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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Skye Terrier


Skye Terrier Facts

  • Group
  • Terrier
  • Affiliations
  • Height
  • 9" - 11"
  • Weight
  • 35-45 lbs.
  • Lifespan
  • 14 years | Add yours

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  • Exercise Requirement
  • High - This breed requires vigorous daily activity
  • Training Requirement
  • Average Training Time
  • Grooming Requirement
  • Difficult
  • Colors
    • Black
    • Blue
    • Cream
    • Fawn
    • Silver / Grey
  • Breed Characteristics
    • Adapted to city living
    • Good with children
    • Hunting heritage
    • Should sleep indoors

True Cost Of Ownership

Alternate Names

None known.


The Skye terrier originated in Scotland.

Date Of Origin

This breed developed in the 1600's.


The majority of terriers have attained something of their present-day form within the last century, but the Skye Terrier of nearly four centuries ago was like the specimens of today.

Thus we find the Skye Terrier of today. His flowing coat is the same as the one that proved such a grand protection in the days when his only occupation was to challenge vicious animals that otherwise might have crippled him at a single bite. Perhaps this long coat has been a handicap, for all followers of this game old working terrier have witnessed him surpassed in popularity by one after another of the newer breeds. Still they are reluctant to change him in any manner.

The breed takes its name from the chief of those northwestern islands of Scotland that, as far back as he can be traced, formed his native home, and in which he was found in greatest perfection. He is the only terrier distinctively belonging to the northwestern islands that is not common to the whole of Scotland. Those who have the best practical knowledge of the Skye maintain that he is without rival in his own peculiar domain, and that wherever there are rocks, dens, burrow, cairns, or coverts to explore, or waters to take to, his services should be called.

The Skye was the most widely known of all the terriers down to the end of the 19th century. Queen Victoria's early interest and Sir Edwin Landseer's paintings featuring the breed helped attract attention. He was kept in all the English-speaking countries. Since then he has slipped quietly into the background, yet his admirers in England and Scotland - where he has maintained his greatest foothold - are happy to point to the time when "a duchess would almost be ashamed to be seen in the park unaccompanied by her long-coated Skye."


The Skye terrier is a long, low terrier that is twice as long as it is tall. It is well boned and muscled. It may have either prick ears or drop ears and has brown eyes and a black nose. It is double coated with a soft, woolly undercoat and a profuse outer coat that falls straight to either side of the body. The coat is especially profuse on the head and covers the forehead and eyes. It may be a blend of various shades of black, blue, dark or light gray, silver platinum, fawn, or cream. It may have black points on the ears, muzzle and tip of tail.


The Skye terrier is a serious and dignified terrier. It is calm indoors but active and fearless in the field. It is loyal and sensitive. It is wary of strangers and will react if provoked. It does well with children as long as it is well socialized.


Bred to destroy vermin, their acute sense of smell and strong muscular bodies gave them the ability to locate the fox, badger, and otter preying on a farm?s livestock. Their long double coat and profuse hair over their face protected them from injury and inclement weather. Due to Queen Victoria?s penchant for the Skye Terrier, the breed became popular in the nineteenth century.

Health Concerns

Copper toxicosis, hypothyroidism.

Additional Information

There is a story of loyalty that made this breed a famously loyal companion.

Bobby, a Skye terrier, belonged to John Gray, who worked for the Edinburgh City Police as a night watchman, and the two were inseparable for approximately two years.[1] On 15 February 1858, Gray died of tuberculosis. He was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard, the graveyard surrounding Greyfriars Kirk in the Old Town of Edinburgh. Bobby, who survived Gray by fourteen years, is said to have spent the rest of his life sitting on his master's grave. Another account[citation needed] has it that he spent a great deal of time at Gray's grave, but that he left regularly for meals at a restaurant beside the graveyard, and may have spent colder winters in nearby houses.

In 1867, when it was argued that a dog without an owner should be destroyed, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, Sir William Chambers?who was also a director of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals?paid for a renewal of Bobby's licence, making him the responsibility of the city council.

Bobby died in 1872 and could not be buried within the cemetery itself, since it was regarded as "consecrated" ground. He was buried instead just inside the gate of Greyfriars Kirkyard, not far from John Gray's grave.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Bible

Publisher: BowTie Press, 2005

Website: http://www.bowtiepress.com/bowtie/

Authors: Kristin Meuh-Roe, Jarelle S. Stein

Simon & Schusters Guide to Dogs

Publisher: Simon & Schuster inc, 1980

Website: http://www.simonandschuster.com

Author: Elizabeth Meriwether Schuler

The New Encyclopedia of the Dog

Publisher: Dorling Kindersley Publishing, 2000

Website: http://www.dk.com

Author: Bruce Fogle


Publisher: WikiMedia Foundation, On Going

Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/

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