Skip to Content

15 Scottish Dog Breeds You’ll Love

Get ready to embark on a journey to the rugged landscapes of Scotland, the land of kilts, bagpipes, and some of the most charming canine companions you’ll ever meet. In this article, we’re going to introduce you to 15 Scottish dog breeds that are as diverse as Scotland itself. 

From the small but mighty Scottish Terrier to the majestic Scottish Deerhound, these breeds are known for their distinctive personalities, rich histories, and undeniable charm. Whether you’re a dog lover, a prospective pet owner, or simply someone who appreciates the rich tapestry of canine diversity, you’ll find something to love in each of these uniquely Scottish breeds. 

So pour yourself a wee dram of whisky, settle in, and let’s explore the wonderful world of Scottish dogs. Each of these popular dog breeds tells a story, each bark carries a legend – welcome to the heart and soul of Scotland’s canine heritage.

15 Scottish Dog Breeds

1. Scottish Terrier

The Scottish Terrier, affectionately known as the “Scottie,” stands as a proud emblem of Scotland’s canine heritage. This distinct breed is instantly recognizable by its dignified, confident demeanor and its unique silhouette: a compact, sturdy body; a bold, expressive face; and that characteristic beard adding a touch of gruff charm. 

Scottish Terrier
Scottish Terrier

Originating from the rugged terrains of Scotland, the Scottie was bred to hunt vermin, showcasing its fearless nature and tenacity. This breed’s history is deeply entwined with Scottish culture, symbolizing the country’s fierce and independent spirit.


Scottish Terriers are known for their loyal and protective nature, making them excellent companions. Despite their small size, they pack a bold personality, often described as a big dog in a little dog’s body. Their dense, wiry coat, typically black but also found in wheaten or brindle, requires regular grooming to maintain its distinctive appearance.

2. West Highland White Terrier

The West Highland White Terrier, affectionately known as the “Westie,” is a spirited and spunky Scottish dog breed that captures the hearts of dog lovers worldwide. Originating from the harsh and rugged landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, the West Highland Terrier was developed for its tenacity in hunting small rodents and for being a fearless and hardy companion in the demanding Scottish environment.

West Highland Terrier
West Highland Terrier

The Westie’s distinct, bright white coat served a practical purpose: it made the dog highly visible against the dark terrain and protected it from harsh weather.

Westies embody the joyful, courageous spirit associated with Scotland. They are small in size but large in personality, characterized by their confidence, intelligence, and independence. Their friendly and affectionate nature makes them excellent family pets, while their alertness and loyalty make them superb watchdogs. 

3. Shetland Sheepdog

The Shetland Sheepdog, often lovingly called the “Sheltie,” hails from Scotland’s remote and rugged Shetland Islands. This breed, developed to herd sheep and ponies on the harsh terrains of its native land, showcases the adaptability and resilience of Scottish dog breeds. 

Shetland Sheepdog
Shetland Sheepdog

The Sheltie’s stunning appearance, with a lush double coat, expressive eyes, and a range of colors, mirrors the wild beauty of the Shetland landscape.

You might enjoy my articles on Scottish dog breeds and dog breeds with big paws.

shetland-sheepdog-grass scottish dog breeds

Despite their small size, Shelties are known for their incredible intelligence, agility, and obedience, making them standout performers in dog sports and loyal companions at home. Their heritage as herders has endowed them with a vigilant and protective demeanor, yet they remain affectionate and devoted to their families. 

4. Border Collie

The Border Collie, renowned for its remarkable intelligence and unparalleled herding abilities, stands as a testament to Scottish ingenuity and pastoral heritage. Originating in the borderlands between Scotland and England, this breed has been an indispensable part of Scottish rural life for centuries. 

black and white border collie
black and white border collie

Bred from a mix of Roman and Viking herding dogs, the Border Collie was refined in the Scottish Lowlands, where its keen intellect, incredible agility, and tireless work ethic made it an essential partner in managing livestock. With their intense gaze, known as “the eye,” Border Collies command the movement of sheep with precision and assertive calmness, a trait deeply embedded in their genetic makeup. 


Their medium-sized, athletic build perfectly suits the demanding, varied terrain of the Scottish countryside. Beyond their herding prowess, these active dogs are beloved family pets, known for their loyalty, affection, and the joy they find in companionship and mental stimulation. 

5. Cairn Terrier

The Cairn Terrier, one of Scotland’s oldest and most distinctive terrier breeds, hails from the rugged Highlands and the misty isles, where it was originally bred to chase and hunt small prey among the cairns—piles of stones that mark graves or serve as landmarks. These spirited small animals are celebrated for their tenacity, courage, and intelligence, traits that were essential for navigating the challenging Scottish landscape and for controlling vermin populations.

Cairn Terrier
Cairn Terrier

The Cairn Terrier’s wiry coat, which comes in a variety of colors but often features shades of gray, brindle, red, sand, and black, offers protection against the harsh Scottish weather. With a fearless and alert disposition, they make excellent watchdogs and loyal family members

6. Rough Collie

The Rough Collie, famed worldwide as the Lassie dog, is a majestic and refined Scottish dog breed that originally served as a herding dog in Scotland and Northern England. Renowned for its striking appearance, the Rough Collie features a luxurious, dense coat, elegant bearing, and a noble, tapered face. This breed was developed to herd and guard sheep in the challenging Scottish terrain, which honed its intelligence, agility, and loyalty.

rough collie
rough collie

Beyond its working origins, the Rough Collie is cherished for its gentle and friendly nature, making it an excellent family companion. The breed’s keen intelligence and sensitivity make it highly trainable and responsive to its owners’ needs.

7. Smooth Collie

The Smooth Collie is a variant of the Collie breed, hailing from Scotland and Northern England, where it was used primarily for herding and as a guardian of the flock. Unlike its Rough Collie counterpart, the Smooth Collie has a short, dense, and sleek coat, which makes it particularly suited to the rainy and rugged Scottish environment. This breed shares the same intelligent, responsive, and gentle characteristics as the Rough Collie but requires less grooming.

collie smooth dog
collie smooth dog

Renowned for its loyalty and protective nature, the Smooth Collie is an excellent family pet, combining the elegance and working capabilities of its heritage with a loving and adaptable temperament.

8. Dandie Dinmont Terrier

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a unique and charming Scottish dog breed with a distinctive appearance and a rich history. Originating from the borders between Scotland and England, this breed was named after a character in Sir Walter Scott’s novel “Guy Mannering.” The Dandie Dinmont is characterized by its long body, short legs, and a large, poofy head topped with a distinctive “top-knot” of hair.

Dandie Dinmont Terrier
Dandie Dinmont Terrier

These terriers were bred for hunting small game, such as otters and badgers, in the rugged and hilly Scottish borderlands. Their determination, courage, and tenacity in the field contrast with their affectionate, calm, and companionable nature at home, making them excellent pets. 

9. Skye Terrier

The Skye Terrier is a distinguished Scottish dog breed with a noble and elegant appearance, deeply rooted in the rugged terrain of the Isle of Skye. This breed is characterized by its long, flowing coat, which serves as protection against the harsh Scottish weather, and its distinctive “earthdog” body – long and low to the ground. 

Skye Terriers
Skye Terriers

Historically, Skye Terriers were bred to hunt and chase away pests from farms and homesteads, showcasing their courage, determination, and resilience. Despite their working background, Skye Terriers are known for their loyal and affectionate nature, forming strong bonds with their owners. Their dignified demeanor and gentle temperament make them excellent companions

Skye Terriers
Skye Terrier

10. Gordon Setter

The Gordon Setter, named after the fourth Duke of Gordon in the 19th century, is a noble and majestic Scottish dog breed distinguished by its striking black and tan coat. Originating in Scotland, this breed was developed to hunt game birds, particularly in the rugged Scottish Highlands. 

Gordon Setter
Gordon Setter

The Gordon Setter is the largest and heaviest of the setter breeds, reflecting the strength and endurance needed to navigate challenging terrains.

Known for their loyalty, intelligence, and keen sense of smell, Gordon Setters excel in both fieldwork and companionship. Their calm and affectionate nature makes them excellent family pets, while their alertness and bravery reflect their hunting lineage.

11. Scottish Deerhound

The Scottish Deerhound, often described as the royal dog of Scotland, is a breed of great antiquity, deeply woven into the country’s history and culture. The Scottish clans once used this noble and dignified breed to hunt red deer, a task that required immense speed, strength, and endurance, characteristics that the Scottish Deerhound possesses in abundance. 

Scottish Deerhound
Scottish Deerhound

Their large, graceful frame, coupled with a gentle and friendly demeanor, makes them distinct among dog breeds. With a rough, wiry coat to protect them from the harsh Scottish weather and terrain, Deerhounds were bred for the rugged outdoors. Despite their size, they are known for their quiet, dignified temperament and are often described as gentle giants.

12. Border Terrier

The Border Terrier, with its roots firmly planted in the rugged countryside of the Anglo-Scottish border, is a true testament to the hardy, spirited nature of Scottish dog breeds. Originally bred to assist with fox hunts by following the horse and hounds over challenging terrain, these small dogs are known for their distinctive otter-shaped head, wiry coat, and keen expression.

border terrier
border terrier

The breed’s weather-resistant double coat and sturdy build were perfect for the harsh, unpredictable conditions of the borderlands. Despite its working origins, this small breed possesses a friendly and affectionate nature, making it a beloved family pet as well as a tenacious working dog.

13. Bearded Collie

The Bearded Collie, affectionately known as the “Beardie,” is one of Scotland’s oldest dog breeds, originally used by shepherds in the Scottish Highlands. Renowned for its shaggy coat and bounding energy, the Bearded Collie was developed to herd sheep and cattle, regardless of weather or terrain. 

bearded collie dog
bearded collie dog

Their long, dense, and waterproof double coat protected them from the harsh Scottish environment, while their intelligence and enthusiasm made them indispensable working dogs.

bearded-collie-on-grass hairiest dog breeds

Bearded Collies are known for their joyful, friendly nature, making them beloved family pets. Their herding instincts contribute the playfulness of these farm dogs and tendency to keep children and other pets rounded up. They can form a strong bond with their family.

14. Golden Retriever

The Golden Retriever, one of the most beloved and recognizable dog breeds worldwide, has its origins deeply rooted in the Scottish Highlands. Developed during the 19th century by Sir Dudley Marjoribanks, also known as Lord Tweedmouth, this breed was created to fulfill the need for a superior gun dog suited to the rainy climate and rugged terrain of Scotland. 


By combining various breeds, including the now-extinct Tweed Water Spaniel, the Bloodhound, and the Irish Setter, Lord Tweedmouth aimed to develop a dog with excellent retrieving skills, a gentle mouth, and a friendly disposition.


The Golden Retriever’s intelligence, patience, and versatility quickly made it a favorite among hunters and outdoorsmen. Beyond its working capabilities, the breed’s friendly nature and striking golden coat won the hearts of families, making it a popular companion dog.

15. Glen of Imaal Terrier

The Glen of Imaal Terrier, while associated with Ireland, is often confused with Scottish breeds due to the similar rugged landscapes and cultural histories shared by Scotland and Ireland. However, to clarify, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is indeed an Irish breed, originating from County Wicklow’s Glen of Imaal. This breed was developed for its versatility in hunting and farm work, known for its strength, tenacity, and courage in controlling vermin and hunting foxes and badgers.

Glen of Imaal Terrier
Glen of Imaal Terrier

Despite the common misconception, this breed embodies the resilient spirit of Ireland’s rural communities. With its distinctive double coat, muscular build, and unique bowed legs, the Glen is designed for hard work in challenging environments.

In exploring these 15 Scottish dog breeds, we’ve journeyed through the misty highlands, roamed the rugged coastlines, and delved into the rich tapestry of Scotland’s canine heritage. Each breed, from the sturdy Scottie to the majestic Deerhound, embodies the spirit and character of Scotland in its own unique way.

Like this post? Why not share it?

Thanks for sharing