Silky Terrier: Dog Breed Profile

Characteristics, History, Care Tips, and Helpful Information for Pet Owners

Silky terrier

 

dizzyun / Getty Images

The silky terrier is a small dog breed with a long, fine hair coat. Its personality is generally friendly and energetic. The silky terrier is sometimes confused with the Yorkshire terrier, but the two are separate dog breeds with distinct traits. In fact, the silky is larger than the Yorkie and actually has more in common with its other relative, the Australian terrier.

If you are looking for an active, loyal, and outgoing dog with an independent side, the silky terrier might be right for you. Silky terriers are companion dogs that enjoy human interaction. On the other hand, the silky is an independent dog, true to its terrier lineage, and not the typical lap dog. This breed can adapt to many types of environments and households if given the proper attention and time. Well-socialized and properly trained silky terriers can get along well with children and other pets, though the breed is not ideal for small children.

Breed Overview

Group: Toy

Height: 9 to 10 inches

Weight: About 10 pounds

Coat and Color: Long straight coat in blue and tan

Life Expectancy: 13 to 15 years

Characteristics of the Silky Terrier

Affection Level High
Friendliness Medium
Kid-Friendly Medium
Pet-Friendly Low
Exercise Needs Medium
Playfulness High
Energy Level Medium
Trainability High
Intelligence High
Tendency to Bark High
Amount of Shedding Low

History of the Silky Terrier

Silky terriers are natives of Australia. The breed was developed toward the end of the 19th century by crossing imported Yorkshire terriers with native Australian terriers. Originally, the result was called the Sydney silky terrier, and that became its official breed name in Australia in 1955. That same year, the Sydney Silky Terrier Club of America was developed in the United States. The name was soon changed to the Silky Terrier Club of America. The silky terrier was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1959.

Silky Terrier Care

The silky terrier has a hair coat that is straight, shiny, and fine in texture. The hair is constantly growing and quite similar to human hair. A commitment to routine grooming is absolutely essential if you have this type of dog. A silky will need brushing and combing several times each week. Regular haircuts will be necessary to keep the coat at the desired length. Many owners choose to keep the coat trimmed short for easier care. Overall, the breed tends to shed very little. You may want to bathe this dog monthly.

Be sure to keep the nails neatly trimmed so your silky's feet will stay healthy and comfortable. Oral hygiene is important for health and you should brush your dog's teeth daily or at least two to three times per week.

This is a breed that does not like to be left alone for long. A silky may "act out" due to boredom or loneliness. Be prepared to offer plenty of attention with play sessions and other kinds of interaction.

The silky terrier is an active but not hyper dog that requires daily exercise. Expect to take your dog for a walk and to spend time in active play such as fetch. In addition, the silky terrier can enjoy and excel at a variety of dog sports. These dogs won't back down when confronted by larger dogs and are apt to run off in pursuit of squirrels and other small prey, so you will need to use a leash and train it properly. You will need to supervise your pet well if taking it to a dog park.

Your silky can play in a fenced yard, but be aware that this breed likes to dig. That means they will give you some possibly unwanted help in the garden and that they may dig an escape tunnel under a fence. They will hunt and pursue small prey. This makes them a poor match for households that include gerbils, guinea pigs, or rabbits.

As with any breed, thorough training and proper socialization are essential for the silky terrier. They are often reserved around new people as well as new situations and socialization can help ward off problems of being overly territorial and aggressive. This breed is very intelligent and should respond well to training, but it may possess a stubborn side as well. Silky terriers will benefit from firm and consistent positive reinforcement training.

Barking can be a problem with this breed and your silky is likely to alert you to anything that moves. You will need to train your dog to bark appropriately.

Silky terriers may take longer to housetrain than some breeds. Be prepared to have puppy pads and cleaning supplies handy.

Silky terrier playing
TBoug​_ / Getty Images 
Kids holding silky terrier
maki_shmaki / Getty Images

Common Health Problems

Responsible breeders should carefully breed their dogs in order to maintain the highest breed standards established by kennel clubs like the AKC. Dogs bred by these standards are less likely to inherit health conditions. Some hereditary health problems can occur in the breed, including:

Diet and Nutrition

Your silky terrier should be fed two meals per day for a total of not more than 3/4 cup of dry dog food per day. Your dog's needs will vary with its size, activity level, age, and other factors. It's best to not allow free-feeding and to not be tricked into giving your dog bites of human food. Even a small amount of weight gain can be significant for a small dog and obesity will shorten your dog's lifespan. Be sure to discuss your dog's nutritional needs with your veterinarian to get recommendations for the amount and type of food that is appropriate.

Pros

  • Highly intelligent

  • Friendly and energetic

  • Can excel at dog sports and fetch

Cons

  • Active diggers

  • Hunt and pursue small prey

  • Can take longer to house train than other dog breeds

Where to Adopt of Buy a Silky Terrier

When considering a silky terrier, factor in the amount of time you'll have to spend with your new pet, and whether your housing situation will accommodate this breed. If you think the silky terrier is a good match, find a reputable breeder or an experienced rescue group, and the national organizations can help you find local options.

  • The Silky Terrier Club of America is a great resource for this breed. The organization provides standards and a list of breeders around the country.
  • Silky Terrier Rescue is an arm of this organization and helps connects rescue dogs with future forever homes.

More Dog Breeds and Further Research

If you think the silky terrier is the right dog breed for you, be sure to do your research before getting one. Seek advice from veterinarians and pet professionals. Talk to other silky terrier owners, reputable breeders, and small dog rescue groups to learn more.

If you are interested in similar breeds, look into these to compare their pros and cons:

There is a whole world of different dog breeds to explore. With a little research, you can find the right one to bring home.