dog include those belonging to US presidents, Franklin D Roosevelt and Georgie W Bush. The Scottish Terrier is also the official mascot of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.


Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Another terrier breed which originates in Scotland is the Dandie Dinmont, which is a short little dog with a distinctive mop of hair on its head. Like the Skye Terrier, the Dandie Dinmont is considered to be a vulnerable native breed.

A very old breed of dog, the Dandie Dinmont was used for hunting badgers as far back as the 1600s in Scotland. They were a relatively unknown breed until the publication of Sir Walter Scott's novel, Guy Mannering in 1814. The novel included a character, based on a real life farmer who bred terriers, named Dandie Dinmont.

They are tough little dogs who do not always get on with young children, but are generally suitable for families with older children. The Dandie Dinmont is susceptible to a range of diseases and because of their short legs and elongated bodies, can suffer from slipped discs.

Which type of terrier do you think is the cutest?

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Submit a Comment
  • alliemacb profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Scotland

    Thanks for stopping by, Janine. I'm glad it brought back some good memories.

  • Janine Huldie profile image

    Janine Huldie 

    6 years ago from New York, New York

    Loved reading about my childhood dog her (we had a West Highland Terrier) and loved him so. Taffy was such a wonderful dog and you just reminded me of some really good memories. Have voted up and shared too!!

  • alliemacb profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Scotland

    Thanks, Marcy. I am terrible for overlooking my Westie's misdemeanours - she knows how to turn on the charm when she's in trouble. Terriers are so mischievous but loving in return.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

    Marcy Goodfleisch 

    6 years ago from Planet Earth

    Awww - such cute little guys! I've always liked the charm of terriers - I know they have spunk, but they are so darling that I'd forgive them for a few chewed pillows! Very informative hub - voted up and up!

  • alliemacb profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Scotland

    I know exactly what you mean. Watching my wee Westie bullying my mother in law's much larger labrador is hilarious - they really are fearsome little dogs.

  • Natashalh profile image


    6 years ago from Hawaii

    Terriers are such feisty little beasts, but super adorable. They are physically small dogs, but they aren't 'small dogs,' if that makes sense. They have the personality to fill out a much bigger body! I love my big dogs, but my next one may have to be something smaller because there are so many awesome options.

  • alliemacb profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Scotland

    Thank you. I am nuts about terriers. They have such strong personalities.

  • Mmargie1966 profile image


    6 years ago from Gainesville, GA

    This sure was informative! I loved all the photos of the dogs and the back ground of each one. I voted up and beautiful!

  • Angelo52 profile image


    6 years ago from Central Florida

    So many terriers, where does one start? Excellent expose on these cute and feisty dogs. Voted up and shared.


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