Skye Terrier Club of America

History of the Skye Terrier

The majority of terriers have attained something of their present-day form within the last century, but the Skye Terrier of nearly four centuries ago was like the specimens of today. Thus we find the Skye Terrier of today.

His flowing coat is the same as the one that proved such a grand protection in the days when his only occupation was to challenge vicious animals that otherwise might have crippled him at a single bite. Perhaps this long coat has been a handicap, for all followers of this game old working terrier have witnessed him surpassed in popularity by one after another of the newer breeds. Still they are reluctant to change him in any manner.

The breed takes its name from the chief of those northwestern islands of Scotland that, as far back as he can be traced, formed his native home, and in which he was found in greatest perfection. He is the only terrier distinctively belonging to the northwestern islands that is not common to the whole of Scotland. Those who have the best practical knowledge of the Skye maintain that he is without rival in his own peculiar domain, and that wherever there are rocks, dens, burrow, cairns, or coverts to explore, or waters to take to, his services should be called.

The Skye was the most widely known of all the terriers down to the end of the 19th century. Queen Victoria's early interest and Sir Edwin Landseer's paintings featuring the breed helped attract attention. He was kept in all the English-speaking countries. Since then he has slipped quietly into the background, yet his admirers in England and Scotland - where he has maintained his greatest foothold - are happy to point to the time when "a duchess would almost be ashamed to be seen in the park unaccompanied by her long-coated Skye."

The Skye Terrier was first registered with the AKC in 1887 and was one of the most important breeds at American bench shows before the turn of the century. The rivalry among the leading kennels was exceptionally keen. Although the frontiers of his activities have been somewhat curtailed, the true value of the Skye Terrier is evinced by the tenacious grasp which he has on those who have come in contact with him. Thus, entries may sometimes be small at bench shows today, but seldom does one find a major show without some specimens of this old terrier breed.