11 Popular Scottish Breeds of Pets

Shutterstock / Kalinina Maria © West Highland White Terrier

Scotland is known for it’s beautiful landscapes and heritage, and has many famous exports, but did you know it is also home to some of our favourite pet breeds?

We highlight the history and traits of Scotland’s most beloved pet breeds.

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11 Popular Scottish Breeds

1. West Highland White Terrier

The West Highland White Terrier, commonly known as a Westie, has deep roots in Scotland, closely connected to its homeland. Belonging to the Scottish terrier family, they were originally bred to tackle rodent problems in marketplaces and estates. Westies make excellent pets, who love their family, but they can be stubborn and difficult if not trained correctly.

2. Shetland Pony

Shetland Pony, a popular Scottish breed

Shetland Ponies Pic: Shutterstock

Originating from the Shetland Islands, the exact ancestry of the Shetland pony remains a mystery. Dating back around 4000 years, these ponies roamed the rugged Shetland Islands, possibly descending from Celtic and Norse breeds, they became known for their resilience and strength. Used for pulling carts, ploughing fields, and even working in mines during the Industrial Revolution, they were also loved by children for their gentle nature and compact size.

Shetland ponies are strong enough to be ridden by children and make great companions as pets. Despite their size, they possess strength, intelligence, and a touch of mischief.

Read more facts about this popular Scottish breed here.

3. Border Collie

Border Collie

Border Collie Pic: Shutterstock

The border collie was developed from a long line of many dog breeds which were popular with groups that invaded Great Britain, such as the Romans and Vikings. The border collie emerged through crossbreeding on Scottish soil. Evolving to thrive in the Highlands, they became renowned for their exceptional herding skills. Today, border collies continue to show their remarkable athleticism and herding traits, making them brilliant working dogs.

A popular Scottish pet breed, the Scottish fold cat

Scottish fold cat Pic: Shutterstock

4. Scottish Fold Cat

Scottish Fold cats are known for their gentle temperament, adorable round face, and distinctive folded ears. Their small ears fold in a forward and downward manner, very similar to an owl.

The Scottish Fold breed originated from a barn cat, named Susie, found in Perthshire, in 1961, with a natural mutation for folded ears. William Ross, a nearby farmer, bred Susie’s kitten, Snooks, with a male tabby. This started the line of Scottish Fold cats.

Unfortunately, the genetic mutation behind this very cute ear fold is also associated with osteochondrodysplasia, a disease which affects cartilage throughout the body. The Scottish Fold may one of the most popular cat breeds in the United States, but legal breeding restrictions exist in many countries including even Scotland. These restrictions don’t apply to the rest of the UK, but it’s strongly advised that pet owners research the complications associated with Scottish Folds before considering them as pets.

5. Scottish Terrier

Scottish Terrier

Scottish Terrier Pic: Shutterstock

Originally known as the Aberdeen terrier, this breed originated in the Scottish Highlands to hunt vermin. Scotties arrived in North America in the late 1800s and quickly gained recognition from the American Kennel Club within two years. Despite their hunting roots, Scotties are also known to make friendly and affectionate pets.

6. Skye Terrier

Skye Terrier

Skye Terrier Pic: Shutterstock

A breed adored by Queen Victoria, the Skye terrier derives its name from its birthplace: the Isle of Skye in Scotland’s Inner Hebrides Islands. These dogs, characterised by their large ears, underwent a transformation from vermin hunters to beloved companions of the rich and famous. Despite their elevated status, they remain true to their Scottish roots as earth dogs, believed to have contributed significantly to the development of other Scottish terrier breeds. Lively and entertaining, Skye terriers are very smart dogs but need guidance as puppies to become well mannered pets.

7. Border Terrier

Border Terrier

Border Terrier Pic: Shutterstock

Originating from its work along the Scottish-English border assisting farmers, the breed became known for its fox hunting abilities. Today, the border terrier stands as one of the United Kingdom’s loved terrier breeds, known for its gentle nature and compatibility with other dogs. Border terriers are great family pets and typically get along well with children and other pets.

8. Shetland Sheepdog

A Shetland Sheepdog is a popular Scottish breed

Shetland Sheepdog Pic: Shutterstock

The Shetland sheepdog, often called the Sheltie, has a similar resemblance to its larger collie relatives, albeit in a smaller size. Originating from the Scottish mainland, collies were transported to the Shetland Islands, where they expanded into various breeds, including Shelties. Known for their herding abilities, Shelties are well-suited to the harsh and chilly conditions of their native environment. They make highly energetic and playful pets, who are very happy to spend hours playing in the garden.

9. Scottish Deerhound

Scottish Deerhound

Scottish Deerhound Pic: Shutterstock / Antonia Gros

The exact origins of the Scottish Deerhound are unknown, however, with roots tracing back to ancient times, Scottish deerhounds are believed to have arrived in the country prior to the Scots themselves. Originating in the Highlands like many other Scottish breeds, they possess great hunting skills for deer. Scottish deerhounds are better living in homes with larger pets and need to be able to exercise freely every day.

10. Gordon Setter

Gordon Setter, a popular Scottish breed

Gordon Setter Pic: Shutterstock

Gordon Setters are Scottish bird-hunting dogs specifically bred to navigate through the diverse terrains and climates across Scotland. Named after the Duke of Gordon, who carefully bred them at Gordon Castle in Moray, they gradually acquired their distinctive appearance, characterised by their black and tan coats. The breed’s journey to the United States began in 1842 with the arrival of the first breeding pair, eventually gaining recognition from the American Kennel Club in 1884. Gordon Setters are wonderful additions to families due to their affectionate and loyal traits but thrive best in households where someone is present for most of the day.

11. Dandie Dinmont Terrier

Dandie Dinmont Terrier in a garden

Dandie Dinmont Terrier Pic: Shutterstock / Radomir Rezny

Dandies gained their name through the literature work of Sir Walter Scott. In his novel “Guy Mannering,” Scott introduced the character Dandie Dinmont, inspired by a real-life breeder of the terriers. Dandies became favoured companions of royals during the 19th century. The breed are very small and are a great choice of pet for households with cats.

Before welcoming a dog into your home, take advice from The Kennel Club for the suitability for your home and lifestyle.

Scotland is home to a host of native wild animals too.