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The Skye And Clydesdale Terriers

That the Skye Terrier should be called the Heavenly Breed is a
tribute to the favour in which he is held by his admirers. Certainly
when he is seen in perfection he is an exceedingly beautiful dog. As
certainly there is no breed more affectionate, more faithful, or more
lovable. Among his characteristics are a long-enduring patience, a
prompt obedience, and a deep-hearted tenderness, combined with
fearless courage. He is more sensitive to rebuke and punishment than
most dogs, and will nurse resentment to those who are unjust to him;
not viciously, but with an almost human plaintiveness which demands an
immediate reconciliation. He is staunch and firm as his native hills
to those who are kind to him, and for entering into battle with an
enemy there is no dog more recklessly daring and resolute.

Visitors to dog shows are disposed to believe that the Skye Terrier,
with its well-groomed coat that falls in smooth cascades down its
sides, and its veil of thick hair that obscures the tender softness of
its dark and thoughtful eyes, is meant only to look beautiful upon the
bench or to recline in comfortable indolence on silken cushions. This
is a mistake. See a team of Skyes racing up a hillside after a
fugitive rabbit, tirelessly burrowing after a rat, or displaying their
terrier strategy around a fox's earth or an otter's holt, and you will
admit that they are meant for sport, and are demons at it. Even their
peculiarity of build is a proof that they are born to follow vermin
underground. They are long of body, with short, strong legs, adapted
for burrowing. With the Dachshund they approximate more closely than
any other breeds to the shape of the badger, the weasel, and the
otter, and so many animals which Nature has made long and low in order
that they may inhabit earths and insinuate themselves into narrow
passages in the moorland cairns.

There can be no question that these dogs, which are so typically
Highland in character and appearance, as well as the Clydesdale, the
Scottish, the Dandie Dinmont, and the White Poltalloch terriers, are
all the descendants of a purely native Scottish original. They are all
inter-related; but which was the parent breed it is impossible to

It is even difficult to discover which of the two distinct types of
the Skye Terrier was the earlier--the variety whose ears stand alertly
erect or its near relative whose ears are pendulous. Perhaps it does
not matter. The differences between the prick-eared Skye and the
drop-eared are so slight, and the characteristics which they have in
common are so many, that a dual classification was hardly necessary.
The earliest descriptions and engravings of the breed present a
terrier considerably smaller than the type of to-day, carrying a
fairly profuse, hard coat, with short legs, a body long in proportion
to its height, and with ears that were neither erect nor drooping, but
semi-erect and capable of being raised to alertness in excitement. It
is the case that drop-eared puppies often occur in the litters of
prick-eared parents, and vice versa.

As its name implies, this terrier had its early home in the misty
island of Skye; which is not to say that it was not also to be found
in Lewis, Oronsay, Colonsay and others of the Hebrides, as well as on
the mainland of Scotland. Dr. Johnson, who visited these islands with
Boswell in 1773, noticed these terriers and observed that otters and
weasels were plentiful in Skye, that the foxes were numerous, and that
they were hunted by small dogs. He was so accurate an observer that
one regrets he did not describe the Macleod's terriers and their work.
They were at that time of many colours, varying from pure white to
fawn and brown, blue-grey and black. The lighter coloured ones had
black muzzles, ears, and tails. Their tails were carried more gaily
than would be permitted by a modern judge of the breed.

In those days the Highlander cared less for the appearance than he did
for the sporting proclivities of his dogs, whose business it was to
oust the tod from the earth in which it had taken refuge; and for this
purpose certain qualities were imperative. First and foremost the
terrier needed to be small, short of leg, long and lithe in body, with
ample face fringe to protect his eyes from injury, and possessed of
unlimited pluck and dash.

The Skye Terrier of to-day does not answer to each and every one of
these requirements. He is too big--decidedly he is too big--especially
in regard to the head. A noble-looking skull, with large,
well-feathered ears may be admirable as ornament, but would assuredly
debar its possessor from following into a fox's lair among the
boulders. Then, again, his long coat would militate against the
activity necessary for his legitimate calling.

It was not until about 1860 that the Skye Terrier attracted much
notice among dog lovers south of the Border, but Queen Victoria's
admiration of the breed, of which from 1842 onwards she always owned
favourite specimens, and Sir Edwin Landseer's paintings in which the
Skye was introduced, had already drawn public attention to the
decorative and useful qualities of this terrier. The breed was
included in the first volume of the Kennel Club Stud Book, and the
best among the early dogs were such as Mr. Pratt's Gillie and
Dunvegan, Mr. D. W. Fyfe's Novelty, Mr. John Bowman's Dandie, and Mr.
Macdona's Rook. These were mostly of the drop-eared variety, and were
bred small.

About the year 1874, fierce and stormy disputes arose concerning the
distinctions of the Scottish breeds of terriers. The controversy was
continued until 1879, when the Kennel Club was approached with the
view to furnishing classes. The controversy was centred upon three
types of Scottish terriers: those which claimed to be pure Skye
Terriers, a dog described briefly as Scotch, and a third, which for a
time was miscalled the Aberdeen. To those who had studied the
varieties, the distinctions were clear; but the question at issue
was--to which of the three rightly belonged the title of Scottish
Terrier? The dog which the Scots enthusiasts were trying to get
established under this classification was the Cairn Terrier of the
Highlands, known in some localities as the short-coated, working Skye,
and in others as the Fox-terrier, or Tod-hunter. A sub-division of
this breed was the more leggy Aberdeen variety.

The present-day Skye is without doubt one of the most beautiful
terriers in existence. He is a dog of medium size, with a weight not
exceeding 25 lb., and not less than 18 lb. he is long in proportion to
his height, with a very level back, a powerful jaw with perfectly
fitting teeth, a small hazel eye, and a long hard coat just reaching
the ground. In the prick-eared variety the ears are carried erect,
with very fine ear feathering, and the face fringe is long and thick.
The ear feathering and face fall are finer in quality than the coat,
which is exceedingly hard and weather-resisting. And here it is well
to point out that the Skye has two distinct coats: the under coat,
somewhat soft and woolly, and the upper, hard and rain-proof. This
upper coat should be as straight as possible, without any tendency to
wave or curl. The tail is not very long, and should be nicely
feathered, and in repose never raised above the level of the back.

The same description applies to the drop-eared type, except that the
ears in repose, instead of being carried erect, fall evenly on each
side of the head. When, however, the dog is excited, the ears are
pricked forward, in exactly the same fashion as those of the Airedale
Terrier. This is an important point, a houndy carriage of ear being a
decided defect. The drop-eared variety is usually the heavier and
larger dog of the two; and for some reason does not show the quality
and breeding of its neighbour. Lately, however, there has evidently
been an effort made to improve the drop-eared type, with the result
that some very excellent dogs have recently appeared at the important

Probably Mr. James Pratt has devoted more time and attention to the
Skye Terrier than any other now living fancier, though the names of
Mr. Kidd and Mr. Todd are usually well known. Mr. Pratt's Skyes were
allied to the type of terrier claiming to be the original Skye of the
Highlands. The head was not so large, the ears also were not so
heavily feathered, as is the case in the Skye of to-day, and the
colours were very varied, ranging from every tint between black and

In 1892 a great impetus was given to the breed by Mrs. Hughes, whose
kennels at Wolverley were of overwhelmingly good quality. Mrs. Hughes
was quickly followed by such ardent and successful fanciers as Sir
Claud and Lady Alexander, of Ballochmyle, Mrs. Freeman, Miss Bowyer
Smyth, and Miss McCheane. Lately other prominent exhibitors have
forced their way into the front rank, among whom may be mentioned the
Countess of Aberdeen, Mrs. Hugh Ripley, Mrs. Wilmer, Miss Whishaw, and
Mrs. Sandwith. Mrs. Hughes' Wolverley Duchess and Wolverley Jock were
excellent types of what a prick-eared Skye should be. Excellent, too,
were Mrs. Freeman's Alister, and Sir Claud Alexander's Young Rosebery,
Olden Times, Abbess, and Wee Mac of Adel, Mrs. Wilmer's Jean, and Mr.
Millar's Prince Donard. But the superlative Skye of the period, and
probably the best ever bred, is Wolverley Chummie, the winner of
thirty championships which are but the public acknowledgment of his
perfections. He is the property of Miss McCheane, who is also the
owner of an almost equally good specimen of the other sex in Fairfield
Diamond. Among the drop-eared Skyes of present celebrity may be
mentioned Mrs. Hugh Ripley's Perfection, Miss Whishaw's Piper Grey,
and Lady Aberdeen's Cromar Kelpie.

There are two clubs in England and one in Scotland instituted to
protect the interests of this breed, namely, the Skye Terrier Club of
England, the Skye and Clydesdale Club, and the Skye Terrier Club of
Scotland. The Scottish Club's description is as follows:--

* * * * *

HEAD--Long, with powerful jaws and incisive teeth closing level, or
upper just fitting over under. Skull: wide at front of brow,
narrowing between the ears, and tapering gradually towards the muzzle,
with little falling in between or behind the eyes. Eyes: hazel,
medium size, close set. Muzzle: always black. EARS (PRICK OR
PENDANT)--When prick, not large, erect at outer edges, and slanting
towards each other at inner, from peak to skull. When pendant,
larger, hanging straight, lying flat, and close at front.
BODY--Pre-eminently long and low. Shoulders broad, chest deep, ribs
well sprung and oval shaped, giving a flattish appearance to the
sides. Hind-quarters and flank full and well developed. Back level and
slightly declining from the top of the hip joint to the shoulders. The
neck long and gently crested. TAIL--When hanging, the upper half
perpendicular, the under half thrown backward in a curve. When
raised, a prolongation of the incline of the back, and not rising
higher nor curling up. LEGS--Short, straight, and muscular. No dew
claws, the feet large and pointing forward. COAT (DOUBLE)--An under,
short, close, soft, and woolly. An over, long, averaging 5-1/2
inches, hard, straight, flat, and free from crimp or curl. Hair on
head, shorter, softer, and veiling the forehead and eyes; on the ears,
overhanging inside, falling down and mingling with the side locks, not
heavily, but surrounding the ear like a fringe, and allowing its shape
to appear. Tail also gracefully feathered. COLOUR (ANY VARIETY)--Dark
or light blue or grey, or fawn with black points. Shade of head and
legs approximating that of body.

1. AVERAGE MEASUREMENTS: DOG--Height at shoulder, 9 inches. Length,
back of skull to root of tail, 22-1/2 inches; muzzle to back of skull,
8-1/2 inches; root of tail to tip joint, 9 inches. Total length, 40
inches. BITCH--Half an inch lower, and 2-1/2 inches shorter than dog,
all points proportional; thus, body, 21 inches; head, 8 inches; and
tail, 8-1/2 inches. Total, 37-1/2 inches.

2. AVERAGE WEIGHT: DOG--18 lb.; bitch, 16 lb. No dog should be over 20
lb., nor under 16 lb.; and no bitch should be over 18 lb., nor under
14 lb.

* * * * *

Whereas the Scottish Club limits the approved length of coat to 5-1/2
inches, the English Club gives a maximum of 9 inches. This is a fairly
good allowance, but many of the breed carry a much longer coat than
this. It is not uncommon, indeed, to find a Skye with a covering of 12
inches in length, which, even allowing for the round of the body,
causes the hair to reach and often to trail upon the ground.

The Clydesdale may be described as an anomaly. He stands as it were
upon a pedestal of his own; and unlike other Scotch terriers he is
classified as non-sporting. Perhaps his marvellously fine and silky
coat precludes him from the rough work of hunting after vermin, though
it is certain his game-like instincts would naturally lead him to do
so. Of all the Scottish dogs he is perhaps the smallest; his weight
seldom exceeding 18 lb. He is thus described by the Skye Terrier Club
of Scotland:--

* * * * *

GENERAL APPEARANCE--A long, low, level dog, with heavily fringed erect
ears, and a long coat like the finest silk or spun glass, which hangs
quite straight and evenly down each side, from a parting extending
from the nose to the root of the tail. HEAD--Fairly long, skull flat
and very narrow between the ears, gradually widening towards the eyes
and tapering very slightly to the nose, which must be black. The jaws
strong and the teeth level. EYES--Medium in size, dark in colour, not
prominent, but having a sharp, terrier-like expression, eyelids black.
EARS--Small, set very high on the top of the head, carried perfectly
erect, and covered with long silky hair, hanging in a heavy fringe
down the sides of the head. BODY--Long, deep in chest, well ribbed up,
the back being perfectly level. TAIL--Perfectly straight, carried
almost level with the back, and heavily feathered. LEGS--As short and
straight as possible, well set under the body, and entirely covered
with silky hair. Feet round and cat-like. COAT--As long and straight
as possible, free from all trace of curl or waviness, very glossy and
silky in texture, with an entire absence of undercoat. COLOUR--A level,
bright steel blue, extending from the back of the head to the root of
the tail, and on no account intermingled with any fawn, light or dark
hairs. The head, legs, and feet should be a clear, bright, golden tan,
free from grey, sooty, or dark hairs. The tail should be very dark
blue or black.

* * * * *

The Clydesdale Terrier is rare, at any rate as regards the show bench;
there are never more than two or three at most exhibited south of the
Tweed, even when classes are provided at the big shows and
championships offered, thus indicating that the breed is not a popular
one; and amongst those kennels who do show there exists at the present
time but one dog who can lay claim to the title of champion; this
unique specimen is the property of Sir Claud Alexander, Bart., of
Ballochmyle, and is known under the name of Wee Wattie. There are of
course several fanciers in Scotland, among whom may be mentioned Mr.
G. Shaw, of Glasgow, who is the owner of several fine examples of the
breed, including beautiful San Toy and the equally beautiful Mozart.

As with the Skye Terrier, it seems a matter of difficulty to produce a
perfect Clydesdale, and until the breed is taken up with more energy
it is improbable that first class dogs will make an appearance in the
show ring. A perfect Clydesdale should figure as one of the most
elegant of the terrier breed; his lovely silken coat, the golden brown
hue of his face fringe, paws and legs, his well pricked and feathery
ear, and his generally smart appearance should combine to form a
picture exciting general admiration.

Next: The Yorkshire Terrier

Previous: The Dandie Dinmont

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