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Silky terrierin the grass.

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Toy group (American Kennel Club)
  • Height — 9-10 inches
  • Weight — 8-10 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Long, straight, silky, and glossy
  • Coat color — All shades of blue and tan. The deep tan color should extend from the base of the skull to the tail tip and halfway down the legs. Silky terrier puppies are born black and tan but the black fades to blue as they mature.
  • Exercise needs — High
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — Very vocal
  • Life span — 12-15 years
  • Temperament — Energetic, affectionate, high-spirited, and confident
  • Hypoallergenic — Yes
  • Origin — Australia

Silky terrier fun facts 

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2024 database, the majority of our users name their male Silky Terriers Max; Teddy is the 2nd most popular male name. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Silky Terriers love Lucy, then Bella.

  • Silky terriers were originally called Sydney silky terriers. In Australia, their name changed to Australian silky terrier in 1955. In the same year, the Sydney Silky Terrier Club of America voted to change their name to silky terrier.
  • Silky terriers have won impressive titles and ribbons in canine sporting events. These small dogs have found high levels of success in a variety of canine sports from flyball and tracking to herding and agility.
  • Silky terriers are hypoallergenic. The texture of a silky terrier’s coat is similar to human hair, so they shed very little. This makes them a great choice for allergy sufferers.
Two silky terriers standing in grass.

Silky terrier temperament and characteristics

Silky terriers, also called Australian Silky terriers, are lively, playful, and full of a natural zest for life. They are devoted to their human companions but tend to bond more with one person in particular. They can sometimes be a little reserved with strangers.

Silky terriers make great companions for families with older children. But, they may be too rambunctious for young kids. These little dogs don’t appreciate rough handling. So, make sure your children understand how to correctly approach and interact with a dog. Silky terriers are also not suitable for homes with smaller pets because of their strong hunting instincts. Silky terriers can be very territorial with other dogs. But, appropriate socialization from a young age can help to control this issue.

Silky terriers make great apartment dogs because of their small size. You just need to make sure they get all the mental and physical stimulation they need. They shouldn’t be left alone for long periods because they can develop separation anxiety. Silky terriers are known to bark excessively. Although, this can be managed with early socialization and training.


The Silky terrier is a small, active dog with a long, silky coat. Its fur can also have a bronzy-golden tinge, and its legs may feature lighter-colored markings. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) breed standard, the coat color is blue and tan. The blue may be silver blue, pigeon blue, or slate blue, the tan deep and rich. The topknot should be silver or fawn, lighter than the tan points. We teamed up with FidoTabby Alert, and according to their database, the common coat color for the Silky terrier is (66%) gray.

Common silky terrier health problems 

Silky terriers are hardy little dogs. Yet, like all breeds, they can develop certain health issues which include:

  • Portosystemic shunt. A condition that causes blood to bypass the liver. This is due to an abnormal connection between the  intestines and the liver. It can cause symptoms such as muscle weakness, disorientation, and stunted growth.
  • Patellar luxation . This happens when a dog’s kneecap (patellar) shifts out of its normal location. You may notice your dog running on three legs for a short period before returning to normal. Mild cases can be managed with medication and joint supplements. However, more serious cases may need surgery.
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. A condition that causes the head of the femur bone to weaken due to a lack of blood supply. It usually only affects one hip but can affect both, especially in younger dogs. Symptoms to watch out for include lameness and pain or stiffness in the hip joint.
  • Progressive retinal atrophy . A group of degenerative eye diseases that affect the photoreceptor cells in the eyes. This causes progressive blindness, often starting with reduced night vision.

Cost of caring for silky terriers

Silky terriers are a popular breed. So, you can expect to pay anywhere between $900 and $2,000 for a puppy depending on their lineage. First-time vaccinations can set you back anywhere from $75 – $100.

Aside from the costs of food, healthy treats, and toys, you’ll need to be prepared if your silky terrier develops a health condition. For example, patellar luxation surgery costs around $1,500-$3,000 per knee.

Health insurance is a great way to reduce out-of-pocket expenses. It provides the greatest benefits to owners who sign their pets up early. If you’re worried about the ongoing costs of health insurance, you can set up your own pet savings account.

Closeup of a Silky terrier resting on the back of a red couch.

History of the silky terrier

Silky terriers were first bred in the late 1800s in Sydney, Australia. They were commonly kept as companions. However, they were also used to hunt domestic rodents and even snakes. These dogs resulted from planned breeding between Australian terriers and Yorkshire terriers. But, some experts claim there could also be other terriers in the mix including the Cairn terrier and the Dandie Dinmont. Today, the Dandie Dinmont is one of the rarest terrier breeds, distinguished by a unique puff of hair on its head.

By the 1920s, the silky terrier had become established as a hardworking farm dog and popular pet across Australia. They were recognized by the Australian National Kennel Council in 1959.

American introduction

Silky terriers first appeared at dog shows in America in the late 1950s. Their v-shaped ears and straight, glossy coat caused the silky terrier to be confused with the Yorkshire terrier. However, silky terriers were larger with wedge-shaped heads rather than the more rounded skull of the Yorkie. Also, unlike the Yorkie, the silky terrier’s coat doesn’t touch the floor when standing.

With their almond-shaped eyes, teddy bear faces, and fun-loving personalities, silky terriers quickly became popular as beloved canine companions. On 9th May 1959, they became the 113th breed to be recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Caring for your silky terrier

Caring for a new puppy of any breed can be both exciting and overwhelming. You’ll need to make your first trip to the vet and schedule your dog’s vaccinations. We can even help you puppy-proof your home and prepare for teething. Silky terriers are prone to developing dental problems. So, you should get them used to brushing from a young age. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Start with short, fun sessions. This will help to build up trust between you and your dog.
  • Use positive reinforcement. Offer rewards and lots of praise after teeth brushing to make it a positive experience.
  • Use the right products. Brush the teeth with a tasty dog-specific toothpaste. You can even consider making your own.
  • Offer dental chews and chew toys. Allow your dog to nibble on these throughout the day to prevent boredom and to keep their teeth clean.
  • Attend regular dental appointments. Book your dog in for a dental check-up with a vet at least once a year.

It’s not nice to think about losing your new dog. But, FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared just in case.

👉 Avoid feeding your dog animal bones because these can splinter and cause serious injury. Instead, look for healthy vet-approved bones.


Silky terriers are energetic dogs that need more exercise than other toy breeds. Around 1.5 hours of vigorous exercise per day is ideal, with long walks and active play sessions. Many silky terrier owners also enroll their dogs in agility courses.

Silky terriers can struggle in cold weather because they only have a single coat. So, buy your pup a dog jacket to wear during the winter months. You can also provide more opportunities for play inside the home.

Silky terrier outside standing on a brick wall.


The silky terrier has a long, straight, single coat that’s very similar in texture to human hair. This makes them great for allergy sufferers because they shed very little. However, they are high-maintenance when it comes to grooming. Frequent brushing, at least three times a week, is essential for a mat-free and shiny coat.  You may also want to invest in skin and coat supplements. Especially if your pup suffers from an allergy because this can cause dry, itchy skin.

Groom your silky terrier using a pin or bristle brush and a metal comb. You should also use a water or conditioning spray to dampen the coat before you begin because a dry single coat is prone to breaking. Alternatively, you can brush them after a bath, which should be done around once a month. Start by brushing the underside to remove any tangles. Then, smoothen out the top of the coat, starting from the head and working your way backward.

Silky terriers have long coats that never stop growing. So, it’s a good idea to book regular grooming and trimming sessions with a professional groomer. In addition, you’ll need to keep on top of nail trimming and ear cleaning.

👉 The silky terrier is one of the best breeds for allergy sufferers. But, no breed is truly hypoallergenic. These dogs simply shed less so they have a smaller effect on those with dog allergies. 

Diet and nutrition

Silky terriers are prone to piling on the pounds. Therefore, regular exercise and a balanced diet are essential to keep your dog at a healthy weight. Obesity can worsen joint and metabolic health conditions such as diabetes and arthritis.

Speak to your vet about accurate portion sizes depending on your dog’s breed, size, activity level, and health status. Silky terriers have small stomachs. So, smaller meals throughout the day are much better than one large meal. Silky terrier puppies should get around ⅛ of a cup split into 3-4 meals a day. Adult silky terriers need ½ – ¾ of a cup daily, split into 2 meals.

Make sure you choose a dog food that consists of a high-quality mix of meat, vegetables, and rice. You can also add omega-3 supplements for optimal health.

Training your silky terrier

Silky terriers are intelligent, but they do have a stubborn streak. Training should begin as soon as you bring them home. To prevent dominant behavior toward children and other pets, early socialization is critical. Without proper training, these dogs can become food and toy protective. Persistence and consistency are the keys to successfully training a silky terrier.

Silky terriers are prone to excessive barking. Positive reinforcement training is a great way to calm this trait. However, these little dogs will also bark when they’re bored. So, offer plenty of opportunities for exercise. Regular mental stimulation is also important, like games, puzzles, and even agility courses.

Silky terrier training outside.

Breeds similar to the silky terrier

Not quite sure that a silky terrier is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Yorkshire terrier. Yorkshire terriers are confident, lively, and playful. They are slightly smaller than silky terriers but display many similar personality traits. However, they generally have lower exercise needs.
  • Australian terrier. The Australian terrier is social and loving. They are generally accepting of strangers. They also require less grooming than silky terriers because of their harsh, weather-resistant coats.
  • West Highland white terrier. These dogs have a coarse double coat. This makes them more tolerant of cold weather conditions than the single-coated silky terrier. They are also very affectionate and thrive in most environments.

Frequently asked questions

Do silky terriers bark a lot?

Silky terriers are prone to barking. But, this can be controlled with positive reinforcement training. You can also try crate training. Silky terriers are highly affectionate and playful, so they shouldn’t be left alone for long periods.

Are silky terriers and Yorkshire terriers the same?

Despite their similarities in body shape and personality, silky terriers and Yorkshire terriers are different breeds. Silky terriers are larger, weighing around 10 lbs compared to 7 lbs for a Yorkie. They also have a wedge-shaped head whereas a Yorkie has a more rounded skull.

Do silky terriers make good family dogs?

Silky terriers are playful, affectionate, and intelligent. However, they are best suited to homes with older children because they don’t tolerate rough handling from younger children. They can also become jealous of babies and toddlers if they’re not given all the mental and physical stimulation they need.

What two breeds make a silky terrier?

Silky terriers were bred in the late 1800s by crossing Yorkshire terriers with Australian terriers. As a result, they display many true terrier traits including independence, courage, and a playful personality.