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Scottish Terrier

This brave and jaunty little aristocrat is loved, respected, and adored for all his idiosyncrasies.

Scottish Terrier Breed Photo

Vital Stats

Dog Breed Group
Terriers
Height
Weight
Life Span
11 to 13 years

Breed Characteristics

  • Details

    Adaptability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Trainability

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    Health & Grooming

    based on 6 ratings
  • Details

    All-around friendliness

    based on 4 ratings
  • Details

    Exercise needs

    based on 4 ratings
  • See All Characteristic Ratings


Summary

An independent and stubborn character, the Scottish Terrier dog breed is also quite sensitive to praise and blame. Independent, intelligent, and hilarious in his dignified seriousness, he's a true terrier, which makes him an excellent watchdog. Thanks to those incredibly short legs, he's not going to train for a marathon with you — heck, he won't even go jogging with you — but he is a perfect walking companion, especially if you appreciate his vocal approach to bicycles and squirrels. Despite his size, he doesn't yap: he has a powerful bark that can scare the wits out of the unsuspecting burglar or delivery person. He totally rocks at agility and earthdog trials (those vermin have got to go). You'll enjoy a rodent-free yard with him around, but watch out for the holes he's dug.

Additional articles you will be interested in:

Adoption
Scottish Dog Names
More Dog Names
Bringing Home Your Dog
Help with Training Puppies
Housetraining Puppies
Feeding a Puppy
Dog games for diggers
Teaching your dog tricks
How to take pictures of your dog

  • Overview

    As the gruff friend of an animated cocker spaniel, who portrayed loyalty and protectiveness when he told an equally animated Tramp to take a walk without the Lady, the Scottish Terrier Jock evoked an image that generations of children have enjoyed. Disney's Lady and the Tramp is a time-cherished animated movie that caused many people to fall in love with the Scottie. Stoic and aristocratic, he is easily recognized and is plastered on everything that can be decorated, including clothing, photographs, pictures, cards, and ornaments.

    This short-legged wonder was originally bred to hunt prey such as badgers and foxes, and he has therefore developed into a self-directed and opinionated companion. His independence and intelligence have drawn many dog lovers to the breed, but others find the Scottie's aloofness less than endearing. He doesn't naturally trust strangers (so he needs proper socialization as a puppy), and he'll take his own sweet time figuring out a situation or person. But if he decides to befriend you, it will be for life. Too smart to forget anything, the Scottie is also brave and loyal.

    He likes all living arrangements but needs a short daily walk if you're in an apartment. He loves family companionship and is gentle and playful with children, and he's considerate of the elderly. Although he loves youngsters, he's not suited for homes with babies and toddlers, because it's the Scottie's nature to stand up for himself when prodded and pulled. That can translate into a bite.

    A Scottie enjoys digging holes throughout your backyard, and he doesn't grasp that you might not like it. He will chase "prey" out of yards right into traffic, so a fence is a necessity (those electronic ones won't cut it; he'll just charge right through them). He'll rid your yard of any squirrels or other vermin.

    Although many terriers are known as yappy, the Scottish Terrier is not. His style is a loud alert bark. Some Scotties know the difference between steps made by a friend or steps made by a stranger, only giving the alert if it's the latter.

    Scottish Terriers can be difficult to train because they were bred to work apart from their owner, without needing direction. A Scottie won't stop and ask you what to do next but will do it on his own. That's why Scotties generally don't score high in obedience rallies (they're better suited to agility), although there are exceptions. This isn't to say that he's untrainable, but rather that his temperament is suited to working separately from his owners, as he often sets his own course. He doesn't do well with aggressive training, as he has a kind heart that can be broken easily if he perceives mistreatment. He thrives on positive reinforcement.

    Today the Scottish Terrier enjoys the title of family dog, but he is in essence a working dog and is much happier with a job to do, even if it's just simple tricks. Historically, the Scottie was bred by farmers to help them manage vermin problems. He would follow prey, such as badgers, foxes, and other vermin, right into their burrows and then try to dig them out. Such breeds of dogs are known as Earth dogs. Scottish Terriers do well in earthdog trials, which are a simulated hunt.

    The breed's stubbornness often translates into bravery. In the nineteenth century a military man, George the fourth Earl of Dumbarton, had a famous pack of Scotties. These dogs were so brave in battle that they were nicknamed "diehards." George's regiment, the Royal Scots, were called "Dumbarton's Diehards" after the dogs. Today that bravery has a different application in home protection, but the nature of it hasn't changed.

    There are Scottish Terriers that can be hardheaded, serious, energetic, and introverted — and some that can be sweet, playful, placid, and tolerant of everyone. They have been loved by many, including Shirley Temple, Franklin Roosevelt, and George W. Bush; even Hitler got two Scottish Terriers for his fiancé, Eva Braun.

    There is no denying that this brave and jaunty little aristocrat of the dog world is loved, respected, and adored for all his idiosyncrasies. Having a dog that is more partner than servant can be a wonderful experience — but it's not for everyone. If you prefer a dog that is eager to please, think twice about living with a Scottish Terrier.

  • Highlights

    • Originally bred for hunting and following prey to ground, the Scottish Terrier is designed to dig, and he still has that drive today. It's better to find a designated digging area in your backyard then fight an active and natural instinct.
    • Scottish Terriers tend to be aloof with strangers and can be aggressive to other dogs if they are not properly socialized when young.
    • Scotties are not low-energy small dogs. They were bred as working dogs and have lots of drive and intelligence that needs to be channelled. They need daily moderate exercise and stimulation. If you're looking for a dog that's happier sitting at your side then digging holes in your backyard, a Scottie might not be for you.
    • Although Scottish Terriers enjoy exercise, they are not recommended as jogging companions. With his short legs, a short walk around your block can feel like a long-distance marathon to the Scottish Terrier.
    • Behind German Shepherds and Rottweilers, Scotties have been ranked third in alarm barking. They will bark at strangers and are not the ideal pet in a dwelling or area that has noise rules.
    • A Scottie should have a physical fence around his yard, not an electronic one. It keeps him from chasing cats, squirrels, bikes, and other moving objects out onto the street. He should be leashed on walks, because with his chase instinct, he's likely to run off after an animal or smell.
    • The Scottie isn't suited for homes with young infants and toddlers. He's been known to defend himself against unwanted pulling and prodding.
    • He sheds only lightly but requires significant grooming. The coat takes time to maintain, with grooming weekly or daily in the case of show dogs. It should be clipped several times a year.
    • In terms of his size and exercise needs, the Scottie is adaptable to various types of dwellings, including apartments.
    • To get a healthy pet, never buy a puppy from a backyard breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Find a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs for genetic health conditions and good temperaments.
  • History

    Despite being an old breed, the Scottish Terrier's history is somewhat obscure and undocumented. The Scottie's origin is believed to date back to a dog that was described by Pliny the Elder in 55 B.C. When the Romans invaded Britain, he wrote, "They found, much to their surprise, small dogs that would follow their quarry to the ground." The Romans called the dogs terrarii, which means "workers of the earth" and is derived from terra, the Latin word for earth. The Scottish Terrier was a hunter and still hunts by instinct today.

    The Old Scotch Terrier is believed to be one of the oldest breeds in Scotland and the foundation dog for all of today's terrier breeds. The breed is extinct today but was described as a stable worker with strength, courage, and stamina, who could breach his quarry's rocky dens. The breed was a black or sandy-colored dog that was low in stature, strong, with long hair and small, half-prick ears.

    If we fast-forward from the first few centuries to 1436, we find a description, in Don Leslie's book A History of Scotland, of a small dog similar in form to the Scottish Terrier. By the early 1800s, many writers wrote of two separate terrier breeds in Britain, the Scottish Terrier (distinguished by its rough hair) and the English Terrier (identified by its smooth hair).

    Somewhat earlier, in the seventeenth century, James I of England sent several dogs to France as a present to the French monarch. Those dogs are believed to have been foundation dogs for the modern Scottish Terrier. The king's love of the breed helped to increase its popularity, which rose over the next three centuries.

    During the 1800s, Scotland had many terriers. By the end of the century, the dogs had been separated into two different groups, the Dandie Dinmont Terriers and the Skye Terriers (although the latter was a fairly generic name given to all terriers that came from the Isle of Skye). The Scottish Terrier was grouped under the Skye Terriers and shown under that class in the show ring until the 1870s. At that time, the standard for the Scottish Terrier was written and, by the end of the nineteenth century, the Skye Terriers had been divided into the four different breeds we know today: the Scottish Terrier, Skye Terrier, West Highland White Terrier, and the Cairn Terrier.

  • Size

    The Scottish Terrier is a small, short-legged dog with a compact and sturdy build. The average height is 10 inches. The weight ranges from 19 to 22 pounds for a male and 18 to 21 pounds for a female.
  • Personality

    The Scottish Terrier's character and personality are a bit like the lonely moors of his homeland. He's a serious guy, not particularly jolly, and he approves of dignity and reserve. He's opinionated, as well as independent and smart as a whip. He tends to be aloof (but not toward his family). A Scottie doesn't respond much to people who oooh and ahh over him while he's out and about. He's slow to accept anyone outside the family, but his devotion to his own people is legendary. He needs to live inside the house, because companionship is his mainstay. Sensitive to praise and anger, he's good at adapting to the changing moods of a household. When you're quiet, he'll be quiet (unless he sees a squirrel); when you're ready for a walk, he'll bound outdoors with you.

    Remember his background: he's a true terrier. If another dog provokes him, he'll fight to the end. If other dogs leave him alone, he leaves them alone.

    It's important, actually critical, to take your Scottie to socialization classes starting when he's a puppy. Inviting friends and family over or going to busy places with him while he's young will tamp down his general distrust of strangers. Left unchecked, that can translate into aggression when the dog is an adult — so start training your Scottie puppy from the moment you bring him home.

  • Health

    Scottish Terriers are generally healthy, but like all breeds of dogs, they're prone to certain conditions and diseases.

    • Scottie cramp is a common disorder in Scottish Terriers and is considered harmless to the breed. The symptoms of Scottie cramp occur only when the dog is stressed or overstimulated, such as during exercise, mating, or fights. The dog will appear normal at rest but will exhibit an arching of the spine, overflexing of the rear legs, the front legs may move outward from side to side, and the dog may show a goose-stepping gait. Some dogs may temporarily loose their ability to walk or run, and those who are severely affected may have trouble walking or running when stressed. This is not a progressive disease, and Scottish Terriers live long and healthy lives with this disorder. Treatment is not necessary, but in some severe cases it has been treated with vitamin E, diazepam, or Prozac.
    • Von Willebrand's disease is an inherited blood disorder that interferes with the blood's ability to clot. The main symptom is excessive bleeding after an injury or surgery. Other symptoms include nosebleeds, bleeding gums, or bleeding in the stomach or intestines. There is no cure, and a blood transfusion from the blood of normal dogs is currently the only treatment. Research is underway for new treatments, including medication. Most dogs with von Willebrand's disease can lead normal lives. A vet can test your dog for the condition when he's a puppy. Dogs with this condition should not be bred.
    • Craniomandibular osteopathy affects several skull bones. While a puppy is growing, the skull bones become irregularly enlarged. The symptoms usually appear between four and eight months of age. Often the puppy's jaw and glands will become swollen, and he won't be able to open his mouth. He'll drool, have a fluctuating fever every couple of weeks, and in some cases the chewing muscles may atrophy. The cause is unknown but believed to be hereditary. There is no treatment, but anti-inflammatories and pain relievers ease the discomfort. Proper nutrition is necessary, and in severe cases a feeding tube may be needed. The irregular bone growth slows and typically stops by the time the puppy becomes a year old. The lesions can regress, but a few dogs have permanent problems with using the jaw and eating. In some cases, there can be a permanent inability to move the jaw; surgery can partially correct that.
    • Patellar luxation is a common problem in small dogs, including Scotties. The patella is the kneecap. Luxation refers to dislocation of an anatomical part (as a bone at a joint). In patellar luxation, the knee joint (often of a hind leg) slides in and out of place, causing pain. This can be crippling. The treatment is surgery.
  • Care

    The Scottie is active and can become destructive when bored and underexercised. He loves to go for walks, but running is not part of his plan for the day. He has to be leashed for walks because he is a hunter, after all, and he will see the squirrel but not the car.

    He likes water but can't swim, and that's a bad conflict. He'll sink like a stone because of his short legs and heavy body. Scotties and uncovered swimming pools are a disaster waiting to happen, which is why Scottie Rescue groups prefer not to place them in homes with pools.

    Crate training benefits every dog and is a kind way to ensure that your Scottie doesn't have accidents in the house or get into things he shouldn't. A crate is also a place where he can retreat for a nap. Crate training at a young age will help your Scottie accept confinement if he ever needs to be boarded or hospitalized. Never stick your Scottie in a crate all day long, however. Scotties are people dogs, and they aren't meant to spend their lives locked up in a crate or kennel.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 1 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dry food a day.

    Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference--the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.

    For more on feeding your Scottish, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

  • Coat, Color and Grooming

    While many people think of them as black, Scottish Terriers can also be grey or steel, brindle, or wheaten. The wheaten ones look a bit like West Highland White Terriers, which isn't surprising given their intertwined history.

    The Scottish Terrier has two coats. The topcoat, or overcoat, should be hard and wiry; the bottom coat, or undercoat, should be soft and dense. Because his hair just keeps growing, he doesn't shed as much as short-coated breeds. Scotty skin dries out quickly, so don't bathe until necessary.

    Many believe that the Scottish Terrier is easy to maintain, but in reality the breed needs a great deal of grooming. Set up a grooming table to bring the dog up to your level if that makes it easier for you. The coat needs to be groomed weekly for a pet and daily for a show dog.

    A variety of tools are used for brushing a Scottish Terrier: a stiff brush, a hound glove, a wide-toothed comb for the beard, and scissors for trimming. Show dogs are groomed with a technique called stripping, in which loose hairs are pulled out. It can be done with stripping knives or by hand, and the hair should always be stripped with the lay of the hair.

    Your Scottish Terrier should be clipped every two months if your aim is to keep his hair short; you can do it yourself or go to a groomer. If you are keeping the hair long, trim several times a year. A Scottish Terrier whose coat gets clipped regularly has softer hair (not preferred in the breed standard) and a duller coat color. If you plan to show your Scottie in conformation, avoid clipping as it is difficult to get the hair back into the proper standard condition.

    Scotties have bad reactions to fleas and have been known to chew themselves bald. Brushing regularly and using a flea comb are good ideas, combined with today's preventives. Begin accustoming your Scottie to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth and ears. Trim nails regularly if he doesn't wear them down naturally. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long.

    Brush your Scottie's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath. Scottish Terriers have large teeth that are close together, which is why his teeth should be cleaned frequently. If the teeth aren't cleaned, the dog can suffer from tooth decay and gum disease.

    Start grooming when your dog is young, and make it a positive experience filled with praise and rewards to lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult. As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the ears, nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Ears should smell good, without too much wax or gunk inside, and eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

  • Children and other pets

    He's so good with children that he's been called a nanny — but, like any terrier, the Scottie will react poorly to his tail or hair being pulled, and he's not well suited to the noise and movements of toddlers and very young children. But with well-behaved children, he's a champion and he will appoint himself their guardian.

    A true terrier, he can be aggressive with other dogs, particularly those of the same sex. Although he's not a sparring dog, if he wants to start a fight or responds to another dog's challenge, it can be a real problem. He's fine with those dogs he's been raised with.

    Because he's a hunter, he is not well suited to smaller pets. He may or may not tolerate a cat, but he's definitely bad news around small mammals such as hamsters or rats. To him, they're fast-food snacks. It's hardwired in the Scottie to go after vermin — it's not a choice. Set him up for success by not putting him in a situation where he has to fight his own nature, because he won't.

  • Rescue Groups

    Scottish Terriers are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Scottish Terriers in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward a Scottish Terrier rescue organization.

  • All Breed Characteristics

  • Adaptability

    Measures how well this breed potentially adapts to different environments

  • Trainability

    Measures the amount and difficulty of training potentially required for this breed

  • Health & Grooming

    Measures how much effort this breed potentially needs to keep a tidy hound and home

  • All-around friendliness

    Measures this breed's potential to get along with other dogs and humans

  • Exercise needs

    Measures this breed's potential to require lots of physical activity

  • Usually

    Adapt well to apartment living

    Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make -- plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.

  • Very

    Affectionate with family

    Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.

  • Moderate

    Amount of shedding

    If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.

  • Sometimes

    Dog friendly

    Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

  • Moderate

    Drooling potential

    Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog that rates low in the drool department.

  • Not particularly

    Easy to groom

    Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.

  • Somewhat

    Easy to train

    Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.

  • High

    Energy level

    High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

  • High

    Exercise needs

    Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

  • Sometimes

    Friendly toward strangers

    Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.

  • Very good

    General health

    Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.

  • Sometimes

    Good for novice owners

    Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.

  • High

    Intelligence

    Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

  • High

    Intensity

    A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

  • Very

    Kid friendly

    Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.

    **All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

  • High

    Potential for mouthiness

    Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

  • High

    Potential for playfulness

    Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

  • Moderate

    Potential for weight gain

    Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.

  • Low

    Prey drive

    Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by -- cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars -- can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.

  • Moderate

    Sensitivity level

    Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

  • Small

    Size

    Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space.

  • High

    Tendency to bark or howl

    Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?

  • Not particularly well

    Tolerates being alone

    Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

  • Quite well

    Tolerates cold weather

    Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.

  • Quite well

    Tolerates hot weather

    Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.

  • Very high

    Wanderlust potential

    Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.

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