Scottish Terriers are alert, intelligent, and independent. They are known for their hunting ability, especially their keen sense of smell which comes in handy at earthdog trials. Other hunting-related behaviors include barking and scratching at the ground or digging, although the Scottish Terrier can be diverted to digging in a more acceptable location such as a sandbox or mulch bed. Scottish Terriers may also chase wildlife or be difficult to disengage from an activity or behavior. The Scottish Terrier's small size may also lead it to be easily intimidated by other dogs so it barks to defend itself, trying to appear fearless despite actually being afraid. This barking could result in confrontations with other dogs, leading to injury. Scottish Terriers are also described as having a reserved nature with strangers that implies they have some degree of low level fear or concern about them, but socialization can minimize the development of fear-based defensive aggression.
Scottish Terriers are likely to have existed since the 1500's in the Blackmount region of Perthshire and from Rannoch in Scotland, though their exact history is somewhat unclear. The breed was developed to hunt badgers in the Scottish Highlands, and was bred with strong tails so their owners could pull them out of the holes they had dug. In fact, the name Terrier is derived from the French word "terre" or earth, implying the breed's prowess at digging. The modern breed was developed during the 1700's and was first officially recognized in 1859 when it was presented in Birmingham, England. It reached its modern standard by 1879. John Naylor brought the Scottish Terrier to the United States in 1883 and the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885. Scottish Terriers are affectionately known as "Scotties" and they were nicknamed the "little diehard" breed by James Francis Edward Stuart, a descendant of Scottish royalty. Scottish Terriers have been a favorite among society's elite and Presidents Franklin Roosevelt and George W. Bush have owned them.