The Australian Silky Terrier dog breed brings to life the expression “small dog, big personality”, they are a tough and confident breed.
Their heritage as a hunter of small prey makes them courageous and hyper. Silky Terriers are also called Silky, Silkies are an elegant breed.
History of the Australian Silky Terrier
The Silky Terrier came from Australia in 1890, they came from breeders who crossed Australian Terriers with imported Yorkshire Terrier.
Some of these offsprings look like Yorkies, some looked like Australian Terrier while others look like the Silky Terrier of today, with a coat length and size that was between the two parent breeds.
The Silky coated dogs were interbred until the puppy developed the anticipated Silky traits.
In 1906, Australian fanciers established a breed standard for what the breed should look like, move like, and act like was written. The standard was written in Sydney, New South Wales.
In 1909, another standard was written in Victoria. The two standards were complete opposites and didn’t match up mostly on the weight and ear type.
The camps came to an agreement and a new breed standard was established in 1926. The Silky Terrier goes by several names: at first, he was called the Sydney Silky Terrier.
In 1955, his name was changed to the Australian Silky Terrier, which is still the official name for the breed in Australia. In the United States, the name was changed to the Silky Terrier.
Appearance and size
Silkies weigh about eight to ten pounds when fully grown, male and females stand at 9 to 10 inches tall at the shoulder.
True to their name, they have a very beautiful coat of tan and various shades of blue, their coat is beautiful, long, and sleek. Parted down the back and hanging five to six inches down. They have a delicate-looking exterior
In spite of their long silky coat, they are easy to groom. Brush their coat two to three times weekly, you can also brush them before bath time. Bathe them monthly. Brush their teeth 2 or 3 times.
A week to remove tartar and bacteria, you can also brush their teeth daily to prevent bad breath and gum disease. Trim his nails once or two times a month, if your dog doesn’t wear them down naturally.
If you hear their nails clicking on the floor this just means that the nails have gotten too long.
When cutting their nails, do not cut too far as Dog toenails have blood vessels in them and if you cut too far you may cause bleeding and your dog may run next time he sees you coming out with the nail clippers.
Clean his ears weekly and check for bad odor or redness which can point towards an infection, when checking their ears, clear them with a Cotton ball sprinkled with a gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help avoid infections.
Avoid inserting anything into the ear canal and focus on cleaning the outer ear.
While grooming them, check for rashes, sores, signs of infection which could be tenderness, redness, inflammation in the mouth, on the eyes, in the feet, on the skin and in the nose.
Their eyes should be clear without redness or discharge. Examine them carefully every week as this would help to spot possible health problems early.
Silkies are a big and bold breed, with their delicate-looking exterior, people are often surprised to see Silky challenge intruders, strangers, play with large dogs and effortlessly keep up with their owners on a hike.
They do no back down from a fight, which shouldn’t come as a shock, after all, Silkies are terriers, and true to their origins, they are aggressive, persistent, stubborn.
They are also found chasing, barking and digging. Silkies have a strong prey drive and will now hesitate to chase down squirrels, cats, rodents and other small dogs in some cases.
Always keeps your Silky leashed when walks to prevent him from running and disappearing when small furry animals walk by.
Do not leave your Silky unattended or unsupervised outdoors, their small size makes them prey for larger wilder animals.
These dogs are loyal and enjoy spending quality time with the family, this being said, Silky should not be left alone for long periods of time. They would resort to mischief if not supervised.
They are fond of barking which makes them amazing watchdogs, they will not hesitate to bark at intruders, strangers, they will let you know when you have visitors.
When you expose your Silky to children from his puppyhood, he will be a great companion to children older than 10 who know how to handle him delicately.
They might not be able to tolerate poking and prodding from toddlers and younger children.
Silkies enjoy spending every moment with their families and are at their happiest when they are spending their days involved in the daily activities of their families. He enjoys being in the house, following the owner room to room.
Although they are a friendly breed, they can be territorial and aggressive towards other dogs if they feel like their territory is being threatened.
Temperaments of Silkies are influenced by a number of factors which include; hereditary, training and socialization. Do not leave them alone for too long or unsupervised as they can be destructive in such situations.
They have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years. Silkies are generally healthy but they can still fall victim to some health conditions such as;
Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease: This is a condition involving the hip joint. If your Silky has this, the supply of blood to the head of the femur— the large rear leg bone, is reduced and the head of the femur which connects to the pelvis begins to fall apart. The first symptom is limping and shrivel, it occurs in puppies who are four to six months of age. Surgery can be used to correct this condition.
Epilepsy: Epilepsy is a neurological condition that is inherited, it causes mild or severe seizures, symptoms of this may be seen as unusual behavior such as running frantically as though the dog is being chased, staggering, or hiding.
Other symptoms include falling down, rigid limbs and loss of consciousness. Seizures are scary to watch, the long term prognosis for dogs with epilepsy is generally very good. It is essential you take your dog regularly to the dog to prevent this condition from happening and for a proper diagnosis. Seizures can have other causes and treatments.
Patellar Luxation: this condition is also known as “slipped stifles”, this condition is common in small dogs. This happens when the patella, which has 3 parts; the femur (thigh bone), the patella (knee cap) and the tibia (calf); is not properly aligned. This causes an abnormal gait in the dog or lameness in the leg of the dog. Patellar luxation is a disease that is present at birth although the misalignment does not occur until much later.
The rubbing caused by Patellar Luxation may lead to arthritis, arthritis is a degenerative joint disease. There are 4 grades of Patellar luxation ranging from grade I, and occasional luxation causing temporary lameness into joint to grade IV, in this grade, the turning of the tibia is severe and the patella can’t be realigned manually.
This gives the dog a bowlegged look. Severe grades of patellar luxation may need surgery to repair it. Patellar luxation is hereditary.
Diabetes Mellitus: Diabetes mellitus is a health disorder in which the body cannot regulate blood sugar levels. Symptoms of this condition are excessive thirst and urination, increase appetite, weight loss, etc. Diabetes can be controlled by diet and an administration of insulin.
Tracheal Collapse: Tracheal collapse is often seen in smaller breeds and can occasionally be seen in the Silky Terrier.
This is caused by the weakening of the cartilage; the tracheal or windpipe becomes flattened and blocks the airway. Symptoms of tracheal collapse include coughing that tends to sound like a goose honk, intolerance to exercise and fainting.
It is treated with cough suppressants, steroids and antibiotics. Harnesses should be used instead of a collar for dogs with this condition. If medication doesn’t work, surgery is recommended.
They should eat ½ to ¾ cups of high quality dry dog food daily divided into two meals. Puppy Silkies need about 1/8 to ¼ cup daily.
Training and exercise
They require plenty of exercise, they need daily mental and physical exercises As they have high energy drives, they can join you for a job or a hike around the neighborhood or a ride around.
To control their propensity of barking, the “Quiet” command should be a part of his everyday training. Be sure to say the command in a firm by a gentle voice.
They are active dogs that need mental and physical stimulation, however, they do not need strenuous activities to stay exercised. They love digging in gardens, yards and flowerbeds, sometimes they do not realize they are destroying your garden.
To save your flowerbeds, train your pup to dig in a specific area in the yard, you’ll discover that it is a lot easier to channel their instincts than to suppress them.
In order to prevent them from being aggressive to other dogs and pets, you introduce your puppies to socializing with other dogs from puppyhood. Silkies need to be exposed to different people, sights, experiences and sounds when they are still puppies.
Early socialization ensures your Silky grows to be a well-rounded dog.
Enrolling him in the puppy kindergarten class is a great step in training your puppy, invite visitors over, take him to stores that allow dogs, take him to busy dog parks and on strolls around the neighborhood.
These will help him polish his social skills. Crate training is one of the best ways to house train a Silky, it is also a good way to keep them safe and clear of trouble when you’re away from the house.
A crate is a great place he can go for a nap and it teaches them from a young age to accept confinement
Why you should get a Silky Terrier
In spite of their feisty personality, Silky Terriers are loving companion dogs who adore staying as close to their person and family as possible.
They easily adapted to apartment life, however, your neighbors might not be fans of their barking but if you can provide them with lots of attention, physical activity, you will have a wonderful dog who won’t leave your side.
If you are the type to travel a lot, Silkies will be more than happy to go with you.
Where to get an Silky Terrier and price
Silky Terriers are purebred dogs, but they can still be found in the care of rescue dogs and shelters. To get a healthy puppy, do not buy from an irresponsible pet store, breeder, or puppy mill.
Be sure to look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeder dogs and makes certain that they are free from genetic diseases and they have a sound temperament. You should expect to see health clearances for both parents from;
1. Aubum University for Thrombopathia for VonWillebrand’s doses, hypothyroidism and elbow dysplasia
2. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia with a score of either fair or better
3. The Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that the eyes are normal.
Health clearances prove that the dog and his parents have been tested for and cleared of certain conditions. You can verify the health clearances by checking the OFA website (offa.org). They cost between $1000 to $1500