AKC Breed Standard

The official Breed Standard for the Scottish Terrier was developed by the STCA in accordance with AKC guidelines.The current version was submitted to the AKC and approved on October 12, 1993.The most frequent use of the standard is by AKC judges when evaluating dogs in the conformation ring. The standard is also used by Scottie breeders to evaluate their own breeding program.

The Scottish Terrier is a small, compact, short-legged, sturdily-built dog of good bone 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.

The Scottish Terrier should have a thick body and heavy bone. 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 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 from 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 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 the 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 snippiness. 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 scissor or level bite, 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 in under the brow.

They should be 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.

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, 2 very deep and well let 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 forefeet should be larger than 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. It is 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 should 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 to a slight extent only.
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 front. The action of the rear legs should be square and true and, at the trot, both the hocks and stifles should be flexed 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 both 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. NO JUDGE SHOULD PUT TO WINNERS OR BEST OF BREED ANY SCOTTISH TERRIER NOT SHOWING REAL TERRIER CHARACTER IN THE RING.
Skull 5
Muzzle 5
Eyes/Ears 10
Neck 5
Chest 5
Body 15
Legs & Feet 10
Tail 10
Coat 10
Size 10
General Appearance 10
Total 100


Scottish Terriers do come in a variety of coat colors. The approved AKC standard allows for most colors, except white. The purpose of this page is to provide several examples of the variation in coat color that are recognized within the standard.

Coat color is an area that comes down to strictly personal preference. Coat texture, length of coat, and the visual impact of different coat colors are factors that are beyond the scope of this explanation.

The Black Scottie — There may be an occasional hair strand that is not black. Single white hairs against an otherwise pure black coat is a clear indication that the dog is naturally black.

A very dark brindle (almost black) Scottie –Notice the brown on the side, forechest and beard as well as the silver around the neck.

The Brindle Scottie — Notice the clear indication of color variation. Color changes are noticeable on each hair strand, not just from one strand to another.

Another Brindle Scottie — Again notice the color variation across the entire coat. This Scottie has more red shades in the color variations.

And yet another Brindle Scottie — This Scottie has more silver showing in the coat color.

A Wheaten Scottie — The Wheaten Scottie is NOT a white Scottie, nor is it a Wheaten Terrier. The Wheaten coat is distinctively different from the Brindle in color, but it exhibits the same characteristic of color variation along each individual hair strand.

Importance of the Breed Standard

The Breed Standard is the yard stick that every dog show judge should use when evaluating your entry in the ring. The standard has been prepared and updated by the Scottish Terrier Club of America, because we are recognized by the AKC as the steward for this breed. The standard is a description of the “ideal” Scottish Terrier. Every AKC judge that has been approved to evaluate this breed is recommended to use this description to visualize their own version of this ideal Scottie. Then as they judge each entry in the ring, their objective is to compare that entry to their vision, picking the one that comes closest to the ideal.

Why is it so important?

The Scottish Terrier Breed Standard is so important because it helps guide and direct everyone associated with the breed. As discussed above, judges use it to visualize their ideal Scottie and then evaluate every show entry. But breeders are using the standard as well. Again, each breeder has their own visual interpretation of the standard.