Known as the Australian Silky Terrier in its country of origin, the Silky Terrier was first bred Down Under in the late 1800s. A cross between the Yorkshire Terrier and the Australian Terrier, it splits the difference between the two breeds in size. The Silky is one of the few Australian-bred dogs created as a companion from the get-go, rather than as a working dog. But their ancestors were used to manage rodent populations, and Silkies maintain that prey drive.
Perfectly named, the breed has a soft, silky coat with a beautiful sheen. They charm with a combination of 'lap dog' and 'big dog' qualities. Silkies enjoy snuggling on the couch as much as the next toy breed, but they are also eager for outdoor adventures. The Silky Terrier is agile and quick, with a lightness in his gate. Boredom brings out the worst in Silkies, but if you keep them active they make fun-loving, amiable company.
Silky Terriers are known as Australian Silky Terriers in Australia, and are nicknamed Silkies.
The Silky Terrier's single coat is straight, glossy, and silky to the touch. The coat grows long and falls in a part from the top of the head to the tail. Sometimes the long hair on the head is styled into a topknot. The fur on the tail is shorter than the fur on the rest of the body, and does not have a plume. The coat color is blue and tan, with the blue running from the base of the skull to the end of the tail. The tan is a rich hue, and the blue can range from light silver blue to a deep slate blue.
Average Height: 9-10 inches
Average Weight: 10 pounds
Breed Standard & History
Silky Terriers are refined without being fragile, with a silhouette that is slightly longer than it is tall. They have a graceful, crested neck, and the appearance of strength in their chest, legs, and haunches without any hint of burliness. The Silky's gait is lively and light-footed, with a strong forward momentum. Their disposition is alert, friendly, and engaged.
The breed originated in Australia in the 1890s when Yorkshire Terriers were imported from England and crossed with Australian Terriers. While some of the pups looked like one or the other of their parents, some were born with a mix of characteristics from both breeds. Over time, the dogs with the combined characteristics were bred to refine the distinctive Silky traits. It is possible, though not confirmed, that other terriers such as the Cairn and Skye, also exist in the mix. Silkies fall about midway between Australian Terriers and Yorkshire Terriers in size. The breed was originally called the Sydney Silky Terrier for the region where they first emerged, but eventually the name was changed to Australian Silky Terriers in their home country. The Silky Terrier Club of America held its inaugural meeting in 1955, and the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in 1959.
AKC Breed Category
Silky Terriers are alert, courageous, and ready for adventure. They are known to bark a lot to alert the house to visitors or simply to demand quality time. Silkies become bored easily and like to keep busy. If you don’t schedule enough activities for your Silky, he’s sure to bark excessively, dig, and chew on the furniture to pass the time. The breed is generally easygoing, but can become feisty with other animals.
Are Silky Terriers Good with Kids? Silky Terriers expect gentle treatment and won't put up with small children who don't know how to give them their space. Silkies are better off living in households with older, mature children who can play without pulling fur or getting too rambunctious.
(Note: Every dog has a unique personality and distinct life experiences that affect his disposition. As a rule, adults should always supervise playdates between kids and their four-legged friends.)
Are Silky Terriers Good with Other Pets? Silkies like being the kings or queens of their households. They can be combative with other dogs, and their strong prey drive makes them a danger to cats and other small pets.
The Silky is territorial and will bark loudly and long when he suspects man or beast of encroachment.
Are Silky Terriers Good Guard Dogs? Silky Terriers make natural watchdogs. They are alert to new arrivals—welcome or otherwise—and will bark incessantly to sound the alarm. They are courageous little dogs and will do their best to intimidate, but they can't be depended upon to scare off would-be intruders.
Silky Terriers have an abundance of energy and like to be engaged in activities, training, and play for most of their waking hours.
- The Silky Terrier tends to bark excessively.
- He needs a lot of activity so he doesn't get bored.
- He is prone to barking and destructive behavior when bored.
- He can dig his way out of yards that are not well secured.
- He will chase after small animals, so must always be walked on a leash with a comfortable collar or harness.
- His coat requires above-average attention.
- He's not an ideal pet in a home with young children.
- He can be confrontational with other dogs.
Silkies should live inside with their families, and they adapt well to apartment living. They demand attention and will develop pesky habits if you don't keep them entertained. This breed is a lap dog only after you've spent time tiring them out with play and sports. The Silky's single coat does not shed excessively, so they make neat roommates.
The active Silky needs to spend an hour or two outside per day playing and exercising with his people. When left alone outdoors, he will forget his manners and start barking at every squirrel, or just to draw your attention. Your Silky will dig up your garden, so it's best to keep him separated from your favorite plantings. If spending more than a few minutes outside in the cold, this single coated breed should wear a dog coat to keep warm.
A healthy Silky Terrier requires an hour or two of physical activity each day to remain fit. Agile and athletic, they excel at a variety of dog sports, including flyball, agility, and Earthdog tests.
Silkies have the stamina for long walks and play sessions. You may be ready to hit the couch before your Silky.
Activity distance rating
- Running Miles: Though Silkies are brimming with energy, they are not ideal distance runners because they are so small. However, a healthy Silky will make an excellent companion for a short, easy jog of a mile or so.
- Hiking Miles: Silkies relish adventure and will happily trek with you for two to three miles. Keep in mind, their long coats will pick up twigs and brambles, and they may bark at every chipmunk en route.
Generally, this breed requires about a half cup to one cup of good quality dry dog food each day, given in two meals. This amount will vary, however, based upon your Silky's activity level and age. Talk to your veterinarian about the optimal diet and quantity of food for your Silky Terrier.
While Silkies are independent and don’t mind spending time alone, they also get bored easily. You will probably be able to leave your Silky alone an hour or two, and perhaps a bit longer if he is crate trained. Beyond that he’ll likely turn to unwanted behaviors to alleviate boredom, such as chewing and incessant barking.
Health and Grooming
The Silky Terrier’s long coat should be combed two to three times per week to prevent matting and tangles, which can be painful and cause skin issues. It’s also smart to give your Silky’s fur a once-over when he comes in from a romp so he doesn’t bring dirt and twigs indoors. A bath every month or so will keep his coat clean and smelling pleasant. Wash your Silky’s ears weekly with a gentle, dog-friendly cleanser to prevent dirt buildup that can cause infections. Brush his teeth several times a week, and trim his nails every month or so to prevent cracking.
Common Health Issues
Silky Terriers may possess some breed-specific health concerns, including:
- Patellar Luxation
- Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease
- Tracheal collapse
- Cushing's Disease
You can minimize serious health concerns in a Silky Terrier by purchasing him from a reputable breeder who engages in responsible breeding practices, and through screening for common diseases and conditions.
Silky Terriers are smart and eager students who learn basic commands with ease, especially when training is consistent from an early age.
Agility training, dog sports, and advanced obedience classes are great options for Silkies. It means they get to spend time with you, while staying mentally and physically active.
Sporting Dog Training
Silky Terriers are exceptional at Earthdog trials, a sport in which they test their heritage as rodent hunters and find rats in cages underground. They are not natural sporting dogs, however.
Here are a few commonly asked questions about Silky Terriers.
Yes. Silky Terriers have no undercoat, and their long fur sheds very lightly. This means they produce little pet dander, which is the culprit in most pet related allergies. While Silkies are considered good dogs for people with allergies, no dog is 100 percent hypoallergenic.
Silky Terriers and Yorkies are often mistaken for each other because they look so similar. Indeed, Silky Terriers are the result of crossbreeding between Yorkshire Terriers and Australian Terriers. However, Silky Terriers and Yorkies are distinct breeds. Silkies are bigger than Yorkshire Terriers, while the Yorkie's long fur grows longer.
Silkies can swim, and many of them like jumping in the water. Always supervise your Silky closely, however, and keep his swim session short. His long coat can weigh him down and tire him out, and he is a slight dog who can get cold in the water quickly.
Yes. This breed will bark no matter what you do. But consistent training to respond to the command 'quiet,' along with keeping him busy, should help control your Silky's barking.