Scottish Terrier Colors: Rarest to Most Common

Written by Drew Wood
Published: November 2, 2023
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Few dog breeds have as distinctive an appearance as the Scottish terrier. Short, solid dogs, they are usually groomed to have boxy mustached faces, perky trimmed ears and tails, and smooth undercoats on their backs with wiry skirts around the sides. Stubborn and feisty but loyal and affectionate, Scottish terriers make great watchdogs and companions. The most common color for a Scottish terrier is black, but they come in some rarer light colors as well. If you’re considering adopting a Scottie, this article will expand your knowledge of the breed and its colors to help you with your decision.

Key Points

  • Scottish terriers have an easily recognizable appearance that has won them a beloved place in popular culture.
  • Originally bred to hunt vermin, they are feisty, strong little dogs. They have a mind of their own, but are intensely loyal and make great watchdogs.
  • The main color categories of their coats are black, brindle, and wheaten. The lighter shades are rarer and more valuable than the darker ones.
  • There are no white Scottish terriers. Light Scotties are wheaten, not completely white. A related breed, the West Highland Terrier, is white and is sometimes mistaken for a Scottish terrier.

History of the Breed

Black Scottish Terrier close-up on the background of fallen leaves

The Scottish terrier originated as a hunting dog and vermin-catcher in Scotland.

©Andrey Kanyshev/iStock via Getty Images

As the name implies, the Scottish terrier originated in Scotland. Farmers developed the breed to be short and solid, able to get into badger, otter, or fox dens and dig powerfully for rats and other vermin. They have a low center of gravity that helps them hold their ground solidly in battle with beasts bigger than themselves. They were also developed to have strong tails so that the owner could pull them out of a tunnel by their tail without injuring the dog.

The breed became popular in the United States in the 1930s. Celebrities such as actress Dorothy Lamour and President Franklin Roosevelt were Scottie owners who helped make the breed well-known. Scotties have become well-known in the popular culture through movies and animated films. One was even used as a favorite game piece in the popular board game Monopoly. You may have even fought with your siblings over who got the Scottie!

Scottie Characteristics

Scottish terrier portraits

This one-year-old puppy has the typical quizzical head tilt that will melt your heart as a Scottie owner.

©Ohoho/iStock via Getty Images

Scottish terriers are small dogs, growing 10-11 inches tall and 18-22 pounds. They have a two-layer coat, coarse and wiry on the outside and with a short, soft, and smooth undercoat. They require regular grooming to maintain that “Scottie” look; otherwise, they will soon turn into amorphous looking fuzzballs.

Temperamentally, Scotties are alert, curious, and perky. They are fearless with other dogs no matter how big they are. This makes them excellent watchdogs but requires attention to socializing them with other dogs. They are also known to be stubborn and challenge their owners and other family members for leadership. They require consistent, firm, positive training. It is particularly important to work with children in the household to help them learn to be appropriately firm with the dog as well.

Scottish terrier on green grass lawn with white flowers in the background, Scotland, United Kingdom.

©Ondrej Prosicky/

Colors: Rarest to Most Common

Scotties come in three main colors: wheaten, brindle, and black. There are variations within each of these that can be rare and valuable. On average, purchasing a Scottish terrier from a breeder can cost $900-$3,500 depending on whether you want a pet-quality or show-quality animal and the rarity of the dog’s characteristics, including coat color.

1. Wheaten

Scottish terrier

A golden yellow-white color is rare in Scottish terriers.

©Pavel Shlykov/iStock via Getty Images

Wheaten is the lightest shade of coat available in a Scottish terrier. There are no pure white Scottish terriers. If you see a stark white terrier, it is most likely a West Highland terrier, which looks similar to a Scottie but is a different breed. Wheaten Scotties can be light shades of golden yellow that look off-white. Wheaten also encompasses dogs with rare and desirable shades of caramel or rust.

2. Brindle

A nice Scottish terrier walking on a green background.

Brindle is a striped black and brown color pattern.

©Sergey Ginak/

A brindle Scottie isn’t exactly rare, but it is rarer than a pure black dog. Brindle is a striped pattern that leaves the appearance of light and dark splotches. The variants include black brindle, silver brindle, and red brindle.

3. Black

Scottish Terrier Dog

Black is the most common color of the photogenic Scottish terrier.

©MayWhiston/iStock via Getty Images

Most Scottish terriers are black, though they may have a white patch underneath. As they age their coats develop grey and white hairs, which further adds to their wise, distinguished appearance.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Anna Tkach/

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About the Author

Drew Wood is a writer at A-Z Animals focusing on mammals, geography, and world cultures. Drew has worked in research and writing for over 20 years and holds a Masters in Foreign Affairs (1992) and a Doctorate in Religion (2009). A resident of Nebraska, Drew enjoys Brazilian jiu-jitsu, movies, and being an emotional support human to four dogs.

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