Silky Terrier 101: The Essential Guide

OriginAustralia
SizeSmall
Height           9 to 10 inches
Weight10 pounds
Life Expectancy13 -15 years
Breed GroupToy Dog
Affection Level⭐⭐⭐
Friendliness⭐⭐
Activity Level⭐⭐⭐
Barking/Howling Level⭐⭐⭐
Pet Friendly⭐⭐
Kid-Friendly⭐⭐
Shedding
Easy to Groom⭐⭐⭐
Easy to Train⭐⭐⭐

Origin

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For casual observers, the Silky Terrier may oftentimes be mistaken as the Yorkshire Terrier or the Australian Terrier. We can’t blame you though because all three breeds closely resemble each other. Both latter-mentioned dogs are the Silky Terrier’s parents! Crossbreeding has been done to further improve all aspects of the existing Australian Terrier. To better visualize the difference among the three, the Silky is bigger than the Yorkie and smaller than the Aussie Terrier. 

It is believed that the development of the Silky was also factored by three British Terriers which were the Skye Terrier, Cairn, and Dandie Dinmont that were brought by the English settlers to Australia.

In 1954, its popularity rose exceedingly when some of the American servicemen based in Australia brought back home a couple of Silkies. It wasn’t just the presence of the new breed that fascinated the people who have seen the pooch but as well as its long silky coat that feels like human hair. Although furry and adorable, the Silky exhibits the true Terrier personality. 

Appearance

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The Silky is remarkably known as a toy dog whose coat length may reach 5 to 6 inches down, but shouldn’t reach the floor ground. The structure resembles that of a human hair. He is single-coated and sheds at a very low rate making him a hypoallergenic dog. Its ideal look is when his hair is parted in the middle of its wedge-shaped head down to the back causing his hair to fall flatly on both sides. The coat must be neat and shiny.

He may also come in various colors and shades recognized by the AKC:

  • Black
  • Black & Tan
  • Cream
  • Fawn
  • Gray
  • Gray & Tan
  • Platinum
  • Silver
  • Silver & Tan
  • Silver Black & Tan
  • Blue
  • Blue & Tan
  • Blue Silver & Tan

In terms of size, the Silky dog is small. His body length is longer compared to the length of his height which is ideally around 9 to 10 inches while his weight goes around 10 pounds at best. Despite his short stature and small appearance, his personality makes up for it. He is known to be fierce due to his Terrier heritage!

Temperament

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The way the Silky Terrier becomes mostly depends on how he was raised and on what temperament his parents have. In adopting a Silky, you may not have control regarding how his personality will turn out due to it being largely factored by the inherited genes. However, if there is immediate reinforcement, the Silky Terrier will be able to show great personality traits.

Affection

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The Silky’s size doesn’t equate to him being a lap dog. Of course, he will enjoy the occasional cuddling, but his thirst for exciting games is greater than just behaving on his owner’s lap. This is a small dog with the temperament of a big dog. Although he doesn’t like to be picked up a lot of times in a day, his affection is shown in other ways. The Silky loves to be around his owner and hates to be separated from him. 

If your Silky puppy has separation anxiety, make sure that you don’t leave him for long periods. If he doesn’t know how to cope with this disorder, you will witness destructive behaviors once you get home. The usual scenarios would be howling, barking, and biting.

Friendliness

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This breed is typically friendly, but there are reservations. With kids, the Silky cannot tolerate rough handling, therefore, supervision and monitoring is highly recommended. Despite the tough persona this little dog displays, in reality, he is quite fragile and needs dainty playmates. The ideal age for kids to play with your Silky is 10 years old and above.

Moreover, the Silky dog is an ideal companion for elderly people. Since most seniors are at home, the furry pooch can keep them company with his entertaining quirks and mischievousness. Guaranteed he would boost his aging owner’s mental and emotional health and give him lots of love and cuddles.

When it comes to other dogs and house pets, if the Silky was raised with other furry friends, familiarity plays a great advantage. This will mean less chance of conflicts and the presence of smaller animals he grew up with will not activate his prey drive. In some cases, even if he is used to the presence of other dogs, the Silky’s competitive nature remains not to be diminished. This occurs the most when there are treats and rewards at stake. 

In addition, if your Silky is still young, make sure he is taught how to be pet-friendly and socialize him with other dogs when you visit parks.

Activity Level

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It’s often mindblowing how energetic the Silky Terrier is despite its small physique. He has endless energy and could go on long walks, mountain hikes, and play several games with you. It is probably because of his athletic smaller-sized body which makes him into various vigorous activities. However, despite his great liking for adventure, you as an owner must control his activity level. This is to avoid exhausting your little dog too much and prevent potential injuries or medical issues.

Care

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You don’t have to worry much when it comes to taking care of your little Silky for he is one of the low maintenance breeds. Just as long as you let him meet his basic needs, he’ll be the happiest pet you’ll ever have. There are at least 4 major areas to which any Silky owner must give high priority to ensure the holistic well-being of this furry companion.

Grooming

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Since the Silky Terrier does not shed much, grooming won’t have to be done every day. However, his coat must be brushed at least twice a week and his bath must be done every 1-2 weeks. Using appropriate canine bathing products is necessary to maintain the lustrous quality and vibrance of his long coat. This is also to prevent disrupting the normal pH balance of his skin and retain back healthy oils throughout his body. Since not all Silky Terriers have a correct silk coat texture, using the right products can give it the illusion that it looks ideally right. 

Additionally, a healthy and correct coat feels cool to the touch, it reflects light, and is deeply shiny.

In bathing your Silky, untangling his coat must be done before you apply the moisturizing shampoo. Make sure that the product covers his entire body and do so in a downwards motion. Do the same when you apply the conditioner. Never skip this part for it helps in locking in the moisture on every individual hair. When rinsing, use a slightly cooler water temperature to set the seal on that there are no products left on the coat.

It is imperative to dry your Silky in a downwards motion to keep the coat from tangling. Once completely dry, use a brush to make sure that the coat is properly set especially if your Silky has it long.

Food and Diet

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The recommended daily serving for a regular Silky Terrier amounts to a  ½-¾ cup of high-quality food. This has to be divided into two meals. A Silky pup on the other hand only needs a ⅛-¼ cup. Take note, however, that the amount of food your dog eats is factored by several things such as size, metabolism, age, and energy level. The recommended amount is only a general overview which means the dog’s consumption will never be the same as that of others. 

Some Silkies have high energy while others prefer sleeping and lazing around. Watching out how active your dog is will help in preventing him from gaining weight. Also, go only for high-quality dog food that can give your pooch his complete nutritional needs.

Beware that any dog can be great con artists when it comes to food! It is best not to feed him all the time and simply stick to giving him two meals a day. Never leave open access to food or it will increase his chance of becoming obese. To keep a check on his weight, look down at his waist and place your thumb on his spine while your fingers spread downwards. There shouldn’t be any visible ribs but you can feel them without pressing too hard. If the contrary is showing, more exercise and less food are recommended.

Exercise

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The Silky Terrier loves to be outdoors where there is a wider space for him to play the game of fetch, interact with neighbor dogs, or simply enjoy the surroundings. Since this Terrier breed is playful by nature, exercising him won’t give you much of a hard time. Unfortunately, statistics have shown that 1 out of 5 Silky terriers is not encouraged to have physical exercises by their owners. If this continues, the lack of activity level will lead to long-term health conditions.

Ensuring that your pooch gets exercise doesn’t have to be a chore. Here are a few things you can do to keep your small beast moving:

  • Walking 
  • Running
  • Jogging
  • Fetch
  • Find the Treat
  • Tug of War

Having a busy life should never mean neglecting your dog’s health. There has to be commitment and knowledge about the responsibilities once this little Silky gets in your home. The tasks you have to do with your Silky don’t have to be overwhelming. These are just the basics to guarantee them a good quality of life.

Training

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The earlier you teach your Silky about house rules, always the better. Training doesn’t just stimulate their minds and improve their smartness, but it also enhances their capability to socialize with good manners whether they’d be around other dogs, kids, or people. 

Obedience Training

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This involves giving commands and directing your dog to follow orders. You may start by making him stay when you tell him to stay or sit when told to do so. There are lots of areas where you can incorporate this training. This also instills in your dog’s mindset that you are in authority and that you know what’s best for him. The success rate of this training depends on how firm and consistent you are. Establishing a reward system proves to be effective to many Silky owners.

Crate Training

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Silkies are prone to anxiety especially if they are alone with no one to play with for hours. Crate training a dog can help him have a sense of security, therefore, making him calm and more relaxed. When his crate is associated with his safe space, being inside it will assure him that everything is alright. However, even if he is trained with this, it is still not advisable to leave him for long periods.

Crate training is more significant than you think. One of the reasons why dogs end up in shelters is due to house soiling. This is when after a long day at work, you’ll find out that your rugs have been spoiled or stinking. Hence why crate training is a legitimate potty training tool.

Socialization Training

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Although dogs can be socialized anytime, the ideal period is anywhere between 8 weeks to 4 months of their early life. Introducing him to people must be done in a stress-free environment. Taking him out for frequent walks can expose him to new surroundings, sights, smells, animals, and humans. Should you decide to introduce your Silky to a new dog, do so slowly and very carefully. Use treats as an advantage so they’d both have a common ground for food. 

Once your dog gets used to new faces and is now confident, reinforce through bringing him to doggy daycare. If none of these works, bringing your pooch to a professional will greatly help. 

Health Problems

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While Silky Terriers are generally healthy and live up to 15 years, they are still prone to certain health conditions. With this, going for reputable breeders is a top choice when it comes to health. Responsible breeders test their stocks for the common conditions this specific breed may get. Some of the common ones are the following:

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA develops over time but the result is total blindness. Early symptoms will show such as the inability to see clearly in weak light, stumbling over objects, and reluctance to walk outside at night. When this condition worsens, opaque white areas will show around the pupils and eventually form into a cataract. Cataracts may also occur even without PRA. There is no cure for this yet, but luckily, a Silky can adjust to the loss of vision.

Hypothyroidism

This occurs when there is an insufficient supply of thyroid hormones. Your once lively Silky Terrier may suddenly become lethargic, prone to gaining weight despite him eating the same amount of food, infections, hair loss, and mood shifts. This can be dealt with through a prescribed thyroid medication by your vet which is taken daily.

Leggs-Calve-Perthes disease

This is often genetically transmitted and experienced by the Silky Terrier breed. This orthopedic issue causes an inadequate flow of blood supply to the femur’s head which leads to necrosis. Surgery is the best way to treat this.

Epilepsy 

Epilepsy is a neurological disorder that may cause your Silky Terrier to have seizures that may last for a minute. Anything that exceeds the normal period can cause major damage. As an owner, this will be hard to watch especially if you witness him lose his balance and fall over. This can be controlled and minimized through prescribed medications from your vet.

Pros and Cons of having a Silky Terrier

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Once you set your eyes on this dog, you might not get over him quickly until you get yourself one. He undeniably has a lot of attractive features and a great personality that will never bore you. However, with his Terrier legacy, the Silky may display behaviors that might be only dealt with by some. 

To learn if he is the right dog for you, here are the breed’s strengths and weaknesses:

Pros

  • Compact and easy to carry
  • Has a long, beautiful coat that doesn’t shed a lot- hypoallergenic
  • Alert, busy, and inquisitive
  • Excellent watchdog
  • Inherently intelligent
  • Affectionate
  • Loyal
  • Active

Cons

  • Sharp toward strangers if not socialized
  • Has a high prey drive
  • Fondness to dig and bark
  • Stubborn
  • Housebreaking difficulties
  • Can’t be left alone for too long or clingy

Do Kennel Clubs Recognize the Silky Terrier?

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Yes! All the major clubs recognize this breed and it is also internationally acknowledged by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale as breed number 236. Other internet-based breed registries and some of the minor kennel clubs also recognize the Australian Silky dog.

On another note, the Silky Terrier’s popularity is ranked 112th out of 197 dog breeds according to AKC. It is also in the 37th spot in the intelligence ranking made by the canine psychologist Stanley Coren.

Cost

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If you are planning to adopt, the rates of getting a Silky Terrier puppy vary widely so there isn’t a specifically established price, but the general price ranges from $200- $300. One of the factors that determine the cost of each puppy rests upon how much it will contribute to continuing the cause of a certain animal organization. 

If you are getting one from a city with a high cost of living, the fee will also increase. The money goes directly to veterinary fees, medications, insurances, etc. which also support other dogs that are waiting to be adopted. Surely though, getting a Silky Terrier from a shelter is relatively cheaper than buying one. 

If you opt for a reputable breeder,  the average price is anywhere between $1000 to $3000 because breeding purebred dogs is costly. This includes ensuring that the dog is healthy by running each puppy in a DNA test and vetting to name a few.

Where to Adopt or Buy a Silky Terrier

Try out these legit and trusted websites if ever you want to purchase your silky-coated friend:

If you are looking for a more affordable place to get a Silky and you have the heart to rescue dogs, here is a list of shelters you can choose from:

Overall, the Silky Terrier is a great companion to get for anyone willing to be hands-on. Whether he is purchased or adopted, it doesn’t matter! The Silky is full of love to share with anyone who chooses him. Although it may need some time to adjust and hone him for the better, in the end, all efforts will be worth it. You will no longer have a hard day at work with no one to greet you at the door because you will be welcomed with a friendly dog wagging his tail as you approach the porch!

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