About the Breed
Origins & History
Named after the Isle of Skye off the north west coast of Scotland the Skye Terrier is one of the oldest native breeds that boasts having Scottish origins. It is thought the breed can trace its ancestry back to the 14th Century. Throughout the centuries people needed terriers to control vermin and to chase down game. It is thought that many local Scottish terriers are descendants of dogs that survived a shipwreck during the time of the Spanish Armada in 1588 which are thought to have been Maltese. These dogs mated with local terriers and the result were dogs with long silky coats. It is known that Lady MacDonald of Armadale Castle owned “terrier” type dogs.
However although the story of shipwrecked dogs being crossed with local terriers is a nice one and that many Spanish ships were forced to sail north around the coast of Scotland to get away from the English ships many people believe it is just a legend and that the castle located at Armadale was not built until much later in time. With this said terrier type dogs existed on the Isle of Skye before 1588 which means they were around much earlier in time to when the Picts from Ireland invaded the Western Highlands before the Vikings arrived.
It is thought that many breeds were involved when it came to influencing Skye Terriers we see today and this includes dogs bought over by the Vikings which included the Drever and the Swedish Vallhund but the actual origins of the breed remain a bit of a mystery.
Skye Terriers were bred to hunt vermin and to go "to ground" in the pursuit of their quarry a job these little dogs proved to excel at. The dogs seen today have not changed that much from the dogs of days long past when the breed was known as the Clydesdale Terrier the Fancy Skye Terrier the Silky Skye Terrier the Glasgow Terrier and the Paisley Terrier. Queen Victoria was a big fan of the breed having bred them for many years in her kennel. This saw these charming dogs becoming a popular choice throughout her reign.
The breed was finally recognised by The Kennel Club in 1993 but their numbers have remained low which has seen the Skye Terrier being placed on The Kennel Club's list of vulnerable native breeds.
Throughout history their have been some famous people owning Skyes and indeed a much loved Skye in his own right, this of course was Greyfriars Bobby. Bobby lived in Edinburgh from 1855 – 1872. He belonged to John Gray who was a night watchman serving with the police. John would patrol the streets at night with Bobby alongside him, ensuring that all was well. In 1858 John Gray died of tuberculosis and was buried in Greyfriars Kirk. Bobby could not bear to be parted from his master and in spite of the best efforts of those trying to care for him, he would escape and run to the Kirkyard where he would lie on John’s grave. He was removed from the Kirk many times as dogs were not allowed, but each time he would find a way to return and did so for 14 years, a remarkable showing of love and loyalty. In 1867 there was a bylaw passed in Edinburgh stating that all dogs should be licensed, Bobby did not have an owner and could have been put down as a stray, fortunately he was well known and loved in the city and the then Lord Provost Sir William Chambers presented Bobby with a collar that said “Greyfriars Bobby from the Lord Provost 1867 licensed”.
The Skye Terrier maybe short in stature but they are dignified elegant dogs that have a lot of presence about them with the long flowing coats. They are twice as long as they are tall and when they move it seems as if they float. They can have either pricked or dropped ears and their body’s are low and long.