In 1962, Skye Terrier aficionado Dr. E. S. Montgomery famously wrote, “The true value of the Skye Terrier is evinced by the tenacious grasp which he has on the affections of all those who have ever owned, bred or exhibited him.” Thus, if you could own a dog that was highly intelligent, immensely loyal and devoted, a real charmer with a unique appearance among the terrier breeds, and generally free of many of the congenital problems that impact other breeds, then why not?
Historically, Skyes were recognizable as such as far back as the 16th century, though they were considerably smaller than today’s dogs. Named for his native home, the Isle of Skye off the northwest coast of Scotland, Skyes were typically owned by Scottish lairds and were working dogs kept to go after prey such as badgers, otters, and foxes. They were also closely related at that time to the other early Highland breeds; the Cairn, Scottish, and West Highland White Terriers. Prized for their loyalty, courage, and tenacity, as the story goes, Mary Queen of Scots was accompanied to her execution by her wee Skye Terrier who reputedly would not leave her, hiding under her skirts.
The Skye Terrier breed, which includes both a prick and drop ear variety, became extremely popular during the 19th century, with Queen Victory herself owning many Skye and the famed artist, Sir Edwin Landseer, including some of her dogs in family portraits. Perhaps the most famous Skye of all is Greyfriar’s Bobby, immortalized in a 1959 Disney film. When “Bobby’s” master died and was buried in Edinburg in Greyfriar’s Churchyard, Bobby refused to leave him and, as the story goes, spent the rest of his life each night on his master’s grave. A statue of Bobby now sits today in front of the inn (now called Bobby’s Bar) where Bobby was fed. While the breed is now small in number, most major US dog shows today will have its entry of Skyes, and there is also a core of dedicated breeders working hard to see that the breed survives.
So why not a Skye? I have been captivated and smitten with this wonderful and unique breed for more than 35 years and truly believe a Skye can be a “right fit” for many families. Neither too large nor too small, the Skye is a true dwarf breed, that is to say, a big dog on short legs. Males typically weigh between 35 and 40 pounds at maturity, and girls are typically in the 27- to 34-pound range.
Good temperaments are critical, as the typical Skye nature is to be reserved, quite laid back, and cautious with those they don’t know. At the same time, they are very smart, sensitive, and easy to live with. Ongoing socialization is an absolute must toward maintaining good temperaments, with the reward being an incredibly loyal and loving family member. A number of today’s Skyes do wonderful work as Therapy Dogs, attesting to their adaptability. Many also hold Obedience, Agility and even
Given the mature Skye’s long, flowing coat, upkeep is also an oft-expressed concern of potential owners. Essentially, I have found the Skye to be a “wash and wear” breed, requiring much less work than the typical short-coated terrier. The number one requirement is that a Skye be kept clean and its feet trimmed. While any mats found need to be removed promptly, daily brushing and grooming is not a must. A third question that generally comes up is whether or not Skyes have back problems. Unlike other dwarf breeds such as Dachshunds, back issues appear to be a rarity.
If, having read this brief article, you are now convinced to take a look at the possibility of acquiring a Skye, I highly recommend that you go to the Skye Terrier Club of America (STCA) website and contact us to help you find a responsible breeder. Check out our Code of Ethics which all members must sign and adhere to. Should you ultimately purchase a Skye, I know you will wonder how you ever managed to do without!
Skye Terrier Dog Breed Magazine
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Read and learn more about the courageous Skye Terrier dog breed with articles and information in our Skye Terrier Dog Breed Magazine.
Skye Terrier Breed Magazine - Showsight