Skye Terrier

Skye Terrier
John Walton
Written by John Walton

The Skye Terrier is a dog of medium size that originated in Scotland. His original role was to hunt small prey such as badgers, foxes and otters; however, today he is an affectionate companion dog that is recognizable for his unique physical appearance.

What makes the Skye Terrier special too is the fact that he is one of the most endangered native dog breeds in the United Kingdom. Having in mind that only 30 Skye Terriers were reported in 2005, it is believed that this amazing breed will completely disappear in the next 40 years. In this article, we are going to cover the most important and known information about this dog breed.

Breed Characteristics

Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessHigh
Exercise NeedsHigh

Dog Breed Group:Terrier Dogs
Height:9 inches to 10 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight:Generally 25 to 40 pounds
Life Span:12 to 14 years

When it comes to adaptability, the Skye Terrier is a dog breed that is easily adaptable to most conditions. Since he is of medium size, he does not mind living in an apartment, as long as there are daily walks provided, of course. Every dog would appreciate a house with a yard, but as long as you exercise with him regularly, your Skye Terrier will not mind living with you in a cozy apartment. The Skye Terrier is not a bad choice for novice owners because he is easy to train and he is also an affectionate companion who likes pleasing his owner.

That brings us to the next point – sensitivity level. This dog breed does not like being alone or left alone for a long period of time. That means that you should never take this breed in the first place if you are not ready to commit to being with him every day. When it comes to the weather, the Skye Terrier tolerates well both cold and warm weather, even though his coat is very thick, long and warm.

Speaking of being friendly, the Skye Terrier is a very friendly and affectionate dog breed that loves being around his owner and he is also a great family dog because he likes being around children and he is gentle towards them. Another interesting thing is that this dog is very friendly towards strangers, perhaps even too much.

That makes him a really poor guardian dog, so you should be aware of this beforehand. Another thing that is good to know is that this dog breed is not friendly towards another dog, and in order to make his behavior at least a bit better and less hostile, you should socialize him from an early age since that might help.

When it comes to health and grooming, the Skye Terrier is more or less a healthy dog even though there are some conditions that might be a concern, such as: orthopedic problems, premature closure, mammary cancer, hemangiosarcomas and others. The Skye Terrier sheds normally and he does not drool almost at all. He is more or less easy to groom, but since his coat is long and specific, you might need a professional’s help. This dog breed might have problems with weight gaining so his diet should be monitored carefully. His life span is 12 to 14 years and his overall health is not too bad.

Speaking of trainability, the Skye Terrier is more or less easy to train due to the fact that he simply loves to please his owner; however he does have a couple of issues and it might be difficult for novice owners to train him. The Skye Terrier is an intelligent dog who responds nicely to the positive reinforcement and the reward training. However, the Skye Terrier does have a potential for mouthiness (which is the result of his original role of a hunting dog), and prey drive, but they can be controlled if the dog has been trained from an early age.

The wanderlust potential in the Skye Terrier will probably be always there due to his need to explore the wild and the area around him and that is why it is for the best to always him on the leash. What might put you off and what you should be aware of is the Skye Terrier’s tendency to bark. This should be more or less controlled with training but it can never completely go away.

When it comes to Skye Terrier’s exercise needs, they are moderately high. This dog breed is an active dog breed of moderate energy level that used to be a real hunter, so it is logical to assume that he loves playing in the open and in nature. The intensity of the exercises should be high; however; keep in mind that this dog breed is prone to something called the premature closure, which means that you should not train your Skye Terrier puppy if he is younger than 12 months because his joints and bones might grow unnaturally and cause huge health problems later on. All in all, the Skye Terrier is a playful dog that loves both physical and mental stimulation.

Main Highlights
  • The Skye Terrier is one of the most endangered native dog breeds in the UK.
  • This dog breed needs an early socialization because it is not friendly towards other dogs and it might grow up to be shy and aggressive.
  • The Skye Terrier has a huge wanderlust potential and prey drive, therefore you should never keep him off leash in open and unfamiliar places.
  • Unless your Skye Terrier is trained for hunting; he will most likely never listen to you when off leash, aka ‘selective deafness’ and unless you have trained and socialized him properly, he might go after smaller animals and kill them.
  • The Skye Terriers are good with children and smaller pets, but the children should be old enough to understand how to behave in a dog’s presence.
  • The Skye Terrier should not be trained or walked outdoors if he is under 12 months because his bones can grow unnaturally. He should never climb stairs or jump when he is a puppy too.
  • This dog breed is achondroplastic, which means that it has a big body on small legs.
  • This dog breed can become very self-destructive if left alone or neglected for long periods of time.
  • Never purchase Skye Terrier puppy from unfamiliar and unknowledgeable puppy mills or suspicious pet stores! Sometimes it is simply better to adopt.
Breed History

The Skye Terrier’s country of origin is Scotland, which is a stronghold of many terriers, including this one. This dog breed was developed on the west coastal area, where he was used for hunting and killing various small prey, such as foxes, otters and badgers. His job was to make them go into the burrows and then he would pull them out and kill them for his owner. Most of Skye Terrier’s physique has remained the same until this day, because he was described almost the same in Johannes Caius’s book ‘Of English Dogges’, written in 1570.

Queen Victoria was a huge fan of this breed and that is why Skye Terrier was popular back then. The American Kennel Club recognized the Skye Terrier officially in 1887 but this breed is still one of the rarest because it is ranked the 146th among the 155 breeds registered by the AKC.


The Skye Terrier is a dog breed of medium size. The males are a bit bigger than the females. The Skye Terriers weigh 25 to 40 pounds with the males being a bit heavier. When it comes to height, the males are usually 10 inches tall while the females are 9.5 inches tall.

Personality and Character

The Skye Terrier is affectionate, loving, brave, loyal and mostly good-natured. He loves being around his family and children, spending time with them. He is pretty much always friendly towards strangers, but not with just anyone. He is more reserved towards unfamiliar dogs and might be even aggressive around them.

The Skye Terrier is known for being sensitive – but never submissive. He responds well to training but might have a mind of his own and stubbornness that might put off novice owners who do not know how to make him submit without force. This dog breed is also known for having a long memory and he never likes being neglected or mistreated. This dog breed also needs more socialization due to his suspicious nature. Take him (when he is old enough) to dog parks and teach him to behave.

Health and Potential Problems

The Skye Terrier is generally a healthy breed; however there are some medical conditions that affect him more than the others. You should be aware of them so you can react on time if needed. Some of them are:

  • The premature closure is one of the conditions that is very often in achondroplastic breeds – dogs that have big bodies on very small legs. In order to prevent your puppy Skye from having his bones grow into an unnatural way, you should never make him jump, climb the stairs or run outside before he is 18 to 24 months old. Otherwise his growth plates might not close properly and the dog would limp until the end of his life.
  • Degenerative disc disease is another condition that affects achondroplastic dogs – it is the degeneration of one or more discs of the spine also called DDD. It might cause severe pain and affect the dog’s life.
  • Mammary cancer is one of the major causes of death in Skye Terriers. It is the cancer of mammary glands that affects female dogs that are not sprayed.
  • Other: various orthopedic problems, hemangiosarcomas (a malignant tumor of the blood vessels), autoimmune disease, hyperthyroidism
Care Features

When it comes to care features, the basic needs of a Skye Terrier are almost the same as for all dogs and it includes both dental and nail care. The Skye Terrier is a dog breed that adapts well to both house and apartment living but they have moderate energy levels so they should be walked regularly when old enough. You should always check your Skye carefully after each walk to make sure there are no cuts, fleas, ticks, bruises or some other kind of injury on his body or skin.

Besides regular brushing, bathing, brushing teeth, nail clipping and grooming, the Skye Terrier also requires daily walks and regular intense exercises outdoors. Additionally, the Skye Terrier should not be left in the yard because he will bark without stopping and become self-destructive if his owner neglects him for a long period of time. This breed is also known for digging in the yard, whether he is bored or not. The Skye Terrier tolerates well both cold and wild climate but he should always be placed in a dry and warm place.

The most important thing to remember when raising a Skye Terrier puppy is to never make him exercise, run, jump or climb the stairs before he is 12 months old. This breed is known for having short and bowed legs and if he is over exercised when he is young, he might develop premature closure. This will keep him limping for the rest of his life

Feeding Schedule

As with every dog breed, the Skye Terrier’s diet should be of high quality and filled with vitamins and proteins. When it comes to recommended daily dosage of food, it should be 1 3/8 to 1 7/8 cups of high-quality dog food per one day, which should be divided into two meals.

Make sure to always buy your pet food of high quality and include vitamins, vegetables and proteins, otherwise your Skye Terrier might develop health problems later on. Additionally, even if your Skye Terrier is very active that does not mean that you are allowed to overfeed him – this breed is prone to weight gaining, so make sure to carefully monitor your pet’s diet.

Coat, Color and Grooming

The Skye Terrier is famous for his long and elegant coat that hangs straight down from each side of his body and it also runs down his back from head to tail. It consists of an undercoat that is very short, soft and wooly, including an outer coat that is straight and has a very hard sturdy texture. The Skye Terrier has bangs on his forehead and eyes and that is why many owners prefer to tie the bangs up with an elastic. This breed also sports a beard and apron on his chest.

Speaking of his coat’s color, the Skye can be found in a variety of colors, such as: blue, black, gray, platinum, silver, cream and fawn. Puppies can have variations of colors on their coats until their mature and even the adult dogs can have markings too. When it comes to brushing and grooming, this dog requires daily brushing because of the type of his coat.

You should bath your Skye every two to three weeks in order to keep him clean and use a specific brush to make his coat healthy and shiny. Try to brush out any tangles before bathing your dog in order to prevent any coat damage.

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Skye Terrier is a great family dog that goes well with children as long as they are well behaved and old enough to understand how to act in a dog’s presence. That is why this dog is a great family breed.

However, when it comes to other, smaller pets and unfamiliar dogs, the Skye Terrier is not very gentle, on the contrary, he can be even aggressive. That is why you must train and socialize him since he is a puppy, so he can be well behaved and learn to not be suspicious of every dog. Dog parks and regular walks can be a great idea, but remember to not take him out until he is 1-year-old, at least.

To sum up, we have covered the most important characteristics of a dog breed called the Skye Terrier. You are now familiar with Skye Terrier’s physical traits, personality quirks and most importantly – his basic needs that should be met every single day, as he deserves. Having in mind that this dog breed is adaptable to both houses and apartments, it should not be very hard to take care of him as long as you take him out regularly.

The Skye Terrier can be difficult for novice owners because of his training – he can be stubborn and have a mind of his own, so you should be stern but also reward him positively. Giving your Skye Terrier proper love and meeting his needs will make not only him happy, but you as well. The Skye Terrier is a wonderful dog that is almost extinct but deserves to be loved like any other breed.

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.