Silky Terrier

The Australian Silky Terrier may look glamorous, but it is an expert rat killer and mighty watchdog. Although originally an export from Britain, the breed was refined in Sydney. This merry, yet assertive dog makes an affectionate pet.

Also known as the Silky, the Sydney Silky Terrier, the Sydney Silky, the Silky Terrier or the Silkie Terrier.


In a country where most dogs must work hard to earn their living, this is Australia’s only "toy" breed, developed purely as a pet. During the 19th century, the larger Australian Terrier had established itself as the country’s champion vermin-killer and had become a national favourite. By crossing it with tiny Yorkshire Terriers it was possible to reduce its size while retaining its personality.

The result of this mixing was an intelligent, lively, fun-loving, high-spirited companion with fine, silky hair, weighing no more than 10 lb (5 kg) and ideal for urban living. As a bonus, it is an excellent watchdog, noisily announcing the arrival of any stranger. Its coat does not shed and it lacks the dog odour common in many breeds.

In the Australian show-ring, this breed made its debut in the early years of the 20th century. There was great rivalry between Silky breed clubs in Victoria and New South Wales, each putting out its own version of the breed standard. The Sydney faction tried to claim the breed as its own by calling it the Sydney Silkie, and it was not until 1959 that a national standard was finally established. In this same year the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club, under the name Silky Terrier. The Silky has been slower to catch on in Britain, probably because of the enormous popularity of the Yorkshire Terrier, and a British breed club was not formed until 1979.


Height: 20-23 cm at the shoulder

Weight: 3.5-4.5 kg


The Silky Terrier is a real one-family dog, a keen watchdog, very obedient and a very adept pupil. It is wary of strangers until they are approved by a member of its family, after which it will immediately accept them. It is not a fighter, so many of the breed may be permitted to run together but, should it have to defend itself, it can become a bundle of fur and acquit itself creditably.

Coat and Grooming

Pups are born black and tan. As most Silkies mature, the colour will change to silver and tan. The care of a Silky Terrier is very straightforward. The only trimming necessary is of any long or untidy hair on the feet, ears, tail and muzzle. A daily brush is recommended, as is a fortnightly bath.


Rotten teeth are common in this breed. This is best helped by giving your pet raw bones. Other known problems include eye defects and patellar luxations. Nonetheless, this hardy breed can live up to 15 years.

Environment and Exercise

Can live indoors if given daily exercise. A moderate walk on a leash will be sufficient.

Compatibility with Kids and other Pets

The Silky Terrier tend to be one-person dogs. This lucky person is usually the one who serves them food, so make it a child if you wish for them to bond. Only gentle children should be allowed near this breed as rough handling is likely to make Silky snap! Other pets beware: unless Silky is well socialized with other pets as a pup, they should not be trusted together.

Gallery of Silky Terrier