Skye Terrier

"The 'Greyfriars Bobby' Dog"

Photo of Skye Terrier


An ancient Scottish terrier bred to wriggle into fox, badger, and otter dens and get rid of these pests once and for all, Skye Terriers were valuable workers for farmers on the Isle of Skye. Most people know the Skye Terrier from the story of Greyfriars Bobby, a little Skye Terrier belonging to a man named John Gray who died in 1858. Bobby guarded his master's grave vigilantly for 14 years, until the dog's death in 1872. A statue of Greyfriars Bobby stands in Edinburgh, and the Skye Terrier has come to be associated with extreme loyalty and serious devotion. Author Eleanor Atkinson wrote a book about the dog, called Greyfriars Bobby. The story is also the subject of two movies, one in 1961 based on the book, and another made in the UK in 2006. Today, a small statue of the dog stands outside a pub called Greyfriars Bobby, located near both John Grey and Greyfriars Bobby's graves. The statue has the inscription: "Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all." Today's Skye remains independent and strong-willed as well as fiercely loyal, although the breed is rare in the United States, currently ranked almost at the bottom of the list of breeds in popularity, at 146th.


Still the strong diggers with good hearing and good sense they were originally bred to be, Skyes think for themselves and do their jobs without instruction. Crackerjack vermin hunters, personal guardians, and devoted companions, Skyes take life seriously and won't give up or give in when they think it's important. People who respect dogs and treat them fairly and kindly will earn a Skye's respect, but Skyes may not be very interested in children or people who don't understand dogs. Most Skyes will chase small animals and may not get along with other terriers or similar-sized dogs, especially of the same sex. Always keep a Skye in a fenced yard or on a leash, to keep him safe from traffic when he catches wind of a critter. Meanwhile, keep him busy and don't expect slavish obedience from a Skye. It's just not going to happen.


Short but exceptionally sturdy and heavy for his size, the Skye Terrier stands about 9.5 to 10 inches and should be about 20 inches long from chest to rump, making him twice as long as he is tall. Most Skyes weigh about 18 to 20 pounds. Skyes look long, strong, and powerful with dark brown eyes and feathered ears, which can be erect or dropped, although most people think of Skyes as having erect ears. The shaggy double coat has a wooly undercoat with a long straight outer coat hanging about six inches long in black, blue, dark or light grey, silver platinum, fawn, or cream, with no distinctive markings.


Good luck with that. No, seriously, you can train a Skye if you earn his respect, keep training interesting and rewarding, and change focus often so he doesn't get bored. Also, don't get too worried about attaining the highest levels of competitive obedience. You didn't get a Skye because you wanted a dog that would do everything you asked the second you asked it, did you? You got a Skye because of his intensity, intelligence, and ability to think for himself. Meanwhile, just keep your sense of humor.

Grooming & Care

Skyes need a thorough brushing and combing down to the skin with a steel comb at least twice a week to prevent mats in their thick wooly coats. Wash the Skye's face with a damp cloth each day to keep hair around the mouth and eyes clean and stain-free, trim nails, and brush teeth. Otherwise, give Skyes plenty of exercise and training challenges to keep their prodigious brains engaged and their bodies healthy and fit.

Health Concerns

Most Skye Terriers are healthy and not prone to any particular genetic diseases, but ask your breeder about any health problems in his lines, and talk to your vet about how to keep your Skye Terrier healthy.

Famous Skye Terrier

Greyfriars Bobby, the devoted Skye Terrier who sat on his deceased master's grave for 14 years.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 4
Schedule 5
Home 44
Children 48
Experience 54
Quick Facts
Grooming 110
Exercise 61
Challenges Can be heat-intolerant, will chase small animals.
Height 10 to 14 inches
Weight 25 to 40 pounds
Life 12 to 14 years
Home Alone 20
With Kids 86
With Strangers 106
Availability 95

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

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