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Skye Terrier - History and Health

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Skye Terrier


The Skye Terrier was developed centuries ago on the northwestern islands of Scotland, called the Inner Hebrides, on the Isle of Skye, where it was used to hunt in rocky dens, burrow, cairns and coverts and even take to water if necessary to accomplish the task at hand. In the mid-16th century, English royalty became enamored with the Skye, making it quickly the most fashionable pet among nobility and commoners alike. Queen Victoria acquired a Skye in 1842 and became so fond of the breed that she began breeding them in her royal kennels. Queen Alexandria also owned Skyes.

One of the most famous Skye Terriers was a dog named Greyfriars Bobby, who was acquired by an Edinburgh police officer named John Gray in 1856. When his owner died in 1858 from tuberculosis - only two short years after their partnership began - the dog followed the funeral procession to the Greyfriars Churchyard in Edinburgh and refused to leave his grave. He was turned away but returned daily, until local townspeople began to feed him out of pity. The cemetery groundskeeper built Bobby a crude shelter. Bobby kept this vigil every day for 14 years, until he too died and was buried next to his master. A bronze statue erected in Bobby’s honor stands in Edinburgh today. Bobby’s tombstone says “Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all.”

Skye Terriers were the most popular of all terriers in Britain through the end of the 19th century. They were shown at the first major dog shows held in Birmingham in the 1860s. Originally, the drop eared variety was favored, but today the dramatic prick eared Skye is favored for both pet and show. The first breed club was formed in 1876. Since then, their popularity has waned somewhat, with the development of a number of other popular companion terrier breeds, including the Yorkshire Terrier. However, the Skye Terrier has many devoted fans, and he remains favored in Scotland, England and America.

The American Kennel Club accepted the Skye Terrier into its registry in 1887. The Skye rapidly became one of the most recognizable dogs at benched dog shows throughout the United States. He continues to be competitive in the show ring and is a wonderful companion.


The average life span of the Skye Terrier is 12 to 14 years. Breed health concerns may include back problems, chronic hepatitis, foramen magnum dysplasia, glaucoma, hypochondroplasia (accepted as breed standard), ectopic ureters, renal dysplasia and Skye limp.

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