The Silky Terrier

Cheerful and a bit sassy, the breed is a bright penny of a dog. A friend sent me this boy's picture; he lives in Sweden. Look at his grin!

I have been owned by the Silky Terrier breed for coming up 30 years. Though definitely not for everyone, I have found Silkys to be cheerful and caring companions. They are about 10" at the shoulder, between 8 to 12 lbs, with a long blue coat that can range from blue silver to deep steel blue.

Becky demonstrates the medium blue coat called "pigeon".

This is Cruiser; he has a dark slate coat.

They are tough little guys, proud and extremely loyal. They are generally not good with young children or strange dogs. If not well trained, they can take over the household and become extremely demanding. If the rules are known and well followed, there is no better bright-eyed and bushy tailed buddy.

Desi demonstrates the silver-blue coat -- and the typically happy-go-lucky temperament.

I had rather have a Silky make me merry.

Barbie says hello.


First of all, confusion reigns on what makes the Silky Terrier a Silky and what makes a Yorkie a Yorkie.

The Silky Terrier is a close cousin to the Yorkshire. Genetically they are just about identical -- harking back to the original Yorkie, Huddersfield Ben.

Here is a portrait of Hudderfield Ben; does he look like a Yorkie to you, or a Silky?

What dogs were behind Ben? We have an eyewitness for that, Mr. Ed. Bootman of Halifax, who wrote in 1887 (the additions in parentheses come from the editor):

“Swift’s Old Crab, a cross bred Scotch Terrier (also called a Clydesdale Terrier), Kershaw’s Kitty (also called a Paisley), a Skye, and an Old English Terrier bitch (also called a Waterside Terrier) kept by J. Whittam, then residing in Hatter’s Fold, Halifax, were the progenitors of the present race of Yorkshire Terriers.

This is the Clydesdale Terrier, a now extinct breed which resembled a miniature Skye with a blue body and a tan face and feet. Old Crab had a considerably shorter coat than the Clydesdale in this portrait.

"These dogs were in the zenith of their fame forty years ago. The owner of Old Crab was a native of Halifax, and a joiner by trade ( joiner – a carpenter). He worked at Oldham for some time as a journeyman (hired by the day), then removed to Manchester, where he kept a public house. Whether he got Crab at Oldham or Manchester I have not been able to ascertain. He had him when in Manchester, and from there sent him several times to Halifax on a visit to Kitty. The last would be about 1850.

"Crab was a dog of about eight or nine pounds weight, with a good terrier head and eye, but with a long body, resembling the Scotch Terrier. The legs and muzzle only were tanned, and the hair on the body would be about three or four inches in length. He has stood for years in a case in a room in the Westgate Hotel, a public house which his owner kept when he returned to his native town, where, I believe, the dog may be seen today.

This is Kitty's breed, a Paisley Terrier, which resembled a miniature Skye with a blue body coat.

"Kitty was a bitch different in type from Crab. She was a drop-eared Skye, with plenty of coat of a blue shade, but destitute of tan on any part of the body. Like Crab, she had no pedigree. She was originally stolen from Manchester and sent to a man named Jackson, a saddler in Huddersfield, who, when it became known that a five pound reward was offered in Manchester for her recovery, sent her to a person named Harrison, then a waiter at the White Swan Hotel, Halifax, to escape detection, and from Harrison she passed into the hand of Mrs. Kershaw of Beshop Blaise, a public house which once stood on the North Bridge, Halifax.

Buzzy is a great example of the difference between the two breeds -- no one would ever mistake him for a Yorkie!

Ben's grandmother Katie emigrated to Tazmania, Australia.

Mr. Scott of Ross, Tasmania, whose family has resided in the district for over a hundred years, stated: "It is known that sometime prior to 1820, the free settlers of the midlands of Tasmania in the areas of Campbelltown and Ross successfully bred Broken Coated terrier Dogs of a blue-sheen body color, with tan legs and face and weighing approximately seven to ten pounds. In those days, marauding Aboriginals, bush-rangers and escaped convicts were prevalent in these districts. It was the unerring and uncanny instinct of these Blue and Tan terriers to detect the approach of strangers at great distances that made them a prized possession as watchdogs and safeguards around the home. They were extremely hard to come by, the individual strains being most jealously guarded."

Despite their size, Silkys are good guard dogs. I think a burglar would have a hard time getting past Buster here, don't you?

So the Silky Terrier, like the Yorkshire, were developed in the 1800's, one in England, one in Australia.

If the Silky Terrier and the Yorkshire are genetically almost identical, why don't they look the same?

Emma was a sweet and very feminine little girl but no one would mistake her for a Yorkshire Terrier.

Two reasons.

1. The Yorkshire Terrier quickly became the reigning "fancy terrier" of the day, finding a secure spot in milady's carriage as she rolled through Hype Park in London on afternoon outings. That is what breeders selected for -- a fancy terrier.

The Silky was needed not only as a companion but also as a guard, protector and occasional varmit catcher on Australian farms. So the breeders selected for a slightly larger, tougher dog with a somewhat shorter coat.

2. The Yorkie became established as a breed in England, a fully developed country where people had the time and leisure to research pedigrees and keep full records. The Silky was developed in Australia, a pioneer country at the time. The Silky probably has more mixes to other terriers of the day in its background than the Yorkshire. We don't know for sure because there are no records. Like I said -- the two breeds are genetically ALMOST genetically identical -- they are not the same.

Val was one of the most curious Silkys I ever knew. He is pictured here at 15. He was definitely a guard, protector and occasional varmit catcher!

Silky Terriers by the Numbers

Size: 9" to 10” at the shoulder and 8 to 12 pounds.
Coat Care: 7 – Medium; requires weekly brushing and a bath; little trimming.

This is Hannah demonstrating how long a Silky coat can become. Most Silkys have a shorter coat, but all need surprisingly little coat care for a long-coated breed.

Trainability: 6: How many Silkys does it take to change a light bulb?
Only one, but don't ask him to do it twice!
Seriously, Silkys are extremely smart, but easily bored.

Hugo is demonstrating the long down, which can also be done on a low stool. As you can see, Hugo is considering how long he will stay.

This is Rave, a beautifully trained Silky from Australia. She has a long tail as in her country tail docking is not allowed.

Energy level: 8 Silkys love doing fun stuff with their people. They are sturdy and healthy and often really enjoy travel.

Rocket loves to travel; here he is hanging out in his airline bag.

Young dogs like Austin in this picture will happily play with other breeds of dog like this Xolo. As the breed matures they can be quite territorial and even dog aggressive. Don't forget, they were bred to protect Australian farms.

Good with Children: 4 Good only with children older than 6.

Henry is 9 in this picture holding his best buddy Flash, who is 8.

Noise level: medium -- 6 Surprisingly quiet for an energetic terrier.

This breed certainly can bark but is one of the quietest terriers.

Low Shedding/hypoallergenic: 9 Silkys are the lowest shedding long-haired dog.

This is Roy, one of the most famous Silkys of recent memory. He was an extremely potent stud dog, producing over 50 champions and stamping his excellent, straight back and lovely profile on all his puppies.

To find a quality breeder, first read:

What Is a Responsible Breeder? Then start your search at the Silky Terrier Club of America.

Marvin was one of my first dogs. He is also one of the few to grace the cover of the AKC Gazette. He is 7 months in this picture.

Tell Us About YOUR Dog!

People come to About Small Dogs to find a good dog, one that matches their lifestyle, their family and what they yearn for.

The best people to explain the finer points of what a breed is like are the people who own and are owned by them.

If you own this breed, this means YOU. What is your dog like? What stories can you tell? What would you like to say to someone who is considering your breed? What is your dog's sterling qualities? How about some of his or her not so great characteristics? Tell us a bit about the ideal owner for your breed as well.

People become good dog owners because they are educated. You know your breed better than any others. Share what you know!

What Other Visitors Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

She's a great friend!! 
Abby is a wonderful pet and unlike our last Silky, she loves every dog she meets. She is a little wary meeting small children unless they have food smothered …

She's a Silky! 
ShyAnn, the Silky I have now is the second one I have owned. The first, Katie, was altogether different from ShyAnn, but they look very much alike. …

She was loving and nuts Not rated yet
My late Millie was found as an adult stray. She was highly intelligent and nuts! We would keep her inside during a thunderstorm because she wanted to chase …

He loves his family and showers us with kisses! Not rated yet
Our Rocky is just that-as solid as a rock when it comes to protecting his family. He came to us at 7 months as a sort-of rescue (private owner rehoming), …

She is Loyal, Healthy and a Marvelous Companion Not rated yet
I bought Molly from Sandy Mesmer after she had received her championship and had had one litter of puppies. She travels with us where ever we go; on an …

She Is So Patient Not rated yet
We have had our Phoebe Hannah Margaret for ten years. She's been fabulous. She's a quiet lap dog type who thinks everyone who visits is there to let …

She is so patient Not rated yet
We have had our Phoebe Hannah Margaret for ten years. She's been fabulous. She's a quiet lap dog type who thinks everyone who visits is there to let …

He is a character..... Not rated yet
Skittles, our Silky Terrier, is about 8 months old. He enjoys watching television and knows all the commercials with dogs in them. He is also partial to …

Click here to write your own.

Return from Silky Terriers to Small Dog Breeds

Return Home

Use this search feature to quickly find the information you're looking for.

This is the front of our card "Papillon Kisses". Ten 5 x 8 cards are $18.50. To pick up your set, click on

The Store At About Small Dogs.

You can find lots of small dog Greeting, Thank You and Sympathy Cards there at surprisingly low prices. All our cards are hand drawn by the Maxwell Award winning artist Sandy Bergstrom Mesmer. We also recently opened our seasonal Christmas Card page.

And as always, free shipping!

(Or do you want to keep on settling for cards that are kitchy, silly or smarmy?)

Small Dog Shopping

While we get often get inundated with demands to buy buy buy from questionable sources, About Small Dogs has found a couple of quality stores that really do deliver great products at reasonable prices. They also have great Christmas gifts.





Didn't find what you were looking for? Use this search feature to find it.