Skye Terrier

Skye Terrier picture

Breed Description


Skyes are one of the oldest of the native terrier breeds and one of the hardiest. A glamorous looking dog which belies his original purpose, that of going to ground against Otter and Badger.

They are extremely faithful and loyal with very long memories. The temperament is generally good but they can be headstrong at times. Someone once accurately described the Skye as a big dog on short legs.

The breed standard states that the dog should be 10 inches at the shoulder, most being shown in the ring today wIll be nearer 11 inches. They should be twice as long as they are high. The height taken at the withers.

There are 2 different ear sets with Skye Terriers. The most common is prick eared, however occasionally a drop eared will be born. They are not as common as the pricked ear and are difficult to breed for.

Coat & Colours

Skyes have a long double coat that is parted down the middle of the back and, when in full show trim, will reach the floor. The top coat consists of quite harsh hair and underneath is a softer short undercoat.

Grooming is necessary once a week although, whilst they shed their puppy coat, grooming will need to be more frequent. Because the outer coat is quite harsh, if mud gets stuck to his furnishings just wait until it dries and it can be quickly brushed out.

Skyes come in several colours and shades of colours - Black, dark grey, light grey & cream with black points. In the standard it also allows for a fawn colour. Although this colour looks very attractive, quite often it is accompanied by lack of pigmentation which detracts from the overall appearance for the show ring.

The cream with black points should be a dog with a cream head and body with black hair on the muzzle & ears. Some will have a black point to their tail, although most lose this after puppyhood. Light and dark greys will also usually have black points.

Living with a Skye Terrier

Skyes can be active dogs or couch potatoes. They will take all the exercise as you can give them or they are just as happy curled up on your lap. They are loyal companions and generally make good family pets.

Owners should always remember that they are a terrier, and that should not be forgotten when putting them in various situations. They can be quite head strong but can be trained, given persistence by the owner.

As a puppy early socialisation is strongly recommended. Frequent handling by strangers and mixing with other dogs is to be encouraged. Play both with humans and other dogs is an important part of a well adjusted Skye Terrier development

They can be stand-offish, as they do have quite a high opinion of themselves and their owners. They are a devoted and loyal friend.

Health Issues

Skye Terriers are a robust breed who generally suffer from few health problems, provided they are kept well exercised, fit and fed on a healthy, balanced diet. To quote our vet, "if all my patients were like this breed I'd be out of business".

Although the Skye is long and low there is not a slipped disk problem greater than with a "normal" shaped dog. This comes about from the breed having a long ribcage which helps to support the spine.

Obviously if the dog is not fit and is allowed to become overwieght, then the chances of this type of problem increase.

As a puppy do not give excessive exercise as this can be counter productive. Play and sleep should be the order of the day.

Always consult a Vet or the Breed Club secretary if you have any concerns about a puppy you intend to purchase. For health problems with an older dog contact with both the vet & the breeder can be beneficial.

The Breed Club Secretary will also be able to provide up-to-date advice on any current or emerging health concerns in the breed.

Skye Terriers Frequently Asked Questions

What are they like to live with?

All Skyes are great characters, butsome can be especially extrovert and can be great fools. They do have very strong characters and need to know who the boss is, otherwise they can definitely rule the house. You will achieve more through tone of voice than by smacking.

Do they have good temperaments?

In general, yes, however they do need the early socialisation otherwise there can be a shyness there. They can become very devoted to one person in the family - they will cjoose and it is not necessarily the person they spend the most time with.

They can be fun-loving dogs who want to be involved in everything their owners do. Some strains are sharper than others. Be guided by the temperaments of the parents of any puppies you look at with a view to purchasing.

Are children good with them?

Yes, if they are brought up with them from puppyhood. As with all breeds of dog, and especially a terrier, you should never leave one alone with any child. Children should be supervised with the puppy, if introduced correctly, your Skye will become a great friend and companion to your children and will enjoy joining in all their games.

Like all breeds with the correct upbringing they make excellent family dogs, being sturdy and robust in stature.

Should I get a dog or a bitch?

The difference in size is not that noticeable and the temperament between dogs and bitches is reasonably comparible. Dogs can be more territorial than bitches. Dogs tend to be more extrovert and want to play games and join in, whereas bitches can prefer a quieter life, although there a always the exception to the rule

Bitches have the disadvantage of coming in season twice yearly. Of course, having your bitch spayed will put an end to this, but spayed bitches can become fat and lethargic, and spaying changes the coat texture, making the coat much more "woolly" and softer.

In my opinion unless you particularly want to breed puppies, a dog makes a better companion than a bitch.

Are they easy to house-train?

We always advocate using a crate as a training aid and also as their 'den'. Dogs like somewhere of their own to go to and a crate provides a secure environment for them. Like most breeds if you put the time in when the puppy is very young, then yes. You must be prepared to keep letting your new puppy out to relieve himself every 30 minutes or so, while he is awake and playing. If he has had drink or food put him outside, as the change of temperature is normally enough to affect their bladder and a little exercise will normally be enough for any use of the bowel.

Try not to let the puppy mess in the house so that he learns the right habits and does not make mistakes. Sometimes they can muddle up house with garden relieving themselves indoors. Your consistency of purpose and by reward for good behaviour your new pup soon be on the way to being clean in the house by about 4 months of age. Even adults need to relieve themselves at regular intervals, to avoid any chance of making mistakes. Be careful when visiting friends houses, as sometimes the dogs will want to 'mark' their new tewrritory - this more often applies to dogs but bitches can join in the act as well!!

Are they destructive?

Yes, if they are bored and fed up because they have been left for a long period. They are more likely to chew when teething as their adult teeth are quite large. If you are going out for a couple of hours it may be better to put your Skye in a dog-crate. He should be exercised before you shut him away and give him a cosy blanket to lie on and some interesting toys to play with.

Skye Terriers are not suitable pets for people who are out at work for long hours, although they can cope with part-time hours.

How much exercise do they need?

All dogs should be regularly exercised otherwise they can become bored, noisy and destructive in the house. Try not to simply to turn the dog out in the garden, they benefit from proper exercise on and off the lead. Teach your new puppy to walk sensibly on the lead and get him used to traffic. Teach him to come back off the lead while he is still small. Dr, don't over exercise young Skyes. 10-15 minutes a day is plenty for a pup of 4 - 6 months old. By the time they reach maturity at about 1 year old increase the time spent walking to about an hour each day.

Do they come back, if let off the lead?

Normally yes, provided you have let them off the lead when they are young puppies (after they have completed their injections) and spent time showing them what you want.

Is it safe to let him off the lead when we are out for road walks?


Does my garden need to be "dog-proof"?

Yes. Your garden needs to be completely dog-proof, with a good fence all round. Make sure any gates are clearly marked so that visitors shut them properly..

Do they bark much?

In general, they only bark at something not like hounds that can just bark for the sake of it.

Do they moult?

Yes - but the coat rarely sheds and with the long hairs it is easier to pick up!!

How much grooming do they need ?

Grooming should be about once a week. When they are shedding their puppy coat they can get knots, so it is important to groom them 3 or 4 times a week during this period. The Skye should be bathed as and when required, no one likes to live with a smelly dog.

Start the bathing routine from about 4 months of age and this also is recommended when grooming. Try to stick to a set pattern so that the dog becomes used to and is comfortable with you handling him and combing/brushing him.

This is also provides a good chance to check all round health. Make sure his ears are clean,sometimes grass seeds can get in the ears of the prick eared. Check that eyes are free from discharges and feet free of mud-balls between the pads. Regular grooming and general handling will make your Skye easy to cope with if he has to visit the vet for any reason. Make it part of the puppy's socialisation training.

What if I want to breed from my bitch?

Skyes are a specialist breed and can be difficult to sell if you don't have "contacts" in the breed. Only 100 Skyes on average are registered with the Kennel Club each year. Eenquiries for new homes tend to be from people who have already had one of the breed and are looking for a replacement for an old dog who has died. They can have quite large litters of 6 - 8 puppies. Remember if new owners are not forthcoming you could be faced with keeping this number of extremely active (and hungry) pups beyond the age of 8 weeks until suitable homes become available. Have you the time and the space for such a commitment?

Perhaps it would be better to get another puppy from a specialist breeder if you want a companion for your pet.

Are they healthy as a breed?

Generally, Skyes are very healthy dogs and given a good, balanced diet, plenty of exercise and mental stimulation, should be no more prone to ill-health than any other dog.

Are there any particular health problems to look out for?

Skyes are a robust breed that is relatively 'problem' free.

Always seek the advice of your vet or the breeder if you are worried.

There are no particular inherited diseases that are currently causing concern in the Breed.

PLEASE NOTE: Always consult your Vet for the latest advice on potential health problems in the Breed, prior to buying a puppy (or older dog).

Should I have two?

Think long and hard about getting two...

Two dog puppies, growing up together, will almost certainly fight when they are older in order to decide who will be top dog. You may need to get one, or both, neutered to help avoid this. Generally, we don't recommend people should have two dog puppies.

Two bitch puppies probably won't fight and are likely to grow up well together.

Be careful when introducing a new puppy into an older Skye Terrier's territory. Both older dogs and bitches can be a bit snappy at first, but should learn to get on well enough. With a dog puppy this can lead to fights later, as he seeks to establish his dominance. Care needs to be exercised . Introducing a puppy of either sex to an existing bitch is less likely to lead to dominance fights. The guide is... be careful and ensure they are well supervised while they get to know each other.

Don't forget... two dogs = twice everything, noise, wet paws, wet noses and baths.

Skye Terrier breed guide written by : Lynne Richardson - Talyot Skye Terriers