Silky Terrier

Table of Contents

silky terrier portrait
Meet the Silky Terrier, a pint-sized powerhouse that's ready to steal your heart! Often mistaken for their cousin, the Yorkshire Terrier, these charming little dogs have a unique personality and style all their own. With their silky, flowing coat and endless energy, they're as much fun to watch as they are to play with.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Silky Terrier is an ideal companion for those who appreciate a small, energetic, and affectionate dog. They thrive in households where they can be the center of attention, making them perfect for singles, couples, or families with older children who understand how to handle a delicate yet lively pet.

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMESilky Terrier
OTHER NAMESAustralian Silky Terrier
ORIGINAustralia
BREED GROUPToy Group
BREED SIZESmall
HEIGHT9-10 inches
WEIGHT8-11 lbs
LIFESPAN13-15 years
LIVING SPACESmall
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERModerate
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSHigh
EXERCISE NEEDSModerate
TRAINABILITYModerate
BARKING TENDENCYHigh
BITING TENDENCYHigh
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELModerate
POPULARITY RANK122nd
silky terrier standing on grass
Photo: CaptureLight/Getty Images

Appearance

The Silky Terrier is a small yet elegant breed, boasting a refined and sophisticated appearance. They typically stand at an average height of 9 to 10 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 8 to 11 pounds, making them a perfect size for those who prefer a petite companion.

Their bodies are slightly longer than they are tall, with a level topline and well-sprung ribs. These dogs have strong, muscular hindquarters that give them their signature sprightly gait and endless energy. The Silky Terrier’s tail is customarily docked, but if left natural, it’s medium in length, set high, and carried erect or slightly curved over the back.

The head of a Silky Terrier is wedge-shaped, with a flat skull and a moderate stop. Their muzzle is strong, straight, and of medium length, giving them a balanced appearance. The Silky’s nose is black, with wide nostrils that complement their keen sense of smell.

One of the most striking features of the Silky Terrier is their expressive, almond-shaped eyes. The eyes are dark in color, set wide apart, and convey an intelligent, curious, and friendly expression. This breed’s ears are small, V-shaped, and set high on the head. They are carried erect, adding to their alert and attentive demeanor.

The crowning glory of the Silky Terrier is undoubtedly their luxurious, silky coat. Their hair is fine, glossy, and straight, falling gracefully to either side of their body. The coat is moderately long, with a slightly shorter length on the face, forming a stylish beard and mustache. The hair on the ears tapers to a point, further accentuating their elegant appearance.

The coat comes in various shades of blue and tan, with the blue ranging from a dark steel blue to a lighter silvery hue, while the tan can vary from a rich gold to a lighter cream.

silky terrier lying on green grass
Photo: Zachary S. Newman/Getty Images

Temperament

The Silky Terrier is a pint-sized dynamo bursting with personality and charm. Don’t let its small stature fool you; this little dog packs a big punch in the personality department. With its flowing silky coat and sparkling eyes, the Silky Terrier stands out as a true character among the canine crowd.

Fearless and feisty, the Silky Terrier’s personality rivals that of a bold adventurer. It’s like having a furry Indiana Jones in your living room! This tiny explorer embraces life with gusto, always ready to embark on thrilling escapades with its beloved human companions. Its adventurous spirit is matched only by its clever wit, which it uses to outsmart any obstacle that comes its way.

But beneath the Silky Terrier’s fearless exterior lies a heart of gold. This spirited pup is deeply devoted to its human family, forming unbreakable bonds that last a lifetime. Loyalty is the name of the game for the Silky Terrier, and it will stand by its human’s side through thick and thin, a constant source of love and support.

You’ll never be bored with a Silky Terrier around – their playfulness knows no bounds! Their happy-go-lucky attitude is positively contagious, turning even the gloomiest of days into a fun-filled adventure. The Silky Terrier is the life of the party, spreading joy and laughter wherever it goes.

Social butterflies, Silky Terriers adore meeting new people and making friends of all ages. Their friendly and outgoing nature makes them the perfect companions for families or anyone seeking a furry socialite. They are the life of every gathering, charming everyone with their playful antics and warm, welcoming demeanor.

Silky Terriers are natural-born entertainers. Picture this little performer putting on a show, strutting its stuff with confidence and grace. Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them quick learners, always ready to impress with their repertoire of tricks and commands.

Despite their lively nature, Silky Terriers are also expert cuddlers. When the day’s adventures are over, they relish the opportunity to curl up in their human’s arms or snuggle on their laps. Their affectionate nature and love for physical closeness make them the ultimate lap dogs, providing warmth and comfort to their cherished humans.

While the Silky Terrier can be assertive and confident, it is also sensitive and empathetic. It has an uncanny ability to tune into its human’s emotions, offering comfort and support during challenging times. They are the perfect four-legged therapists, always knowing when a cuddle is needed most.

silky terrier in golden autumn leaves

Ideal Environment

Physical Environment

The Silky Terrier is a versatile breed that can adapt to various living environments, as long as their physical and emotional needs are met. Their small size and moderate exercise requirements make them well-suited for apartment living. However, they also enjoy having access to a securely fenced yard where they can safely explore and play off-leash.

Climate Adaptability

Their luxurious coat provides some protection against the elements, but they are not particularly well-suited for extreme temperatures.

In cold climates, it’s important to provide your Silky Terrier with a warm, cozy place to sleep, and consider outfitting them with a sweater or coat when venturing outdoors during winter months. On the other hand, in hot climates, it’s crucial to provide them with plenty of shade, fresh water, and limit their outdoor activities during the hottest parts of the day to prevent overheating.

Ideal Owner

This breed thrives in households where they receive plenty of attention and companionship from their human family members. They are a great fit for singles, couples, or families with older children who understand how to interact with small dogs gently and respectfully.

Silky Terriers are sensitive to their owner’s emotions and can become anxious or stressed if left alone for extended periods. Therefore, they may not be the best choice for people with demanding work schedules or who are frequently away from home. In such cases, arranging for a pet sitter, dog walker, or doggy daycare can help ensure your Silky Terrier receives the attention and care they need during your absence.

Other Pets

While they can get along with other pets, their compatibility may vary depending on the individual dog’s personality and early socialization experiences. Introductions to new pets should be done gradually and under close supervision to ensure a harmonious relationship.

silky terrier standing outside
Photo: slowmotiongli/Getty Images

Grooming

The Silky Terrier, with its luxurious and silky coat, requires regular grooming to maintain its stunning appearance and overall health. While the grooming needs of this breed may seem daunting to some, with consistent care and the right tools, it can become an enjoyable bonding activity for both you and your Silky.

Coat Care

One of the main aspects of grooming a Silky Terrier is their coat. Regular brushing is essential to prevent tangles and mats from forming, as well as to distribute natural oils throughout the hair, keeping it looking healthy and shiny.

Ideally, your Silky should be brushed daily using a pin brush or a slicker brush designed for long-haired breeds. Start by gently removing any tangles with a comb, then brush in the direction of hair growth, being careful not to pull or tug on the coat. Pay special attention to areas that are prone to matting, such as behind the ears, under the legs, and around the collar.

In addition to daily brushing, your Silky Terrier will need a bath every 3 to 4 weeks, or more frequently if they become dirty or smelly.

Use a gentle dog shampoo designed for long-haired breeds to ensure their coat remains soft and manageable. Be sure to rinse thoroughly to remove all shampoo residue, as any remaining product can cause skin irritation or dull the coat’s shine. After bathing, towel-dry your Silky and use a hairdryer on a low-heat setting to dry their coat completely, brushing it out as you go to prevent tangles from forming.

Trimming the hair around your Silky’s eyes, ears, and paws can help keep them looking tidy and prevent any potential hygiene issues. Carefully trim the hair around the eyes using blunt-tipped scissors to avoid obstructing their vision.

The hair inside the ears should also be trimmed, but exercise caution and consider seeking professional help if you’re unsure about how to do this safely. To maintain good paw hygiene, trim the hair between the paw pads and around the feet.

Dental Care

Dental care is an essential aspect of your Silky Terrier’s grooming routine. Regular teeth brushing can help prevent dental diseases and ensure fresh breath. Ideally, you should brush your Silky’s teeth daily using a soft-bristle toothbrush and dog-specific toothpaste. Alternatively, dental chews or toys designed for oral health can also help keep their teeth clean between brushing.

Nail Trimming

Nail care is another important part of grooming a Silky Terrier. Their nails should be trimmed every 3 to 4 weeks, or whenever you hear them clicking on the floor. Use a pair of dog nail clippers or a grinder designed for pets, and take care not to cut the quick, which can cause pain and bleeding.

Additional Grooming Tips

In addition to coat, dental, and nail care, it’s essential to regularly check your Silky Terrier’s eyes, ears, and skin for any signs of irritation, infection, or other health issues. Early detection and treatment can help prevent more severe problems from developing.

silky terrier in the garden
Photo: CaptureLight/Getty Images

Exercise

The Silky Terrier, while small in stature, is an energetic and spirited breed that requires regular exercise to maintain their physical health and mental well-being. Meeting their exercise needs is essential for preventing boredom, which can lead to destructive behaviors or excessive barking.

Exercise Amount & Types

On average, a Silky Terrier should receive at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily. This can be divided into two or more shorter sessions throughout the day. A variety of activities can help keep your Silky Terrier engaged and physically fit, including daily walks, play sessions, and interactive games that challenge their minds.

When going for walks, consider varying the routes and locations to provide new sights, smells, and experiences for your Silky Terrier. This not only keeps them mentally stimulated but also helps with socialization by exposing them to different environments and situations.

In addition to walks, Silky Terriers enjoy playing fetch, tug-of-war, and other interactive games that allow them to expend energy and bond with their owner. Puzzle toys and treat-dispensing toys can also provide mental stimulation and keep them entertained when you’re not available for playtime.

Dog Sports

Silky Terriers are intelligent and agile dogs that excel in various dog sports and competitions, such as agility, obedience, and rally. Participating in these activities can provide additional exercise, mental stimulation, and opportunities for socialization, as well as strengthen the bond between you and your Silky Terrier.

Exercise Precautions

Be sure to always keep your Silky Terrier on a leash when outdoors, as their natural curiosity and prey drive may entice them to wander off or chase after smaller animals.

Regardless of the exercise type, it’s important to monitor your Silky Terrier for signs of overheating or exhaustion, especially during hot weather. Provide plenty of fresh water and shade, and avoid exercising during the hottest parts of the day.

silky terrier walking on green grass
Photo: nikkimeel/Getty Images

Training

Training a Silky Terrier can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, as they are intelligent, eager to please, and quick to learn. However, it’s essential to approach training with patience and consistency, as these spirited dogs can sometimes exhibit a stubborn streak or independent nature.

Positive Reinforcement

Silky Terriers respond best to positive reinforcement training methods, which focus on rewarding good behavior with treats, praise, and affection. This approach helps build trust and strengthens the bond between you and your Silky, while also making training an enjoyable activity for both of you.

It’s crucial to avoid harsh training techniques or punishment, as these can damage the relationship between you and your dog and hinder their progress.

Basic Obedience

Begin training your Silky Terrier from a young age, starting with basic obedience commands such as “sit,” “stay,” “come,” and “down.” Consistency is key, so make sure all family members use the same commands and reward system to avoid confusing your dog.

Short, frequent training sessions are more effective for this breed, as they tend to have a shorter attention span and may become bored with lengthy sessions.

Socialization

Socialization is a vital aspect of training your Silky Terrier, as it helps them develop into well-rounded and confident adults. Expose your Silky to various people, animals, environments, and situations from an early age, ensuring that each experience is positive and controlled.

Puppy socialization classes can be an excellent opportunity for your Silky to interact with other dogs and learn essential social skills under the guidance of a professional trainer.

House Training

When it comes to house training, Silky Terriers may require extra patience and persistence, as they can be sensitive to harsh weather conditions or changes in their environment. Consistency, a regular schedule, and positive reinforcement will help ensure success in house training your Silky Terrier.

silky terrier in the spring garden
Photo: CaptureLight/Getty Images

Diet & Nutrition 

What to Feed & How Much

The Silky Terrier, like all dogs, requires a balanced and nutritious diet to maintain optimal health and well-being. When selecting food for your Silky Terrier, it’s essential to choose high-quality dry, wet, or raw food that follows the AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) guidelines to ensure it contains the appropriate nutrients and ingredients for your dog’s needs.

The ideal diet for a Silky Terrier should be rich in high-quality protein, derived from sources such as chicken, turkey, fish, or beef, to support their muscle development and overall health. The food should also contain healthy fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which promote skin and coat health, as well as essential vitamins and minerals for proper growth and maintenance.

The amount of food your Silky Terrier requires will depend on their age, weight, activity level, and individual metabolism. As a general guideline, adult Silky Terriers weighing between 8 to 11 pounds typically need around ½ to ⅔ cup of high-quality dry food per day, divided into two meals.

Puppies may require more frequent feedings – three to four times a day – to support their rapid growth and development, while senior dogs may need fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight.

It’s essential to monitor your Silky Terrier’s weight and body condition regularly, adjusting their food intake as needed to prevent obesity or malnourishment. Consult your veterinarian for personalized recommendations based on your dog’s specific needs.

Treats

When it comes to treats, moderation is key. Treats can be an excellent tool for training and rewarding good behavior, but they should never exceed more than 10% of your Silky Terrier’s daily caloric intake. Opt for healthy, low-calorie treats, such as small pieces of lean meat, vegetables, or specially-formulated dog treats.

Water

Fresh water is a crucial component of your Silky Terrier’s diet, and clean water should be available to them at all times. Encourage proper hydration by keeping their water bowl clean and filled with fresh water, and consider using a pet fountain to entice them to drink more.

silky terrier's face up close
Photo: boitano/Getty Images

Health

The Silky Terrier is generally a healthy and robust breed, with a life expectancy of 13 to 15 years. However, like all breeds, they can be predisposed to certain health issues. Regular veterinary check-ups, proper nutrition, and consistent grooming can help identify and prevent potential health problems and ensure your Silky Terrier enjoys a long, happy life.

Here are common health issues associated with the Silky Terrier:

Patellar Luxation: This condition occurs when the kneecap (patella) slips out of its normal position, causing discomfort and potentially leading to lameness. Patellar luxation is common among small dog breeds, including the Silky Terrier. Treatment options may vary depending on the severity of the condition, ranging from conservative management to surgical intervention.

Tracheal Collapse: This is a respiratory issue that affects small dog breeds, characterized by a weakening of the tracheal cartilage rings. Symptoms include a persistent, dry cough, difficulty breathing, and exercise intolerance. Treatment options depend on the severity of the condition and may include medication, weight management, or surgery in more severe cases.

Legg-Calvé-Perthes Disease: This orthopedic condition affects the hip joint and is caused by a disruption in blood flow to the femoral head, leading to bone degeneration. Symptoms include limping, pain, and muscle atrophy in the affected limb. Treatment typically involves surgery to remove the damaged bone and alleviate pain.

Dental Issues: Silky Terriers, like many small dog breeds, are prone to dental problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss. Regular dental care, including teeth brushing and professional cleanings, can help prevent these issues and maintain good oral health.

Allergies: Silky Terriers can be prone to allergies, which can manifest as skin irritation, itching, or gastrointestinal issues. Common allergens include environmental factors, such as pollen or dust mites, and food ingredients. Identifying the cause of the allergy and implementing appropriate management strategies, such as medication, dietary changes, or environmental modifications, can help alleviate symptoms.

While these health issues are common among Silky Terriers, it’s essential to remember that not all individuals will develop these conditions. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, proper grooming, and an active lifestyle can go a long way in ensuring your Silky Terrier remains healthy and happy throughout their life.

Always consult your veterinarian if you have concerns about your Silky Terrier’s health.

silky terrier playing in the backyard
Photo: welcomia

History

The Silky Terrier, also known as the Australian Silky Terrier, boasts a rich history that can be traced back to the late 19th century in Australia. The breed was developed through selective breeding of native Australian Terriers and imported Yorkshire Terriers. The goal was to create a small, attractive companion dog with a luxurious coat, while retaining the tenacity and spirited nature of its terrier ancestors.

In the early days of the breed’s development, Australian Terriers and Yorkshire Terriers were often interbred, resulting in a wide range of sizes, coat types, and colors. However, dedicated breeders soon began refining the breed standard, focusing on creating a distinct, elegant appearance and a uniform size.

By the 1920s, the Silky Terrier had become a recognizable and separate breed, although it wasn’t until 1955 that the breed standard was officially established by the Australian National Kennel Council.

Throughout the 20th century, the Silky Terrier gained popularity not only in Australia but also in other parts of the world. The breed first arrived in the United States in the early 1900s, and the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Silky Terrier in 1959 as a member of the Toy Group.

Although not as widely recognized as some other small dog breeds, the Silky Terrier has made occasional appearances in popular culture. In the 1950s, the breed was featured in an American comic strip called “Silky and the Gang,” created by cartoonist Walter J. Blackman.

The comic followed the adventures of Silky, an intelligent and resourceful Silky Terrier, and his animal friends. The breed has also appeared in various television shows and movies, often as a lovable companion or family pet.

Today, the Silky Terrier is appreciated for its charming personality, elegant appearance, and adaptability to various living environments. Although primarily a companion dog, the breed has also found success in various canine activities, such as agility, obedience, and rally.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Silky Terrier dog breed in the United States is the Silky Terrier Club of America (STCA). Founded in 1955, the STCA is dedicated to promoting and preserving the Silky Terrier breed by providing resources, support, and education to breeders, owners, and enthusiasts. Visit their website to learn more about the club and its activities.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed. 

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Silky Terrier’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

silky terrier puppy
Photo: welcomia

Acquiring

Venturing into Silky Terrier parenthood? Exciting times ahead! Start by preparing a comfy spot, nutritious food, engaging toys, grooming tools, and line up a vet for regular check-ups. If you opt to buy, select a reputable breeder to ensure a healthy, well-adjusted pup.

Yet, consider the fulfilling option of rescue. Numerous Silky Terriers await their forever homes in shelters. The American Kennel Club and the Silky Terrier Club of America offer resources that can guide your rescue journey.

Remember, whether you adopt or purchase, you’re not just getting a pet. You’re welcoming a bundle of energy, a loyal friend, and a spirited companion who’ll fill your life with joy and laughter. So buckle up, because life with a Silky Terrier is an exhilarating ride!

FAQs

Is the Silky Terrier considered a toy breed?

Yes, the Silky Terrier is classified as a toy breed by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

What is the difference between the Silky Terrier and the Yorkshire Terrier?

While the Silky Terrier and Yorkshire Terrier share similarities in appearance and ancestry, they are distinct breeds. The Silky Terrier has a slightly larger build, a more wedge-shaped head, and a longer, silkier coat compared to the Yorkshire Terrier. Additionally, the Silky Terrier has an Australian origin, while the Yorkshire Terrier hails from England.

Are Silky Terriers good pets?

Yes, Silky Terriers make excellent pets for those who can provide them with proper care, socialization, and training. They are intelligent, affectionate, and adaptable, making them great companions for families, singles, or seniors. However, they do require regular grooming and exercise to maintain their health and well-being.

What breeds were used to create the Silky Terrier?

The Silky Terrier was developed by crossing native Australian Terriers with imported Yorkshire Terriers. The goal was to create a small, elegant companion dog with a luxurious coat while maintaining the tenacity and spirited nature of its terrier ancestors.

How much grooming do Silky Terriers require?

Silky Terriers require regular grooming to maintain their long, silky coat. This includes daily brushing to prevent tangles and mats, as well as occasional bathing to keep the coat clean and healthy. Additionally, routine nail trimming, ear cleaning, and dental care are essential for maintaining overall health.

Can Silky Terriers live in apartments?

Yes, Silky Terriers can adapt well to apartment living, provided they receive adequate exercise and mental stimulation. Their small size and moderate exercise requirements make them suitable for urban environments. However, it’s important to note that they can be vocal, so proper training and socialization are necessary to curb excessive barking.

Are Silky Terriers hypoallergenic?

No dog breed is truly hypoallergenic, but the Silky Terrier’s coat produces less dander and sheds minimally compared to many other breeds. This may make them a more suitable option for individuals with mild allergies. However, it’s crucial to spend time with a Silky Terrier before committing to ownership to ensure compatibility with allergy sensitivities.

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