This section is from the book "The Terriers. A History And Description Of The Modern Dogs Of Great Britain And Ireland", by Rawdon B. Lee. Also available from Amazon: A History and Description of the Modern Dogs of Great Britain and Ireland: The Terriers.
Perhaps the best couple of Skye terriers now being shown are Mrs. W. J. Hughes' Laird Duncan and Wolverley Roc. I like them specially because they are so straight in the coat, and are of a very much lighter shade of grey than is prevalent at this time. Mr. H. Buckley's Young Duke, Mr. W. Cummings' Burgundy and Madeira, the Rev. T. Nolan's Tackley Boy, Mrs. M. Tottie's Sunbeam and Victoria II., Mr. R. Bruce's Silver Prince, Mr. T. Young's Little Dombey, and Mrs. H. Freeman's Lord Lennox are amongst the choicest of the breed being shown at the time of writing. Owing, no doubt, to the trouble required to keep their long coats straight and clean, Skye terriers were never in many hands. The coat requires brushing or combing daily, but the process of tubbing should not be undergone oftener than is actually required to prevent an accumulation of filth.
There is no doubt that a Skye terrier in continued hard work would carry comparatively little coat, whilst its brother, which had been kept for show purposes alone, would be profuse in jacket; and, being equal in other respects to its relative, the latter would beat the former in the ring; thus the show dog becomes the more valuable, though probably the least useful, dog of the two so far as legitimate work is concerned. I hope that the Skye Terrier Club for Scotland will be successful in its praiseworthy attempt; if they prove so they will have solved a problem at which others have failed over and over again. And is it possible to make the present Skye terrier as useful a little dog for vermin and general hunting and country work as the Scottish terrier, which has come to the front with such leaps and bounds during the past half-dozen years? Mr. Dobbie and his colleagues are sanguine that at any rate they can keep it from more nearly approaching the Paisley or Clydesdale terrier, which is dealt with in the succeeding chapter.
As already hinted, there are two clubs to look after the interests of the Skye terrier - one for England, the other for Scotland; the former with about twenty-five members, the latter with some sixty on its roll. Both have drawn up full descriptions and standards of their special dog, which differ very little, but the most complete of the two is that of the Scottish club, which I take as my ideal, and publish accordingly. It was compiled after careful consideration, and is certainly authoritative. The English club allows a little more for length of body, coat, and weight, in consideration of the better climate, easier life, and more luxurious keeping of the modern over the original Skye terriers.
The Scottish club description and points are as follows: -
"The Skye terrier takes his name from the chief of those north-western islands of Scotland that, so far back as his history can be traced, formed his native home, and in which he was 'found in greatest perfection.' Upwards of three centuries ago the unmistakable description of him was given by a writer on Englishe Dogges, as a cur 'brought out of barbarous borders fro' the uttermost countryes northward,' 'which by reason of the length of heare makes showe neither of face nor of body.' Subsequent authors refer as distinctly to him, and describe him as the terrier of those islands, 'having long, lank hair, almost trailing to the ground.' Such evidence gives him an exclusive and indefeasible right to the designation which he bears. He is the only terrier distinctively belonging to the northwestern islands that is not common to the whole of Scotland. That he has been extensively displaced, there and elsewhere, there can be no question, though no better reason can be assigned for this than that 'ilk dog has his day;' or that, though others are no better and much less attractive, a charm has been thrown around them by a wizard wand. Yet it is believed by those who have the best practical knowledge of him that the Skye has no compeer in his own peculiar domain. Wherever there are rocks, dens, burrows, cairns, or covers to explore, or waters to take to, his services should be called into requisition. The smallest of all the useful terrier tribe, the lowest set, the longest in body, the strongest proportionally in legs, feet, jaws, and chest, the most muscular and flexible in his whole frame, the best protected against weather, injury, or foes, with an unequalled acuteness of sight, scent, and hearing, an unrivalled alacrity of action, and an indomitable pluck, he is possessed of pre-eminent qualifications for his special work. He needs only to have it put before him to prove that he is imbued with the spirit of his native master, who when taken from his hill to the battlefield and told:
There's the foe; he has nae thought but how to Kill twa at a blow.
No kennel can be complete without him.
"As a domestic watch and pet companion he is unsurpassed. Centuries gone by he was 'greatly set up, esteemed, taken up, and made much of'; and down to more recent times even 'a duchess would almost be ashamed to be seen in the park unaccompanied by her long-coated Skye.' To the present day he remains as unchanged as any variety of the canine race, and has certainly lost none of his merits or attractions. Exceptionally cleanly and sweet, less dependent on exercise than any other, his delicate sensibility, shrewd sagacity, exclusive attachment, and devoted courage, combined with his elegant form, graceful attire, and aristocratic air, render him, during his brief day-
A thing of beauty and a joy for ever.