Silky Terrier

Silky Terrier
John Walton
Written by John Walton

Fun-loving, an energetic buddy for life! The Silky Terrier will bring joy and a lot of love in your life, as well as funny moments and some not so funny. The silky, long hair will attract the attention, when you go for walks, but don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you will need to take a lot of hair for it. His temperament is true terrier temperament, so don’t be fooled by his cuteness and small size.

Breed Characteristics

AdaptabilityAbove Average
Health and GroomingAbove Average
All Around FriendlinessAbove Average
Exercise NeedsHigh

Dog Breed Group:Companion Dogs
Height:Generally 9 inches to 10 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight:8 to 10 pounds
Life Span:12 to 15 years

The name says it: silky, long coat is what makes this dog recognizable. Tan and blue colors are standard and length of the hair is around 5 inches. Even though it looks delicate on the outside, this breed has a bold, terrier temper. If you are not familiar with the breed, you might be surprised how good of a watchdog this small guy is.

Taking him hiking, like a large breed dog, is not uncommon, actually is preferable. He will keep up with you and even be ahead of you. This terrier breed has the true temperament: he likes digging, chasing, barking, also he is tenacious and scrappy. If you are not ready for all of this, then this is not the right fit for you.

Put aside his terrier temperament and you have a loyal family dog that loves to be around his people. He is best for families that won’t leave him alone at home for a longer time and will love him unconditionally.

This smart breed needs its exercise and mental stimulation to not get bored. Taking him for longer walks or hikes and playing games with him will make him happy and will spend his energy. Even though he is an active dog, he can live in an apartment, but you should teach him the “quiet” command, so you won’t have problems with the neighbors.

The Silky is a good family dog and he is good with kids. Preferably kids that are over 10 years and know how to interact with a dog. He should be treated carefully and with kindness, otherwise he won’t tolerate anything.

Main Highlights
  • Active dogs! They are terriers after all… They need mental stimulation and exercise, but not as much as other terriers do. They just need a bit more than a short game of fetch; a longer walk would be enough for them.
  • They are good for flats and apartments. Even though they need exercise, their size makes them fit for smaller homes.
  • Chasing prey is a hobby of theirs. Don’t be surprised when you see them after a cat, squirrel or some rodents. Just be aware of their hunting abilities if you happen to have a small animal as a pet.
  • A Silky is the happiest when he is with his family. Don’t let them be alone.
  • Long hair, don’t care! Even though they have a longer silky coat, they don’t demand a lot of care. Regular brushing and bathing are
  • If you have a yard, you will occasionally happen to find holes around. Silkys like to dig in the dirt, so if you want to have flowers in your yard, consider another breed. Or, you can train your Silky to dig only in a specific area.
  • Barkers! This terrier trait didn’t avoid them. You can train them as much as you want, but they will bark when they feel they need. This is what makes them brilliant watchdogs.
  • Good family dogs for children over 10 years old.
  • Mostly friendly towards other dogs, however it happens for them to be aggressive and territorial if they are not socialized and trained.
Breed History

The Silky Terrier is a relatively new breed that originated in Australia, just at the end of the 19th century. The breed was created by crossing native Australian Terriers with imported Yorkshire Terriers. The puppies in the beginning looked like Yorkies or Australian Terriers, and some looked like the Silky today. Those that looked like the Silky were interbred and that’s how the breed maintained.

There was a little mismatch about the breed’s standard during the early years, because two standards were drawn up, one in Sidney and one in Victoria. The difference was in the ear type and the preferred weight, but they managed to compromise in 1926 and the bred was standardized.

The breed changed names few times, first it was called Sydney Silky Terrier, then Australian Silky Terrier. Today in the US it is known as Silky Terrier.


Both sexes are around 10 inches tall and weigh around 10 pounds.

Personality and Character

Self-assured, intelligent and spirited, this breed loves chasing small animals. If he is ever challenged, he will never be the first one to back down. Even though the breed is small, they make excellent watchdogs. The Silky will bark to alert you if they hear or feel something strange happening.

The Silky is the happiest when he’s around the family. He will follow you around your home and will be the first one to welcome the guests. He is an independent dog, however he is glad to be with the owner the whole day. Even if you travel a lot, don’t hesitate to have this dog; he is adaptable and compact to take him everywhere with you.

Their character can be affected by many factors like training, socialization and heredity. When you choose a puppy choose the one that it’s playful and likes to be with people. If it’s possible, meet the parents, or at least one of them, so you would have an idea about what the puppy’s temperament will be like. Meeting siblings or other relatives is also a good idea.

Exposing your dog to various sights, sounds, people and experiences will ensure you that your puppy will grow up to be with a nice temperament.

Health and Potential Problems

Generally a healthy breed but, there are some diseases that they are prone to and you need to be aware before you get a dog of this breed.

  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: this is a problem of the hip joint. The head of the femur begins to disintegrate because of decreased blood supply. If your dog has this disease, you will notice him limping, being in pain, his leg muscles will begin to atrophy. The first symptoms may occur when your dog is just a puppy, 4-6 months old. The problem can be solved with surgery, which will result in pain-free life for your puppy.
  • Patellar Luxation: this common problem for small dogs is also known as slipped stifles. Having this disease means that the patella is dislocated and causes pain. When a dog has this problem, he might be cripple, however many dogs live normal lives having this condition.
  • Diabetes Mellitus: just like in humans, this disorder means that the body can’t regulate the blood sugar levels. The disorder can be managed with proper diet, insulin and your dog will lead a normal life. if a dog has this disorder he will urinate excessively, lose weight, and have increased appetite.
  • Tracheal Collapse: this happens often in small breeds and it is caused by weakening of the cartilage. Literally the trachea collapses or flattens, resulting in obstructed airway. You can hear a dog coughing, sounding like a goose honk, when he is affected by this. Also, intolerance to exercise and fainting are common symptoms. This problem can be treated medically or surgically.
Care Features

Some people consider this dog to be a toy breed and they don’t pay that much attention to exercise. However, this dog needs training and exercise on daily basis. Longer walks, playing in the yard or dog park for small breeds is enough for the Silky to spend his energy. If you don’t have the ability to take your Silky out to play everyday, a game of fetch at home will satisfy his needs also.

This breed likes the outdoors, but prefers to be around their people. They are not supposed to be left alone in the yard,because they re small enough to be prey for predators. Also, they’re not aware of their size and they might get into a fight with a bigger dog that entered their turf.

Training is important for the Silky and they are able and willing students. They’re intelligent and if you are not consistent with the training, they might start making their own rules. Always make the lessons fun and interesting for your dog, because that’s the best way to learn.

Crate training will make the housetraining easier and will benefit you and your dog. If you crate train your dog, you will be sure he will be safe if you leave him alone when you are away for few hours. Make the crate a positive and safe place to be in for your dog by putting toys in it and letting the door open while you are at home, so your Silky will go and take naps in it. Also, this would make it easier if your dog needs to be boarded on a plane or hospitalized.

Putting the Silky in a crate for a long time won’t do any good. It will cause negative attitude towards it and it will be a problem.

Feeding Schedule

Silkys need two meals a day of dry food. The daily amount should be around half a cup for adults and 1/4 cup or less for puppies.

The daily amount of food for any dog depends on his metabolism, age, build, size and activity. Some dogs need more food in their bowl, some less. You will notice that for your dog also, if your dog is more active, he will ask for more food. If he is a couch potato, you will put less food in the bowl. Another thing that makes a difference in the daily amount of food is the quality of the food. If you use high quality food, the amount will be less compared to a supermarket quality food.

Coat, Color and Grooming

This breed will enchant you with its silky, long hair. It is parted down the back and it’s length is usually around 5 inches. The coat is tan in color and has shades of blue.

The Silky looks like it needs a lot of care for his coat, but not really. A regular brushing, 2-3 times a week and monthly bath are enough for this longhaired cutie.

Tartar build up is common, so brush your dog’s teeth 2-3 times a week, to avoid infections and gum disease, also bad breath.

Nails need trimming, just like for every breed. However, these dogs are active so they might spend their nails more. You will see how long they will grow and trim them when necessary. If you don’t know how to do it, take your dog to the vet or the groomer.

Check the ears once a week for redness, odor or inflammation. You can wipe them with a cotton ball and some pH-balanced ear cleaner.

If you start with all of this grooming in the early age, you won’t have any problems with your dog when it grows up. The Silky will adjust to all this treatment and will be nice and quiet at the vet or the groomers. Use a positive attitude when you train your dog, so he remembers it as a positive experience. Don’t be stingy with the treats and rewards for your pup, he will enjoy it!

Children And Other Pets Compatibility

The Silky is a nice family dog, even better when raised with children and is used to their behavior and games. Because he’s a terrier after all, he is best suited for families with older kids, at least 10 years old. Kids should be taught how to handle the dog, because he won’t tolerate being tortured.

Just like with any breed, children should be taught how to act around a dog, how to handle the dog, not to take his food or water, and to be gentle while playing. Even if your dog is the friendliest dog ever, you should never leave a dog with a child unsupervised.

This breed is friendly with other dogs and pets. Sometimes when there are other dogs in the home, there might be some rivalry between them and attention seeking, but that’s normal. This terrier like chasing after small animals, so if you have cats or rabbits as pets, maybe this is not the breed for you.

If you are a fan of terriers, but you like to have a dog that looks cute and delicate, this is the one! Your life will be filled with joy and excitement and you won’t know what to expect every day from this funny guy. Friendly with people and easy to take care of, despite his long coat, this breed will be your best companion. He will warn you of anything that he thinks it’s unusual and you will always know if someone is at the door. If you decide to take a puppy of this breed, love him and enjoy the time with him!

About the author
John Walton
John Walton

John Walton lives in Somerville, MA, with his two dogs, two sons, and very understanding mate. He is a Certified Pet Dog Trainer, a member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, a mentor trainer for the Animal Behavior College, an AKC Certified CGC Evaluator, and the Training Director for the New England Dog Training Club.