Among other things, Scotland is known for its stunning castles, Scotch whisky, and plenty of impressive dog breeds. These Scottish dog breeds range widely in appearance and temperament. For instance, some breeds are quite small while others are massive. And some are bred for herding while others are hunting dogs. What unites these breeds is their place of origin.
Here are 14 dog breeds that hail from Scotland.
Many Scottish dog breeds were developed for a certain job, such as hunting or herding, and they retain that desire to work today. If you’re considering one of these dogs, make sure you can provide them with ample mental and physical stimulation to satisfy their work ethic. Dog sports offer an excellent outlet to keep these dogs busy.
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It’s probably not shocking to learn that the Scottish terrier originated in Scotland. The breed, originally called the Aberdeen terrier, was developed to hunt vermin in the Scottish Highlands. Scotties made their way to North America in the late 1800s and were recognized by the American Kennel Club just two years later. While they may be bred to hunt, Scotties also are friendly and affectionate companions.
Height: 10 inches
Weight: 18 to 22 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Short and stout; double coat; longer fur on the face, legs, and lower body
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Tracing the border collie’s Scottish roots is a bit like tracing the history of Scotland itself. The breed developed from a long line of other dogs popular among various groups that invaded Great Britain at one time or another, including the Romans and Vikings. Crossbreeding between these various dogs on Scottish shores eventually led to the border collie, a breed that proved formidable herding in the rocky Highlands. Border collies retain that athleticism and herding ability today.
Height: 18 to 22 inches
Weight: 28 to 48 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Rough or smooth medium-length double coat with a coarse outer coat and a soft undercoat; often black and white but other colors possible
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Not to be confused with the border collie, rough collies are a Scottish breed all their own, though they share many similar traits. Rough collies also are the result of crossbreeding between dogs that made their way to Scotland from other countries, though in this case their lineage is thought to be tied only to the Romans. Rough collies became a fast favorite as herding dogs, later surging in popularity as companions and show dogs thanks to being a beloved breed of Queen Victoria.
Height: 22 to 26 inches
Weight: 50 to 75 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Long muzzle; double coat with an outer coat that is long, straight, and smooth
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The smooth collie looks a bit different than its fluffy breed relative, the rough collie, boasting a short and smooth coat. For the most part, though, the smooth collie is quite the same, including in temperament and history. In North America, smooth collies are classified as the same breed as rough collies and can interbreed while still maintaining pedigree status. In the United Kingdom, however, the smooth collie is considered a distinct breed.
Height: 20 to 24 inches
Weight: 40 to 66 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Long muzzle; short, flat coat with longer hair found in the ruff around the neck and on the back of the thighsContinue to 5 of 14 below.
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The West Highland white terrier, often referred to as a Westie, is a breed that is completely intertwined with its country of origin. Westies are part of a group of Scottish terriers thought to have branched off the same family tree. Bred to combat rodent infestations in marketplaces and estates, Westies are part of a group known as “earth dogs,” as they’re on-the-ground hunters with an affinity for fast-moving vermin.
Height: 10 to 11 inches
Weight: 13 to 20 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Small in stature; white fur; medium-length double coat
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Another Scottish earth dog, cairn terriers have spent centuries helping out with vermin control on Scottish estates and farms. The breed can be traced to the Western Highlands as far back as the 1600s, though it’s thought that they originated even earlier than that. Cairn terriers got their name thanks to their affinity for finding rodents hiding under cairns, or rock piles used to mark boundary lines.
Height: 9 to 10 inches
Weight: 12 to 15 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Double coat with a wiry outer coat; comes in a wide range of colors
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Another favorite of Queen Victoria, the Skye terrier gets its name from its point of origin: the Isle of Skye in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides Islands. These big-eared pups have a bit of a rags-to-riches story, elevating their status from vermin hunters to pampered pets of British nobles. They’re still Scottish earth dogs at heart though and are thought to have played a big role in developing many other Scottish terrier breeds.
Height: 9 to 10 inches
Weight: 35 to 45 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Short but long body; double coat; notably feathered prick or drop ears
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Terriers have thrived in Scotland due to their skill for hunting prey over rugged terrain, and the border terrier does that to this day. Named because of its early years spent assisting farmers on the Scottish-English border, the border terrier is perhaps most renowned for its prowess in fox hunting. Today, it's one of the most popular terriers in the United Kingdom, with a sweet personality and the ability to get on well with other dogs.
Height: 12 to 15 inches
Weight: 11.5 to 15.5 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Double coat with a wiry outer coat; muzzle that's normally darker in color than rest of the coatContinue to 9 of 14 below.
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Golden retrievers may seem as American as apple pie, but the history of this breed actually goes back to the Scottish Highlands. Throughout the latter half of the 1800s, a breeder carefully developed golden retrievers from his Scottish estate to create a top-of-the-line hunting companion. The bloodline of goldens includes the now-extinct yellow retriever and tweed water spaniel as well as Irish setters and bloodhounds.
Height: 21.5 to 24 inches
Weight: 55 to 75 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Medium-length double coat; comes in various shades of gold
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The Shetland sheepdog, or Sheltie, looks quite similar to its collie cousins, though it's a bit smaller. The breed's origin can be traced to when collies were shipped from the Scottish mainland to the Shetland Islands, where they developed into a variety of breeds, including Shelties. These dogs are skillful herders that are suited to the cold and unforgiving climate of their homeland.
Height: 13 to 16 inches
Weight: 15 to 25 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Thick mane; dense and woolly coat
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Another of Scotland’s impressive herding dogs is the bearded collie, or Beardie. Like other collies, this breed's roots can be traced to the dogs of Scottish conquerors—in particular the Polish Lowland sheepdog and Hungarian Komondorok, both of which came to the country in the 1500s. Beardies have long been lauded for their herding prowess in Scotland’s rocky hills, and they also enjoyed popularity among the elites.
Height: 20 to 22 inches
Weight: 45 to 55 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Broad head; long muzzle with a beard; thick double coat
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Gordon setters are Scottish bird-hunting dogs bred to hunt in various Scottish climates and topographies. These dogs get their name from the Duke of Gordon, who bred them at his estate, Gordon Castle, in Moray. During his time developing the breed, Gordon setters evolved into the look they’re most associated with today, including their black and tan coats. The first breeding pair came to the U.S. in 1842, and the AKC recognized the breed in 1884.
Height: 23 to 27 inches
Weight: 45 to 80 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Large, muscular build; droopy ears; single coat of black with tan markingsContinue to 13 of 14 below.
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Dandies are Scottish border terriers whose claim to fame lies in literature. Sir Walter Scott, one of Scotland’s most famous novelists, included in his book Guy Mannering a character named Dandie Dinmont, who was based off a real-life breeder of Dandies. Dandies have serious hunting skills in their blood, and they were a favorite of royals in the 19th century.
Height: 8 to 11 inches
Weight: 18 to 24 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Long and low body; salt and pepper coat
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Known as the “royal dog of Scotland,” there is certainly something regal about the Scottish deerhound, the tallest of Scottish dog breeds. The ancient lineage of Scottish deerhounds goes so far back that it’s believed the breed made its way to the country even before the Scots themselves. Like many other Scottish dog breeds, the Scottish deerhound originated in the Highlands and has a special knack for hunting. In this case, though, it’s not hunting for small vermin but massive deer.
Height: 28 to 32 inches
Weight: 75 to 110 pounds
Physical Characteristics: Very tall and slim build; wiry coat