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  • Temperament: Friendly, Quick, Keenly Alert
  • AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 100 of 194
  • Height: 9-10 inches
  • Weight: around 10 pounds
  • Life Expectancy: 13-15 years
  • Group: Toy Group

    The AKC has grouped all of the breeds that it registers into seven categories, or groups, roughly based on function and heritage. Breeds are grouped together because they share traits of form and function or a common heritage.

Silky Terrier standing in three-quarter view facing forward
Silky Terrier head facing left
Silky Terrier sitting in three-quarter view
Silky Terrier coat detail

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Silky Terrier is a true “toy terrier”. He is moderately low set, slightly longer than tall, of refined bone structure, but of sufficient substance to suggest the ability to hunt and kill domestic rodents. His coat is silky in texture, parted from the stop to the tail and presents a well groomed but not sculptured appearance. His inquisitive nature and joy of life make him an ideal companion.

HEAD

The head is strong, wedge-shaped, and moderately long. Expression piercingly keen, eyes small, dark, almond shaped with dark rims. Light eyes are a serious fault. Ears are small, V-shaped, set high and carried erect without any tendency to flare obliquely off the skull. The nose is black

NECK, TOPLINE AND BODY

The neck fits gracefully into sloping shoulders. It is medium long, fine, and to some degree crested. The topline is level. A topline showing a roach or dip is a serious fault. Chest medium wide and deep enough to extend down to the elbows. The body is moderately low set and about one fifth longer than the dog’s height at the withers. The body is measured from the point of the shoulder (or forechest) to the rearmost projection of the upper thigh (or point of the buttocks). A body which is too short is a fault, as is a body which is too long.

FOREQUARTERS

Well laid back shoulders, together with proper angulation at the upper arm, set the forelegs nicely under the body. Forelegs are strong, straight and rather fine-boned. Feet small, catlike, round, compact. Pads are thick and springy while nails are strong and dark colored. White or flesh-colored nails are a fault. The feet point straight ahead, with no turning in or out. Dewclaws, if any, are removed.

HINDQUARTERS

Thighs well muscled and strong, but not so developed as to appear heavy. Well angulated stifles with low hocks which are parallel when viewed from behind. Feet as in front.

COAT

Straight, single, glossy, silky in texture. On matured specimens the coat falls below and follows the body outline. It should not approach floor length. On the top of the head, the hair is so profuse as to form a topknot, but long hair on the face and ears is objectionable. The hair is parted on the head and down over the back to the root of the tail. The tail is well coated but devoid of plume. Legs should have short hair from the pastern and hock joints to the feet. The feet should not be obscured by the leg furnishings.

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silky terrier illustration

About the Silky Terrier

Small but not fragile, feisty but not yappy, pretty but not sculpted, Silkys are 10-inch-tall dynamos animated by curiosity and high spirits. The glorious blue-and-tan coat is straight and glossy, and it feels and behaves much like human hair. The wedge-shaped head is topped by profuse hair parted down the middle, and erect V-shaped ears draw attention to the keen, piercing expression of the almond-shaped eyes. Silkys are more refined than typical ratting terriers, but they should still look and behave like a true earthdog.

Breed Clubs and Rescue

Want to connect with other people who love the same breed as much as you do? We have plenty of opportunities to get involved in your local community, thanks to AKC Breed Clubs located in every state, and more than 450 AKC Rescue Network groups across the country.
Silky Terrier

Find a Puppy: Silky Terrier

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Care

NUTRITION

The Silky Terrier should be fed a high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and ideally formulated for small or toy breeds. Give table scraps sparingly, if at all, especially avoiding cooked bones and foods with very high fat content. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet.

GROOMING

The Silky Terrier’s coat should be brushed at least twice a week with a pin brush or soft bristle brush. A long-toothed metal dog comb can also come in handy for gently working through areas where tangles may be beginning to form. Left unattended, tangles and mats are uncomfortable for your dog and can cause skin problems to develop. The nails should be trimmed once a month, and a bath every four to six weeks with a gentle shampoo meant for dogs will help to keep the coat and skin clean and healthy. Grooming sessions are a good time to check the dog all over for any new lumps or skin problems, and to check that the eyes and ears are healthy and trouble free.

Grooming Frequency

Occasional Bath/Brush
Specialty/Professional
2-3 Times a Week Brushing

Shedding

Infrequent
Frequent
Occasional

EXERCISE

More a terrier than a lapdog, the Silky Terrier requires more exercise than most Toy Group breeds. Intelligent, bold, and energetic, Silkies need human partners who will know how to channel that energy into daily exercise and training for sports and work. The breed does well in the conformation ring, and Silkies have been successful in companion events, particularly agility.

Energy Level

Couch Potato
Needs Lots of Activity
Regular Exercise

TRAINING

Silky Terriers can adapt well to any living situation but need owners who have the time to devote to them—they do not like to be ignored, preferring to play fetch or go on walks with their family. Taken by the breed’s charm, owners may be tempted to let a Silky Terrier get away with undesirable behaviors; it’s best to be sure to make rules and stick to them. The breed has a strong prey drive, and a leash is essential when walking outside.

Trainability

May be Stubborn
Eager to Please
Agreeable

Temperament/Demeanor

Aloof/Wary
Outgoing
Alert/Responsive

HEALTH

While Silky Terriers are generally healthy dogs, there are several health and genetic screening considerations specific to the breed. Responsible breeders test their stock for conditions the breed can be prone to, including patellar luxation and eye disease. A Silky Terrier’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs. Regular visits to the vet for checkups and parasite control help to ensure the dog a long, healthy life.

Recommended Health Test from the National Breed Club:

  • Patella Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation
Silky Terrier
Silky Terrier
Silky Terrier
Silky Terrier
Silky Terrier
Silky Terrier

History

The casual observer can be forgiven for mistaking a Silky for a Yorkshire or Australian terrier at first glance. After all, Yorkies and Aussies were the main components utilized by Australian breeders when creating the Silky in the early 20th century. Other breeds that might factor in the Silky’s development (depending on who’s telling the story) include Cairn, Dandie Dinmont, and Skye terriers, three of several British terriers brought to Australia by English settlers. For the record, Silkys are larger than Yorkies and smaller than Aussies.

Did You Know?

The Silky emerged from crossings of native Australian Terriers and imported Yorkshire Terriers.
Conflicting standards for the Silky were drawn up separately in Sydney and Victoria between 1906 and 1909, but they were eventually condensed into one standard in 1926.
Originally known as the Sydney Silky Terrier, changed in Australia to the Australian Silky Terrier in 1955.
One of the first acts of the Australian National Kennel Club was to recommend a national standard for the breed to the AKC (considering registration of the Silky) so as to avoid any further discrepancies between the past standards.

The Breed Standard

GENERAL APPEARANCE

The Silky Terrier is a true “toy terrier”. He is moderately low set, slightly longer than tall, of refined bone structure, but of sufficient substance to suggest the ability to hunt and kill domestic rodents. His coat is silky in texture, parted from the stop to the tail and presents a well groomed but not sculptured appearance. His inquisitive nature and joy of life make him an ideal companion.

HEAD

The head is strong, wedge-shaped, and moderately long. Expression piercingly keen, eyes small, dark, almond shaped with dark rims. Light eyes are a serious fault. Ears are small, V-shaped, set high and carried erect without any tendency to flare obliquely off the skull. The nose is black

NECK, TOPLINE AND BODY

The neck fits gracefully into sloping shoulders. It is medium long, fine, and to some degree crested. The topline is level. A topline showing a roach or dip is a serious fault. Chest medium wide and deep enough to extend down to the elbows. The body is moderately low set and about one fifth longer than the dog’s height at the withers. The body is measured from the point of the shoulder (or forechest) to the rearmost projection of the upper thigh (or point of the buttocks). A body which is too short is a fault, as is a body which is too long.

FOREQUARTERS

Well laid back shoulders, together with proper angulation at the upper arm, set the forelegs nicely under the body. Forelegs are strong, straight and rather fine-boned. Feet small, catlike, round, compact. Pads are thick and springy while nails are strong and dark colored. White or flesh-colored nails are a fault. The feet point straight ahead, with no turning in or out. Dewclaws, if any, are removed.

HINDQUARTERS

Thighs well muscled and strong, but not so developed as to appear heavy. Well angulated stifles with low hocks which are parallel when viewed from behind. Feet as in front.

COAT

Straight, single, glossy, silky in texture. On matured specimens the coat falls below and follows the body outline. It should not approach floor length. On the top of the head, the hair is so profuse as to form a topknot, but long hair on the face and ears is objectionable. The hair is parted on the head and down over the back to the root of the tail. The tail is well coated but devoid of plume. Legs should have short hair from the pastern and hock joints to the feet. The feet should not be obscured by the leg furnishings.

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silky terrier illustration

Colors & Markings

Colors

Description Standard Colors Registration Code
BLACK Check Mark For Standard Color 007
BLACK & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 018
BLUE Check Mark For Standard Color 037
BLUE & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 044
BLUE SILVER & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 055
CREAM Check Mark For Standard Color 076
FAWN Check Mark For Standard Color 082
GRAY Check Mark For Standard Color 100
GRAY & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 103
PLATINUM Check Mark For Standard Color 319
SILVER Check Mark For Standard Color 176
SILVER & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 181
SILVER BLACK & TAN Check Mark For Standard Color 184

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