WHY NOT A SKYE By Karen L. Sanders I n 1962, Skye aficionado Dr. E. S. Montgomery famously wrote: “ Th e true value of the Skye Terrier is evinced by the tenacious grasp which he has on the a ff ections of all those who century with Queen Victoria herself own- ing many Skye and the famed artist, Sir Edwin Landseer, including some of the Queen’s dogs in family portraits.
Perhaps the most famous Skye of all is Greyfriar’s Bobby, immortalized in the 1959 Disney film named after the dog him- self. When Bobby’s master died and was buried in Edinburg in Greyfriar’s Church- yard, Bobby refused to leave him and as the story goes, spent the rest of his life each night on his master’s grave. Today, a statue of Bobby sits in front of the Inn (now called Bobby’s Bar) where Bobby was fed. While the breed is now small in num- ber, most major US dog shows today will have its entry of Skyes and there is a core of dedicated breeders working hard to see that the breed survives. So, why not a Skye? I have been captivated and smitten with this wonderful and unique breed for more than 35 years and truly believe a Skye can be a “right fit” for many families. Neither too large nor too small, the Skye is a true dwarf breed, that is to say a big dog on short legs. Males typically weigh between 35 and 40 pounds at maturity and girls are typically in the 27 to 34 pound range. Good temperaments are critical as the typical Skye nature is to be reserved, quite laid back and cautious with those they don’t know. At the same time, they
have ever owned, bred or exhibited him.” Th us, if you could own a dog that was highly intelligent, immensely loyal and devoted, a real charmer with a unique appearance among the terrier breeds, and generally free of many of the congeni- tal problems that impact other breeds, then why not! Historically, Skyes were recognizable as such as far back as the 16th century, though they were considerably smaller than today’s dogs. Named for his native home, the Isle of Skye o ff the northwest coast of Scotland, Skyes were typically owned by Scottish lairds and were work- ing dogs kept to go after such animals as badgers, otters and foxes. Th ey were also closely related at this time to the other early Highland breeds, the Cairn, Scottish and West Highland White terriers. Prized for their loyalty, courage and tenacity, as the story goes, Mary Queen of Scots was accompanied to her execution by her wee Skye Terrier that, reputably, would not leave her, hiding under her skirts. Th e Skye Terrier breed, which includes both a prick and drop ear variety, became extremely popular during the 19th
are very smart, sensitive and easy to live with. Ongoing socialization is an absolute must to maintaining good temperaments with the reward being an incredibly loyal and loving family member. A number of today’s Skyes do wonderful work as ther- apy dogs attesting to their adaptability. Many also hold obedience, agility and even tracking titles. Given the mature Skye’s long flowing coat, upkeep is also an oft expressed con- cern of potential owners. Essentially I have found the Skye to be a “wash and wear” breed requiring much less work than the typical short-coated terrier. Th e number one requirement is that a Skye be kept clean and feet trimmed. While any mats found need to be removed promptly, daily brushing and grooming is not a must. A third question that generally comes up is whether or not Skyes have back problems. Unlike other dwarf breeds such as Dachshunds, back issues appear to be a rarity. If, having read this article you are now convinced to take a look at the possibility of acquiring a Skye, I highly recommend you go to the Skye Terrier Club of America (STCA) website (www.stca.us/) and con- tact us to help you find a responsible breed- er. Check out our Code of Ethics which all members must sign and adhere to. Should you ultimately purchase a Skye, I know you will wonder how you ever managed to do without!
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