Key Breed Facts
Intelligence / Trainability
Children and Other Pets
Caring for a Australian Silky Terrier
Average Cost to keep/care for a Australian Silky Terrier
Also known as the Sydney Silky, these little dogs as their name suggests hail from Australia and over the years they have become a popular choice of companion dogs in many other countries of the world including here in the UK. The Australian Silky Terrier may be classed as a Toy breed, but they are far from being purely a lap dog.
Australian Silky Terriers are independent, friendly, energetic little dogs that boast a tremendous amount of stamina. The breed is thought to have come about as a result of crossing Australian with Yorkshire Terriers, but this is hard to prove. With this said, the Silky has retained a lot of the qualities that their cousins the Yorkie are so well known to have.
There are those people who think that the Australian Silky Terrier came about as a result of crossing a Yorkshire Terrier with an Australian Terrier, but because no stud records were kept back in the day, this is quite hard to prove or disprove. However, what is known is that the Australian Terrier Club was formed in 1900, but it only to close its doors a few years later. However, the Victoria Silky and Yorkshire Terrier Club was subsequently set up a little later. The club established a breed standard by 1904 and enthusiasts and breeders based in Sidney established the Sydney Silky Club before proceeding to develop a breed standard for dogs that were to become known as Sidney Silkies. One of the prominent breeders of the day was MacArthur Little who promoted the breed extensively.
Today, these little dogs are a favourite pet in many countries of the world and breeders based in Australia still receive requests from people far afield for Sydney Silkies. With this said, the breed was officially recognised in 1959 when they were given their present name, the Australian Silky Terrier and a definitive standard was set for the breed.
Height at the withers: Males 20 - 23 cm, Females 19 - 20 cm
Average weight: Males 4.5 kg, Females 3.5 kg.
The Australian Silky Terrier is a toy dog, but as previously mentioned they are far from being a lap dog. They resemble their cousins the Yorkshire Terrier having similar coloured coats and being of a similar size. However, these little dogs are quite different in many other ways. They are compact little dogs that always boast a well-groomed look about them.
Their heads are nicely proportioned in relation to the rest of their bodies always showing a strong terrier type trait with a silky top-knot and shiny black noses. Their eyes are quite small and oval in shape with an intelligent, keen and always “ready” expression in them. Their ears are V-shaped and small being set high on a dog's head and always pricked adding to a dog's alert expression. Silkies don't have any long hair on their ears.
The Australian Silky Terrier boasts a strong jaw with a perfect scissor bite where their upper teeth neatly overlap their lower ones. Their necks are medium in length boasting a small crest and covered in silky hair. A dog's shoulders are well laid back and fine with straight front legs. Their body is quite long in relation to their overall height and these little dogs boast a nice level back whether they are relaxed or moving around. Chests are moderately deep and ribs well sprung.
These dogs may be small in stature, but they have well developed thighs and strong back legs for their size. Their feet are very cat-like, small and well-padded with tight toes and very dark or black nails. Tails are moderately long and covered in hair with a small amount of feathering on the underside.
When it comes to their coat, the Australian Silky Terrier boasts a flat and fine one that's silky in texture, naturally glossy and free flowing. These little dogs come in a variety of colours all of which are acceptable as a breed standard which are as follows:
Puppies are born with a very dark blue coat although to the novice eye, they look black. The only tan markings to be found are on a puppy's feet, above each of their eyes and on their underbody which makes them look very similar to Yorkshire Terrier puppies. However, their coats start to change colour at around 18 months old when an Australian Silky Terrier puppy's coat turns blue which is a process referred to as "breaking colour".
These little dogs are very keen, alert and terrier-like characters which means they like to be kept busy and active. As previously mentioned they are definitely not to be thought of as lap dogs. Silkies are also extremely friendly and affectionate dogs by nature and they are quick to respond to people and any commands they are given.
Known to be independent by nature, they are also extremely inquisitive. They boast having a lot of stamina which means for such a little dog, they are more than capable of tiring an owner out. Having been bred to be a family pet and companion, the Australian Silky Terrier fits the bill perfectly which is why they are such a popular choice with people the world over.
Although, these little dogs show affection to all members of a family, they are known to form a special bond with one person. They are generally good around strangers and will tolerate being around people they don't know, but that's all. They also need to be well socialised and trained from a young age for them to grow up to be confident, well-rounded dogs. They may be small in stature, but they are forceful little terriers which means they need to know who is the Alpha Dog in a household or they may become a little unruly and show a more dominant side to their natures which can be hard to manage and correct at later on.
Being intelligent little dogs, Silkies are easy to train, but they can pick up bad habits very easily too, especially if they are not correctly handled. This includes excessive barking whenever they are left on their own in the house.
Australian Silkies are intelligent little dogs and much like their Yorkie cousins, they have no idea of how small they really are. They love being with people and are always eager to please, but they are terriers and do have a mind of their own. With this said, their training has to start early and it needs to be consistent. They respond well to positive reinforcement training, but not any sort of harsh handling or correction which would not achieve positive results with these little dogs. Puppies must be well socialised from a young age and introduced to as many new things as possible for them to grow up to be outgoing, well-rounded characters.
These little dogs generally get on very well with children if they have been bought up with them. However, they do not like to be messed with or fussed over which could result in them becoming a little "snappy" towards the kids. They are also good around other dogs and family cats as long as they have been well socialised from a young age and they’ve grown up with them.
However, when it comes to small pets, it is best not to let a Silky near them no matter how well socialised and obedient a dog might be because they are after all terriers and in it's in their natures to chase and kill any small prey.
For further advice please read our article on Keeping Children Safe around Dogs.
The average life expectancy of an Australian Silky Terrier is between 11 to 14 years when properly cared for and fed an appropriate good quality diet to suit their ages.
These dogs are known to be fairly hardy and robust, but like so many other pure breeds, they are known to suffer from certain hereditary health issues which are worth knowing about if you are going to share your home with one of these lively terriers. The disorders most common to the breed are as follows:
As with any other breed, Australian Silky Terriers need to be groomed on a regular basis to make sure their coats and skin are kept in top condition. They also need to be given regular daily exercise to ensure they remain fit and not put on too much weight. On top of this, Silkies need to be fed good quality food that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives.
A Silkie’s hair is not that different to a person's hair and as such, their coats need a daily brush to keep things tidy and tangle-free. It's important to start grooming puppies as early as possible always making sure the experience is a good one so that dogs look forward to the one-to-one attention they are given when being brushed.
When it comes to bathing, these little dogs don't need to be bathed that often unless it is absolutely necessary. It's important for dogs to be thoroughly dried after a bath to prevent them from feeling the cold and catching a chill. It’s also a good idea to have dogs professionally groomed a few times a year, especially in the Spring and then again the Autumn when dogs tend to shed more hair.
As previously mentioned, Silkies may be small in stature, but they boast a tremendous amount of energy. As such they are definitely not to be thought of as lap dogs or couch potatoes. They need to be given the right amount of daily exercise and this includes playing lots of interactive games which Silkies love. It also ensures they burn off any excess calories which reduces the risk of them becoming overweight.
Silkies are not known to be finicky or fussy eaters, but this does not mean they can be fed lower quality food because it will not contain all the right vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that dogs need to stay healthy. As such, it's important to feed a Silky a good quality, well-balanced diet making sure it suits the different stages of a dog's life.
If you have decided to get a puppy from a breeder, they would provide you with a feeding schedule and it's important to stick to it for the first few weeks after bringing a puppy home. You can change their diet when the time is right, but this needs to be done very gradually and carefully over a few weeks to make sure puppies don't suffer any tummy upsets. If they do get the runs, it’s best to put them back on their original diet before discussing things with the vet.
It's also important for puppies to be fed at least 3 to 4 times a day to begin with, but you can start feeding them the same amount of food twice a day when they are around 4 months old always keeping an eye on things to make sure a young dog can cope with the change in their feeding routine.
If you are looking to buy an Australian Silky Terrier, you would need to pay anything from £300 to over £450 for a well-bred pedigree puppy. The cost of insuring a male 3-year-old Australian Silky Terrier in northern England would be £17.94 a month for basic cover but for a lifetime policy, this would set you back £40.81 a month (quote as of March 2016). When insurance companies calculate pet insurance, they factor in a few things and this includes where you live in the UK and a dog's age and whether or not a dog has been spayed or neutered.
When it comes to food costs, you need to buy the best quality food whether wet or dry, to feed your dog throughout their lives making sure it suits the different stages of their lives. This would set you back between £30 - £40 a month. On top of all of this, you would need to factor in veterinary costs if you want to share your home with an Australian Silky Terrier which includes their initial vaccinations, their boosters, the cost of neutering or spaying your dog when the time is right and then their annual health check visits, all of which could quickly add up to over a £800 a year.
As a rough guide, the average cost to keep and care for an Australian Silky Terrier would be between £60 to £90 a month depending on the level of insurance cover you opt to buy for your dog, but this does not include the initial cost of buying a pedigree Australian Silky Terrier puppy.
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