History & Overview
The Skye Terrier originated in the 16th century in Scotland and was bred to do a job. His assignment was to rid the island farms from destructive vermin such as mice, foxes, otters, badgers. To win a battle to the death, the dog needed to be a fearless fighter with a large jaw, big teeth and a muscular body. It took almost 400 years to perfect such a dog.
But in the end, the Skye Terrier evolved to be just the right thing, a big dog on short legs. Such a dog needed a quick wit, a keen nose, and good eyesight to follow his prey to its hiding place. He also needed short, strong legs with large feet and tough nails to dig down into the den. In show dogs, the ears may be erect or drooped, but the famous prick ears are generally more favored.
The Skye is obedient, loyal, a one-man dog, reserved with strangers and somewhat standoffish. In his terrain, among the rocks, burrows, and treacherous waters, the Skye has no equal. He has a good nose, especially for badgers, and he can follow a scent two hours old. He has unsurpassed sight and hearing and is fierce in battle, yielding to no animal. The Skye Terrier is very sensitive to people, especially his owner, and he always wonders if he is liked. Some Skyes become neurotic if they are not sure of their owner’s love.
At A Glance
Country of Origin:
FCI Classification: Group 3 – Terriers; Small sized terriers (without working trial)
AKC Classification: Terrier Group
Small (9.5 to 10 inches at the shoulder. A slightly higher or lower dog of either sex is acceptable)
Coat Type and Colors:
The outer coat is firm and straight, the udercoat is short, soft and woolly. The colors are black, dark or light blue, gray, fawn, or cream.
10 – 12 years
The coat is double. The undercoat is short, close, soft, and woolly. The outer coat is hard and straight, 5.5 inches long. The body coat hangs straight down each side, parting from head to tail. It is so long and thick that it falls to the ground and covers him completely, like a cloak. High. The Skye has a very demanding coat. His profuse, hard coat is groomed, almost like Lhasa Apso’s.
It can become easily matted if not brushed regularly, so it should be kept up on a regular basis. Brushing two or three times a week with a natural bristle brush or a pin brush, making sure to brush down to the skin will keep a Skye Terrier’s coat in good shape. Finish off with a wide-tooth comb. Keeping a dog in good coat also means a bath at least once a month. Part with a comb from head to toe when the dog is totally dry.
Intelligent, energetic, alert, reserved with strangers and formidably loyal. He is often described as a one-man dog.
Will chase cats and other small animals.
Suitability for Children:
The Skye Terrier will tolerate children if raised with them. But in general, he is not the best friend of children.
The Skye is a great indoor dog, but he enjoys moderate exercise.
The Skye Terrier is intelligent but can be stubborn and dominant. He is usually not recommended for a person who has never owned a dog. He needs firmness and consistency in training. He will quickly learn to disregard inconsistent and inexplicit commands and the person who issues them. This is a “thinking” breed with its own opinion about how things should be done. The trick to train a Skye is to convince him that he wants to do something, not you. Skye terriers perform well as tracking, obedience and agility dogs.
Health & Behavioral Issues:
The following problems exist in the breed, and a puppy buyer should be aware of them. A reputable breeder will be doing his utmost to keep these genetic diseases out of his line.
- Breast cancer is the primary problem in the breed. Watch for abnormal swelling around the breasts and lymph nodes, loss of appetite and body weight.
- Hemangiosarcoma is the second most common cause of death in the Skye. This is a tumor of the spleen, an immunologic filter of the blood.
- Premature closure of the distal radius is a condition in which one of the growth plates in the front leg(s)closes before the other one. This causes an abnormal elbow joint, limping as a puppy, and early arthritic changes as an adult. The cause of the problem is genetic and traumatic.
- Skye hepatitis is a rare condition in young dogs between 2 to 5 years of age and is fatal. This genetic disease results in liver failure and has no effective treatment. Symptoms include abdominal swelling, nausea, jaundice and weight loss.
- Hypothyroidism manifests as a dry coat and skin allergies. Diagnosis through a blood test is easy, and treatment with thyroid supplements is very effective.
- Due to the breed’s long back, the Skye is predisposed to vertebral disk disease. Owners should limit the amount of step climbing. It’s better to avoid steps entirely, but carpeting on steps makes them more manageable.