The Australian Silky Terrier is a small-sized dog breed belonging to the Toy breed group of the Kennel Club. It is a low-set dog that is slightly longer than tall in measurement. It is lightly built but with strong fine bones. The wedge-shape head has small, dark and almond-shaped eyes accentuated by dark eye rims, small triangular shaped ears that are carried erect, black nose, scissors bite teeth and a muzzle with a short stop. The front legs are small and cat-like with thick padding while the back legs have strong and muscled thighs but don’t appear heavy when viewed at any angle. It has well-angulated stifles and low set hocks. The tail is customarily docked and set high. It has a long, straight, silky double coat that naturally parts down the centre of the back from the stop to the tail. A newborn puppy will have a black colour but a mature dog will typically have either a grey and white or blue and tan coat falling below the body but not long enough to touch the floor. Silky Terriers stands between 23 cm. to 26 cm. from withers.
The Australian Silky Terrier’s true origin is somewhat clouded because there are no true written records that exist prior to the late 19th century when the breed first appeared in Australia. It was commonly called the “Sydney Terrier” during those periods because it was primarily found in Sydney.
During the colonial periods, various small breeds of terrier dogs from England were brought to Australia via ships and were interbred over the years to produce a broken-coated terrier type dog. From this early type, broken-coated blue and tan coloured dogs appeared in Tasmania during the early 1800s, used as watchdogs to alert the owners of any approaching strangers. During the same period, some of these early broken-coated dogs were exported back to England and crossed with the Dandy Dinmont Terrier. Some of these offspring were eventually brought back to Australia by breeder McArthur Little in the later part of the 19th century and were further crossed with the Yorkshire Terrier to produce a dog with a longer, softer and smoother coat which we see in today’s Australian Silky Terrier.
The keenly alert, friendly and responsive Australian Silky Terrier is a loveable breed that enjoys playing ball. It is a quick learner and is consistently ranked high in learning abilities. As a toy dog, the Silky Terrier is a true lap dog that loves to sit on laps and always by his/her master’s side. It has a curious personality which makes it a wonderful companion but it can also be an enthusiastic digger when left alone with nothing to do, but despite its sociable character, this otherwise passive breed is also a good watchdog. It is fairly inactive indoors and will do good in an apartment setting or in a rural home.
Training and exposing the Australian Silky Terrier to other animals, especially non-canine pets at an early age is important for it to co-exist peacefully with them. The Silky Terrier was originally bred to hunt and flush out rodents so it has a high tendency to chase other small animals in the house particularly rabbits, hamsters, cats, guinea pigs and other non-canine pets. Training should be calm with positive reinforcements from a firm owner which is not difficult because this breed is very eager to learn new things. Train the dog to be obedient to every member of the family including children so that it knows its place in the pack. An untrained Silky Terrier will have a tendency to become protective, snappish, demanding and prolific barker.
The long, shiny, straight, silky coat of the Australian Silky Terrier requires an enormous amount of grooming time in order to stay beautiful and healthy. It must be brushed and combed on a daily basis because it is susceptible to tangling and matting. Bathe on a regular basis with a mild dog shampoo to keep the coat wonderful and shiny and the skin moisturized to prevent itching and allergies. It is a hypoallergenic dog that sheds little to no hair which makes it a good pet for people suffering from allergies.
This feisty breed is generally healthy with a few minor health issues, including:
It is also susceptible to diabetes, epilepsy, and tracheal disorder although very uncommon.
The Australian Silky Terrier is an active breed that likes to run and play in an open space, particularly a fenced yard or in a house with an adequate open space. A thirty-minute walk on a daily basis is enough for this lively breed. Do not expose the dog to extreme heat. Give plenty of water when the climate is hot and humid.
Being affectionate, cheerful and sociable, it makes for a wonderful companion to children and other dogs in the household, but the same may not be true with non-canine pets such as cats, rabbits, hamsters, canaries and other home animals because of its hunting instincts. However, early socialization will other animals will correct this issue.