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.

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