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Skye Terriers: What's Good About 'Em, What's Bad About 'Em

Skye Terrier temperament, personality, training, behavior, pros and cons, advice, and information, by Michele Welton, Dog Trainer, Behavioral Consultant, Author of 15 Dog Books

Skye Terrier dog breed

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.

Keep in mind that the inheritance of temperament is less predictable than the inheritance of physical traits such as size or shedding. Temperament and behavior are also shaped by raising and training.

  • You can avoid some negative traits by choosing an ADULT dog from an animal shelter or rescue group. With an adult dog, you can easily see what you're getting, and plenty of adult Skye Terriers have already proven themselves not to have negative characteristics.
  • If you want a puppy, you can avoid some negative traits by choosing the right breeder and the right puppy. Unfortunately, you usually can't tell whether a puppy has inherited temperament or health problems until he grows up.
  • Finally, you can avoid some negative traits by training your Skye Terrier to respect you and by following the 11-step care program in my book, 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...

  1. 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.

    In other words, you must teach your Skye Terrier to respect you. A dog who respects you will do what you say and will stop what he's doing when you tell him "No." Read more about Skye Terrier Training.

  2. 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.
  3. Defensive reactions. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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 and sanitary.
  6. Finding one. In the United States, fewer than 100 new Skye Terrier puppies are registered each year, so you should expect to go on a waiting list.

Michele Welton with BuffyAbout the author: Michele Welton has over 40 years of experience as a Dog Trainer, Dog Breed Consultant, and founder of three Dog Training Centers. An expert researcher and author of 15 books about dogs, she loves helping people choose, train, and care for their dogs.

To help you train and care for your dog

dog training videos Dog training videos. Sometimes it's easier to train your puppy (or adult dog) when you can see the correct training techniques in action.

The problem is that most dog training videos on the internet are worthless, because they use the wrong training method. I recommend these dog training videos that are based on respect and leadership.

book coverRespect Training For Puppies: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved puppy. For puppies 2 to 18 months old. Your puppy will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
If your dog is over 18 months, you'll want book coverRespect Training For Adult Dogs: 30 seconds to a calm, polite, well-behaved dog. Again your dog will learn the 21 skills that all family dogs need to know.
book coverTeach Your Dog 100 English Words is a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will teach your adult dog to listen to you and do what you say.
book cover11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy helps your dog live a longer, healthier life.
book coverDog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams will help you find a good-tempered, healthy family companion.

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