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Desiring to give as comprehensive an idea as possible as to the Skye terrier, in addition to my own opinion I have the pleasure of publishing the following from the Rev. D. Dobbie, honorary secretary to the Skye Terrier Club for Scotland; but at the same time I do not endorse all his opinions, especially where he alludes to a broad, massive chest and shoulders :
“Although the description and points of the Skye terrier are as distinctly defined and as extensively agreed upon as those of any breed of dogs, yet the specimens exhibited on the show bench and the awards there made are frequently more inconsistent with the recognised standard, and more conflicting with each other than in the case of any other breed.
“To estimate the importance of such detailed description and points as are given at the end of this chapter, it is necessary to bear in mind the position of this dog in the sporting world. He forms the connecting link between the ferret, weasel, &c., and the canine race. He takes up the work of the former, and carries it beyond what they are able to accomplish. His formation, therefore, more largely corresponds to them than does that of any other breed. His function is to take to earth, and to bolt from their burrows, cairns, crevices, &c., the vermin which infest them. For this purpose his primary qualifications are small size, low set, great length of body, and exceptional strength of head and fore quarters—fitting him to enter, to perform his task, and to extricate himself where others differently formed would fail. His coat, too, of hard, lanky hair—sufficiently long (averaging 5%in.) to cover head, eyes, and body, but not so long as to impede him in his work—serves as protection against weather and foes. While the undercoat gives warmth, the overcoat serves like the thatch of a cottage—to carry off the rain ; and I have seen the hair of the forehead torn, the flesh lacerated, and the blood flowing over the face in encounters with vermin on the Tweedside, when I fully expected to find my dog blind, but I have never seen the eyesight injured. “But, instead of a dog possessed of these qualifications, we often find on the show bench and in the prize list a spurious counterfeit, large, leggy, and short-bodied, with weak head, jaw, and chest, and covered with an inordinate length of soft, flowing hair. By such the typical Skye terrier is largely displaced by many breeders and judges. “The explanation of this to a large extent is not difficult. A number of years ago—but still within the memory of many living—a fierce conflict raged in England and in Scotland as to what constituted the true Skye terrier. In the South the attempt was made to establish that claim on behalf of a sort of mongrel Scottish terrier, and in the North on behalf of what is known as the Paisley or Clydesdale terrier. The issue in both cases was that these attempts utterly failed. The breeders, however, alike of the true and of the spurious species, were limited in number, connections had been formed, inducing the defeated parties, while modifying somewhat the character of the dog's coat, &c., to maintain that conflict on the show bench in which they had been defeated in open discussion. Judges as well as breeders were implicated, some, it must be confessed, from pure ignorance, while others had formed their standard after a false model, or had been influenced by a variety of extraneous motives. “The Skye terrier is a purely Scottish dog, and is not generally well known in England. But England is the chief market for his disposal, and purchasers are readily imposed upon by a large showy specimen that may have been awarded a prize, even although destitute of Skye terrier character. The breed has been lately rising in public favour, and numbers of new breeders have entered the field, some of whom have obtained genuine specimens, others have not. “The work for which the Skye terrier is specially fitted became largely accomplished, his coat was difficult to keep in order, so another species was found fitted for the remaining work, and more easily kept in trim. Hence his disappearance to a great extent. Though I have repeatedly visited Inverness-shire, Ross-shire, Argyle-shire, and once Skye, I have scarcely ever met with a real Skye terrier till within the past few years; but Colonel Malcolm, of Poltalloch, writes me that the Laird of Waternish, in Skye, has always had a pack, and I believe that Lord Macdonald, of Armidale, Isle of Skye, has never entirely lost the blood. Within considerably less than half a century the breed was also carefully kept at Mull, Inverary, and Roseneath (the Duke of Argyll's), and at Bargamy (the Earl of Stair's). From these strains most of the existing race claim to have sprung, and of late years there has been a decided and increasing effort not only to extirpate the spurious and restore the true breed, but also to bring the latter up to the typical standard. “In his native Highland home, especially where he had generally disappeared, but where solitary specimens and abundant traditions still linger, a special interest is being taken in their restoration. At Inverary, where the breed was wont to be found in perfection, the lately deceased Duchess of Argyll had taken steps for its revival. At Oban it has found patrons not a few, and at Inverness, Dingwall, Skye, &c., numerous and enthusiastic breeders have arisen. All are bent on cultivating the genuine article only, and they are able to recognise, in the standard of the clubs, the conditions which their localities required, and its correspondence with all hereditary information they possess. If the efforts to bring up the breed to the standard of the club are to succeed, attention must be given to the defects that abound in the more typical specimens as well as to the exclusion of the wrong type. “In judging Skye terriers I should put lowness and length first; head, chest, and shoulders second; coat third; level back fourth; all other points being inferior and subordinate. Most of the older judges decide by length of coat alone—a most deceptive and injurious standard—the coat concealing faults and becoming softer the longer it is, and encouraging untypical breeding—5% inches of coat is ample. “During the past two years I have attended most of the large shows from Inverness to London, including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Carlisle, Preston, Liverpool, Manchester, Crystal Palace, &c., and have witnessed the prevailing defects specified. “Some leading breeders of the true type make weight their chief objection to winners of the present