Silky Terrier vs Australian Terrier: Side by Side Comparison

The Silky Terrier and the Australian Terrier are both Australia’s pride as dog breeds. You might be wondering as to why both dogs look the same -it is simply because they are related to each other! If you take a glance, you might mistake that both dogs just come from the same breed. Although they may look the same, they are in fact, vastly different in several areas such as temperament and history. 

Since there’s a thin but significant line in between, it is necessary to look at each type of breed to be able to come up with which dog to go for. Since not all types of dogs are good for every dog owner or lover, this guide will assist you in determining which one suits you best. 

Breed Origins

Silky Terrier

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The Silky Terrier is a descendant of the Native Australian Terrier and Northern England’s Yorkshire Terrier. This came about during the 1980s. The Silky has been originally bred to become a companion for an urban setting. Even though breeding the Silky is strictly intended to be excluded from preying on rodents or vermins, it doesn’t automatically equate to it being incapable of joining hunts and adventures.

Also, the primary reason behind the crossbreeding of the two different types of Terriers was to improve the appearance of the native Australian breed. The Australian National Kennel Club which was founded in 1958 has led the American Kennel Club (AKC) to recognize the Silky Terrier as part of the Toy group in 1959.

Australian Terrier

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During the early 19th century, the Australian Terrier was developed in the country which it has been named after. Its Terrier ancestors, however, which have rough-coated types come from Great Britain. This pooch is a cousin to Cairn Terrier, and Shorthaired Skye Terrier to name a few. At first, this dog was named the Rough Coated Terrier until it was revised to “Australian Terrier” in 1892. The Kennel Club (UK) made a move of recognizing this dog breed in 1933 and was slowly followed by the AKC in 1960. 

Size, Appearance, Coloring

Silky Terrier

Naturally small in size, the Silky is labeled to be a toy dog whose length is longer than the measurement of its height. This Silky pooch can be up to 10 inches in height and can weigh between 8-10 pounds. Although he’s got a refined structure, his body isn’t delicate when it comes to adventures or vigorous activities.

Photo from: theodore.ho_thesilky (IG)

By appearance, the Silky Terrier has a wedge-shaped head and a pair of small and erect V-shaped ears. The eyes are dark and shaped like an almond while its long and silky hair is parted in between from head to the back causing the coat to fall flatly on each side. Additionally, the coat color is usually rich tan that may come in various shades of blue.

Australian Terrier

There isn’t much difference when it comes to height for the Australian Terrier as it is measured at 11 inches at withers. Despite that it looks small, it is actually heavier than the Silky since its ideal weight is anywhere between 15-20 pounds. 

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One distinct and perhaps controversial physical characteristic that sets the Australian Terrier apart from the Silky Terrier is its tail which can be docked. This is because this dog is in the working class and docking its tail helps prevent future injuries. Also, its head is long and strong with a set of observant dark brown to black eyes. 

This is considered to be the smallest working dog in the Terrier group and is covered with a rough-looking coat that may come in different colors such as blue and tan, solid red, or solid sandy. The desired length of it is 2 ½ inches all over the body except in certain areas as per the AKC breed standard.


Silky Terrier

According to the breed standard, the Australian Silky Terrier must be keen and active. He enjoys playing around the yard and wouldn’t say ‘no’ to brisk walks during the day. Due to his curious and adventurous nature, he shouldn’t be left outside unsupervised because he tends to wander off. Although he is a true outdoor breed, he can also adjust to spending most of his time indoors. Just make sure that he’s always preoccupied and busy to avoid boredom. Leaving him alone for long periods will trigger separation anxiety especially if he is still a puppy.

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Additionally, this dog makes an excellent watchdog. He will incessantly bark at an approaching stranger. 

Australian Terrier

The ideal Australian Terrier is described to be spirited, alert, and possesses the natural aggressiveness of a ratter. This makes an excellent companion as he is a very social breed, so interacting with people is definitely something he enjoys. 

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In some cases, an Aussie male won’t do well in the presence of other male dogs especially if they are unfamiliar, but generally, you won’t have much of a problem socializing him with others just as long as he was trained to be tolerant.


Silky Terrier

The Silky’s intellect is not to be downplayed as well. In a survey done by Dogs 101, ninety-one small breed dogs were ranked according to their ability to learn things quickly. Unsurprisingly, the Silky ranked in the top 20.

Moreover, it is advisable to train your Silky Terrier puppy at an early age such as obedience training, house rules, and crate training. This gives him the mental stimulation he needs. Although this is a smart dog, owners may find it a bit uneasy to train an innately stubborn dog. However, with patience and consistency, Silkies will do well at learning tricks. 

Australian Terrier

He is extremely trainable and ranks 34th as a pooch that has above-average intelligence. Australian Terriers are stubborn by nature too, but if you start the obedience training right on the first day, you won’t be having a hard time giving him orders sooner or later. Simply make sure that the activities are fun and enjoyable so he won’t get bored with the repetitive activities.

To encourage your Aussie dog more in tasks, make a reward-based system that would make him enjoy little treats every after showing good behavior.

Activity Level

Silky Terrier

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What makes the Silky Terrier great is that he only takes up such a small space. If he needs to meet his exercise requirements, you can do so even inside your apartment. Since he has high energy levels, make sure you let him spend two sessions dividing 60-90 minutes per day releasing his pent-up energy. This can be done before leaving for work to exhaust him and help him sleep while you are away for a few hours.

Australian Terrier

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Despite its relatively small size, the Australian Terrier is actually very energetic and lively! This breed requires at least 60 minutes of exercise done twice per day, so a committed owner is a must. A game of fetch or other fun activities will keep him healthy. Others have mistaken this pooch to be a lap dog, but honestly, there should be a constant outlet to pour out his active behavior.

Living Condition

Both breeds are great for apartment-style living. They can remain active indoors provided that you keep them busy with games and toys to play with. Ideally, they shouldn’t be left outside off-leash to prevent them from chasing after small animals like squirrels and birds or become prey to other bigger animals. 

Since these breeds are propensed to bark, training them to maintain peace in the environment should be among the canine must-learn rules.


Silky Terrier

With the absence of his undercoat, the Silky Terrier does not require everyday grooming, but that doesn’t mean that dog hygiene must be compromised. Brushing its hydrated coat twice a week is ideal to prevent matting and bacteria buildup.

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Finding the right canine shampoo and grooming needs for baths are recommended to maintain the pH balance as well. If you are unsure how to groom your dog, you can simply send him to your nearest grooming sessions.

Australian Terrier

The Australian Terrier’s harsh coat is water-resistant! It also helps the pooch deal with harsh weather conditions- the coat keeps him cool during summer and warm during winter. Despite the presence of an undercoat, the Aussie Terrier sheds at a lower rate. Just like any other dog breeds, he also needs to be bathed 3-4 times a year or when he is dirty. 

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Clipping its nails must be done promptly to avoid cracking and overgrowth. As for the teeth, it needs to be brushed regularly. The ears have to be checked for excess wax and debris to avoid infections.

Health Issues

Silky Terrier

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The Silky Terrier breed is generally healthy. The way he is being taken care of can help prevent many of the potential health issues it may have in his life. However, any Silky owner should be prepared once symptoms of diseases appear to have them treated right away.

Some of the common medical issues a Silky may have are:

Australian Terrier

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Due to being susceptible to viral and bacterial infections, the Aussie Terrier must complete all of its puppy shots to avoid most of these undesirable inflammations. Vaccination will be mostly based on his area, age, and other factors. 

Other potential issues may include:

  • Luxating patella
  • Tumors and cancers
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease

Litter Size

Both Australian breeds share the same expected litter size of 3-6 puppies each pregnancy. Puppies must be given extreme care right away. Despite the popular belief that there will always be a runt in every litter, the contrary is true. If ever you find out that one of the puppies is small, it doesn’t equate to it being the weakest. 

Life Expectancy

These two Australian dog breeds enjoy a longer life expectancy. The Silky’s life span ranges from 13-15 years whilst the Aussie Terrier lives anywhere between 11-15 years. The longevity of their lives is, of course, factored by their health. The more vigor they are, the more years they will be able to accompany you.

Breed Popularity

The Silky Terrier is 112th out of 197 in the AKC’s breed popularity ranking while the Australian Terrier is on the 140th spot. Having a Terrier in the household is not for everyone as these breeds may show stubbornness toward their owners which may be a bit challenging and overwhelming. Nevertheless, the fact that they aren’t the most well-known for dog lovers worldwide does not make them undesirable breeds.

Fun Facts

Silky Terrier

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  1. The Silky is capable of competing in athletic events.
  2. His silky coat feels like that of a human hair.
  3. He has been made to become one of the best urban dogs!

Australian Terrier

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  1. He can mimic his owner’s feelings.
  2. Despite his double coat, the Aussie dog doesn’t shed much!
  3. Although he gets along well with other pets like cats, his urge to activate his prey drive is surreal.

Which Terrier Dog Is Right for You?

The Silky is simply the more refined version of the Australian Terrier. However, it doesn’t mean that one is better than the other. You have to carefully consider which between the two will be able to get along well with your family and environment. Know the pros and cons first before you contact your reputable breeder or head your way to a shelter.