AKC Dog Breeds: Skye Terrier

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Terrier Group
Height:8-10 inches   Weight: 20-25 pounds  
blue, black, gray, fawn, silver, or cream with black muzzle, ears, and tail tip

The Skye Terrier is unique and distinctive among the Terrier breeds. They originated during the 16th century in Scotland on the Isle of Skye. There are two varieties of the Skye Terrier, the drop eared and prick eared. The drop eared were favored for working on the farm, while the prick eared were favored for companion or show. They are a long, low and level breed. The Skye Terrier's history is one that is widely disputed. Some believe that the Skye Terrier came from the story of a shipwreck. It is thought that in the 1600s, a ship from Spain crashed against the rocks of the island of Skye. When this happened, the survivors included Maltese dogs that then interbred with the local terriers. This new breed even became popular with Queen Victoria in the 1800s. Others seem to believe that the Skye Terrier is actually a cross between the Celtic terriers and the Swedish Vallhund of the Viking invaders, or perhaps these breeds then mated with the Maltese. One of the oldest terrier breeds, the Skye Terrier was bred to hunt vermin, but later became a favorite pet of the rich and the royal. The breed was registered with the AKC in 1887.

General Appearance
The Skye Terrier is an elegant, long and low terrier. Its length should be twice its height at the withers. It has a powerful muzzle, a black nose, dark brown eyes, and either upright or falling-down ears (although, falling-down ears are rare). Its tail is pendent and never curled. Its undercoat is soft but its 6 inch outer coat is long, hard, straight, free of any rippling and parts down the middle of the back. The colors of its coat are either gray-blue, dove or cream, always with black ears. A small amount of white is permitted on the chest. The hair also shields and protects the eyes and forehead. The teeth should form a scissors bite. The hare-like feet are long and large, pointing straight forward.

Lively yet laid back, the Skye Terrier is a courageous dog with fierce loyalty and devotion when it comes to his family. The Skye Terrier often forms a particularly close with one person, and is very in tune with the emotions of his owner. These dogs thrive on the attention and love of their owners, and need plenty of attention and devotion - this is not the right choice for those with little time to devote to a pet. Early socialization is recommended with this breed, as some can grow to be suspicious. Many can also be stubborn and bossy, and need an owner with confidence and assertiveness making them best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership. A fairly small dog with plenty of character, the Skye Terrier is adaptable and independent. The Skye Terrier is not an overly active dog, but will enjoy regular walks and interactive play. He does tend to chase other animals, and is fast and agile, so you should ensure that he has a safe and secure area in which to exercise when not on leash. The Skye Terrier does not like to be handled roughly, and is therefore best suited around children that are gentle and older. He is naturally suspicious around strangers, and although his suspicious attitude needs to be watched it can also make him an effective watchdog. Early socialization is also required around other animals, as the Skye Terrier can be bossy around other dogs and will chase smaller animals including cats.


The Skye Terrier requires frequent brushing with a pin brush or metal comb to prevent matting. You may want to get the coat trimmed to keep it a little shorter. The Skye Terrier is a medium shedder, and may therefore be unsuitable for those with allergies. Bathing should only be done when necessary. It is important to keep the ears cleaned as well as the hair around the mouth and eyes.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy
The Skye Terrier has a life expectancy of around 12-14 years, and there are a number of health problems to look out for with this breed. This includes thyroid problems, HD, allergies, cancer, autoimmune problems, and spinal issues. Premature closure of growth plate can also result from puppies jumping around too much, and this can lead to arthritis later in life

Activity Level

The Skye Terrier does not require a high level or amount of exercise. They are an ideal breed for city living, apartments, and condominiums, but are equally at home in a country setting. The Skye enjoys a daily walk or short play session. Many of their exercise needs can be met indoors.


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