One of the oldest Terriers in existence today, the Skye has enjoyed considerable popularity throughout its development, being favoured by the English royals from as early as the 1500s. The Skye is a distinctive, low to the ground dog, primarily bred to hunt small game quarry and drive badger and vermin out in the open to be killed. This sort of activity took place among the rocky cairns of the Scottish Hebrides, usually where predators were threatening farm livestock and property. Theory has it that the Skye Terrier evolved when a Spanish ship was wrecked off the coast of Skye in the 1600s, with Maltese dogs onboard escaping to the island where they bred with local Terriers. As a result, the Skye Terrier was born - a breed whose popularity has fluctuated greatly, to the extent that it is now considered an Endangered Native Breed by the Kennel Club.
A dog of compact size and structure, the Skye Terrier boasts short legs, a rectangular body, a long, tapering muzzle, erect ears, and dark, inseted eyes. The double coat is typically dense, with a hard, wiry texture. It is usually observed in colours of dark grey, fawn, blonde, solid black, and blue. The Skye Terrier usually has a beard, or feathering on the face, ears and muzzle. The low-set tail boasts heavy feathering which blends in against the long coat. Despite looking high maintenance, the coat is relatively easy to maintain, requiring little more than a daily brush.
Vigilant to change and threat and highly territorial, the Skye Terrier makes an excellent watch dog. Otherwise remaining calm, gentle and affectionate, the Skye is the ideal breed choice for active families, being compatible with children and engaging well in exercise and play. In order to avoid wilful, disobedient or aggressive behaviours, early socialisation, firm leadership and consistent training is important and beneficial. On average, a healthy Skye at full maturity will weigh 12-18 kg with discrepancies across gender, with a life expectancy of 12-15 years.
Various health conditions are identified in the Skye Terrier breed, ranging in severity. Eye disorders, including glaucoma and lens luxation, allergies and colitis have been well documented in the breed, as has liver and kidney disease. A rare blood clotting disorder known as von Willebrand's Disease is prevalent in the Skye.