Silky Terrier Dog Breed

Platinum Silky Terrier
  • Other names:
  • Australian Silky Terrier
  • Silky Toy Terrier
  • Sydney Terrier

The Silky Terrier, also known as the Australian Silky Terrier, is a toy-sized breed native to Australia. These dogs have spunky personalities that can be as dominant as their size is tiny. Though they thoroughly enjoy spending time with their family "pack," Silkys are often stubborn and bossy, and will need consistent training and socialization with people and other pets (done so when the dog is a puppy, if possible) to teach them proper respect. Silky Terriers also tend to bark at any- and everything, a trait that makes them good watchdogs. But if properly trained, this breed is extremely loving and affectionate; provided the owners are willing to instill proper discipline, this breed makes an excellent companion. This breed, as an indoor companion dog, can thrive in an apartment but, due to an abundance of energy, may prefer the spaciousness of a house.

Silky Terrier Breed Details

Breed Specs
Purebred12-15 yrs.9-10 in.8-11 lbs
  • Friendliness
  • Overall
  • Family Friendly
  • Kid Friendly
  • Pet Friendly
  • Stranger Friendly
  • Maintenance
  • Easy to Groom
  • Energy Level
  • Exercise Needs
  • General Health
  • Shedding Amount
  • Behavior
  • Barks / Howls
  • Easy to Train
  • Guard Dog
  • Playfulness
  • Watch Dog
  • Ownership
  • Apartment Friendly
  • Can Be Alone
  • Good for Busy Owners
  • Good for Novice Owners
  • Intelligence
* The more green the stronger the trait.

The Silky Terrier is a member of the Toy category of dog breeds, and was originally developed in Australia to be a companion pet. These spunky little dogs normally have quite domineering personalities, and are best suited for singles or families of any size--but owners will probably need to provide a good deal of training and socialization to instill proper behavior in their Silky Terriers.

Some Silky Terrier facts: they're small-sized (weight averages 10 pounds, and height at the shoulders is about 10 inches), with long, smooth fur; Silkys have a relatively long lifespan of 12-15 years. Here are some good (and not so good) qualities of the breed:


  • Affectionate
  • Sheds minimally
  • Intelligent
  • Good watchdog abilities
  • Easily trained
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Active and inquisitive
  • Excellent health
  • Adapts well to apartment life
  • Great travel companion
  • Fairly easily groomed


  • Tendency for bossiness
  • Obedience training and socialization usually required
  • High barking tendencies
  • Can develop Small Dog Syndrome
  • Due to high prey drive, will chase and be aggressive towards cats and other small pets
  • May be difficult to housetrain
  • Does not normally socialize well with small children and other pets
  • Moderate to high maintenance required
  • Can be expensive to purchase

Silky Terrier Breed Description

A small-sized breed; weight for both males and females is 8-11 pounds, and height is 9-10 inches at the shoulders.

This breed utterly epitomizes the "alpha personality"-type dog. Silkys are confident, personable, sometimes domineering animals that enjoy spending time with their human families – often on the dogs' own terms. A Silky may exhibit bossy behavior with children and other pets that will require consistent training and early socialization.

A fair amount of care is required for this breed, particularly in the area of behavior training; moderate grooming will be necessary. Their small size can be misleading, they need at least a nice daily walk and some play time; they especially enjoy games like tug-of-war with you.

Silky Terrier Breed History

The Silky Terrier was first developed in the late 19th century in Australia. There, numerous breeders crossed the native Australian Terriers – rough-coated dogs that themselves descended from various terriers brought from Great Britain in the early 1800s – with imported Yorkshire Terriers. Historians believe the breeders' objective was to create a smoother-haired breed that could serve as a good household pet. (Most other Australian breeds at that time were working dogs.) Interbreeding of the Yorkie and Australian offspring continued until the puppies had complete traits of the new Silky Terrier breed. While Silkys were developed to be pets, they naturally retained the high prey instincts common to all terrier breeds.

In the early 1900s, breeding of these purebred dogs continued in Australia, particularly in Sydney, where in 1906 fanciers published a breed standard that named the breed the Sydney Silky; meanwhile in neighboring Victoria, breeders published a separate standard in 1909 that didn't quite match the one from Sydney. After some debate, the two breed standards were combined, and a new standard was published in 1926.

Silky Terriers first appeared in the U.S. after World War II, when servicemen who'd been stationed in Australia brought dogs of the breed home with them. In 1954, Silky Terrier popularity skyrocketed in the States when photos of the breed were published in several newspapers and magazines; though this breed is known as the Silky Terrier in the U.S., it is called the Australian Silky Terrier elsewhere in the world. Today, the breed is recognized by every major official kennel club on the globe.

Silky Terrier Appearance

As the Silky Terrier's name suggests, its coat is long, sleek, and silky-smooth. This breed's body is a little greater in length than in height. The head is the shape of a long wedge; the eyes are small, almond-shaped, and dark, giving the Silky a piercing expression; the medium-sized ears are triangular and carried erect. The Silky's neck is of medium length and graceful, its chest is moderately wide and deep, its legs are straight and fine-boned, and its feet are compact, catlike, and forward-facing. The tail is relatively short, is straight or slightly curved, and is either level or pointing upward.

Silky Terrier Coloring

Silky Terriers exist in a variety of colors, including tan, white, black, blue, gray, platinum, and silver; the coat is often a combination of two colors, with tan being the most common of the bi-colored fur.

Silky Terrier Size

The Silky Terrier has a big attitude yet is a small dog. The average male Silky Terrier size is like any other Toy variation or breed. This dog's weight tends to top out at 9 to 11 pounds whereas females weigh in around 8 to 10 pounds. The Silky's height range is pretty much the same: males are around 10 inches high and females are about 9 inches.

Average Adult Height

9-10 in
*Height is measured in inches from the front paws to the top of the shoulder while the dog is standing on all four legs.

Average Adult Weight

8-11 lbs

Silky Terrier Variations

The Silky Terrier has no specific sub-types within the breed.

As to coat varieties, this breed is exactly what its name suggests: a silky-haired terrier. There is a bit of variation in the coat texture of these dogs, in which the fur is a bit rougher than silky, but these instances are rare. Some owners choose to give their Silky Terriers short haircuts which make the dog's fur appear to be much shorter--but this is a personal preference, and is not an actual coat variation (the Silky Terrier is naturally long haired).

Silky Terriers are pretty consistent in size as well. Due to demand for "ultra-small" dogs, some designer dog breeders will use selective breeding techniques (whereby they will breed successive generations of smaller and smaller dogs) to eventually produce what they call "Teacup Silky Terriers" Toy or "Miniature Silky Terriers." And while these dogs are indeed smaller--as tiny as 5 inches in height, 5 pounds in weight--their size is due to the selective breeding and again, not a breed sub-type.

Silky Terrier Temperament

Spunky, intelligent, personable, and independent, the Silky Terrier is a powerful, commanding, often stubborn personality in a tiny package. This breed is very "pack"-oriented, and will prefer spending time in the company of its owners rather than alone. As active, inquisitive terriers, Silkys are prone to habits like digging and barking. Experts suggest gentle but consistent discipline, along with positive reinforcement, when a Silky is a puppy to teach it proper obedience, and to help it learn its proper place in the family pack; if a Silky is not taught to respect and obey humans, it may develop Small Dog Syndrome, in which a dog is selfish, aggressive, and disrespectful to humans and other animals. Professional trainers also suggest early socialization with children and other pets – particularly larger dogs – to instill a Silky's gentle behavior around them. As with most toy breeds, housetraining may also prove difficult.

This breed's scrappy personality, though, has its advantages too: due to its intelligence, a Silky is very easily trained, and is in fact eager to learn. And because of its noisy, frequent bark, a Silky makes an excellent watchdog.

Silky Terrier and Children

Unless thoroughly socialized with them from puppyhood, a Silky Terrier may tend towards being domineering (and possibly aggressive) to children, and is recommended for families with older kids.

Silky Terrier and Other Pets

Silkys can be bossy with other pets, and will need to be raised with them to minimize this behavior; due to its high, instinctual prey drive, this breed will be very aggressive to small pets like rabbits and gerbils.

Silky Terrier and Strangers

This breed will be suspicious of strange people (and will without a doubt alert its family of their presence), but will usually not be aggressive towards them; it will usually warm up to strangers after a few minutes.

Silky Terrier Photos

Below are pictures and images of the Silky Terrier.

Grey Silky Terrier
Platinum Silky Terrier
Platinum Silky Terrier
Black Silky Terrier
Running Silky Terrier

Silky Terrier Maintenance

A Silky Terrier needs a moderate amount of care. Some training may be necessary, particularly in the area of proper behavior around others; a fair amount of grooming is needed; and a Silky will need a good bit of exercise.

Grooming Requirements

This breed sheds minimally, but the shed hairs are quite long, and thus the shedding may seem to be more profuse than it actually is. Brushing should be done 2-3 times per week to keep the long fur tangle free; baths are necessary once per month.

Exercise Requirements

Silkys are quite energetic, and will need plenty of physical and mental stimulation. Vigorous games like tug-of-war or fetch are good activities for these dogs; a long daily walk is another good habit for Silky Terriers, but because of their inquisitive natures, use of a leash is highly recommended.

Living Requirements

The Silky Terrier has a background that requires significant vocal skills. This means this breed barks a lot, and loudly so, to communicate. Like any Terrier, they will be somewhat hyperactive. While they love to feel comfortable by making friends where they can, they may be unfriendly — or at least aloof toward strangers — until they feel comfy. They are also highly prone to separation anxiety.

Small apartments are fine so long as you walk your Silky daily and have plenty of toys that keep him occupied and mentally stimulated. These are not dogs to be left alone for long periods of time or even frequently. These are indoor dogs who nevertheless love big outdoor spaces.

One look at a Silky Terrier should shout that these dogs are definitely not hypoallergenic! The very long hair, proximity to the floor, and constant movement means there will be a great amount of shedding. You must be prepared to groom this dog daily. People with dog allergies, or perhaps even any pollen or dust allergies, are sure to have issues with a Silky Terrier.

Temperature Range

Since this breed is native to Australia, and despite its long-haired coat, the Silky Terrier is most comfortable in warmer climates.

Silky Terrier Health

Life expectancy is 12-15 years. Silky Terriers are healthy overall, but may suffer from common issues like epilepsy and diabetes; occasionally, this breed may have more serious issues including Legg-Perthes Disease (a hip joint condition that requires surgery) or tracheal collapse (a weakening of the cartilage in the windpipe).

  • Collapsed Trachea
  • Diabetes
  • Epilepsy
  • Legg-perthes Disease
  • View all 4...

Silky Terrier Breed Recognition

The following dog breed registries and organizations recognize the Silky Terrier as a dog breed:

  • American Canine Registry
  • American Kennel Club
  • America's Pet Registry
  • Australian National Kennel Council
  • Canadian Kennel Club
  • Continental Kennel Club
  • Dog Registry of America Inc.
  • Federation Cynologique Internationale
  • Kennel Club of Great Britain
  • National Kennel Club
  • New Zealand Kennel Club
  • North American Purebred Registry, Inc.
  • United Kennel Club
  • American Canine Association, Inc.
  • Club Espanol De Terriers
  • View all 15...