Skye Terrier

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black, dark or light grey, fawn, cream, all with black points
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Pros Cons
  • forms really strong bonds with its master
  • great hunter
  • wonderful companion
  • good watchdog
  • a one-person dog
  • doesn't like strange people
  • noisy
  • stubborn
  • not for a family with small children

The Skye Terrier is a boisterous and hardy dog, which was created on the Isle of Skye in Scotland to hunt and kill badger, otter and fox. It’s praised for its extreme devotion and close attachment to its master so it will make a fabulous companion dog. This breed possesses a long silky coat, which requires special attendance.

The Sky Terrier is an ancient Terrier breed that has already existed for over 400 years ago. The truth about its origin remains a mystery and all theories represent pure speculations. The earliest forefathers of the breed were imported to the Hebrides Islands by Celts. For some time it developed in isolation and acquired such unique features as incredible tenacity and hardiness. During the Dark Ages the islands were raided by the Vikings, which established their settlements there. They usually took some of their dogs with them and one of which was the Swedish Vallhund. It was interbred with indigenous British dogs and gradually evolved into a short-legged and long bodied dog, which closely resembles modern-day Sky Terrier in this respect.

Other theory states that the breed descended from small Maltese dogs. According to the story a ship from the Spanish Armada wrecked off of the island of Skye in 1588. Several small Maltese dogs were saved from drowning and were adopted by some islanders. By and by these specimens were mixed with the local canine population including terrier-type of dogs. It’s believed that the Sky Terrier owes its gorgeous coat exactly to the Maltese dog. Nonetheless this theory has one major flaw. The first references of the breed appeared much earlier than above-mentioned date.

Initially the Skye Terrier was bred solely for hunting purposes. The list if its common quarry includes foxes, badgers, rabbits and other small species of animals. The dog was supposed to pursuit them down in their burrows and drove them out or finished them off down there. With the lapse of time the Skye Terrier won the favour of the Scottish upper class and became a highly treasured family dog. The popularity of the breed skyrocketed in the XIX century when it eventually spread all over the world. The Sky Terrier attained a world-wide fame of being intensely loyal thanks to the specimen called Greyfriar’s Bobby. It spent 14 years guarding the grave of its master, police constable John Gray.

The beginning of the XX century was marked with gradual decline of the popularity of the Skye Terrier, which was replaced by some more fashionable breeds for example the Yorkshire Terrier. At the same time the breed was no longer used in its primarily role as a hunter but it became a constant participant of a conformation show as well as a pleasant and biddable family dog. However today the Skye Terrier is a rare breed and it was actually threatened by the complete extinction. Luckily to the breed, it gained many devotees both in the United Kingdom and the United States who are determined to ensure its long-term longevity.

The Skye Terrier was recognised by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1887. Because of its rarity the United Kennel Club (UKC) granted its full approval to the breed only in 1993.


The Skye Terrier is characterised by irreconcilable persistence and impressive vigour, which are fairly common in the terrier-type dogs. It is regarded as one of the most loyal breeds and usually picks only one person as a master. It’s virtually impossible to re-home this dog and there were cases when with the death of the master the dog followed shortly afterwards. It gets along with children provided it has been introduced to their presence since puppyhood. The Sky Terrier is known for its snappiness and quick temper so it’s not recommended for families with toddlers.

The breed displays distrust and aloofness towards unknown people and it’s prone to be somewhat human-aggressive at times. The Skye Terrier definitely requires timely socialisation to avert communicative issues from development. This faithful and attentive dog will make a highly responsible watchdog, which will unfailingly announce the approach of an unfamiliar person to your door. In fact it has potential of becoming a rather reasonable guard dog because of its powerful protective instinct.

The Skye Terrier has fairly quarrelsome disposition as far as it concerns other dogs. It does much better as a single dog and two Skye Terriers of the same sex will most likely never be able to co-exist peacefully. This recklessly brave dog will never back down from confrontation with other canines so it’s essential to walk it leashed at all times. It retains much of its prey drive intact so it will chase and kill everything that even slightly resembles a prey. This dog will accept a home cat as a part of the family only if they have been brought up together.

Health Problems
The most common problems for the breed include:

• mammary cancer;
• degenerative disc disease;
• puppy limp or skye limp;
• hypothyroidism;
• hemangiosarcomas;
• autoimmune disease.


The maintenance of the Skye Terrier will demand average efforts from its owner. Its long magnificent hair should be brushed daily and carefully as it is prone to matting and tangling. Majority of its owners prefers to have their dogs professionally groomed so it will substantially cut down the amount of time spent on its brushing. The Skye Terrier is considered to be a moderate shedder but its long hair will be quite noticeable on your clothing and furniture. It is also ill-suited for allergy sufferers, which should look for another breed.

The Sky Terrier is an average learner with a keen intellect but obstinate inclinations. The dog is usually willing to pleasure its master and performs with excellent results in obedience and agility contests. It’s crucial to apply to its training only stern approach, which means that the handler should treat it firm but somewhat gentle.
The Sky Terrier responds better to food incentives than praise and doesn’t respond at all to forceful methods of training. Actually this dog is rather quick to take offence and tends to hold grudge for a long time. Furthermore it can even show open aggression if handled harshly and unjustly.

The Sky Terrier is a fairly vigorous dog for its size and therefore it certainly requires long walk each and every day. This frisky dog also should receive plenty of chances to burn its energy in playing and running in a safely fenced area. Remember that an under-exercised specimen is apt to develop major behavioural deviations including over excitability, destructiveness, nervousness and even aggressiveness. The Sky Terrier is the dog with bright and inquisitive mind, which also needs regular stimulation so make sure the dog is offered both physical and mental exercise.