Skye Terrier

Skye Terrier Dogs

Skye Terriers look cute, but they have a lot going on behind their fluffy ears.

Here we introduce the Skye Terrier – a small but big canine personality from the Scottish Isle of Skye.

Appearance: Large dogs with little legs

The Skye Terrier isn't a small dog, since it is strikingly long. The standard for this dog breed recommends a length of 103 centimetres with a shoulder height of 25 to 26 centimetres. A length specification for dogs is unusual in canine breeding, but the elongated silhouette is typical of the Skye Terrier.

Fur often falls into the eyes of traditionally groomed Skye Terriers. If you aren't on your way to a dog exhibition, you can feel free to tie it up or cut it off. This applies to other sections too, because the long coat reaches the floor and covers the short legs.

Skye Terrier fact sheet

Permitted colours are black, grey, fawn and cream with black markings on the ears and snout. The nose is always black.

Nature: Earthy character

Diverse and with raw charm – the Skye Terrier reflects the landscape of the Isle of Skye, its Scottish home.

Typical terrier

As cute as these dogs may look, they have a lot going on behind their fluffy ears. As original fox hunters, they possess a hunting instinct and plenty of independence. Plenty of courage is required to hunt and slay foxes – especially being short-statured like the Skye Terrier.

These dogs have courage in abundance. However, their great self-confidence can become a challenge in day-to-day life. They are also no fans of unknown dogs in their territory.

Territory is often where the Skye Terrier is walking and standing right there and then. These dogs enjoy guarding their territory but don't tend to yap. They are distanced towards strangers, but do form a close bond with their human family.

Did you know? The legendary Greyfriars Bobby became famous for the loyalty of the breed in the 19th century. He is said to have guarded his owner's grave for 14 years after his death.

Skye Terrier Dog Statue
There is a memorial for Greyfriars Bobby, the most famous Skye Terrier, in Edinburgh.

Training for experienced dog owners

If you choose a dog of this breed, it's best if you have some know-how when it comes to dog training, since training these canine personalities requires consistence and intuition.

Owners should respect and value this breed's individualism. You will be successful with clear leadership and plenty of patience. The Skye Terrier will learn basic commands, but it won't be winning any obedience training championships. Pure obedience for obedience's sake is just not for these independent dogs.

Good socialisation of young dogs with fellow canines is particularly important. This means you prevent your dog from becoming alarmed on walks as soon as a fellow dog turns the corner.

Anti-hunting training is recommended with some dogs due to their passion for hunting. It's best to contact a dog school with experience with terriers.

Care: Extensive grooming

The Skye Terrier isn't for first-time dog owners. But what other requirements along with experience with dogs should future owners have?

The Skye Terrier has a short but thick and wooly undercoat. The top coat above it is long, smooth and harsh. If you have a Skye Terrier, you should dedicate some time to grooming every day, because plenty of dirt gets stuck in the long top coat.

In addition, the fur requires regular brushing, ideally every two days but at least once a week. If you don't just walk your dog on concrete streets – which would be very boring – you won't be able to avoid regularly removing leaves, little twigs or dirt from the long top coat. Dried dirt can be brushed out.

You should only give the Skye Terrier a bath if it's absolutely necessary, using a mild dog shampoo. The breeder or a dog groomer can give you practical day-to-day grooming tips for your dog.

Find out about grooming for dogs.

More ownership tips for Skye Terriers

These dogs are well suited to living in apartments and in cities. They are typical one-man or one-woman dogs, but they prefer to form a close bond to one caregiver. Hence, it should have one fixed caregiver in a family and not have to be alone often.

Small children should never be left unsupervised with a dog. Due to its long coat and cuddly appearance, this breed encourages some children to play with its fur. Here it is particularly important to ensure that children interact cautiously with the dog. Nothing will then stand in the way of a close friendship.

Cats can be kept with the Skye Terrier with no issues if they have got used to each other in their early years. This way, the Skye Terrier accepts that the cat isn't prey but part of the pack.

Occupying Skye Terriers

Going hunting with a Skye Terrier is now almost impossible due to its physique. It isn't a very sporty dog due to its short legs. The fur is close to the ground, which complicates both hikes through thickets in the woods and wanderings through the bushes in parks or gardens.

However, this doesn't stop them from going on extended walks with their owner. These can even be long trips provided that they have received the required training. For instance, a fit Skye Terrier will complete the 95-kilometre West Highland Way in Scotland in a week. Nevertheless, wide forest paths are better than cross-country trails.

Some dogs of this breed enjoy sniffing games or learning little tricks. Having fun should be more important than lofty ambitions, because the Skye has its own rhythm.

How healthy is the Skye Terrier?

Does it quickly develop back pain? Many think of Dachshund paralysis, which results from similar stunted growth of the legs. Although Skye Terriers also suffer from intervertebral disc problems, these are rarer than with Dachshunds.

Nevertheless, around 10% of all dogs from this breed are said to suffer from back problems. Hence, you should give much consideration to the special physiognomy with puppies and young dogs. This means not climbing stairs, only short walks and no jumps. In addition, puppies can tend to suffer from an irregular gait, although they often grow out of this (puppy limp).

These dogs tend to suffer from urinary tract infections in cold, damp weather due to being close to the ground. Some have a genetic disposition towards chronic hepatitis, renal and ocular diseases.

A responsible breeder gives information on the healthcare provision for their charges. In good health, a Skye Terrier can reach an average age of up to 15 years of age.

Skye Terrier Dog Breed
Big ears ahead: A Skye Terrier puppy on a tour of discovery.

Buying a Skye Terrier

Find here some information on breeding Skye Terriers previously and nowadays.

Darling of the nobility

As the name states, the Skye Terrier comes from the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Hebrides, where it was deployed centuries ago as a short-legged hunting dog. In some cases, different types of dog from the island were called Skye Terriers, which complicates the historiography of this dog breed.

What's certain is that the Skye Terrier soon became a favourite of the nobility. Maria Stuart was said to have had a Skye Terrier as a lapdog. It's also certain that the famous Queen Victoria and her daughter-in-law Alexandra, who later became Queen of England, prized these individualist, attractive canines.

The Skye Terrier was a fashion dog up to the 19th century, but its popularity decreased rapidly afterwards. Nowadays there are mainly breeders in Britain.

Tips on purchasing a Skye Terrier

You should buy puppies from an official breeder if you want a healthy, true-to-type companion. The Skye Terrier Club from Britain or Skye Terrier International Association from Switzerland are suitable places to search. Both organisations have the objective of uniting fans of this breed from all around the world.

Similar breeds

Headstrong and longer than it is tall – the Dachshund immediately springs to mind. The Dachshund does show some parallels, but is still deployed for hunting to this day.

A terrier with special charm and a similar physique is the Dandie Dinmont Terrier – a direct descendant of the Skye Terrier. A famous four-legged Scottish eye-catcher is the Scottish Terrier, which is more gentle in nature.

If you aren't set on a certain breed and are open to adult dogs, you can take a look at terriers in need in animal welfare organisations or animal homes. There are some hybrids with the charm of a genuine Skye Terrier.

Eye-catcher for experts

The Skye Terrier not being a dog for everyone doesn't make it any less appealing. Once again, dog lovers cannot conclude that the cuddly appearance is matched by a similar character. These dogs are earthy nature lovers that know their own mind. If they become a friend of yours, you can be happy to have a loyal companion at your side.

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