Frequently Asked Questions About Silky Terriers

Silky Terrier Facts

Q. How big is the Silky?

A. The Silky should be 9 to 10 inches at the shoulder and in the revised breed standard weight has been eliminated, however most Silkies still average the old weight standard of 8 to 10 pounds.

Q. What is their coat like?

A. The original coat standard states the  should grow about 5 to 6 inches long and should hang about 4 to 6 inches from the ground this was changed in 1989  and states that it should  not approach floor length nor should the feet be obscured It is non-shedding and odorless. The texture is similar to our hair and compared to other coated breeds is easier to keep tangle free if brushed at least 2 times a week. Most people can groom their own dogs well enough that professional grooming is not needed.

Q. What is the difference between an Australian Silky Terrier, Silky Toy Terrier and the Silky Terrier?

A.  They are all the same breed but have different names in different countries, specifically in Australia, Canada and the United States.

Q. What is the difference between a Yorkshire Terrier and the Silky Terrier?

A. The Yorky should not weigh more than 7 pounds, however most pet quality Yorkies are as big as the Silky, and they have a thick coat that drops right to the ground. Yorkies have a shorter muzzle, larger eyes and a domed head. The Silky head is more solid with small eyes and flatter skull. The Yorky’s color must be a dark gray with rich tan. The Silky may be almost any shade of gray with tan legs and silver or fawn topknot. An adult Silky will occasionally “Brown out”   the coat will become a Champagne or tan color This doesn’t happen very often and there is no way of knowing what puppies will change .  The Yorky topknot is always put up in a bow, the Silky is not. The Yorky is more common with an average of 68,000 litters and 137.000 dogs registered annually as compared with 1200 Silky litters and 2100 dogs. With the heavy over breeding of the Yorky they have more genetic problems and fewer quality breeders.  The Yorky has a true “toy dog” temperament the Silky more of a low keyed Terrier temperament

Q. Where did the Silky Terrier come from?

A. The Silky originated about 100 years ago in Australia. Their major ancestors were the Australian Terrier and the Yorkshire Terrier. They were bred to be family companions, watchdogs, and to hunt rodents and snakes.

Q. What is the Silky temperament like? Are they good with children?

A. The Silky temperament combines the best of both worlds. They have enough toy dog characteristics to be good lap dogs, but enough terrier temperament to be fun. They generally are not toy-like in disposition with that nervous, yappy, snappy defensive behavior exhibited in many small toy breeds. Nor are they as aggressive as so many terrier breeds. They are happy to play tug of war, chase a ball, hike, swim, play for hours and occasionally rid your house of unwanted rodents, as their bigger terrier relatives will do. They are not usually excessive barkers but will alert you quite vocally if they hear or see something they feel warrants your attention. They have been known to protect their owner as best they can against unwanted intruders. For their size they have a heart of a dog far bigger than they are. Silkies generally are good with children. However children under 7 years of age should be supervised with the puppy to make sure they do not hurt or play inappropriately with him. I have sold many Silkies to families with children including handicapped children and in most cases there are no problems. However, if there is a problem with overly aggressive behavior seek professional help. Most temperament problems are caused by, poor or no training, aggressive playing, and giving mixed signals to you dog without knowing that you are telling him that this is not appropriate behavior.

Q. How is the Silky with other pets?

A. They generally adapt very well with other pets as they are not as aggressive as most terriers. I do recommend if there are several dogs in the house that they be spayed or neutered as this will help curb dominant behavior. I also recommend early socialization with pet rats, mice, hamsters, etc. as they were bred to hunt rodents.

Q. How easy is the Silky to train?

A. They are quite bright, but also retain the terrier stubborn streak. They will not take repetitive or abusive training, but they do love to learn. If you enjoy training there are very little limits to the types of training they can do. Silkies have obtained Obedience titles including CD, CDX UD, and have worked in agility, tracking, herding and as therapy dogs. They now can compete in terrier earth dog trials. Silkies have worked as actors generally playing Yorkies and have been attack trained (although I do not recommend this for pets). I had a Silky in the Eiger Sanction with Clint Eastwood that had to learn within 6 weeks to walk on a leash, sit, stay, come when called, “ride” Clint’s leg, speak and jump into a jeep. Formby was a 3-year-old stud dog that was untrained at the time he was chosen by Frank Weatherwax to do the movie.

Q. How healthy is the Silky?

A. They are very healthy. Their life span is about 14-16 years. The oldest pet I sold lived to 22 and I have had two of my own live to 19 and one to 20. They have only 12 recognized problems of which 5 would manifest long before puppy is ready to leave a breeder and would not pass their Veterinarian check and therefore would never be sold. Most breeds have an average of 24 problems. The problems of concern that should be guaranteed against in writing by your breeder for one year are Legg-Perthes, Patellar Luxation, and diabetes mellitus. However any major problem even if not generally found in the Silky should also be covered in your breeder’s guarantee for at least a year.