- Silky Terriers are active in many events. They have earned titles or participated in obedience, rally, agility, herding, tracking, flyball, and earthdog tests. Some Silkys are therapy dogs.
- The Silky stands low to the ground and is slightly longer than he is tall. His silky blue and tan coat parts to each side, all the way down his back to his tail. It’s not so long that it falls all the way to the floor. He has a moderately long wedge-shaped head; small dark almond-shaped eyes; small V-shaped ears carried erect; and a black nose. The docked tail is carried between the twelve o’clock and two o’clock position. He moves with a lively and light-footed step.
AKC group: Toy
UKC group: Companion
Average lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Average size: 8 – 10 pounds
Coat appearance: Long, silky and parted down the middle.
Coloration: Born black; grows to have a blue coat with red or tan markings
Other identifiers: Small with fine bones and cat-like feet; body is longer than breed is tall; black nose; black almond-shaped eyes with black rims; erect ears and high-set tail
The Silky Terrier originated in Australia in the 1890s, when breeders crossed imported Yorkshire Terriers with their native Australian Terriers
. Some of the offspring looked like Yorkies, some looked like Australian Terriers
, and others looked like the Silky of today, with a size and coat length that was between the two parent breeds. The Silky-looking dogs were interbred until the puppies predictably had Silky traits.
In 1906, Australian fanciers developed a breed standard — written guidelines for what the breed should look, move, and act like — in Sydney, New South Wales. In 1909, another standard was drawn up in Victoria. The two standards didn’t completely match up, mostly on the preferred weight and ear type. The two camps compromised and a new breed standard came out in 1926.
The breed has had several names: initially, he was called the Sydney Silky Terrier. In 1955, he became the Australian Silky Terrier (still the official name for the breed in Australia). In the U.S., the name was changed to Silky Terrier.
A better name for the Silky Terrier might be the Spunky Terrier. These little dogs pack a lot of personality into a small package. Like other terriers, they believe they are the center of the universe and expect everyone to bow to their needs. Silkies make (harmless) mischief whenever possible, especially if they realize it gets them extra attention. This is an intelligent breed who knows how to manipulate a situation in his favor, and can sometimes even be considered bossy, but most owners don’t mind because they are just too darn cute to stay mad at. Silkies are great family dogs for those with older children, as they enjoy the company of people and prefer to have plenty of laps to choose from when it is naptime.
The Silky Terrier, which has a lifespan of about 11 to 14 years, may suffer from minor problems like patellar luxation and Legg-Perthes disease. Diabetes, epilepsy, allergies, tracheal collapse, and Cushing’s disease may sometimes be seen in this breed as well. To identify some of these issues, a veterinarian may run knee and elbow exams on the dog.
The Silky Terrier may look like a toy, but he’s a real dog who needs exercise and training. He enjoys daily walks, romping with you in the yard, or trips to a dog park with a special area for small breeds. In a pinch, the Silky is happy to take his workout indoors with a rousing game of fetch in the hallway.
These are not outdoor dogs. The Silky craves the companionship of his people, and he’s also small enough to be considered prey by wild animals. And despite his size, another risk is that he may fight with another dog who wanders onto his turf.
When it comes to training, Silky Terriers make willing and able students. Because they’re so smart, however, you need to be consistent; otherwise they’ll be inclined to make up their own rules. The best way to win your Silky’s cooperation is with fun lessons that use positive reinforcement.
Crate training is the easiest way to housetrain your Silky, and crates are also a good way to keep your Silky safe and out of trouble when you’re away from home. Silky Terriers are mischievous by nature and can be destructive when left unsupervised. A crate is also a place where he can retreat for a nap. Crate training at a young age will help your dog accept confinement if he ever needs to be boarded or hospitalized.
Never stick your Silky in a crate all day long, however. It’s not a jail, and he shouldn’t spend more than a few hours at a time in it except when he’s sleeping at night. Silkys are people dogs, and they aren’t meant to spend their lives locked up in a crate or kennel.
The Silky Terrier is good for apartment life. These dogs are very active indoors and will do okay without a yard if sufficiently exercised.
Like other terrier breeds, Silkies can be a handful to train. They are willful and stubborn and most definitely have minds of their own. Training should begin early and be conducted with calm-assertive leadership and never a harsh hand. Small terriers are prone to defensive reactions and if you physically correct your Silky – even to push his bottom down in a “sit” position – he may bite. Treats and excited praise should be enough to motivate a Silky Terrier, but sessions should be kept short so that he doesn’t lose interest.
When basic obedience has been mastered, your Silky can move on to advanced obedience, trick training or agility classes. These are smart dogs who, despite their stubbornness excel in these activities.
Silky Terriers are full of energy, have plenty of stamina and love going on daily walks or runs. This breed has a hunting background, so Silky Terriers like to chase small animals. Along with daily walks, your dog will enjoy time spent in an outside fenced yard or a trip to the dog park. If you can’t get outside, an energetic game of fetch, tug-of-war, or chase indoors will keep your dog exercised and active.
It is difficult to improve on the Silky Terrier’s natural good
looks, but you can maintain his long, silky coat by brushing and combing it several times a week with a pin or soft slicker brush and metal comb. Spray-on detangler can make this easier and help prevent breakage. Regular brushing prevents tangles, removes dirt and distributes oils, making for a healthy shine. Periodic bathing, every four weeks or so, and light trimming around his ears, eyes and feet, is also necessary. For extra easy care, some owners opt to have their Silkys trimmed short like a Schnauzer.
The rest is basic care. Trim the nails as needed, usually every one to two weeks. Keep the ears clean and dry to help prevent infections. Check them weekly for redness or a bad odor that might indicate infection. If the ears look dirty, wipe them out with a cotton ball moistened with a mild pH-balanced cleanser recommended by your veterinarian. Brush the teeth frequently with a vet-approved pet toothpaste for good overall health and fresh breath. Introduce your puppy to grooming from an early age so that he learns to accept it with little fuss.
Children And Other Pets
The Silky can be a wonderful family pet, so long as he’s raised with kids and grows up around their noise and commotion. Given his strong personality, though, he’s usually best for families with children older than 10 who know how to handle a dog. He may not tolerate pokes and prods from younger kids.
As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he’s eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog’s food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.
The Silky gets along with other dogs very well so long as he’s been raised to be dog-friendly, though there may be occasional bossiness and rivalry for attention or treats. Like all terriers, the Silky loves to chase small animals, so he may not be suited for homes with cats, rabbits, or other small pets.
Is this breed right for you?
Fun-loving and active, the Silky Terrier is a small breed that enjoys activity. Having strong affection for its owner, the breed is smart and can do well with apartment living, although she prefers her own space to play and investigate by nose or digging. An inside dog, the Silky Terrier can develop small dog syndrome if not given the right amount of training or guidance. Doing well with children if she has a good leader, the Silky Terrier can learn to adapt to other animals if socialized correctly.
Did You Know?
When he was first developed in Australia, this breed was known as the Sydney Silky Terrier. The name was changed in Australia to Australian Silky Terrier in 1955. The same year, in the United States, the name was changed to Silky Terrier.
A dream day in the life of a Silky Terrier
A playful pup, the Silky Terrier will enjoy waking up and immediately investigating her backyard. With a quick run, she’ll sniff out the perimeter to ensure everything is safe. Returning inside, she’ll greet her owner with a small amount of affection before requesting a bit of quality playtime. After a game of fetch in the yard, she’ll be ready for breakfast. Keeping up on her primary duty of watchdog, she’ll be happy in the constant company of her family. After her evening walk, she’ll be ready for her daily grooming session of a bath and blow-dry. Once she’s brushed and pampered, the Silky Terrier will be ready for a snooze.