Skye Terriers are medium sized dogs with short legs and straight coats that come in many colors, including cream, gray, fawn, blue, black, and silver. Their double coat consists of a soft, short, and woolly undercoat and a hard, flat, and straight outer coat. The breed's puppy coat may differ in color from the adult coat. These dogs have dark, medium-sized eyes, dark noses, and strong muzzles. Their ears are prick or pendant and their tails are long and feathered. Skye Terriers measure 9 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh 35 to 45 pounds.
They are devoted to their human family members and love to explore, run, and dig when not snuggling on the couch.
Elegant, loyal, and adorable, Skye Terriers make excellent pets for active families. They are devoted to their human family members and love to explore, run, and dig when not snuggling on the couch. These dogs also do well in dog sports. The breed is not a good choice for very busy families or those with an aversion to the outdoors or to grooming.
One famous and beloved Skye Terrier was Greyfriars Bobby. This dog watched over his owner's grave for 14 years following the man's death. There's a highly visited statue of the dog, created to honor the Skye Terrier's loyalty, in Edinburgh.
Entertaining and lively, Skye Terriers get along well with other dogs and older children. These dogs bond deeply with their human family members, but they are generally standoffish with unfamiliar people. This, when combined with their relentless barking and strong sense of smell, makes Skye Terriers excellent watchdogs.
They are content to live in city apartments, but their need for exercise means daily walks and playtime outdoors; these dogs will not be happy if their only activity comes in the form of indoor games. Too little exercise and companionship will cause Skye Terriers to become moody and depressed. They also tend to act out when lonely, bored, or neglected.
Although these little dogs are mild-mannered and gentle house pets, they are also fearless rodent hunters. They should not be left unsupervised with small animals or allowed to roam free of a leash; these dogs pose a risk to neighborhood cats, rabbits, and squirrels. When not on a leash, they should be kept in a securely fenced yard.
Skye Terriers are generally healthy dogs and are not known to suffer from a large number of serious health problems or genetic diseases. Because this is not a guarantee that any individual dog will be free of illness, it's important to acquire Skye Terrier puppies only from reputable sources that provide medical documentation and family history.
Hypothyroidism, allergies, von Willebrand's disease, ulcerative colitis, and some genetic forms of kidney and liver disease are all seen in this breed. Skye Terriers are also at increased risk for premature closure of the distal radius, and they are prone to developing certain eye conditions, including lens luxation and glaucoma. Additionally, these dogs may develop "Skye limp," which typically develops between 3 and 10 months of age.
With daily exercise, a healthy diet, routine veterinary care, and canine vaccinations, Skye Terriers typically live 12 to 14 years.
Intelligent and sensitive, Skye Terriers learn quickly and are a trainable breed. However, like other terriers, these dogs have a mind of their own and a tendency to be stubborn. They should be trained with a firm but loving hand in order to ensure confidence and success. Harsh criticism is not an effective training tool when dealing with Skyes.
Dogs that are not socialized early in life are generally less tolerant of other animals, strangers, and children. Puppy kindergarten, trips to the dog park, and exposure to a variety of sights, sounds, smells, and people all help ensure Skye Terriers grow into easy-going, confident, and secure adult dogs. Provided they receive adequate training and socialization, this breed should not become overly suspicious, fearful, or aggressive.
Most negative behaviors in this breed are a result of neglect or poor care. If behavioral problems occur, an increase in attention and physical activity and improved training methods will typically correct the problems in a short time.
The Skye Terrier's coat needs brushing every couple of days to prevent and remove uncomfortable mats and tangles. A pin brush or long-toothed comb will reach all the way through the coat to the skin to remove even close mats. Regular brushing will also help reduce shedding. Brushing frequency may need to increase during shedding seasons.
How often this breed needs bathing depends on how dirty individual dogs become. Dogs that spend most of their time indoors and are brushed regularly will rarely need bathing, while dogs that hunt and dig may need more frequent baths. Fortunately, occasional bathing won't soften the Skye's coat as it does with some other terrier breeds. To avoid breaking individual hairs on the coat, shampoo should be pulled through the coat gently and then rinsed thoroughly before conditioner is applied.
The nails need trimming every couple of weeks to avoid painful snags and breaks, and the ears should be checked weekly for signs of infection and ear wax accumulation. It is important to brush the Skye Terrier's teeth every day to keep bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease at bay.
Skye Terriers originated on Scotland's Isle of Skye and are one of the oldest terrier breeds. They were bred to locate and destroy badgers, otters, foxes, and other vermin preying on livestock. The dogs' facial hair and long coat worked to protect them from injury and extreme weather.
The breed became popular in the mid-1800s after Queen Victoria showed a penchant for the dogs. They not only became more popular in high society, but demand for the little dogs increased among commoners, as well. Soon thereafter, Skye Terriers made their way to the United States, quickly rising to the top of America's show scene.
Despite the breed's strong start in the United States, its popularity has waned over the last hundred years. While beloved for their unusual appearance and lively personalities, these dogs are some of the least known of the terriers.
The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Skye Terrier breed in 1887.