- When you look at a Skye, you see a dog longer than he is tall, with brown eyes and elegantly feathered ears that can be carried up or down, cloaked in long hair that hangs straight down each side, parting in the middle from head to feathered tail. The hair on the head falls over the forehead and eyes like a veil and goes on to form a beard and apron.
- The Skye’s coat can be varying shades of a single color, which can be black, blue, dark, or light gray, silver platinum, fawn or cream. The points of the ears, muzzle and tail tip should be black.
AKC group: Terrier Group
UKC group: Terrier
Average lifespan: 12-14 years
Average size: 35 to 45 pounds
Coat appearance: short, soft, and woolly, covered with an outer coat of straight hair with a hard texture
Coloration: black, blue, dark or light gray, silver platinum, fawn, or cream
Best Suited For: Families with older children, singles and seniors, apartments, houses with/without yards
Temperament: Courageous, stubborn, tough, affectionate
Scotland has long been a stronghold of small plucky terriers, and the Skye Terrier is among the oldest of them. They developed along the west coastal area, where they hunted fox and otter.
The purest of these dogs were found on the Isle of Skye, and the dogs were then named Skye Terriers. Skye Terriers were first described in the sixteenth century, when it was already noteworthy for its long coat. Some confusion exists in tracing its history because, for a certain time, several different breeds had the same name “Skye Terrier“. The loyal dog, present under the petticoat of Mary, Queen of Scots at her execution, has been ascribed as a Skye Terrier. In 1840, Queen Victoria made the breed fancy, keeping both drop and prick eared dogs.
This greatly increased its popularity and the Skye Terrier came to America due to this. The AKC recognized the breed in 1887, and it quickly appeared on the show scene. Its popularity has significantly dropped and now it is one of the least known terriers. There is little awareness of its former popularity.
Skye Terriers demand to be the center of attention at all times and will do whatever it requires to maintain that attention, including make mischief around the house. Skyes are laid back when indoors, happy to curl up on the first available lap for an afternoon of rest and relaxation, but they do enjoy getting out and moving several times a day.
They are avid chasers and will bolt after anything that moves – no matter how big or how small – as these little dogs are fearless in the face of danger. They have minds of their own and don’t like to be told what to do, but are affectionate and loyal dogs who adore their immediate family and make good companion animals.
The Skye Terrier is a very healthy breed. The only issue that’s a potential concern is orthopedic problems that could occur during growth. The Skye is achondroplastic, meaning that he has a large body on small legs. If he’s allowed to jump or climb excessively during puppyhood, before the growth plates in his legs have closed, he may limp or develop a condition called premature closure, which occurs when the growth plates don’t close properly. Wait until he’s 18 to 24 months old before taking him on long walks or letting him do any jumping or stair climbing.
The Skye Terrier is most comfortable living indoors as a house dog. However, it should be allowed outside to play daily. Also, to maintain its peak physical form, a daily short or moderate walk is required. Coat care involves regular combing, and unlike other terriers, a regular bath is necessary and won’t soften the coat much.
The Skye Terrier is good for apartment life. It is relatively active indoors and will do okay without a yard.
Although a rather bright dog, the Skye Terrier is not the easiest dog in the world to train. All training sessions must be made into fun events. Excited praise and special delicacies should be used consistently during the sessions. Never try to manually place the Skye into the correct position, such as sit or down. This type of method will cause the dog to growl or snap. Gently coaxing is the only training method that works for this breed.
The Skye Terrier needs a daily walk. Play will take care of a lot of its exercise needs, however, as with all breeds, play will not fulfill its primal instinct to walk. Dogs that do not get to go on daily walks are more likely to display behavior problems. These dogs will also enjoy a good romp in a safe, open area off lead, such as a large, fenced-in yard.
The Skye Terrier coat should be brushed at least once per week with a pin brush. The coat should be misted with water before brushing so that the hair does not break. Baths are required every two to three weeks, depending on the dog’s activity level.
Check the ears on a weekly basis for signs of infection, irritation, or wax build up. Cleanse regularly with a veterinarian-approved cleanser and cotton ball. Brush the teeth at least once per week to prevent tartar buildup and fight gum disease. Additionally, nails should be trimmed once per month if the dog does not wear the toenails down naturally.
Children And Other Pets
A Skye Terrier can make an excellent companion for older children if he’s properly socialized. His terrier temperament may make him too feisty to be a playmate for children younger than six years old, however.
Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s sleeping or eating or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog, no matter how good-natured, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
The Skye Terrier can be aggressive toward dogs he doesn’t know, but he should get along well with dogs and cats he’s raised with. He’s not recommended for homes with smaller pets since he may view them as a tasty snack.
Did You Know?
One of the best known and best loved Skye Terriers was Greyfriars Bobby, who faithfully watched over the grave of his owner, John Grey, for 14 years after the man’s death. A statue honoring the dog’s loyalty is visited in Edinburgh by dog lovers from around the world.