- AKC recognized in 1955
- Lifespan: 11-14 years
- Size: Small
- Energy level: High (very energetic)
- Recommended Crate Size: 24” dog crate*
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Table of Contents
The Silky Terrier may look like a prim and proper. pampered prince or princess, but don’t be fooled. He might have some silky sprinkles on top but rest assured, he’s one tough cookie.
This spunky little high energy creature is given to thrive on adventure and readily takes on a challenge. He’s a pint-size fun loving pup, a playful character with a giant personality.
If you’re looking to add a pretty pup to your family and want one that is absolutely gorgeous though far from sissified, the Silky Terrier might be the perfect pal for you.
The Silky is a small Terrier type of dog that is typically considered to be a Toy breed because he’s so small. Sometimes called the Australian Silky Terrier, and once deemed the Sydney Silky Terrier, this dog brings some rough history to the table.
His history dates way back to Australia in the late 19th century. It all began with the Yorkshire Terrier, the steel blue and tan coat gem with the long and flowing mane. Yorkies were crossed with coarse-haired blue and tan Australian Terriers in order to boost their coat coloring while still making sure to retain and embrace their integrity and individuality.
Although the Silky’s heritage is from Yorkies and Australian Terriers who hail from Great Britain, he is considered to be Australian. But in North America, he’s known simply as the Silky Terrier.
It is unclear if Australian Silkies were from Australian Terriers who were born with silky rather than coarse fur, or if there was a deliberate attempt to create the Silky breed. All the same, they happened and they are magnificent.
While the majority of the other Australian breed dogs were strictly working dogs, this breeds purpose was to be a companion and urban pet. On the side, as an added perk, the breed was appreciated for killing snakes and keeping rodents at bay too.
The “breed” was far from being clearly defined though. The Aussie Terrier, Australian Silky, and the Yorkshire Terrier were so close in nature, all three could be born in one litter. Now, that’s close!
Some felt it was too close. There was a push to distinguish the three which resulted in the Australian Silky Terrier becoming an official breed in 1955. At that time, there was a controversy over if he should be the Australian or the Sydney Silky Terrier. It was decided he’d be the Australian Silky. By 1958, he was recognized by the Australian National Kennel Council and in the Toy Group that year as well.
In and after World War II, United States servicemen were stationed in Australia where they fell in love with the silky little dogs. They brought them back to America where newspaper photographers decided they’d make great pictures. And...they did! That’s when the Silk craze began.
The American Kennel Club officially welcomed this dog breed standard into their exclusive purebred club in 1859, followed by the United Kennel Club in ’65 and the Canadian Kennel Club shortly thereafter. Now, the Silky is a proud member of all the major kennel club organizations in the English speaking areas of the world and even by the Federation Cynologique Internationales as breed number 236.
There was a question as to which group this breed would be placed in, small or Toy. Toy was chosen for safety reasons so they could be among dogs their own size.
The ST is steadily growing in popularity. He is an excellent companion dog although he is far too active to be a docile lap dog. He is given to run his course and then settle down in his human’s lap after he’s spent.
Being Terrier, he is a hunter by nature. There are traits within this dog that run thick through his blood like the desire to chase small critters, like mice that enter the house or even hamster pets. He can be headstrong due to his genetic dispositioning but all in all, this gorgeous dog is a loving and gracious, high-strung excellent choice for a small house dog.
The Silky terrier has a longer than a tall body, with an athletic build that reaffirms its designation as a toy dog. However, Silkies are very tough and ready to go for small vermin hunting.
Silkies have erect small ears, their eyes are small and almond shaped. The tail is docked and carried high. The skull is flat with a shallow stop.
The coat is one of the breed's most distinctive features. It is straight, shiny and silky. Rather than flowing to the floor like the Yorkshire terrier's coat, it conforms to the shape of the body. Its coat color is tan and blue.
It is recommended to provide feed your Silky Terrier food that is specially formulated to small-sized, Toy breeds. It is highly advised to discuss your individual dog’s feeding regime with your veterinarian and/or breeder in order to determine the size and frequency of meals in order to ensure a healthy, long life.
Since the Silky is a Toy dog with a small tummy, especially as when he’s a puppy, it may be suggested for you to feed him small, more frequent meals throughout the day. As he grows, this schedule may change.
The Silky Terrier loves to eat. He digs treats and especially loves scraps. It is recommended that you limit his snacks though and let him fill up on nutritious, high-quality dog food that is best for him. Even though he’s small, he has the potential to become overweight which is very unhealthy for him.
As with all pets, it is also important to ensure that clean, fresh water is always available.
The coat of the Silky is unique a needs a good bit of tender loving care in order to look its best. You’ll need to comb or brush it just about every day to keep tangles and mats at bay.
He’ll need to the bathed regularly too so dirt won’t build up on his fur and to prevent tangles and mats. A shampooing every week or two is a must for this dog. A dog-friendly shampoo for sensitive skin that conditions are recommended.
In the event that you don’t have the time or don’t want to shampoo him yourself, you can take him to the groomer every three weeks or so. Otherwise, if you do groom him yourself, you’ll want to give him a trim once a month at least. Don’t forget to give his neck area a little extra attention when you shampoo and when you trim him or have him trimmed.
With ears that stick up as the Silkie’s do, you’ll want to take extra care to keep them clean and dry so dirt, debris, and other bacteria-causing substances don’t build up. If you notice him pawing at his ears or see any redness, irritation, or swelling inside them, take him in to have them checked. Untreated ear infections are nasty and can lead to the need for surgery or can even cause deafness.
Doubtfully will this little pup be outdoors enough to naturally wear his toenails down but even if he is, you’ll need to check them. Keep them trimmed down short and if they show signs of cracking, chipping, or splitting, tend to them immediately to avoid further problems.
This breed is susceptible to teeth and gum disease so be sure to brush his teeth with doggie toothpaste and toothbrush no less than once per week. Also, be certain you have regular dental check-ups for him.
Silky terrier is a loving and playful dog, being categorized as adventuresome on a small scale. Silkies are extremely active, but because of its size, exercise requirements can be met within a shorter distance and more compact space.
A 20 to 40-minute formal walk per day is usually about right for the Silky. Be careful with his leash. His neck is very delicate even though he’s more muscular than most Toy breeds. Don’t pull him or jerk the leash and don’t allow him to tug it.
Also, while on your walk, beware of larger dogs that might cross his path. It’s up to you to make sure he stays out of harm’s way because this mighty man ain’t backin’ down! Oh, and also keep an eye out for small critters, like cats or squirrels that might scamper past because he’d love to chase them.
In between his walks, you’ll want to encourage plenty of energetic activities so he can exert some of his stamina. He loves to have fun but he has no time for things he thinks are mundane. You’ll have to keep things interesting, challenging, upbeat, and entertaining. Fetch, Tug-of-War, and Chase are all games your ST may find “good enough” to fill his playtime with. If the weather is too hot, too cold, or rainy, you’ll want to find some indoor games to occupy him.
Keeping this dog’s mind sharp and his attention engaged is what makes him tick. He’s a very smart character so brain game activities are awesome for him. He can solve puzzles and figure out things that will simply amaze you. Look for brain game information online or grab a book or watch a video that will give you some awesome ideas for stimulating his intelligent side.
Pet Crates Direct recommends 24" dog crates* for most adult Silky Terriers.
This little pup is oozing with personality. He’s perky and playful, the perfect addition guaranteed to liven up your life. He’s good with children, at least to some extent. While he can get a little snippy if his hair is pulled or he’s bullied, he can be reasonably trusted with the youngers. He’s pint size though so you’ll want to also be sure he’s safe from harm. But, he does have more muscle mass than most Toy breeds so, within limits, he’s a great dog for families with children and other pets.
While the ST is really too tiny to be a guard dog, he does make an excellent watchdog. He will keep you posted on any comings and goings. He loves to do that by way of barking but can get carried away so you’ll want to address that in his training session.
Unless the Silky is raised around another dog, he may not be too welcoming. You can, however, change that behavior by assuring him the dog belongs, like if your friend brings his or her dog over for a visit. The same is true with a cat. He may give chase to a cat (or pet hamster) he doesn’t know.
Although the Silky was actually bred to be a lapdog, he doesn’t know that. The Terrier traits come shining through more often than not. You may catch him chasing a mouse or even acting out the scenario with his toy. And...this dog LOVES toys so make sure he has plenty of them in his toy box or basket.
Fun loving is the way most pet parents describe their Silky Terrier. He’s always up to something. He’s good natured and loves to bring a smile which makes him somewhat of a therapy type dog too.
The ST is brave and courageous. He either doesn’t know how small he is...or simply doesn’t care. Pet parents need to be cautious though because he’s often too self-confident for his own good. He’s not an aggressive dog by nature but certainly isn’t one to back down. Be ready to get him out of a tangle if he gets himself into one.
The Silky Terrier is a good option for those who want a smaller-sized adventurer. They have some tough ancestors, descending from small vermin-catching Terriers of Europe and later, Australia. He can’t get enough of being with those he loves so he’s all in when it comes to hiking or walking with you.
Even though he is a rough and tumble type of Terrier, he’s still a Toy type. He is definitely an inside dog unless you are outside with him. Despite his feisty nature, he works out great for small space living like in an apartment or condo although you’ll need to control his urge to bark and will also need to make sure he’s properly exercised each and every day to get his bounding energy out. He is high energy fireball but because he’s so small, his overflowing energy can be released in a relatively short amount of time.
The Silky is very easy going and is a lot of fun but he can be stubborn and independent. He can be such a mix, he can confuse himself at times, wanting to have his own space yet, at the same time, yearning for your full attention.
The ST is smart enough to pull some good ones. He can manipulate things to his favor such as pouting in order to get a treat to cheer him up or making you feel really guilty for leaving him. If an action gets him a little extra attention, don’t put it past him. He craves being the total focus at all times.
He also longs to be with humans every minute of every day and to have their undivided attention. This dog suffers from severe separation anxiety and not only that, he’s got it in him to punish you long and hard for leaving him in the first place.
The ST is full of mischief. His endless antics can be cute but, at the same time, they can get old fast. Keeping him well exercised will help and crating him when you leave is a good idea too. Other than that, a good sense of humor and a decent dose of tolerance is a must if you own a Silky. Even when the ST does get on your last nerve, he’s so darn cute, it’s hard to stay mad at him.
At the end of the day, this dog will do as he was bred to do. He’ll keep your lap occupied, at least part of the time, and your heart warm...all the time.
The Silky Terrier is very smart and highly trainable. But, you’ve got to use effective training techniques. First and foremost, this pup won’t tolerate negativity. Only positive positions like praise, pets, and some occasional treat are allowed in his classroom.
Secondly, you’ll have to establish yourself as the pack leader. This lively, headstrong breed was used to making some do or die decisions and using their determined will in order to exterminate the premises of rodents, kill snakes, and so forth. But, they were also given to follow their master’s orders. If you don’t step up to the plate as the leader, he gladly will. You’d be asking for a whole lot of trouble if that happened.
For this intelligent, highly capable breed, short and sweet is the best kind of lesson. He quickly bores and loses focus. Be sure to encourage him and tell him how great he did on every lesson attempt.
You probably won’t have much trouble housebreaking the Silky. He’s a very clean dog who prefers to “go” outdoors or away from his surroundings. But, he is small so you’ll need to take him out frequently. His bladder (and other parts) don’t hold much and can’t wait long. A puppy potty pad or kitty little box can help the process when going outside isn’t an option or in the event, he can’t wait.
Be sure to socialize your ST. Although he is turned to be a social butterfly, he is a little leery of strangers, both animals, and humans. Take him places that are loud and busy and spots that are quiet where he isn’t allowed to bark. Expose him to all you can when he is young and he’ll be prepared for a variety of situations once he gets older.
Manners are important. This guy is very polite except when he gets wound up with too much energy or gets frustrated. Teach him not to be overly friendly but jumping up on people and to respect the space of others.
Obedience training is for his sake as well as for the sake of all who are around your dog, humans, and animals. Teach him the basics like sit, come, and stay. He will need to follow your command no matter if you have a treat in your hand or not. If he will only obey for a treat, he’s got the upper hand. Make sure he masters the obedience class. This small of a dog needs to be able to stop on a dime in the event a big car or big dog is approaching and because he’s a hunter at heart, he’ll need to listen if you tell him not to chase a small critter too.
Tackle his few naughty behaviors, like excessive or inappropriate barking, right off the bat. When he is in his naughty mood, you’ll need to let him know what is acceptable (like pulling the string on your ball of yarn) and what is not (such as getting into the garbage can). Pick your battles and train him accordingly, in other words. This guy isn’t supposed to be an angel. His mischief nature is part of who he is. But, some things aren’t to be tolerated so, teach him what is and isn’t alright.
Trick training can be tons of fun with the Silky. He loves to entertain and eats up being in the spotlight so take advantage of those things and let him be the star in his own show.
Agility and other active training programs are a cinch for this dog. This breed is very athletic and agile, plus it helps him steer his energy in a constructive direction. Lure coursing and agility are both right up his alley. You can even build your own in your backyard if you are so inclined.
Brain training games are excellent for the ST. He certainly can master them all and will most likely add some of his own. This breed is capable of learning all the names of his toys and fetching them accordingly and solving doggie puzzles too. He’ll be very proud of himself and you’ll be proud of him as well.
The Silky Terrier usually enjoys healthy and happy days with an average life expectancy of between 11 and 14 years. There are some hereditary medical conditions that can play into the game though. To help ensure the healthiest life possible for your pup, be sure to start things off by getting him from a responsible breeder who has run health tests on both parents. Don’t hesitate to ask for those tests and any performed on him as well.
Here are some things to watch for:
Tracheal Collapse is a problem with a good number of small dogs, especially Toy breeds. The ST is one of those breeds who are susceptible to it. The problem involves the rings of the tracheal tube becoming too weak to hold the trachea together.
The issue is a congenital abnormality but can be triggered or worsened by such things as dust in the environment, irritants to the tracheal area, obesity, lack of exercise, extreme hot or humid weather, and other factors. Labored breathing, a blue tint to the gums, intolerance to exercise, a honking cough, and labored breathing are among the signs that your dog might have this condition. A prompt visit to his vet is in order if you think he might. A test can be done and treatment can be recommended.
Patellar Luxation is a slipping kneecap. The issue involves a situation where the knee (cap) goes in and out of the socket it should be in. It can be very painful and debilitating too. While the issue is usually hereditarily based in the Silky’s case, it can be caused by environmental factors or can be aggravated by them. It is a good idea to not allow your ST to jump from very high places and such things that could cause the condition to surface. In the event that your dog is having difficulty getting around, you’ll want to get him in for the vet to check him out.
Legg-Perthes Disease is a disintegration of the hip joint in a dog. Unfortunately, the condition is seen in Silkies. It involves a degeneration or wearing down of the head of the femur bone which is in the hind leg.
As time goes on, the blood supply diminishes and more problems occur, which deteriorates the area due to the lack of circulation of blood. .The bone and joint become inflamed which can cause pain and the hip joint begins to wear away. While the exact cause is unknown, it can be a matter of genetics.
The symptoms tend to come on when the dog is five to eight months old. Signs are lameness, pain when moving the hip, carrying the affected limb, wasting away of thigh muscles. At the first suspicion that your Silky has this issue, take him to the vet clinic. Lab tests are not generally required to diagnose, just x-rays. Recommended treatment will be discussed with you by your vet.
Diabetes is the inability of your dog to effectively produce insulin. An increase in urination, excessive thirst, weight loss which is unexplained, eating greater amounts more often, and irritability are all signs of Diabetes in dogs. Cataracts and acute onset blindness can be symptoms too. Your dog’s vet can confirm or dismiss the presence of the disease by a simple test for glucose (sugar) in his urine and blood. Severe cases will require insulin injections.
Epilepsy can be caused by a number of things. Brain tumors, kidney failure, liver disease, toxins, and brain trauma can all be at the root of it. But, when it comes to Epilepsy in this breed, more often than not, it is Idiopathic Epilepsy that is the culprit which is hereditary. The exact cause of it is unknown. When having a seizure, it is wise to make sure he is as safe as possible.
Although it would seem a convulsion is painful, it isn’t. But, it does warrant action on your part. You should take your dog to see his vet who will go over his history with you, rule out such things as liver disease and cancer, and if it is the hereditary type, may recommend a treatment such as medication for preventative measures. In between seizures, your dog may be very normal. The length of time between them can vary greatly.
Allergies are common among Silky Terriers. They suffer from both food allergies and skin or contact allergies. When giving your ST a new treat or changing his food, be aware that he may have a reaction which could be breaking out in hives, a respiratory problem, or stomach distress. Contact allergies have to do with things that touch or irritate his skin such as his shampoo, laundry soap residue in his bedding, or even grass. If your dog has an allergic reaction of any kind, be sure to speak to his vet about it.
Cushing’s Disease is sometimes seen in the Silky Terrier breed. There are two types of Cushing’s, the disease and the syndrome. In the syndrome, the adrenal glands are making too much cortisol which is a hormone known to regulate the appetite.
The syndrome type is caused by a tumor in the adrenal glands. Cushing’s Disease, on the other hand, is when the adrenal glands are producing too much ACTH which is also a hormone. When the ACTH stems from the pituitary gland, the disease is present. Dogs, cats, rats, and humans are among those who can have Cushing’s Disease. If you suspect your ST has the condition, see your vet immediately. A diagnostic test can confirm if he does and treatment can be recommended.
By keeping a watchful eye out for any maladies that might affect your beloved pooch, you will be able to get him right in for diagnosis and/or treatment should he get any of the conditions mentioned. Hopefully, though, he’ll not have any of them and will live a long and healthy life.
Is a Silky Terrier Right for Me?
Silky soft and smooth. Perky and pleasant. Friendly and fun. This dog has all the right things all in one tiny treasure box. But, he’s not the right pick for everyone.
It’s important to do some soul searching before you pounce on your heart’s desire and scoop this gem up.
Are you able to spend a lot of time with him? This breed suffers from separation anxiety and will not thrive if left alone. He will be sad and worried and that’s not fair. But, if you are able to devote much of your time, he’s very portable and is way more athletic and sporty than most Toy breeds. You can pack him up and head out to the hiking trails or spend a day exploring on the farm. He’s always up for a great adventure.
Do you have some tolerance and a good sense of humor? You’ll need one with this guy. He’ll entertain you till you laugh your socks off...then again, some things he pulls are just mischievous and not really funny - like dragging your dirty (or clean) laundry all around the house or sneaking a taste of the dinner plate you left out.
If you have small children or other pets, you’ll need to introduce them in the right manner but he should do fine, especially if he’s a pup when you get him. He’s a social being who is very friendly but he does have his limits. You might not leave him alone with the family gerbil.
Can and will you exercise him every day? This breed can get very hyperactive when left with pent up energy. It is imperative that he gets his exercise.
If you have scoured the information about this breed and feel that a Silky Terrier is a great match for you and your lifestyle, hold on to your hat. Your life is about to be filled with so much love, laughter, and life, you’ll be bursting at the seams.
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