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“The little dog that fits into our hearts and homes, no matter how large the former nor how small the latter, none fit better of all the breeds than the Australian Silky Terrier.” Frank Longmore, Australian All-Breed judge
Silky Terriers are very hardy tough little dog with a longer the average life expectancy of between 15 – 17 years.
They are a busy little dog with a high energy level and very intelligent. A Silky can be stubborn and willful at times as well but they are alert and you will never need your doorbell again. Visitors will be announced in fine Silky fashion. They are natural watch dogs, their courage is legendary although at times they could do with a little prudence!
Silky’s were originally bred to kill rats, snakes and other hard to control vermin on the farms of Australia and are still used for this purpose today. They love to chase cats squirrels and other dogs, the bigger the better.
A Silky might be a small dog but they believe they are BIG. They don’t consider themselves small or as lap dogs. They love human attention and they belong indoors. If you ignore a Silky for too long they will think up a way to GET your attention. You may not be too pleased with what they think up.
The Silky Terrier is courageous, robust, elegant, and graceful and according to his name he has a shiny blue and tan, or gray blue and tan coat. Which dos not shed.
The Silky Terrier is protective of its own territory, making it a good little watchdog, announcing the presence of strangers. He will not leave your side watching for your love and trust, whether for adults or kids this little dog is “A” must.
The Silky is approx. 23-25cm (9-10 in) shoulder high.
This little dog loves early handling and training.
The Silky Texture of the coat prefers daily grooming, 3 – 5 minutes will be beneficial.
Its hair parts down the middle giving the appearance of a well – groomed dog.
Life expectancy is approx. 14.years.
The Silky is friendly, and forceful as only a terrier can be. He is agile and light footed, and he looks out on the world with a curious air which would seem to denote a degree of intelligence seldom encountered in a dog so small. A toy, designed no doubt as a pet, still he has done his share of worthwhile work, for it is told that he has helped to control rodents on many an Australian poultry farm.
What’s the difference between a Silky and a Yorkie?
Ash, it will be recalled, mentions “bonnie wee Skyes with long Silky hair.” It can be postulated that in the early 1800s enterprising Skye breeders produced a miniature and soft-coated version of their breed. Denied recognition by the parent club, they went on to produce the now extinct Paisleys and Clydesdales, which looked like miniature Skye Terriers.
In the 1840’s and 50’s, the northern English pub owners latched on to these “mini Skyes”. They needed small scrappy terriers for their rat pits (where dogs would be thrown into a pit full of rats and bets laid as to how fast they could kill). The smaller the dog, the greater the betting. Perhaps these small but tough dogs were bred together with the equally scrappy but slightly bigger Black and Tans (progenitor of the Manchester Terrier), to produce the blue, tan and fawn of the Silky Terrier and the blue and tan coloring of the Yorkshire we see today.
The father of the Yorkshire Terrier is Huddersfield Ben, seen here to the right in about 1865. The Yorkshire then developed from Ben, but what about the Silky? Next to Ben is our Tessier Tagalong Heir Apparent, better known as “Albert”. Interesting comparison, isn’t it? Also interesting is that Ben’s granddam, Katie emigrated with her owners to Australia, where the Silky Terrier (also known as the Australian Silky Terrier) was developed.
The facts as we know them are these. Yorkshire Terriers and Silky Terriers are
genetically just about the same.
But the Yorkie developed in an industrialized society — northern England — where tiny size, long flowing coats and the ability to hide in milady’s sleeve were prized. Silkys were also developed as companion dogs, but their owners were mostly pioneers who prized the Silkys’ joy of life, independent thinking and scrappy, terrier qualities, resulting in a somewhat larger and tougher breed.
Reprinted from “The Complete Dog Book” Copyright 1979
But — What’s a Silky’s CHARACTERISTICS-TEMPERAMENT?
It should display Terrier characteristics, embodying keen alertness,
activity and soundness.
It must be remembered that the Silky Terrier is a TOY DOG with Terrier characteristics,
not a Terrier with toy characteristics.
Aggressive type behavior is not desirable. Keen, friendly and alert type behavior is preferable.
A characteristic we often see in Silkys is when they hold one front foot up, looking alert and ready to pounce on something.
[Maybe a mouse] !! Council Notes; Published in Queensland Dog World. 1.8.2001
Silkys, as mentioned above, are first and foremost a terrier. They love their own people. Other dogs, maybe not so well. They can be dog aggressive. My sister Anne now owns Robbie (see his picture below). A couple of years ago, she wanted to go on vacation. A friend of hers’ offered to take Robbie, who would hang out with the friend’s own two very mellow Golden Retrievers. When my sister’s friend came over with her dogs, Robbie chased the two big dogs back into their car. Let’s see; ten pounds versus eighty pounds — times two. Hmm. Needless to say my sister had to make other arrangements. She ended up leaving Robbie with a different friend who had a female Shi Tzu. Robbie loved the little girl, and my sister got her vacation after all.
In general, Silky Terriers and very young children do not mix well. And as Silky puppies are small enough to be easily damaged physically or mentally by even a well meaning small child, I do not place a Silky puppy into a family with children under 5.
I sometimes do place a young Silky adult in a family with young children. One incredibly long-suffering Silky boy was even willing to be dressed up and put in his adored four year old’s baby doll’s carriage. Silkys can make a wonderful companion for an older child, as they are always ready for an adventure. One of my Silkys was placed with a family who’s daughter was horse crazy. Her Silky buddy would hang out all day at the barn with her.
Are Silkys yappy? While I have met the occasional dog who considers barking a recreational activity, Silkys will usually bark only for a reason and are good watch dogs. In general, Silkys have a high activity level. Rocket (see above) visited my sister Lucy’s once for a week. Lucy’s husband was a bit concerned that Rocket would be bouncing off the walls. Rocket could certainly be enthusiastic, especially when greeting someone, but soon plopped down in the middle of the room, back legs straight out behind him, alertly watching his people for the next game to play.
Because of their high activity level, Silkys do best with their own enclosed backyard to run off steam and chase rabbits, lizards or squirrels. They can live in an apartment, but be prepared for lots of walks.
What’s the deal with potty training?
Silky Terriers, and for that matter, most small breeds, are not easy to potty train. Perhaps it’s the Cuteness Factor which tends to ignore actual bad behavior (aww look at Muffin!! How CUTE!!!) perhaps it’s genetic. But one thing is a guarantee. If you are unwilling to crate train your Silky, if you are unwilling to maintain a strict potty schedule, if you are unwilling to exercise your dog sufficiently until they DO potty, your dog will use your house as a bathroom. I recommend the following, whether I place a small puppy or an adult: Keep your dog in a crate overnight. First thing in the morning, and I mean before your morning coffee, take your dog out to potty. Praise lavishly when they do so.. Bring them in and they can play loose in the house for about 30 minutes. Then back in the crate. They didn’t potty? Back in the crate — no house “outies”. Try again in 30 minutes. Dogs as a general rule will not potty their crates. It is their bed and sanctuary. A Silky puppy can happily stay in their crate to a maximum of about 4 hours. An adult will tolerate 8 hours. As your dog is more reliable, they can stay out longer. My watchwords are kindness, consistency and above all persistence. ! use the potty training system of Ian Dunbar.
Male or Female? You Decide
Many people contacting me for puppies only want one gender or the other. Their previous dog was a female and so they want another one just like her. Or they have heard that boys can be, well, dirty. Male and female Silkys can both make excellent pets. My rule of thumb, developed over the last 30 years, is the following: Girls want to be loved, boys will want to love you. As to the potty training issue: I have found that the potty training issue really comes down to owner consistency right from the start, and while some are harder to train than others, this is not based on gender.