Skye Terrier

The Skye Terrier, which was very popular at one time, has become quite rare, and some bloodlines have behavioural problems, as well as health issues. It is essential to check the pedigree of the lineage when buying a puppy, to avoid unpleasant surprises. It is also preferable for puppies to be raised in a family, and accustomed at a very young age to the various noises of daily life, such as the radio, discussions, vacuum cleaner or the rattle of pots and pans, in order to limit the possibilities for the puppy to develop a sensory deprivation syndrome, commonly known as "kennel syndrome", leading the dog to develop some environmental phobias. Given the scarcity of quality kennels, it can take several months to obtain a puppy. For the variety with drooping ears, which is practically extinct, the delays of a few months can even extend to ten years, the numbers being so rare. It is therefore really necessary to start looking in advance to get a Skye Terrier.

Height 24 to 30 cm
Weight 10 to 15 kg
Life expectancy 13 to 16 years
Home country United Kingdom (UK)

Quick Overview of the Skye Terrier


  • Calm and balanced
  • Strong temperament
  • Very faithful to one master


  • Body twice as long as tall
  • Elegant silhouette
  • Noble appearance
  • Long, flat, hard, straight and not curly hair


  • Robust and solid
  • Rarely ill
  • Generally in excellent health
  • No particular pathology

Temperament of the Skye Terrier

The Skye Terrier is very different from the usual Terrier, due to his calm and balanced character. However, he is still endowed with a strong temperament.

He is a very loyal dog that will have only one true master throughout his life.

The education of this small dog must be firm and adequate, as his socialization, which must be undertaken very early.

Breed Appearance

skye terrier

This is a Basset Terrier, with a body twice as long as tall. Short on legs, this small dog moves effortlessly.

His elegant, dignified silhouette suggests great strength, despite his small size. His strength is not at all lost for the benefit of his grace.


Between 24 and 30 cm (9.45 to 11.81 inches) for the male
Between 24 and 30 cm (9.45 to 11.81 inches) for the female


Between 12 and 15 kg (26.46 to 33.07 pounds) for the male
Between 10 and 13 kg (22.05 to 28.66 pounds) for the female


The color of his coat varies between cream, fawn, dark grey, light grey or black.


The long hair of his coat is flat, straight, hard and not curly. He has a short, woolly, very thick undercoat. His hair falls to the ground, protecting him very well from the cold.


His head has a light stop. His brown medium size eyes are close together.

His ears may be small and erect, or may be large and drooping. The drooping ear variety is the original version of the Skye Terrier, but because he is considered less attractive than the variety with small erect ears, he is virtually extinct today.

His small nose is all black, regardless of coat color. His tail is hanging, but the lower half is nicely curved.

According to the FCI breeds nomenclature, this breed belongs to group 3, section 2 and is #75

Tips About this breed

As Greyfriards Bobby's life and loyalty to his master's grave clearly demonstrate, the Skye Terrier is a one master dog.

He bonds almost sickly with his master for the rest of his life. He adores him but he is quite independent.

Even if he is distant with the other members of his family, that doesn't stop him from being sympathetic. However, it is better to wait until he comes to you.

Never mean, he doesn't like strangers very much though. He is an excellent guardian, without being aggressive.

However, this strong temperament must be mastered early on by a firm and adequate education. It is useless to insist, because he is stubborn as soon as he has the bridle on his neck.

It is best to be firm, but with great gentleness and respect for his intelligence.

Well brought up, he makes an excellent companion, but he will never be really compatible with very young children.

He doesn't like to be tied up or provoked, and can sometimes misinterpret a toddler's attention.

He can live anywhere, but he must be able to benefit from his master's presence very often.

Whether he lives in an apartment or in the country, the master must be present and available as often as possible.

Health of the Skye Terrier

The Skye Terrier, very particular, is robust and strong. Rarely ill, he generally enjoys an excellent health.

The breed is not related to any particular pathology, nor any hereditary disease.

However, as with all Bassets, it is preferable to not make him go up or down the stairs repeatedly in order to preserve his spine. The life expectancy of this dog is very appreciable.


His beautiful coat requires regular brushing. It is preferable to brush him every day to ensure cleanliness, and thus preserve his beauty.

The knots must be undone by hand, and it is best to wash him every month with a specialized detangling dog shampoo, also followed by a dog conditioner.

He should be dried with a gentle blow dry. Drying is necessary to reduce the risk of fungal infections caused by humidity, as the coat takes a long time to air dry.

The variety with erect ears is now the most common, so the ears do not really require any special care. No other maintenance is necessary.

History of this breed

As his name suggests, the Skye Terrier gets it from the Isle of Skye, located in the Hebrides archipelago in Scotland. This small Scottish dog is the oldest Scottish terrier, along with his fellow dog, the Cairn Terrier.

Of unknown origin, he seems to have appeared on the Isle of Skye around 1570, when the presence of long-haired dogs like the Basset were reported.

He apparently came from a natural cross between an indigenous Terrier and a Basset dog belonging to Viking invaders, the Swedish Vallhund. He shares his ancestor Basset with the Welsh Corgi to whom he physically looks like a lot.

He is the ancestor of the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, and that of the Yorkshire Terrier, through an ancient breed, the Clydesdale Terrier. He was, at one time, referred to, as a variety of name such as Fancy Skye, Paisley or Glasgow Terrier.

First used for his many qualities as a hunting dog until around the 16th century, he later became the favorite dog of upper-class ladies. His beautiful thick fur offered him great resistance to the cold, and granted him the favors of the Scottish aristocracy.

Among the first to adopt a specimen of the breed was Marie Stuart, who was won over by this pretty specimen, but it was Queen Victoria in 1840 who allowed the breed to expand. The queen having launched the fashion, the English subjects in turn hurried to adopt one.

In 19th century Britain, the Skye Terrier was the most fashionable dog around. In 1864, he was shown for the first time at the Manchester Exhibition.

In 1873, the breed's standard was published, and in 1887, he was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club. Unfortunately with the death of Queen Victoria, and the coming of the twentieth century, the Skye Terrier gradually lost his popularity.

The breed gradually declined, to become very rare, and this even more on French territory. The breed's very narrow genetic base poses a serious threat to him, with the remaining kennels having very few quality breeders to ensure the health, beauty and balanced character of the dogs.

The Skye Terrier is now in great danger of extinction. Finland and the UK have established breed conservation programs.

Although very effective in getting rid of garden vermin, the Skye Terrier has become exclusively a companion and show dog.


In 1873, his popularity grew again, with the extraordinary story of Greyfriars Bobby. In Scotland, in 1856, unemployment forced a rural gardener named John Gray and his family, to leave his rural area for the city of Edinburgh.

Working in town as a policeman, he received a four-legged do as guard; a young Skye Terrier which he then named Bobby. Every day, when the Edinburgh Castle cannon sounded at 1:00 p.m., John Gray and his dog would go to a restaurant where Bobby always first got a brioche and then a bone to complete his meal.

Sadly, John Gray died of tuberculosis two years later. Bobby led the funeral procession on the day of the funeral, and once the ceremony was over, the dog vanished from the lives of the Gray family.

He never returned to his family. The day after John Gray's funeral, during his tour, the Greyfriars church graveyard keeper found Bobby duly lying on his master's grave.

As dogs were forbidden in cemetaries, Bobby was then chased away by the guard. As he returned the next day, two days later and all the days that followed, the keeper requested an exemption from the city to allow the little dog to sleep on his master's grave.

Allowed to stay, Bobby stayed three full days at his master's grave. Forced by hunger, he decided to leave the cemetery to go to the restaurant, at 1:00 p.m. sharp, to get his brioche and his bone.

The restaurant owner, at first surprised, gave him his ration with a good heart. When his meal was finished, Bobby returned to lie down on the grave of John Gray, his beloved master. From that day on, he only left the cemetery to go to the restaurant at 1:00 p.m. sharp every day.

A little later, he befriended a soldier from Edinburgh who sounded the cannon mark at 1:00 p.m. Bobby followed the soldier and once the cannon was fired, they went to the restaurant together.

After their meal, they separated, and Bobby went back to sleep on his master's grave. The dog did not want to accompany anyone else. Many families wanted to adopt him, falling for this adorable little dog, but he screamed incessantly and once the families let him go, he always returned to the graveyard of Greyfriars church.

During his sixteenth year of life, Bobby agreed to spend the night with the family who owned the restaurant where he had his daily meal, the Traills.

The rest of the time, he continued to watch over John Gray's grave. Aged and very tired, Bobby was found dead on a cold winter morning in 1872 in the Traill house.

Having watched over the tomb of his dear master for 14 years, Baroness Burdell-Coutts decided in 1872, to build a fountain surmounted by a life-size statue of Bobby in honor of this faithful little dog, very close to the cemetery where he so jealously guarded his master's grave for 14 years.

This statue is still visible today, representing for all Scots, a symbol of loyalty for over a century. The Huntly Museum in the City of Edinburgh also exhibits items, such as the necklace, and photos of Greyfriars Bobby. Since that time, Greyfriars Bobby has become the national dog of Scotland.

Becoming a big celebrity in Scotland, Walt Disney even picked up the story in 1961 and released a film named Bobby based on the story of this loyal little dog.

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