Breed Info

Scottish Terrier Standard

Approved by the American Kennel Club

breed exampleGeneral Appearance

The Scottish terrier is a small, compact, short legged, sturdily built dog of good bones and substance.  His head is long in proportion to his size.  He has a hard, wiry, weather-resistant coat and a thick-set, cobby body which is hung between short, heavy legs.

These characteristics, joined with his very special keen, piercing, “varminty” expression, and his erect ears and tail are salient features of the breed.  The Scottish Terrier’s bold, confident, dignified aspect exemplifies power in a small package.

Size, Proportion, and Substance

The Scottish Terrier should have a thick body and heavy bones.  The principal objective must be symmetry and balance without exaggeration.   Equal consideration shall be given to height, weight, length of back and length of head.  Height at withers for either sex should be about 10 inches.  The length of the back from withers to set-on of tail should be approximately 11 inches.   Generally, a well-balanced Scottish Terrier dog should weigh from 19 to 22 pounds and a bitch 18 to 21 pounds.


The head should be long in proportion to the overall length and size of the dog.  In profile, the skull and muzzle should give the appearance of two parallel planes.

The SKULL should be long and of medium width, slightly domed and covered with short, hard hair.  In profile, the skull should appear flat.   There should be a slight but definite stop between the skull and the muzzle at eye level, allowing the eyes to be set in under the brow, contributing to proper Scottish Terrier expression.  The skull should be smooth with no prominences or depressions and cheeks should be flat and clean.

The MUZZLE should be approximately equal to the length of skull with only a slight taper to the nose.  The muzzle should be well filled in under the eye, with no evidence of snipeyness.  A correct Scottish Terrier muzzle should fill an average man’s hand.

The NOSE should be black,  regardless of coat color, and of good size, projecting somewhat over the mouth and giving the impression that the upper jaw is longer than the lower.

The TEETH should be large and evenly spaced, having either a scissors or level bit, the former preferred.  The jaw should be square, level and powerful.  Undershot or overshot bites should be penalized.

The EYES should be set wide apart and well under the brow.  They should small, bright and piercing, and almond-shaped, not round.   The color should be dark brown or nearly black, the darker the better.

The EARS should be small, prick, set well up on the skull and pointed, but never cut.  They should be covered with short velvety hair.   From the front, the outer edge of the ear should form a straight line up from the side of the skull.  The use, size, shape and placement of the ear and its erect carriage are major elements of the keen, alert, intelligent Scottish Terrier expression.

Neck, Topline, Body

The NECK should be moderately short, strong thick and muscular, blending smoothly into well laid back shoulders.  The neck must never be so short as to appear clumsy.

The BODY should be moderately short with ribs extending well back into a short, strong loin, deep flanks and very muscular hindquarters.   The ribs should be well sprung out from the spine, forming a broad, strong back then curving down and inward to form a deep body that would be nearly heart-shaped.   if viewed in cross section.

The TOPLINE of the back should be firm and level.

The CHEST should be broad, very deep and well down between the forelegs.  The forechest should extend well in front of the legs and drop well down into the brisket.  The chest should not be flat or concave , and  the brisket should nicely fill an average man’s slightly cupped hand.  The lowest point of the brisket should be such that an average man’s fist would fit under it with little or no overhead clearance.

The TAIL should be about seven inches long and never cut.  It should be set on high and carried erectly, either vertical or with a slight curve forward, but not over the back.  The tail should be thick at the base tapering gradually to a point and covered with short, hard hair.


The SHOULDERS should be well laid back and moderately well knit at the withers.  The forelegs should be very heavy in bone, straight or slightly bent with elbows close to the body, and set in under the shoulder blade with a definite forechest in front of them.  Scottish Terriers should not be out at the elbows.

The FORE FEET should be larger then the hind feet, round, thick and compact with strong nails.  The front feet should point straight ahead, but a slight “toeing out” is acceptable.  Dew claws may be removed.


The THIGHS should be very muscular and powerful for the size of the dog with the stifles well bent and the legs straight from hock to heel.  Hocks should be well let down and parallel to each other.


The Scottish Terrier should have a broken coat, a hard, wiry outer coat with a soft, dense undercoat.  The coat should be trimmed and blended into the furnishings to give a distinct Scottish Terrier outline.   The dog be presented with sufficient coat so that the texture and density may be determined.  The longer coat on the beard, legs and lower body may be slightly softer than the body coat but should not be or appear fluffy.


Black, wheaten or brindle of any color.  Many black and brindle dogs have sprinklings of white or silver hairs in their coats which are normal and not to be penalized.  White can be allowed only on the chest and chin and that is only to a slight extent.


The gait of the Scottish Terrier is very characteristic of the breed.  It is not the square trot or walk desirable in the long-legged breeds.   The forelegs do not move in exact parallel planes; rather, in reaching out, the forelegs incline slightly inward because of the deep broad forechest.  Movement should be free, agile and coordinated with powerful drive from the rear and good reach in the front. The action of the rear legs should be square and true, and at the trot, both the hocks and stifles should be fixed with a vigorous motion.  When the dog is in motion, the back should remain firm and level.


The Scottish Terrier should be alert and spirited but also stable and steady-going.  He is a determined and thoughtful dog whose “heads up, tails up” attitude in the ring should convey fire and control.   The Scottish Terrier, while loving and gentle with people, can be aggressive with other dogs.  He should exude ruggedness and power, living up to his nickname, the “Diehard.”


Soft coat; curly coat; round, protruding or light eyes; overshot or undershot jaws; obviously oversize or undersize; shyness or timidity; upright shoulders; lack of reach in front or drive in rear; stiff or stilted movement; movement too wide or too close in rear; too narrow in front or rear; out at the elbow; lack of bone and substance; low set tail; lack of pigment in the nose; coarse head; and failure to show with head and tail up are faults to be penalized.


Scale of points

  • Skull = 5
  • Muzzle = 5
  • Eyes = 5
  • Ears = 10
  • Neck = 5
  • Chest = 5
  • Body  = 15
  • Legs and Feet = 10
  • Tail = 5
  • Coat = 15
  • Size = 10
  • General Appearance = 10

Total Points: 100

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Yesterday, USDA APHIS announced the ongoing development of one-page informational guides, called Animal Care Aids, about the ownership and care of animals. The first set of documents, which may be viewed here, focuses on identifying and managing periodontal disease and maintaining healthy coats in dogs.
The American Kennel Club appreciates and strongly supports USDA’s ongoing efforts to improve the health and welfare of all dogs in America. For more information about AKC comments on the Animal Welfare Act, see our official position statement on the Animal Welfare Act and AKC’s recent statement of support for additional resources for AWA enforcement.
For more information on this or other USDA-APHIS initiatives, contact AKC Government Relations at

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