This section is from the book "British Dogs: Their Varieties, History, Characteristics, Breeding, Management, And Exhibition", by Hugh Dalziel. Also available from Amazon: British Dogs.
For several years past this game little dog and favourite pet has been much discussed in newspapers dealing with canine subjects. I am anxious that the views of each party should be fairly represented in "British Dogs," and with that view I consider it best they should speak for themselves.
This necessitates making the article on Skye terriers rather longer than I desired, but in the interests of fair play I can see no other plan to follow. I will, therefore, make my own remarks as brief as possible, whilst I feel compelled, from the position I have assumed, not to pass the opposing opinions over in silence.
Engravings of the three types advocated are also given, which will assist in elucidating the opinions expressed.
I will first give the opinions of those who advocate the stamp of dog represented by the woodcut of "Gareloch," which may be called the Roseneath type.
It is most unfortunate, in my opinion, that those who espouse this type should not be content with advocating its excellencies, but decry all others with a wantonness and inattention to strict accuracy most damaging to their own cause.
MR. F. H. VICARY'S PRICK EARED SKYE TERRIER "MONARCH" (K.C.S.B. 6691). Sire Mr. Thompson's Tommy - Dam Mr. Cunningham's Queen Bess.
They have, in correspondence which has been dragged through numerous newspapers, insisted that the dogs obtaining prizes at English dog shows have coats of soft silky texture. To make this statement is to show gross ignorance of facts, or wilfully to write that which is untrue. A dog with a soft silky coat, or of "Berlin wool" texture, may occasionally have won, judges not being infallible; but to say that English judges, by preferring soft-coated Syke terriers encourage mongrels, is altogether unsustainable by facts, and soft silky-coated dogs are now but rarely seen in a Skye terrier class. In June, 1879, I acted as judge at Exeter show, when, to my astonishment, there was a class of some ten or twelve, and every one hard-coated, and when we come to the principal prize winners at all good shows it is the same. Her Majesty the Queen's Toddy, Gretton's Sam, Pratt's Piper, Haggis, and others of his kennel, Brooke's "Warlock, Pike's Oscar, Cunningham's Monarch and Venus, Locke's Perkie, and many more I could name are all remarkable for the hardness of the exterior coat.
Another objection taken to the prize winners is the length of the coat.
Prize winning Skye terriers in England are not regularly worked, and some of them not at all; if they were, every practical man knows their coats would soon be short enough; but the issuers of the manifesto I am about to quote insist that the length of coat could not be attained without crossing with a naturally longer haired variety. In this they answer themselves by stating that the Roseneath strain has a coat two-thirds longer than the original, and say this result has been obtained by "Systematic breeding by selection." Just so the dogs prized in England may have obtained their long coats, and with prize dogs there have been other influences at work tending to the production of long coats - the constant attention to combing and brushing alone stimulates and increases the growth of hair, and attention to health and cleanliness keeps the dogs from scratching and breaking the hair. When the reader comes to Mr. John Flinn's able contribution, he will, however, find that although short-coated terriers may long have existed in the "Western Highlands, very long-coated terriers were peculiar to these parts over 300 years ago.
Another objection taken to prize dogs, and strongly urged by the party I am now referring to, is that their owners give no account of their pedigree, or how or from whom they originally obtained the strain.
I do not care to characterise this as I think it should be characterised, the facts being that several great prize winners, of whom I may mention Mr. J. Pratt and Mr. Duncan Cunningham as examples, have, in the only public records of canine pedigrees existing, proved their prize dogs to be of long descent, whereas not one of the signatories to the manifesto have ever published a pedigree of one of their dogs.
Another charge against prize-winning Skyes is want of courage and ability to do the work of a terrier.
A more groundless statement could not be made, as I can testify from practical experience; and men must surely be absolutely blinded by prejudice who, by such reckless statements, would injure other people's property.
I will only further remark that the journal "which need not be named" was The Country, of which I was Kennel editor, and that the words attributed to me shows a lack of accuracy and candour on the part of the quoter.
The manifesto is as follows;
"The Skye terrier defined, as existing in the Western Isles and Highlands of Scotland.
"During the last three years a widespread agitation has been maintained in the columns of leading journals on sporting matters, with reference to the question ' What constitutes a Skye terrier?' and, however explicitly it has been demonstrated by gentlemen qualified to speak as to facts that the breed belongs to the Western Isles and Highlands of Scotland, and are essentially ' terriers,' being utilised in the destruction of all kinds of vermin to be met with in this country, strange to say, Southern breeders, as a class, are strongly opposed to this view, on no stronger ground, apparently, than it does not accord with their preconceived notions about Skye terriers. In one journal (the name of which need not be specified) a statement recently appeared from the pen of an editor professedly well versed in canine matters, to the effect that the term 'Terrier' is not now restricted to its original meaning; but it would have been more correct to say that the application of such term to dogs, such as are generally exhibited in the Skye terrier class, is to ascribe a meaning to the word 'Terrier' at variance with its derivation.