Skye Terrier

The Skye Terrier ‘Isle of Skye Terrier’ is one of the UK’s most endangered native breeds. Learn about their personality traits, health issues, exercise requirements, and more in our guide!

Black Skye Terrier on a green grass lawn

Height: 9-10 inches
Weight: 16-20 kilos, female 11-14 kilos
Lifespan: 12-14 years
Pedigree (recognized by the Kennel Club?): Yes, this breed is KC registered.

Positives and Negatives

Below are the pros and cons commonly seen amongst the Skye Terrier:

Pros

  • Great choice for a first time owner
  • Can be kept in small apartments
  • Makes an excellent watchdog
  • Extremely loyal to their owner

Cons

  • Can be aggressive to other dogs and smaller animals they haven’t been raised with
  • Not great with younger children
  • Has high grooming needs
  • Dominant, they will run rings around an owner that doesn’t establish clear leadership

Overview

The Skye Terrier is listed by the Kennel Club as one of the UKs most endangered native breeds.

If numbers don’t increase they may become extinct. Although they are more laid back than other Terriers, they are still strong-willed and independent. They have been described by some as having the heart of a lion.

Skye Terrier black walking in a Sunny clearing in the woods

This dog may seem small and cute but they are still quite heavy and can reach up to 20 kilos. They have long fur and pointy or prick ears that provide them with a distinct look.

A Skye Terrier is twice as long in length compared to its height. Their coat comes in black, fawn and grey which can sometimes hide their short sturdy legs.

Some describe this pooch as a ‘small big dog’. Their size means nothing when it comes to their feisty and fearless personality! Yet still, their features do show off an elegant side that was even loved by Royalty!

Socialization is the most important part of this breed’s training. It can have a huge impact on how they behave around strangers and other dogs. Males can be particularly dominant, so you must establish clear leadership.

If the correct training has been given, you will have a well mannered, independent dog that won’t boss you around. This dog becomes deeply attached to its owner and doesn’t cope well being left consistently on its own.

They also don’t like being left in the garden, they are very much an indoor dog.

Up next: Did you know that the Italian Spinone is one of the oldest breeds of hunting dogs still alive today?

History

Skye Terriers originated from the Isle of Skye in the Scottish Hebrides. They are thought to have first been spotted as far back as the 14th century.

It is believed Mary Queen of Scots had a Skye Terrier. He stayed with her until the very end, hiding under her petticoat whilst she was executed, proving this breeds undeniable loyalty.

Some believe the Skye Terrier originated from a Spanish Armada ship crash. Dog survivors are thought to have bred with other native dogs to the United Kingdom.

Others however believe the Vikings are a much better explanation as to how this dog originated. Especially since this dog is thought to date back even further than the Spanish Armada.

Many believe the Swedish Vallhund brought by the Vikings could of participated in the development of the Skye Terrier. Cairn Terriers another one of the UK’s oldest native breeds is also thought to of played a role in its creation.

Queen Victoria took interest in the Skye Terrier and began to breed them herself. This made the dog one of the most popular breeds of the 19th century. She owned both pointy and prick eared dogs.

Originally the Skye Terrier was a working dog used to hunt vermin, badgers, otters and foxes. They would chase and run into the dens of their prey, fighting to the death. One of the main reasons this pooch has such a fearless personality.

Personality

Skye Terrier Temperament

Skye Terriers are extremely loyal to their owner. If raised within a family they will often become closer with one specific person. You can be certain this affectionate and loving dog will always be close to your side.

Skye Terrier dog sitting on a lawn

A strong, fearless and independent character are the best words to describe a Skye Terrier. They also make fantastic watchdogs, alerting you to anything out of the ordinary.

Submission and shyness are both traits you probably won’t see in this pooch. They are protective and will stand up to anything they deem necessary.

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Are Skye Terriers Good With Strangers?

This breed isn’t the best around strangers. They are very suspicious of people they don’t know, which is why socializing this breed with newcomers and different places is so important.

They can become aggressive which could also lead to biting if they haven’t received the right training. The Skye Terrier puppy stage is vital for ensuring you end up with a well mannered dog.

Are Skye Terriers Good With Children?

Skye Terriers can be good if raised as a puppy around children. They do better with older children as opposed to younger ones. They don’t like being poked, prodded or pestered and will be too fiesty for a young child.

Although they can live in a family environment, they become deeply attached to one person in the household. The breed is suited better when the attention is solely on them.

Are Skye Terriers Ok With Other Dogs?

No, Skye Terriers are suspicious and wary of other dogs they haven’t grown up with. They can also be dominant or even aggressive towards other dogs which could result in a fight.

Their chase and kill past is an instinct they still have, so it is best to keep them away from smaller dogs and animals. Cats, rabbits and other small household pets should not be in the same home with this breed unless raised together.

Exercise

A Skye Terrier will require moderate exercise, at least 30 minutes each day once they reach adulthood. Puppies should go out for around 45-60 minutes a day.

This breed doesn’t have the stamina to act as a jogging partner and can’t keep up with long rungs.

Skye Terriers love digging and exploring new spaces and should only be unleashed in an enclosed space. It is recommended you have a small garden, yet this breed can also live happily in a small apartment.

Skye Terrier pup playing with shoe

Up next: Gentle and good-natured, the Borzoi can be a perfect companion for you! Here’s a guide on this breed.

Health

Understanding any breed-related health conditions is important before rehoming or purchasing any breed. Skye Terriers have been linked to the following issues:

  • Hypothyroidism- The thyroid glands aren’t producing enough hormones leading to fatigue, weight gain and a slower heart rate. It is easily treatable by using Thyroid hormone supplements from your local vets.
  • Glaucoma- Affects the eyes, 40% of dogs suffering with this disease will eventually become blind.
  • Lens Luxation- The lens dislocates from its normal position. Mainly seen in dogs aged 4-9 years of age,
  • Von Willebrand Disease- This is a hereditary condition where the platelets lack in function, causing excessive bleeding.
  • Ulcerative Colitis Inflammation of the large intestine with ulcers along the colon. Will cause stomach pain, cramps and diarrhea.

Intelligence & Training

An intelligent dog with a determined nature, the Skye Terrier is definitely a one of a kind. This breed can be stubborn but they are also fiercely loyal making them moderately easy to train. They are known to be one of the calmer breeds within the Terrier types.

You should be aware this dog is highly sensitive so harsh training techniques will lead them to defiance. They love to be praised so give rewards of affection as opposed to food. You may benefit from a professional trainer for support.

Socialization is key for a Skye Terrier, it can have a huge impact on preventing aggression and biting. This pooch is suspicious of strangers and dominant with other dogs. Sky Terrier puppies must be introduced to new people, scenarios and animals as frequently as possible.

Up next: Here’s our guide on the small but mighty Biewer Terriers!

Grooming

The Skye Terrier will occasionally shed fur around your home, so they wouldn’t be a great choice if you suffer from allergies. They have a short, soft undercoat followed by an overcoat of straight long fur with a firmer texture.

Three Sky Terrier dogs standing next to each other

Skye Terriers have a noticeable fringe of longer hair hanging in front of their eyes. This can be trimmed to your liking so long as your dog is still able to see! They will need brushing weekly or possibly daily depending on your dog’s lifestyle.

A long-toothed comb and pin brush is recommended for this type of fur. You should look to bathe your dog every 2-3 weeks. No matter the breed, you should always remove tangles from a dogs fur before getting it wet. This can create deeper mats that may become painful to remove.

Nails should be trimmed once every 6-8 weeks. You should be brushing your dog’s teeth at least 3-5 times a week but daily is recommended.

You should introduce your dog to a regular grooming routine. Teeth brushing, nail clipping and blow drying are things that your pooch may not take to.

So treat them nicely, distract them with food treats and make sure they stay calm. You don’t want them to become stressed and resenting grooming time.

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