Silky Terrier

If male super-model, Fabio, was a breed of dog, he would be a Silky Terrier. With their hair parted, dashing in elegance, the Silky would fit in great as a calendar dog.

And although the breed belongs to the Toy group, they are still a Terrier through and through. That is, they are bold, brave, and a bit of a diva. 

The Silky Terrier is one of those breeds that comes with plenty of mystery. As in, nobody seems to know their exact origins and bloodlines.

So where does the breed come from? Will the Silky fit in your home?

Here is what you need to know about the Silky Terrier.

History

There are plenty of theories and speculation surrounding the Silky Terrier. For starters, nobody really knows when the Silky Terrier first began to emerge. And second; nobody truly knows the definitive bloodlines making up the breed. However, there are some consistent theories. 

Breed experts believe that the Yorkshire Terrier and Australian Terrier both contribute the most DNA for the Silky. While some contend this crossing likely went down in the early 20th century, some disagree.

According to the Australian Silky Terrier Web Club of Queensland, the mystery behind their original date is because very few records were kept then. However, that same club believes that the breed began to appear in the late 1800’s. Echoing the same sentiment is the Australian Silky Terrier Club of Victoria, who believes Australian Terrier had a bigger part in establishing the Silky.

Whatever the date may be, there is no denying that both the Yorkie and Aussie Terrier are both part of this breed’s DNA. But are there others?

Most certainly, that appears to be the case, according to certain conventional wisdom. Centuries ago, when English Immigrant began to migrate to Australian, they had to travel by ships. Only so much could safely go on those ships. Furthermore, if there was a problem with rodents, and there would be, the men would need a dog capable of taking care of infestations. Much like in England, the best kind of dog for that job is a Terrier. Terriers are infamous ratters.

Keeping goods to a minimum and their dogs small, the immigrants made the decision to bring along with them several terrier breeds. During the mid 19th century, immigrant began cross breeding these terriers and came up with a rough coat and broken coat terrier. This is likely the precursor to the Silky’s origins. Rough coat and broken coated terrier began to appear in the 1870’s and 1880’s. The Australian Silky Terrier Club of Victoria claims that the first appearance of the Silky Terrier was at a Horticultural show in Tasmania in 1875. This may be when the breeding program began for the Silky, in which breeders began to introduce the Yorkie or the Aussie.

One thing for sure is, the Silky was definitely around in the early goings of the 1900’s. There was a Victorian Silky Club, which drew up the first breed standard. In 1904, a new club would supersede the original becoming the Victorian Silky and Yorkshire Club.  From 1906 and on, the Silky began to appear at dog shows all over.

What would further stabilize the breed was the prohibition of cross breeding thanks the Kennel Control Council. In 1956, the KCC would give the breed recognition as the Australian Silky Terrier.

In America, the breed began to emerge into the states following World War 2. American soldiers returning from the region fell in love with the breed and brought them back.  In 1959, the Silky Terrier was given recognition by the American Kennel Club. The United Kennel Club would do the same in 1965.

Today, the breed is still going strong as a companion. Although, some may have been ratters at one point, it is companionship and conformation shows that the breed thrives. The American Kennel Club lists the breed as the 100th most popular breed in America.

Size

The vibrant Silky Terrier from down under is a small dog breed. Both male and female Silky’s should stand between 9 to 10 inches.

Both male and female Silky’s should weigh approximately 10 pounds, according to the American Kennel Club.

Personality and Temperament

They may fit snug in you lap and appear to be a Toy breed, but there is nothing about them that is like a  toy breed. This is a terrier and they aren’t afraid to let you know. That is, the breed has plenty of courage to go around for multiple toy breeds. They are bold and will stand up to anyone threatening their master. They have a bit of sass and an independent streak to them, that may try your patience.

But really, this is a great companion, that loves to please, especially in conformation event, in which the breed excels in. They are affectionate and require the same in return. The breed loves attention from their people and thrives off a close bond and close contact.

What makes them so terrier is their keen senses and alert traits. They are quick to respond. The breed is inquisitive, always looking to snoop around and discover something. 

As companions, the breed is playful and a joy to be around. Their high energy and high spirits make them a fun mate for a child. Fetch and outdoor activities are things they enjoy doing. The Silky Terrier should get along fine with small children and dogs.

All in all, this is a fun family dog, that is feisty and bit mischievous at times, but sweet and affectionate all of the time. They are great at canine sports such as conformation events, companion events and agility. They get along with most people as this is an overall friendly dog, that loves connecting with their people.

Health

The Silky Terrier appears to have a good bill of health. However, there are some areas you should concern yourself over and watch out for. Most experts believe the Silky Terrier can live between 13 to 15 years, which is a fairly long time.

Of course, you can ensure that to be the case when you buy from a reputable breeder. The breeder should be able to provide you with the proper documents and health clearances necessary to make a good purchasing decision. Additionally, you should schedule regular veterinarian visits to maintain your dog’s good health.

Patella Luxation is very common with terrier breed, in fact, three of the ten worst on the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals survey are terrier. The Silky is 51st on that list with a 3.1% dysplastic rating out of 260 evaluations. This puts them among the Pumi, Poodle, Papillon and Labrador Retriever. Patella Luxation is when the kneecap slips out of place and causes the joints to rub and agitate. This can present other orthopedic issues along with lameness, discomfort and pain.

Legg Perthes is another ailment the Silky Terrier must deal with.  Legg Perthes is when there is a disintegration of the hip joint causing the degeneration of the femoral head bone. The result typically ends up in inflammation and pain in that region or the hind leg.  There is no cure for this but a veterinarian may be able to manage pain and lameness by other means necessary.

Tracheal Collapse is something to watch for with this breed. This is common among small breed like the Yorkie, Pomeranian and Poodle. This is a chronic and progressive disease of the trachea, which can cause the bronchi tubes to collapse, therefore, resulting in airway restriction. Coughing, issues with breathing and panting are symptoms of this chronic disease. Surgery and medication may help.

Cushings Disease is an overabundance of cortisol production. The outer part of the adrenal gland near the kidney produces hormones that help regulate the dog’s body’s necessary functions. Overproduction and underproduction can have an effect in how the body distributes these hormones. This is life threatening and can be brought on by tumors from the pituitary or adrenal gland tumor. Pot bellies or Bloat are signs that your Silky may suffer from Cushings and drug treatment may be necessary to help cure this disease.

Other issues the breed may be prone to include: Allergies, epilepsy and diabetes.

Care

The Silky Terrier may fit on your lap and fit the prototype for a Toy breed, but this dog does require some regular exercise. To avoid those typical terrier traits, the type you don’t like, it is necessary to provide your Silky with plenty of mental and physical stimulation. Thirty minutes a day or two short walks should suffice. A job or role will definitely help take care of any stir craziness.

The good thing about this breed is that they are adaptable to different living conditions. Small apartment or country house, the Silky Terrier will do okay with. This all depends on how much stimulation or exercise you give them, however. The breed isn’t big on being alone for long periods of time.

If you have smaller children, then you may want to consider a different breed. A Silky Terrier won’t tolerate poor treatment and rough housing from smaller children, let alone, anyone, for that matter. Families with older children find themselves with a better fit. Other dogs and cats will require supervision. The breed does have a prey drive and may chase smaller animals off the yard. Keep in mind that when getting a mouse or bird. A leash and fence will help out tremendously with this breed.

Trim their nails months regularly, check ears for debris or infections and bathe as you see necessary, typically every four to six weeks.

Feeding

A high quality small breed or formula appropriate for Toy group dogs should suffice the Silky Terrier. Of course, how much your Silky eats will depend on their age, metabolism and activity requirements. Not all dogs eat the same as they aren’t the same.

That said, most experts feel comfortable with a portion of 1/2 cup to 3/4 cups per day. Furthermore, you’ll find it more beneficial to break those meals up into two smaller ones. This will help with Bloat, a fatal condition, that distends the stomach due to an excess of gas.

Typically, you’ll want a balance with their feeding regimens. Minerals, vitamins, meat as the first ingredient, fruits and veggies, should suffice their needs.

As always, you should provide your Silky Terrier with plenty of fresh drinking water.

Coat

The Silky Terrier has a single, straight coat, which is dashing and elegant. The texture should feels silky and the appearance of the coat will be glossy. The head will feature longer hair that should be parted. 

Of course, with that kind of look, you’ll need to spend some time on the coat. This occasional shedder needs a brushing of two to three times per week. 

According to the American Kennel Club, there are 13 acceptable color options: Black, black and tan, blue, blue and tan, blue silver and tan, cream, fawn, gray, gray and tan, platinum silver, silver and tan, silver black and tan.

There are no acceptable markings.

Fun Silky Terrier Facts

  • Outside of the United States, the breed’s full name is Australian Silky Terrier.
  • The original name of this breed was the Sydney Silky Terrier.
  • Stanley Coren’s “Intelligence of Dogs” lists the Silky Terrier as the 56th most intelligent breed, which means they’ll obey the first command 70 percent of the time or better.
  • Other possible breeds behind the Silky Terrier’s bloodlines include: Cairn, Dandie Dinmont and Skye Terrier.

Closing Words

The Silky Terrier, despite their short existence, has become the epitome of what a true companion dog is all about. And with fun.

They are unique, elegant, feisty and loving. They’ll play fetch, chase and strike a pose. If you enjoy the terrier traits with a dog the size of a toy, the Silky Terrier is the right breed for you.