Breed Tips

Top 10 Scottish Dog Breeds

If you get a chance to visit Scottish farmlands, you will find images of a short-legged, longheaded, prick-eared, cobbly-built dog barking on a wheelbarrow. These would probably date back to 200 A.D, indicating a long history of dogs in Scotland. And since then, dogs have been a huge part of the country’s history from helping military men to protecting royals to showing unparalleled loyalty towards their owners.

Greyfriars Bobby, a famous dog that existed centuries ago was known for safeguarding the master’s grave for 14 years. 4500 years ago, 24 dog skulls were placed inside a burial chamber of Orkney. Linlithgow, a hostage kept stranded on an island, left to starve to death at the time of King David 1, was provided food by a brave and loyal dog of his who swam to the island for her master. The dog of Queen Mary of Scots kept close to her till her last breath when an axe was about to get her executed. Rifleman Khan, a military dog, put his own life at stake by jumping in the chilling cold waters of the sea and pulling his handler, Jimmy, out to solid ground during World War II.

These are just a few bravery and loyalty stories of the dogs of Scotland which shows that from pre-historic times, dogs have held a special place not just in the books of Scottish history but in the hearts of countrymen to date.

With this, let’s move on to the top 10 breeds that originated in land of castles, bagpipes and whiskies, Scotland.

1. Border Collie

Border Collie
  • Average Weight: 30 to 50 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 20 to 50 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 17 years

What’s a better way to start the list than with the smartest dog breed out there; Border Collie! Known for their intelligence, loyalty, and hard work, these dogs were bred to control sheep in the hilly border country between Scotland and England. But they can herd almost anything. Their energy, eager-to-please nature, and even temper make them great family dogs today.

2. Scottish Terrier

Scottish Terrier
  • Average Weight: 20 to 35 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 10 to 15 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

This second one is an obvious breed from Scotland, as the name suggests, Scottish Terrier.

The control of fox, rats, and otters was a keen problem in Scotland since the 1300s. This gave birth to a wide variety of terriers in terms of shapes and sizes, and one of them came to be today’s Scottish terrier. These are independent, feisty, and quick dogs. Check out more about Scottish Terriers here.

3. Cairn Terrier

Cairn Terrier
  • Average Weight: 12 to 20 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 8 to 10 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 16 years

One of the oldest terriers and working dogs, dating back to the 1600s (probably way before that), Cairn Terriers, get their name because of chasing prey between the cairns in the Scottish Highlands. The popular dog, Toto from the wizard of Oz was none other than a Cairn Terrier.

4. Bloodhound

  • Average Weight: 70 to 90 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 25 to 35 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 11 to 12 years

It is debatable whether this breed originated in Scotland or not, as it has traces in Belgium and France as well. However, throughout most of history, Bloodhound was seen as an Anglo-Scottish one. Even-tempered, affectionate but stubborn, these hounds are large hounds and get their name for their pure blood. For ages, they have been used to trail humans, especially escaped slaves or prisoners.

5. Scottish Deerhound

Scottish Deerhound
  • Average Weight: 80 to 110 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 28 to 32 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 9 to 11 years

Bred to hunt the red deer, the Scottish Deerhound or as popularly known, Deerhound, is a crisply coated ‘royal dog of Scotland’, These majestically large versions of the Greyhound are gentle and chivalrous but also strong and brave. It is one of the tallest dog breeds in the world.

6. Shetland Sheepdog

Shetland Sheepdog
  • Average Weight: 15 to 25 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 14 to 18 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 12 to 14 years

Sheltie, as known popularly, is an intelligent, quick, and courageous breed of herding dogs from the rugged Shetland Islands of Scotland. With a lion-like mane, these dogs are extremely hard-working and always eager to please their owners. These beautiful dogs were originally called Shetland Collies, which was then changed to Sheepdog due to their confusion with the Rough Collie.

7. Gordon Setter

Gordon Setter
  • Average Weight: 50 to 80 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 24 to 26 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 13 years

Coming from the Setter family, Gordon Setter, is a large breed of Scottish dogs known for sporting. Referred to as the ‘Black Avenger of the Highlands’, these dogs are muscled, active, and outdoorsy with a silky double coat. In existence since the early 1500s, these deep-chested dogs are known for their unwavering loyalty.

8. Bearded Collie

Bearded Collie
  • Average Weight: 40 to 60 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 20 to 22 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 14 to 16 years

Bearded Collie, or the Beardie to their friends, is a herding dog breed of the Scottish shepherds. With an abundance of hair on the entire body, including the face, these are the ultimate shaggy dogs. Known for the very famous ‘Beardie Bounce’, these are playful, active, and happy dogs.

9. Skye Terrier

Skye Terrier
  • Average Weight: 10 to 20 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 13 to 18 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

  • Origin: Madagascar

The hunter of the Isle of Skye, Skye Terrier, a unique looking, with hair covering almost their entire face, was bred to hunt otters, badgers, and foxes. With only about 5,000 of them existing today, these are one of the rarest breeds on the planet. They may be small in size but that doesn’t account for their fearlessness and bravery.

10. Golden Retriever

Golden Retriever
  • Average Weight: 60 to 80 pounds (male and female)

  • Average Height: 21 to 24 inches (male and female)

  • Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

We saved the last one for one of the most popular, loved, and charming dog breeds of all time, the one and only, Golden Retriever. With a striking golden coat, and joyous, playful, loyal, outgoing, energetic, and affectionate nature, these are adorable and deserving ones to be the highest pet breed. They are thought of as American but their history traces back to the Highlands of Scotland.


Well, bagpipes, whiskies, music and culture, islands, and majestic landscapes aren’t the only ones Scotland is known for. Many popular dog breeds have come from this beautiful land. So next time when you’re sipping your Glenfiddich or Blue Label with your dog sitting beside you, remember that both these beauties came from the same Highlands of Scotland.

Happy Health and Mood to your dog and Lots of Love and Licks to you!


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