Skye Terriers

 History of the Skye Terrier

The Skye Terrier is a dog of style and elegance, sophisticated and glamorous.  Popularised in the 19th century by Queen Victoria, the breed experienced a decline through the 1900’s and war-torn Europe, only surviving extinction due to the passion and breeding work such as that of Olga Smid of Olivia Skyes and a handful of others.  Although a rare breed and considered one of the vulnerable breeds still at risk for extinction, it is experiencing a revival in European show rings and appeals to those who are not afraid to stand out of the crowd and would like a dog very different from the rest. As a result of its limited popularity and exclusivity, the breed has survived to this day with little change in its appearance over hundreds of years and to this day retains the classical elegance of days gone by.

This terrier comes from the Isle of Skye off the west coast of northern Scotland. He was bred to hunt vermin in burrows and water courses in the rugged and often harsh climate and terrain of the highlands, being hardy and physically well suited to the task.  As a result, the Skye Terrier is very agile and strong, with sturdy bone and hard muscles.  Long, low and level, he is twice as long as he is high.  The coat is profuse and falls straight down either side to the ground and he stands with his distinctively large head held high and proud.  He moves with a seemingly effortless and fluid gait which contributes to his stamina in covering terrain.  The tail is long and hanging often blending into the feathering and will only be carried high if he becomes highly excited.

Less than 300 Skye Terriers are born worldwide each year, so the exclusive few who have the opportunity to share a home with a Skye are truly fortunate, as he is an elegant dog and fiercely loyal and protective of those he knows and loves.

 Is the Skye Terrier the right dog for you?

Despite being low in height, the Skye is actually a medium-sized dog and more substantial than your average lap-dog.  Since they do shed an average amount, they should be combed monthly to control this.   Skye’s are not clipped and any trimming is usually limited to the neatening up the feet. Professional grooming is not required.

The Skye Terrier is a sweet breed — a perky, and yet sometimes serious little dog. They like to get lots of attention from their family.  They do like to play and are very affectionate, yet they can be over protective of their owners. He is fearless, very good tempered, loyal and canny. Often referred to as the big-little terrier breed, Skye terriers make excellent watchdogs.  Because their hunting instinct is to chase, Skye Terriers are not good with small animals. Like most terriers, they can be very independent, and as a result can be happy in a one-dog family.

Like most terriers, Skye Terriers can be stubborn with a mind of its own, and consequently requires an owner with the time and discipline to offer firm training and clear rules. They benefit from positive reinforcement and obedience training, but will not  respond to harsh or physical punishment. They need extensive socialization when young, or they will be very wary with strangers. Dogs who are not socialised, will be aloof, taking their time to get to know someone before being approachable.

As they require little exercise, they make good companions for older people or homes with small yards.  They can even live in an apartment as they tend to be quite active in the house. However, being a working terrier, a Skye will benefit from the mental and physical stimulation of a good walk or two a day, particularly if confined to an apartment or small yard for most of the day.


The Skye Terrier does not belong to the popular breeds in any part of the world. Therefore the overall breed population is quite limited and the same ancestors near and far are common in pedigrees in Central Europe, Scandinavia, Great Britain, Australia and the United States of America.

Twice during the last century (1900-1999), a representative of this breed has won the Terrier Group at Crufts, the main championship show of The Kennel Club. The latest occasion was in 1992.

A Skye Terrier was chosen Best in Show at the Westminster Kennel Club Show in the USA, in 1969.

The main event for the FCI countries, the World Show, has seen during the 1990s three different Skye Terriers winning the Terrier Group, and one of these winners was bred in Finland (Finnsky Oliver). 

Mrs Hugh Ripley
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