14 Best Scottish Dog Breeds

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.

1. Scottish Terrier

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.

2. Border Collie

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.

3. Rough Collie

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.

4. Smooth Collie

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.

5. West Highland White Terrier

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.

6. Cairn Terrier

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.

7. Skye Terrier

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.

8. Border Terrier

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.

9. Golden Retriever

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.

10. Shetland Sheepdog

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.

11. Bearded Collie

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.

12. Gordon Setter

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.

13. Dandie Dinmont Terrier

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.

14. Scottish Deerhound

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.

Published On: May 27th, 2023Categories: Dog News