A keen, alert and perky breed, the Australian Silky Terrier is small in stature yet a big dog at heart. Originally a cross between the Yorkshire and the Australian Terrier, the breed was popularised in the USA after WWII when returning American soldiers brought some back as pets. Bred to guard the home from rodents and snakes, the breed has lived on as an ideal companion for a small home.
Health, Hygiene and Appearance
The Australian Silky Terrier is compact, with small legs, and stands about 20 centimetres tall. Its colouring is predominantly black and tan, with the fur being quite long and soft.
The breed requires daily attention to grooming. Daily brushing of the animal’s long coat is essential to avoid matting. Owners can also choose to keep the dog clipped to reduce grooming needs. A Silky can be bathed every few weeks. The hair is quite similar to a humans in texture, so a standard shampoo and conditioner can be used. The Terrier’s skin can become dry and itchy however, but if this occurs an oatmeal and avocado shampoo can be used to remedy the problem.
In terms of health, the Silky can suffer from a genetic weakness in their teeth and gums. This can result in rotten teeth, so it’s essential that Silkies are started early on with raw bones to eat. Slipping kneecaps and eye defects are also known in the breed. A Silky can live up to 15 years of age if properly cared for.
As the Silky can have a delicate throat, a harness leash is far easier on the pet than a normal collar.
As a Pet
The Silky is predominantly suited to be an indoors pet. That is not to say that it will tolerate being anything less than an active, proud dog. A Silky will not suit the role of a lapdog, as a quiet, passive pet, or as a breed that requires minimal training. If this occurs the Silky may suffer from Small Dog Syndrome and human induced behaviours.
Terriers can be quite stubborn, feisty and energetic due to their breeding as ratters, which can cause problems with an owner who sees them only as small and cute dogs. This is a big dog in a little dog’s body, and it needs proper training from a dominant owner.
The breed bonds well with family and children if raised together. While the Silky may tolerate strangers it may not actively get along with them. It can be compatible with other pets so long as they are raised together and the Silky has a healthy pack relationship with its owner.
The Silky needs an enclosed space or yard, and is an energetic, bright dog that enjoys games and exercise. Exercise and attention are vital to keep the Silky from becoming bored. Poor behaviour is generally exhibited in barking, becoming stubborn, and snappish. Socialised correctly, it tolerate a cat’s company without feeling the need to chase it, however smaller pets, such as hamsters, might not be safe around the Silky.
Activities for keeping a Silky exercised and happy can include games with balls or other toys, as well as walks and tricks. With the proper socialising the breed can do well in parks and around other dogs, but remember this is a stubborn, feisty breed and can forget its own size at times!