The Skye Terrier is a bold, lively, intelligent and stylish (just look at that coat!) Scottish breed of dog. This fancy little canine was bred to hunt vermin and, therefore, still holds a significant prey drive to this day, which can be problematic. While this fearless breed can certainly make for a loyal and affectionate companion once trained, it’s best matched with a confident owner who knows how to work with an independent Terrier breed.
Key facts about the Skye Terrier
Origins and history
The Skye Terrier originates from the Isle of Skye in Scotland, and is now one of the rarest breeds of Terrier in the world. The breed is believed to date back to the 16th century, when it was loved by royals, including Queen Victoria, for its lavish, luxurious coat and ability to catch vermin. Sadly, it’s widely believed that the Skye Terrier will face extinction in the next few decades, unless a renowned effort is made to revive the breed.
FCI breed nomenclature
Group 3 - Terriers
Section 2 : Small sized Terriers
Physical characteristics of the Skye Terrier
Female : Between 10 and 10 in
Male : Between 10 and 10 in
Female : Between 22 and 26 lb
Male : Between 22 and 26 lb
Black, blue, gray, silver, fawn or cream - often multiple shades of the same colour.
Type of coat
Long, double, with a hard overcoat and soft, silky undercoat.
Light or dark brown.
The Skye Terrier is a small dog with short legs, whose body length is roughly double its height. Despite being a small dog, it’s well-built and sturdy. The tail is long and beautifully feathered. The head is long with a tapered muzzle and a subtle stop. The eyes are small and dark, the ears are pointy, feathered and erect, while the nose is black. The beautiful, long, silky coat is this breed’s defining future.
Good to know
There was once a Skye Terrier called Greyfriars Bobby, who is famous for his incredible loyalty. After his owner died, he guarded the grave day-in-day-out for 14 long years, until he also grew old and died. Now, they’re peacefully buried next to each other - adorable!
Around other dogs and strangers, the Skye Terrier is suspicious, alert and sometimes scrappy. Yet with a respected owner, it’s completely different - loyal, loving, affectionate and good-natured.
Loves to play with its owners, but may be too strong-willed and dominant to play with children.
This breed is one of the calmest of the Terrier group, known as being introspective and often serious.
A smart breed with a particularly impressive memory.
The Skye was bred to hunt vermin and holds some serious prey-drive. While solid training and a strong recall can help, this breed will always be a hunter at heart.
Fearful / wary of strangers
The Skye can be extremely wary of strangers. It’s vital to socialize this breed from a young age to avoid extreme shyness and suspicion of new people - in fact, unsocialized Skye Terriers may even bite strangers!
Although firmly attached to its master, the Skye Terrier has a definite independent and strong-minded aspect to its personality and will challenge its owner and other family members. A confident, experienced and respectfully firm owner, as well as lots of obedience training, is essential.
Behaviour of the Skye Terrier
As with all breeds, the Skye Terrier must be used to being alone from a young age to tolerate solitude with patience.
Easy to train / obedience
The Skye Terrier is capable of becoming an obedient, well-behaved dog - though it will take lots of consistency and patience! This breed will try to test its owners and needs to be trained with confidence from the get-go. Aim for fun, short training sessions with plenty of food rewards and positive reinforcement. While it’s important to be firm with the Skye, always remain fair and never scold.
The Skye can be a little bit of a nuisance barker. It’s essential to train this breed to be quiet on demand, though it may take some serious patience!