The Silky Terrier was developed in Australia during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s by crossing the native Australian Terrier and imported Yorkshire Terriers. Designed as a companion dog, the Silky is an energetic and entertaining companion, but they are also a fearless and efficient hunter of rats and snakes thanks to their Terrier natures. This dog is a fantastic addition to an active family with older children, but may not be as appropriate for younger children or apartments as they can become excessively vocal and may become anxious and snappy around fast-moving and intrusive toddlers. Even with their abundance of hair, due to their low shed rate and the human like structure of the hair, this dog is generally considered to be hypoallergenic.
In the late 1800s, Yorkshire Terriers were imported into Australia in order to cross them with the larger Australian Terrier in order to improve their coats. By 1906, the Silky Terrier was breeding true to type, and it was recognized as a distinct breed first in New South Wales in 1906, and later in Victoria in 1909. The breed standard written in each of these areas had some differences, particularly in relation to weights and ear conformations. It was in 1926 that a more comprehensive breed standard was developed and in 1932 the Kennel Control Council of Victoria introduced legislation to prevent further cross breeding between Yorkshire Terriers, Australian Terriers, and the Silky Terrier, then known as the Sydney Silky. These little dogs were brought to the United States with Americans returning from World War II, and the Sydney Silky Terrier Club was established in 1955, and in 1955 the name was officially changed to the Australian Silky Terrier, causing the American chapter to also change their name to the Silky Terrier Club of America. Shortly afterward, in 1959, the modern breed standard was finalized, narrowing acceptable weights from six to twelve pounds down to eight to ten pounds and the breed was first recognized by the American Kennel Club. This breed, along with being an enjoyable and entertaining animal, is also known for its ability to kill both rats and snakes, and an eight-year-old Silky Terrier named Fizo was awarded an Australian Purple Cross of Bravery in 1996 for diving off of a balcony to protect the tiny dog’s nine-year-old owner from five-foot long venomous brown snake, with no regard for its own safety.
A small, sturdily built dog with refined bone structure, the Silky Terrier is slightly longer than it is tall. They have a wedge-shaped head with dark, almond-shaped eyes and an attentive and serious expression as well as small V-shaped ears that are typically set high and carried erect. The Silky Terrier gets its name from the glossy, silky coat that flows down from their backs five to six inches, generally stopping just short of reaching the floor. The Silky Terrier’s coat is structurally more like human hair than like dog hair and can develop split ends if not cared for properly. The hair on the face is long enough to tie in a topknot, but should not impair the dog’s vision by hanging in front of the animal’s eyes when it is not tied back. They come in several colors and mixes of colors, although the hair on the back and neck tends to be darker than the fur on the head, face, and feet for most of these colors.
The coat that this dog sports is more like human hair in structure than like dog hair, which means that the Silky Terrier often requires more bathing than other breeds, at least once a month, and the hair needs to be brushed every two or three days with a pin or soft slicker brush and a comb to prevent tangles from forming. The hair, like human hair, also requires trimming on a regular basis as untrimmed hair can lead to split ends and frizzing and can sometimes even cause the hair to trail on the ground, further damaging it. Silky Terriers are also considered a hypoallergenic breed as the structure of this dog breed’s hair also causes it to shed less often. They are an energetic breed, so they do need slightly more exercise than most toy breeds. This can be accomplished, however, by vigorous games that can be played in a relatively small amount of space in the house or yard.