by Doris Donnerman
(last updated August 17, 2009)
The Skye Terrier is beautiful with his smooth cascades of shining groomed coat, the tender softness of eyes obscured by a thick veil of hair. His attributes earned him the name of the "heavenly breed" as a tribute from admirers.
This purely Scottish breed had his early home in the mist-shrouded island of Skye, but he was also found in other islands of the Hebrides as well as on the mainland of Scotland. It is said by a well known doctor of the time, returning from a visit to the Islands in 1773, remarked that otters and weasels were plentiful on the island of Skye and that the foxes were numerous and were hunted by small dogs.
The earliest descriptions of the breed present a Terrier much smaller in size than the type of today, a size more adapted to burrowing and taking to water. It had a profuse, hard coat, with short legs, a body long in proportion to its height, and with ears that were neither erect nor drooping, but half erect and rose to alertness when aroused. In the early days the Highlander cared far less for beauty than for the sporting ability of his dogs. It seems difficult to credit the languishing-beauty appearance of the Skye Terrier of today with bloodthirsty tendencies. The breed was originally used and developed for hunting among the rough rocks and crevices of his native shores. He needed the face fringe to protect his eyes, his lithe, long body for agility in getting into burrows and dens.
When the Skye first made his appearance in England, it was taken up by the nobility. Queen Victoria greatly admired the breed and owned several Skyes starting in 1842. In 1896 a Skye Terrier was presented to the then Princess of Wales who later became Queen Alexandria. Sir Edwin Landseer's paintings in which the Skye was introduced helped to draw public attention. It was still considerably smaller in size than today's type.
The Skye Terrier has been surpassed in popularity by many of the more modern breeds of terriers, but it is unrivalled in length of time of popularity because it has existed over a period of long duration. Before the 1900s it was an important breed in American dog shows. It retains the greatest popularity in Scotland and England.
Two varieties of Skye Terrier are recognized, the prick-eared and the drop-eared (pendant). In other respects both are identically the same in all points. The Skye Terrier has great working capacity despite his small frame. He displays great stamina, strength and agility. Although cautious with strangers, his demeanor is friendly and loyal to those he knows.
As a general description of the Skye Terrier has the color of either a dark or light blue or grey. The coat is a double coat with the under coat being short, close, soft and woolly. The height at the shoulder for the male dog is nine inches, and 23-1/2 inches from the skull to the root of the tail while the female is half and inch lower and 2-1/2 inches shorter.
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