Skye Terrier

AKC Terrier Group


Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved.

The Skye Terrier comes originally from the northern Scottish Isle of Skye. The breed might have begun when Maltese dogs from shipwrecked Spanish vessels mated with local terriers. Others say small Basset-type dogs crossed with local dogs. At any rate, the Skye type has existed for several centuries. Like many British terriers, the Skye was developed as a vermin hunter. In the mid-1800s, Queen Victoria took a fancy to the breed, and it became very popular for a while, especially among the nobility. Later, the breed’s popularity waned. The Skye Terrier is very loyal, tuned in to his master. Legend has it that a Skye named Bobby stayed faithfully by the grave of his deceased master for 10 years before he, too, passed away. Townspeople fed him and gave him a license to remain in the graveyard. After he died, they erected a monument commemorating the dog’s great loyalty. The Skye Terrier was first shown in England in 1864 and first registered with the AKC in 1887. Today the beautiful Skye Terrier is primarily a companion, though he can still help control vermin.


The Skye is an elegant, long, low terrier. The body length should be twice the height at the withers. The Skye Terrier is sturdy with solid bone. The head is long with a powerful jaw and slight stop. The Skye’s 6-in.-long harsh coat drapes from a part down the middle of the back. Beneath the longer hair lies a soft undercoat. The coat comes in blue, many shades of gray, cream, fawn, or black, with darker points. The prick or folded ears are always black and heavily feathered with hair (the folded ear is rare today). A small amount of white is permitted on the chest. Hair also shields and protects the eyes and forehead. The eyes are brown and the nose is black. The teeth should form a scissors bite. The hare-like feet are long and large, pointing straight forward. The long, well-feathered tail hangs down, unlike the docked, erect tail of many other terrier breeds.

Key Facts

  • Height:  Averages 10 in. (male); averages 9 1/2 in. (female)
  • Size:  Small
  • Weight:  35 to 45 lbs.
  • Availability:  Very difficult to find
  • Talents:  Watchdog, earthdog


The long, straight coat needs frequent attention or it will mat. The puppy coat is quite different from the adult coat. It might take several years before the adult coat develops completely. A very healthy breed.


Sensitive, loyal, protective, a bit willful. Courageous, spunky, and bold. Loving and playful, yet more serious than many terriers. Needs a lot of attention to be happy. This breed requires extensive early socialization with people or he might grow up to be overly suspicious of strangers. He typically does not like to be touched by strangers and might bite. Be careful around other small animals as the Skye likes to chase.


  • Children:  Best with older, considerate children
  • Friendliness:  Reserved with strangers
  • Trainability:  Somewhat difficult to train
  • Independence:  Moderately dependent on people
  • Dominance:  High
  • Other Pets:  Not generally trustworthy with other pets
  • Combativeness:  Can be a bit dog-aggressive
  • Noise:  Likes to bark
  • Indoors:  Relatively inactive indoors
  • Owner:  Not recommended for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Extensive grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  No trimming or stripping needed
  • Coat:  Long coat
  • Shedding:  Low shedder
  • Exercise:  Little exercise needed
  • Jogging:  A poor jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Good for apartment living
  • Outdoor Space:  Does all right without a yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates
  • Longevity:  Average (10 to 12 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Skye Terrier Breed Standard

Skye Terrier Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Skye Terrier

Skye Terrier Gifts