Breed Group: Toy
The Silky Terrier, sometimes called the Austrailian Silky Terrier, is slightly larger but very similar in appearance to the better known Yorkshire Terrier. They are more active and somewhat less suspicious of strangers and other dogs than their similar-looking cousin. But despite their diminutive size and lovely coat, Silky Terriers are not quiet lap dogs. Even though a member of the Toy Group, they are active, energetic small terriers who think very highly of themselves. They love adventures and sharing in family activities. They are reasonably social with the entire family, strangers, dogs, and most other pets alike. But as a terrier, they still have hunting instincts. Socialization with smaller pets is a must for the dog to learn the difference between your pet and their prey. They enjoy playing and do well with older, well-behaved children; but can be snappish with youngsters who play roughly or who tease them. They love to play outdoors or go for walks but they need little if any additional exercise beyond a rousing play session. If allowed off leash, they should be kept in a safe area to prevent wandering. But beware, they have a tendency to dig under fences and squeeze through the smallest fence openings. Silky Terriers are fun and playful, but still a true terrier at heart– they tend to be stubborn, willful, and sometimes mischievous. Tending to bark more than most dogs, they make exceptional watchdogs; but because of their tiny size, they can not be taken seriously as a guardian. Some bark excessively.
The tiny Silky Terrier only grows to 9 or 10 inches tall and weighs between 8 and 10 pounds. Their coat is tan, grayish blue and silky. They shed minimally, but their long hair needs combed out at least once a week and shampooed occasionally to avoid matting. To extend the time between grooming sessions, their coat can be clipped short. They do well in any reasonable temperature range.
Silky Terriers are intelligent, curious, and perfectly capable of learning, but are also willful and independent. They feel very self-important and do not live to please anyone but themselves. As a result, they can be difficult to train. They can be especially difficult to housebreak. As a Terrier, they like to lead. Training them requires confidence and consistency. They are intelligent dogs and easily bored- games and fun training sessions help. They will not tolerate unfair treatment or harsh training methods. They are one of the few terriers that can be recommended for the first time owner provided their personality traits are accepted.
The Silky Terrier is generally considered healthy but because of their rarity, many of their disease statistics are inadequate to allow sound conclusions to be drawn. Slightly more than 2% are affected by Patellar Luxation. Also occasionally seen is Elbow Dysplasia, Legg Perthes Disease, Invertebral Disc Disease, Diabetes, and Epilepsy. A collapsed trachea, evidenced by the snorting sound some people incorrectly associate with asthma, missing teeth or bad bites also sometimes occur.
Silky Terriers have not gained the great popularity of their similar looking cousins, the Yorkshire Terrier. They ranked 65th in popularity among the breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club with about 1,500 dogs registered annually.
The Silky Terrier was created in the late 1800’s when colonists brought the Yorkshire Terrier to Australia from their native England. These dogs were then purposely crossed with the native Australian Terrier in an attempt to improve the Australian Terriers coat color and texture. For some time, the hybrids were shown as either Yorkshire Terriers or Australian Terriers; but in the early 1900s, their own breed standard was created. They were first called the Sydney Silky Terrier, then the Australian Silky Terrier, and finally just Silky Terrier. The American Kennel Club accepted the breed in 1955 with their popularity growing very slowly ever since.
TV show host Mike Douglas is among the Silky Terrier’s admiers. The National (US) Breed Club is the Silky Terrier Club of America.