The heavenly breed with the heart of a lion,’ the long, low, and level Skye Terrier is among the AKC’s most distinctive-looking breeds. This elegant but sturdy aristocrat was bred as an exterminator on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. Long, low, and level, this unique earthdog is among the AKC’s most distinctive-looking breeds. Skyes stand 9 or 10 inches high and feature a long, flat-lying coat and peekaboo hairdo. They’re known for big, feathery ears that stand up like bat wings, but Skyes can also have ‘drop ears,’ which lie flat against the large, long head. Beneath the profuse coat are short, muscular legs and a deep chest. When seen in profile, these elegant but substantial terriers are twice as long as they are high.
Skye is the largest, most northerly of Scotland’s Inner Hebrides islands. In the 1600s the rugged, hard-coated terrier bred by the island’s farmers to control the fox and badger population became a favorite of British nobles, an unusual development for a working farm dog. The peak of Skye popularity came in the late 19th century, when Queen Victoria championed the breed. These were the days, a historian wrote, when “a duchess would almost be ashamed to be seen in the park unaccompanied by her long-coated Skye.”
Temperament: Courageous / Good-Tempered / Canny
Height: 9.5 to 10 inches
Weight: 35-45 pounds
Life Expectancy: 12-14 years
Because of their long and low structure, Skye Terriers can experience disk injuries, and Skye puppies should never be allowed to go up and down stairs excessively or jump onto hard surfaces from any height. Owners should closely monitor their Skyes for any potential signs of cancer, such as mammary cancer and hemangiosarcoma. Other conditions that responsible breeders screen for include autoimmune disease, skin allergies, hip dysplasia, and luxating patellas.
Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
- No recommended health tests
The Skye’s long, luxurious double coat appears more challenging to maintain than it actually is. It does require weekly brushing and combing with a soft or pin brush and a long-toothed comb to keep it free of tangles, but the breed requires no trimming in the form of clippering or scissoring, and the coat should be kept in a natural condition. Nails should be kept trimmed short; usually a trim every couple of weeks to a month is sufficient. Ears should be checked at least weekly and cleaned of any excess wax or debris to avoid ear infections. Baths can be given as needed’ usually once a month will be enough. Do not scrub the coat during shampooing, as that can cause it to mat.
The Skye Terrier has minimal exercise needs and will usually be content with whatever level of activity is comfortable for his owner. Even a short daily outing will benefit him both physically and mentally. Skyes enjoy play sessions and participating in canine sports with their people, and the breed can be found competing in dog shows and agility, obedience, and earthdog events.
The Skye is a very intelligent but strong-willed breed, calmer than many of the terrier breeds. They are amenable to training, provided it is consistent and done in a positive manner. They are sensitive to correction and will withdraw from harsh or negative training methods. Like all terriers, they can be stubborn, but they enjoy interaction with their humans and are eager to please. The Skye is reserved by nature and should be well socialized from a very young age to ensure a happy and outgoing personality. For those who understand the breed’s temperament and raise the dog with love and proper training and socialization, there is no more delightful companion.
The Skye Terrier should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.