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15 of NI’s favorite dog breeds claimed by the Scots

As Scotland celebrates Burn’s Day, we pay tribute to the dog breeds who have left the highlands, islands, lowlands and borders for life in Northern Ireland.

The Scots have a total of 15 dogs they claim as their own, including three from the borders regions and one dating back almost 1,000 years.

And there are some surprises in addition to the feisty terriers, the fast moving ratters and of course probably the most famous, the beautiful West Highland White, including the Golden Retriever and the Border Collie.

Do you have a dog with Scottish heritage? Let us know on our dedicated site DogsLive. We’d love to see pictures of your dogs and hear all about them.

Check out our list of 14 dog breeds claimed by the Scots as theirs:

1. SCottish-terrier



scottie terrier

  • Reputation: Brave, fast, fiesty, alert, playful and will stand their ground.
  • Original Job: Vermin Control
  • Typical Weight: Up to 12kg
  • Life expectancy: up to 15 years
  • Colours: black, brindle, wheaten

Originally known as the Aberdeen Terrier, their names changed as their popularity grew across Scotland and the rest of the UK, until they became known as the Scottish Terrier. They can move very fast and tend to be ultra alert. They have a sharp prey drive and love a ball game.

2. West Highland White Terrier



  • Reputation: Brave, fast, fiesty, confident and playful.
  • Original Job: Vermin Control
  • Typical Weight: Up to 10kg
  • Life expectancy: Up to 15 years
  • Colours: white

The Westie originated from the Cairn Terrier bloodline. In the mid-19th Century the Malcolms of Poltalloch clans in Argyllshire developed a white strain to be seen in the glar and gloom of dry winter weather on the Scottish hills. They remain a hugely popular breed and are very sociable.

3. Skye Terrier



  • Reputation: Fast, fearless with fabulous fringes.
  • Original Job: Hunter of badger, otter and fox
  • Typical Weight: Up to 18kg
  • Life expectancy: Up to 15 years
  • Colours: black, fawn, blue, dark grey, light gray

Originally from the Isle of Skye these little dogs remain one of the most endangered Scottish dog breeds. They have a distinctive straight coat and a long fringe and the most famous Skye Terrier was Bobby who became known as Greyfriars Bobby, with a statue in his honor in Edinburgh after he dedicated his life to the grave of his companion Auld Jock, a night police officer in the old town.

4. Cairn Terrier



cairn terrier

  • Reputation: Courageous, determined, watchful and hardy
  • Original Job: Hunter and chaser
  • Typical Weight: Up to 7kg
  • Life expectancy: Up to 15 years and often beyond
  • Colors : black, brindle, cream, grey, red, wheaten

Possibly the oldest Scottish breed, and oldest working dog, the Cairn Terrier originated in the Scottish Highlands and earned their name by chasing prey between the stone cairns. They are sharp watchdogs to this day. Most famous Cairn Terrier? It has to be Toto in the Wizard of Oz.

5. Scottish Deerhound



scottish deerhound

  • Reputation: Gentle soul, good sight, elegant on foot, a natural hunter
  • Original Job Title: Deer Hunter
  • Typical Weight: Up to 50kg
  • Typical Life expectancy: Up to 11 years
  • Colours: brindle, fawn, red fawn, blue, grey, yellow

The Scottish Deerhound is a large, rough-coated dog closely related to the Irish Wolfhound although smaller. Bred for coursing through deep woods chasing deer often twice their size, they have been recorded reaching speeds of up to 28 MPH. A relaxed and gentle hound when not working.

6. Sleuthhound



sleuth hound

  • Reputation: Single minded, intense mind, stubborn, gentle, loud, howler, emotional.
  • Original Job Title: Tracker most often of humans
  • Typical Weight: Up to 50kg
  • Typical life expectancy: Up to 12 years.
  • Colours: red or black with small spots

The Sleuth Hound first appears in poems about Robert the Bruce and William Wallace who are depicted as having been tracked Sleuth Hounds and it is believed these dogs existed in Scotland as early as c.1300. References to the Sleuth Hound appear in a man-trailing context, whereas the Bloodhound continues to be used for either tracking humans or other animals. It is believed both were used to scent and track livestock rustlers and raiders in the Middle Ages and although this breed may have originated in Belgium, they were bred in Scotland and claimed as Scottish from 1300. The law of the borders between Scotland and England required that anyone who denied entry to the Sleuth Hound when in pursuit of stolen goods would be held as an accomplice to the theft.

7. Golden retriever



golden retriever

  • Reputation: Loyal, strong, confident, gentle, happy, soft mouth.
  • Original Job Title: Gun Dog, Retriever
  • Typical Weight: Up to 34kg
  • Typical life expectancy: Up to 12 years and often beyond
  • Colours: deep golden, cream, light golden, golden

The Golden Retriever was first bred in Scotland in the 19th Century to retrieve birds and other wildfowl on hunts and shoots, lifting them without breaking or damaging them so the bird would be deemed as fit for the dinner table. Now, their personality is relied on as an ideal assistance dog and family pet with many still working to the gun.

8. Gordon Setter



Gordon Setter

  • Reputation: Playful, strong, gentle, high spirited, fast
  • Original Job Title: Game bird hunter, Point and retriever
  • Typical Weight: Up to 36kg
  • Typical life expectancy: Up to 12 years
  • Colours: black and tan

The Gordon Setter name originated from the Duke of Gordon who introduced these black and brown semi long-coated dogs at his castle in Banffshire, Scotland in 1827. They are long-striding and very fast of foot with great staying power, intelligent and somewhat stubborn .

9. Bearded Collie



  • Reputation: Enthusiastic, high spirited, friendly, bouncy, energetic, smart, affectionate, low attention span
  • Original Job Title: Herder
  • Typical Weight: Up to 27kg
  • Typical life expectancy: Up to 15 years
  • Colours: black, fawn, tri-colour, black & brown, blue, brown
  • The Beardie first arrived in Scotland in 1912 to herd the sheep flock. Bearded Collies are extremely energetic, intelligent and loving and as independent decision-makers, they can be wilful. They bore easily, need a lot of grooming and a busy life.

    10. Rough Collie



    • Reputation: Eager to learn, strong, affectionate, fast, responsive, vocal.
    • Original Job Title: Herder, Protector
    • Typical Weight: Up to 29kg
    • Typical life expectancy: Up to 16 years
    • Colours: white, tri-colour, sable and white, sable merle, blue merle, sable

    Rough Collies are strong, loyal, affectionate and fast. Quick to learn, they are tuned in to people and respond well to consistent, reward-based training, and they tend to enjoy the attention that comes with performing. Make great therapy dogs as well. Also referred to as the Lassie Dog after the 1950s hit TV series.

    11. Smooth Collie



    Smooth Collie

    • Reputation: Sociable, agile, playful, a loyal companion
    • Original Job title: Herder
    • Typical Weight: Up to 29kg
    • Typical life expectancy: Up to 15 years
    • Colours: white, blue merle, sable merle, sable, tri-colour, sable and white

    The Smooth Collie is breed in itself, not simply a version of a Rough Coat. They are sociable dogs who love exercise, they’re active and agile and very sociable with an outgoing temperament. An obsessive herder of all things.

    12. Dandie Dinmont Terrier



    Dandie Dinmont Terrier

    • Reputation: Docile, hardy, brave, friendly, happy, a digger
    • Original Job Title: Badger and Otter Hunter
    • Typical Weight: Up to 12kg
    • Typical life expectancy: Up to 15 years
    • Colours: mustard, pepper

    The Dandie Dinmont Terrier, or Dandie is another border area terrier that originally comes from the border of Scotland with England. They have a long body on short legs and a distinctive mop of hair on the top of their head. Supreme diggers with big front feet and strong legs.

    13. Border Terrier



    border terrier

    • Reputation: Quick, tough, vocal, sharp senses, intelligent, affectionate, fearless, steady temperament, alert, obedient.
    • Original Job title: Fox Hunter
    • Typical Weight: Up to 7 kg
    • Typical life expectancy: Up to 15 years
    • Colours: blue and tan, red, grizzle and tan, wheaten

    Wiry and rough-coated Border Terriers got their name from the borders of Scotland, where they were bred to flush out foxes on hunt. Described as ‘hard as nails’ when working, but good-tempered, affectionate and trainable. They have a small ‘otter’ shaped head and long legs. High prey drive.

    14.Border Collie



    Border Collie

    • Reputation: Smart, fast and obedient with a love of work, intelligent, obsessive
    • Original job title: Herder
    • Typical weight: Up to 20kg
    • Typical life expectancy: Up to 17 years and often beyond
    • Colours: black, white, blue, red merle, brindle, lilac, chocolate, liver, blue merle, sable, sable merle, red, gold

    The Border Collie comes from the borders of Scotland where they were bred to work on farms herding animals. They are considered to be one of the most intelligent dogs, athletic, very quick learners and highly energetic. They need to exercise their brain as much as their body.

    15. Shetland Sheepdog



    Two Shetland Sheepdogs, one tricolored, the other Blue Merle

  • Reputation: Hardy, diligent, vocal, excitable, eager to please
  • Original job title: Herder
  • Typical weight: Up to 11kg
  • Typical life expectancy: Up to 18 years and often beyond
  • Colours: sable, mahogany sable, shaded sable, tri-coloured, bi-black, bi-blue, blue merle, bi-blue merle, sable merle, color headed white, double merle, black and tan.
  • The Shetland Sheepdog originated in Shetland and was originally called the Shetland Collie and it often referred to today as a Sheltie. They are about a third the size of a Rough Collie and are said to be deeply trustworthy and emotionally attached to family. Shelties were formally recognized by The Kennel Club in 1909.

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