Silky Terrier

Also known as the Sydney Silky Terrier and Australian Silky Terrier, the Silky Terrier is a beautiful small dog with a tough personality. Taught to hunt small prey, this feisty terrier can be seen chasing off intruders or playing confidently with bigger dogs. 


The Silky was developed in the 1890s in Australia with the crossing of Yorkshire Terriers and Australian Terriers. He was used to hunt and kill rodents and snakes as well as being an urban pet.  

Offspring usually came out looking like the Yorkie, the Australian Terrier and present-day Silky. 

The breeding program used the Silky puppies to continue recreating all the Silky traits.

A breed standard was written in 1906 that set guidelines on the physical characteristics and personality of the Silky Terrier. 

This standard was countered by another that was developed in 1909. The two standards differed on the type of ears and weight of the small dog. 

A compromise was reached in 1926 and Australian fanciers had a new breed standard drawn up.   

Physical Characteristics

This dog breed is small and compact with short legs. Slightly longer than tall, the Silky has a wedge-shaped head, small almond-shaped eyes and small erect ears. 

The Silky has a beautiful long coat that is parted down the back. The sleek coat comes in tan and various shades of blue.


When mature, the Silky Terrier breed stands 9 to 10 inches (23 to 26cm) tall and can weigh up to 10 pounds (4.5kg). 

Character & abilities

The Silky has the typical terrier characteristics. He is tenacious and loves to dig, bark and chase. He is also friendly and independent. 

Despite his size, this bold terrier will not run away from a fight. He will also bark when strangers approach, making him an excellent watchdog. 

This confident small dog is devoted to his family. He wants to be part of everything they do whether it is within the home or when out and about hiking or traveling.  He is happiest being in their company. 

The Silky should not be left alone in the home for prolonged periods. He suffers from separation anxiety and would likely get into destructive behavior.

His strong personality makes him unsuitable for families with young children who don’t know how to handle him. When poked or prodded, he can get snappy.  

This small terrier has a strong prey drive and will run after squirrels, rodents, cats and even other dogs.

Trainability & Intelligence

The Silky Terrier is spirited and intelligent. He can be trained to obey basic commands to help him become a well-rounded dog. 

This terrier is a quick learner but his stubbornness and willfulness make him difficult to train. 

Like other breeds, this small dog will benefit from early socialization. This breed can be territorial and aggressive without it.

Exercise Needs & Nutrition

This small terrier requires daily physical and mental stimulation. He enjoys walking around the neighborhood, playing in the yard and hiking in the woods. 

The Silky should be leashed when walking to prevent him from running off when he sees a small animal. He should also not be unsupervised when playing in the yard because he might be attacked by wild animals. 

Proper nutrition for this dog includes basic nutrients of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins. High-quality dry dog food is formulated to provide wholesome complete nutrition. 

The Silky’s food bowl should be filled twice a day with no more than ¾ cup of dog food. To avoid excess weight gain, he should not be fed table scraps and his intake of dog treats should be  controlled. 


It is important to start grooming this dog from puppyhood to get him accustomed to being handled. Shower him with praise and rewards to make this experience a positive one. 

Coat care for this terrier involves thorough brushing and combing of his long fur at least twice a week. He also needs a monthly bath to keep him clean. 

Using a good dog shampoo and conditioner can help to retain the coat’s silkiness. 

Living Conditions & Adaptability

Despite Silky’s high energy, he is adaptable to living in an apartment. To keep the peace with the neighbors, it is important to properly train him to obey when he is commanded to stop barking. 

This dog can live in a home with noisy children but they should be taught how to approach and touch him. He should not be disturbed when eating or sleeping no matter how friendly he is. 

The Silky is a good addition to a multi-dog home but he may sometimes be bossy or more demanding of attention or food. 

Because he was bred to chase small animals, he is not suited for households with small pets like cats and mice.

The yard and gardens can be filled with holes after the Silky goes at it. It is easier to assign him a specific area to dig than it is to suppress his instinct to dig. 

For his safety, he should be supervised to make sure he doesn’t dig himself out of the secure yard. 


Generally healthy, the Silky Terrier is genetically predisposed to developing complications like:

  • Epilepsy – causes mild to severe seizures manifesting as frantic running, falling, rigid limbs or loss of consciousness. Proper diagnosis by the vet can outline an effective line of treatment
  • Patellar luxation – common in small dog breeds where that kneecap joint slides around and causes crippling pain
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease -blood supply to the large rear leg bone is not enough causing the pelvis to deteriorate. Symptoms include limping and atrophy and begin as early as four months
  • Diabetes mellitus – the dog’s body is incapable of regulating levels of blood sugar requiring diet management and use of insulin
  • Tracheal collapse – weakening of the trachea system obstructs that airway and causes fainting, coughing and inability to endure exercise

The Silky Terrier has a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. 


The Silky Terrier is a scrappy little dog with an elegant exterior that makes a wonderful companion. All he needs is love, attention and physical activity. Ideal for homes where he won’t be left alone, the Silky will add spice to the lives of his rightful owners. 

Adopting a dog can change your life forever. To begin this relationship requires research into the breed’s history and characteristics and our team at All The Small Dog Breeds understands that significance. Our small dog breed descriptions allow you to identify the dog that best suits your needs.

We recommend adopting from your local dog shelter or reputable breeder. 


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