Australian Silky Terrier

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The Australian Silky Terrier or in the United States, Silky Terrier[1], is an Australian breed of dog. It is classed in the Toy group in its country of origin, the United States and some other countries, but is classed as a terrier in Europe. Its original name was the Sydney Silky and it is still occasionally referred to as such, especially by older fanciers.


The average Australian Silky Terrier is about nine inches at the withers, and weighs eight to ten pounds. Its head is longer than that of the Yorkshire Terrier but shorter than that of the Australian Terrier. The coat is five to six inches long with a silky texture.


Notwithstanding that this breed is in the toy group, the Australian National Kennel Council breed standard specifies that the Australian Silky "should display Terrier characteristics, embodying keen alertness, activity and soundness".[2]

Breed History

The Silky is generally believed to have developed by crossing the Yorkshire Terrier with the Australian Terrier in Sydney in the 1890s, [3]but breed historians point out that the Australian Terrier was itself still a developing breed at the time of the Silky's emergence, and, since no early records were kept (as is the case with so many dog breeds) it is likely that other crosses occurred as well. There were also breeding experiments with these crosses in the state of Victoria; it is suggested that Australian and Silky Terriers were first exhibited at the Melbourne Royal circa 1868 - 1872 as "Broken-coated Terriers, Black and Tan", however, the breed is not mentioned in The Dog in Australasia', Walter Beilby's 1897 book.

Certainly it is documented that whatever the outcrossing, puppies evidencing rough and silky coats appeared in the same litters at the turn of the 20th Century. The Australian Terrier, Harsh or Silky coated, was first exhibited at the Sydney Royal Easter Show in 1902.

Different breed standards appeared in the 1920s; in or about 1924 the Kennel Club requested a designation of Australian Terrier, Hard Coat and Australian Terrier, Soft Coat but the breeders rejected the proposal.

Before puppies were registered on the Stud Books, a judge was required to inspect litters to determine which puppies were to be registered as Sydney Silkies, which were Australian Terriers and which were Yorkshire Terriers.

20th Century canine council legislation brought an end to the crossbreeding; eventually Silky puppies were intrabred and the breed was stabilized.

The official name for the breed in Australia became the Australian Silky Terrier in 1955. The breed club was established in 1959.

Notes and references

  1. The Sydney Silky Terrier Club of America was held on March 25, 1955 and in July of that year the club's members voted to change the club name to the Silky Terrier Club of America.
  2. The ANKC breed standard can be found at: [
  3. See, for example, Silky Terrier History from the [[AKC website,]]