Skye Terrier - a plucky loyal breed
The little Skye Terrier has had mixed fortunes over the years. Ancestor of many terrier breeds, this plucky hunting dog became a favourite of queens and great ladies, but now is an uncommon sight even in Scotland from whence it originated.
One of the original terriers of the Hebrides, the Skye was first described by Dr John Caius, Court physician to Elizabeth I in his book “of English Dogges” in 1570. The Skye has played a part in the development in all the terrier breeds of Scotland.
Skye terriers have a lush coat, long body, and gracefully feathered prick or drop ears. They come in a variety of different coat colours.
The dog was used to hunt fox and badger, being found to be game and fearless. Despite these qualities in the field, it is amongst the most loyal and devoted of human companions – a quality made legendary in the story of Greyfriars Bobby, a Skye Terrier owned by a Scottish shepherd. When his master died Bobby returned daily to the Edinburgh grave for 14 years and was fed by local residents. When Bobby himself died in 1872, a monument was erected in Greyfriars churchyard.
The loyal dog present under the petticoat of Mary, Queen of Scots at her execution, is also believed to have been a Skye Terrier.
Queen Victoria acquired a Skye in 1842 and this helped to widen popularity of the breed. It won further recognition when renowned portrait artist Sir Edwin Landseer featured examples in a number of his paintings. Soon it was said that a duchess would be almost ashamed to be seen in the park without her Skye Terrier by her side.
These days, however, it is one of Britain's rarest native dog breeds.
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