The Silky Terrier, also known as the Sydney Silky Terrier, the Sydney Silky, the Australian Silky Terrier, the Australian Silky, the Silky Terrier, the Silky Toy Terrier and simply the Silky, was "developed" as a breed in the late 1800s in Australia, from crosses of imported Yorkshire Terriers and native Australian Terriers. This is Australia's only "toy" breed and is a true toy terrier in all ways: cheerful, curious, affectionate and loyal. The Silky Terrier was developed strictly as a companion animal and unlike many other terriers has not regularly been used to hunt vermin or game, although it can certainly do so. The Silky was admitted into the Toy Group by the American Kennel Club in 1959.
Silkies should stand from 9 to 10 inches at the withers. They typically weigh between 8 and 10 pounds. Their coat is, of course, silky, and is parted down the middle from head to tail. Silky Terriers are blue and tan, with the blue ranging from silver blue, pigeon blue or slate blue and the tan being deep and rich. His ears are pricked and always held erect, giving a delightfully alert expression at all times. This breed does not shed and rarely has a doggy odor, making it an exceptional companion.
History & Health
In the late 19th century, a number of Yorkshire Terriers were brought from England to Australia – particularly, to Victoria and New South Wales. Some of these Yorkshire Terrier dogs were crossed with the larger, working Australian Terrier bitches in an attempt to improve their blue-and-tan coats. Some of the offspring of these crosses were initially shown as Australian Terriers, while others were exhibited either as Yorkies or Silkies. Some authorities think that the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Skye Terrier and/or Cairn Terrier may also have a place in the Silky Terrier's ancestry. Eventually, the Silky Terrier bred true to type and was recognized as a distinct breed in New South Wales in 1906, and in Victoria in 1909. There were some discrepancies between these two standards, particularly with regard to weight and ear type. A revised standard was adopted in 1926 in an effort to standardize the breed, and legislation was introduced in 1932 by the Kennel Control Council of Victoria to prevent further cross breedings between the Yorkshire, Australian and the then-called Sydney Silky Terriers.
In 1955, the Sydney Silky's name was officially changed to the Australian Silky Terrier. In 1958, the Australian National Kennel Club was founded and recommended development of a national standard for the Australian Silky Terrier. That happened in March of 1959, and the national Australian standard narrowed approved weights for the Silky to "ideally from eight to ten pounds." The previous standards had varied from 6 to 12 pounds, with one even allowing a variety below 6 pounds.
Silky Terriers made their way to the United States with American servicemen and women returning from Australia after World War II. The Sydney Silky Terrier Club of America held its first meeting in March of 1955. Shortly thereafter, it was renamed as the Silky Terrier Club of America. The Silky was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1959, as a member of the Toy Group. The breed was not recognized in England until a breed club was developed there in 1979. Today's Silky is an energetic, intelligent, fun-loving companion that thrives on attention from his owner and is a terrific urban pet. It also makes a great watchdog and will vigorously announce the arrival of any visitors, welcome or not.
The average life span of the Silky Terrier is 12 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include allergies, collapsing trachea; diabetes, elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, intervertebral disk disease, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, malassezia dermatitis, short hair syndrome of Silky breeds, cataracts, cystine urolithiasis, refractory corneal ulceration and patellar luxation.
Temperament & Personality
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.
Though they may look like sissies, Silky Terriers are actually very sturdy and active dogs who require moderate exercise to maintain health and happiness. Silkies love to take long walks, and are hardy enough to be a hiking companion. Jogging isn't their strong suit, but they will chase balls around your yard as long as you are willing to throw them.
Silkies are small enough to live comfortably in an apartment or condo as long as they are walked daily and allowed to run a few times per week.
Because Silky Terriers are smart, they require mental stimulation as well as physical activity. If possible, Silkies should be enrolled in agility training so they can work their minds, bodies, and get some extra bonding time with someone they love.
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.
Silkies, like their other terrier cousins, are prone to barking early and often. They will bark to let you know that someone is at the door, walking across the street, or riding a bicycle. They will bark to alert you that a cat is in the yard, the neighbor's dog is outside, or a squirrel is climbing up a tree. Silkies bark at everything and it is nearly impossible to train out of them. Teaching your dog to obey a commands to stop barking can keep your sanity in check and your neighborly relationships in tact.
Silky Terriers do not like to be left alone for long periods of time. They are companion dogs who love the company of their human friends. People who work long hours will come home to find their Silky had barked himself hoarse, has ripped upholstery, or conveniently forgotten his house training manners. People with flexible work schedules, retirees, or families with a stay at home parent are the most ideal situations for a Silky Terrier.
Fence security is often a concern with Silky Terriers. They will dig under fences in order to get out and chase small animals. They should never be left unsupervised in a yard. Their desire to chase means they should always be kept on a leash when not in a fenced location. If a Silky gives chase, you aren't likely to get him to return to you no matter how desperately you call.
Silkies get along well with older children who understand a dog's boundaries but are not recommended for homes with small children. Toddlers are often clumsy or will want to tug at a Silly's hair, which can lead the dog to snap or bite.
The Silky Terrier is a true "toy terrier". He is moderately low set, slightly longer than tall, of refined bone structure, but of sufficient substance to suggest the ability to hunt and kill domestic rodents. His coat is silky in texture, parted from the stop to the tail and presents a well groomed but not sculptured appearance. His inquisitive nature and joy of life make him an ideal companion.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Size – Shoulder height from nine to ten inches. Deviation in either direction is undesirable. Proportion – The body is about one fifth longer than the dog's height at the withers. Substance – Lightly built with strong but rather fine bone.
The head is strong, wedge-shaped, and moderately long. Expression piercingly keen, eyes small, dark, almond shaped with dark rims. Light eyes are a serious fault. Ears are small, V-shaped, set high and carried erect without any tendency to flare obliquely off the skull. Skull flat, and not too wide between the ears. The skull is slightly longer than the muzzle. Stop shallow. The nose is black. Teeth strong and well aligned, scissors bite. An undershot or overshot bite is a serious fault.
Neck, Topline and Body
The neck fits gracefully into sloping shoulders. It is medium long, fine, and to some degree crested. The topline is level. A topline showing a roach or dip is a serious fault. Chest medium wide and deep enough to extend down to the elbows. The body is moderately low set and about one fifth longer than the dog's height at the withers. The body is measured from the point of the shoulder (or forechest) to the rearmost projection of the upper thigh (or point of the buttocks). A body which is too short is a fault, as is a body which is too long. The tail is docked, set high and carried at twelve to two o'clock position.
Well laid back shoulders, together with proper angulation at the upper arm, set the forelegs nicely under the body. Forelegs are strong, straight and rather fine-boned. Feet small, catlike, round, compact. Pads are thick and springy while nails are strong and dark colored. White or flesh-colored nails are a fault. The feet point straight ahead, with no turning in or out. Dewclaws, if any, are removed.
Thighs well muscled and strong, but not so developed as to appear heavy. Well angulated stifles with low hocks which are parallel when viewed from behind. Feet as in front.
Straight, single, glossy, silky in texture. On matured specimens the coat falls below and follows the body outline. It should not approach floor length. On the top of the head, the hair is so profuse as to form a topknot, but long hair on the face and ears is objectionable. The hair is parted on the head and down over the back to the root of the tail. The tail is well coated but devoid of plume. Legs should have short hair from the pastern and hock joints to the feet. The feet should not be obscured by the leg furnishings.
Blue and tan. The blue may be silver blue, pigeon blue or slate blue, the tan deep and rich. The blue extends from the base of the skull to the tip of the tail, down the forelegs to the elbows, and half way down the outside of the thighs. On the tail the blue should be very dark. Tan appears on muzzle and cheeks, around the base of the ears, on the legs and feet and around the vent. The topknot should be silver or fawn which is lighter than the tan points.
Should be free, light-footed, lively and straightforward. Hindquarters should have strong propelling power. Toeing in or out is to be faulted.
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Sources: American Kennel Club