This study aimed to determine the prevalence and assemblages of Giardia duodenalis present in Scottish beef and dairy cattle at different ages, to try to ascertain if cattle could play a role in the spread of zoonotic assemblages of Giardia. A total of 388 fecal samples (128 beef and 253 dairy, seven of unknown breed) were collected from 19 farms in Scotland. Samples were sub-divided by host age, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, 7–24 and ⩾25 weeks. DNA was extracted and tested by PCR to detect G. duodenalis DNA. Of the 388 samples, 126 tested positive, giving an overall prevalence of 32.5%, with positive samples being observed in all age groups tested. The prevalence in dairy cattle was 44.7% (113/235), which was significantly higher (P < 0.001) than the prevalence in beef cattle 10.1% (13/128). Sequence analysis demonstrated the presence of assemblage E (77.2%, sequence types E-S1–E-S5), assemblage B (18.2%) and assemblage A (sub-assemblages AI-AII) (4.6%). These data demonstrate that G. duodenalis is found routinely in both dairy and beef cattle throughout Scotland; the presence of assemblages A and B also indicates that cattle may play a role in the spread of potentially zoonotic assemblages of Giardia.