Skye Terrier Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
By Michele Welton.
Copyright © 2000-2014
The Skye Terrier is more serious, more dignified, and more introspective than most terriers. Though stylish, he is also heavier and more powerful than you might imagine from just seeing a photo.
One of the few terriers who is laid-back indoors, the Skye Terrier is easy to exercise, requiring only walks and play sessions. However, he is a fearless, agile chaser with lightning reflexes and should never be let-off leash unless in a safe, enclosed area.
Intensely loyal to his family (sometimes attaching himself to one person), the Skye Terrier needs a lot of personal attention -- he cannot be ignored.
Skye Terriers are cautious with strangers and should be extensively socialized when young so their wariness does not become suspicion.
They are dominant with other dogs and should not be trusted around smaller animals such as cats, rabbits, and rodents.
Likewise, the Skye Terrier can be dominant with family members who are wishy-washy. Skyes have great depth of character and prefer to make their own decisions, but they will respect an owner with an equally strong character and a firm voice who knows how to lead a proud, strong-minded dog.
Skyes do not suffer fools gladly. They are highly sensitive to correction and likely to retaliate if handled harshly or teased.
If you want a dog who...
- Is a "big dog with short legs" i.e. built low to the ground, but with a robust body, heavy bone, and a strong temperament
- Is an unusual-looking terrier -- powerful yet stylish and elegant -- with a long flowing coat
- Can be vigorous and athletic, but is also calmer, more serious, and more introspective than most terriers
- Needs only moderate exercise
- Makes a determined watchdog
A Skye Terrier may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- One of the most self-willed and independent of the terriers
- Suspiciousness/sharpness toward strangers in some lines, or when not socialized enough
- Aggression toward other animals -- chasing instincts
- High coat maintenance (brushing or trimming)
- Waiting lists (very hard to find) and a high price tag
A Skye Terrier may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Skye Terrier
If I was considering a Skye Terrier, I would be most concerned about...
- Strong mind of their own. Skye Terriers can be headstrong and must be taught at an early age that they are not the rulers of the world. The toughness that makes them suited to killing vermin can frustrate you when you try to teach them anything. Skye Terriers can be stubborn and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.
To teach your Skye to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Skye Terrier Training Page discusses the program you need.
- Defensive reactions. If you need to physically chastise a terrier, and you go beyond what THEY believe is a fair correction, terriers (as a group) are more likely than other breeds to growl or snap. As an obedience instructor, I'm always extra careful when putting my hands on any terrier for a correction.
- Sharpness toward strangers. Standoffish by nature, Skye Terriers need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become extreme wariness or suspiciousness, which can lead to biting. The Skye Terrier has powerful jaws and is not a dog to be trifled with.
I do NOT recommend terriers for small children. Many terriers will not tolerate any nonsense from little life forms whom they consider to be below themselves in importance. Many terriers are quick to react to teasing, and even to the normal clumsiness that comes with small children (accidental squeezing of their ears or pulling of whiskers or stepping on their paw). Many terriers are possessive of their food and toys and will defend these from all comers, including children.
- Animal aggression. Like all terriers, Skyes can be scrappy with other dogs of the same sex. They are a determined force to reckon with if they decide to initiate or accept a challenge to fight. And because of their hunting background, most Skye Terriers have strong instincts to chase and seize small fleeing creatures. This can make for conflict if you own a cat. It may be much worse than that if you own a pet rabbit or hamster!
Terriers cannot be trusted off-leash. They will take off -- oblivious to your frantic shouts -- after anything that runs.
- Grooming. Without frequent brushing, Skye Terriers become a matted mess. If you can't commit to the brushing, you have to commit to frequent trimming to keep the coat short, neat, and healthy.
- Finding one and paying the price. In the United States, fewer than 100 new Skye Terrier puppies are registered each year. Compare that to over 60,000 new Golden Retriever puppies! And many breeders are charging $1000 and up.
To learn more about training Skye Terriers to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Skye Terrier the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Skye Terrier. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Skye Terrier might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Skye Terrier home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.
Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT Skye Terrier...
When you're acquiring a Skye Terrier PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Skye Terriers who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
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Copyright © 2000-2014 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
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