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Breed Profile: Skye Terrier

With the Good Time Charlie’s recent win at the National Dog Show in the US in 2015, there was likely to be a resurgence in interest in this hardy little Terrier from the UK. That’s good news for Charlie and his relatives, because the Skye Terrier is, according to the UK Kennel Club, one of the most endangered native breeds of the UK, and a little interest might help their numbers worldwide.

History of the Skye Terrier

The Skye Terrier was one of the first of the many Scottish Terriers to come out of Scotland. They were bred to hunt badgers, otters and foxes, but they quickly gained favor as a companion breed thanks to their perky, happy personality and easy going nature. In fact, as early as 1840, the Skye was becoming gentrified, when Queen Victoria became a fan, and kept several of the little dogs as her companions. Greyfriars Bobby was another well-known historical Skye, and it’s rumored that Mary Queen of Scots also had a Skye Terrier.

The breed first became officially recognized in 1887, and because of its royal connections, it seemed that the Skye would be a popular breed everywhere – even in America!

It was not to be though, and the Skye fell out of favor soon after. Today, it’s one of the most endangered British breeds, although the recent win of a Skye named Charlie at the National Dog Show may change that!

General Physical Characteristics of the Skye Terrier

The Skye Terrier is a medium sized dog, that has relatively short legs for his body length. He’s sturdy, with a well-muscled body, strong jaw and a high held head. They are usually about 9 t 10 inches tall at the shoulder, and they weigh between 25 and 40 pounds.

One of the major characteristics of the Skye Terrier is their long, silky hair which covers their bodies and feathers their ears and tail. They also have bangs, and a healthy fringe on their undercarriage, all of which requires owners to be devoted daily groomers, and suggest that a barrette to keep that hair out of their eyes is a good idea!

Coat colors can be black, blue, dark or light gray, silver platinum, fawn, or cream, and ears can be either drop or pricked.

Character and Temperament of the Skye Terrier

Skye Terriers, like most terriers bred to hunt small animals, is hardy and self-assured. They’re friendly and easy going too, and they tend to get along well with other dogs and with older children. Skye’s also share the wariness of the terrier breeds, and that makes them great watch dogs.

They’re highly adaptable and can live in apartments, they’re generally friendly, and have a fair amount of energy, which means it’s a good thing that they’re smart and quick studies, who enjoy training and learn quickly.

Lifespan of Skye Terriers

The average lifespan for the Skye Terrier is 12 to 14 years.

Common Health and Personality Issues in Skye Terriers

Like many terriers, personality depends in large measure on early and frequent socialization of the Skye Terrier as a puppy. In this instance, you certainly will get out what you put in.

In terms of health, there are a few issues that you will want to be aware of if you choose to make a Skye Terrier part of your family.

  1. Avoid early, vigorous exercise, which can stunt and damage bone growth. Exercise should be mild to moderate until about 10 months of age. This is due to the Skye being what is known as achondroplastic, which refers to his large body on relatively small leg. Avoid obesity for the same reason!
  2. Mammary cancer (the canine equivalent of breast cancer) is one of the leading causes of death for this breed. Pay very close attention to your dog’s mammary glands as they age, because these tumors need to be caught early for effective treatment.
  3. Hemangiosarcoma, a fast growing and aggressive cancer of the lining of blood vessels, is another common cause for concern with this breed.
  4. Skyes are also prone to autoimmune disease.
  5. Hyperthyroidism is another common concern, and if your dog is diagnosed, hormone therapy will probably be required.

Generally speaking, the Skye Terrier is a healthy, happy, hardy little dog, who will have no more trouble than the average pedigreed breed, and is likely to live a long, happy healthy life with your family. Pay attention to diet, exercise caution with intense exercise, and remember that daily grooming is a must!

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