Australian Silky Terrier

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Breed: Australian Silky Terrier
Temperament:
bright, assertive
Lifespan:
up to 15 years
Maintenance:
medium
Recommended for:
active families, flats

History

Developed in the nineteenth century, the Australian Silky Terrier is one toy breed regarded as truly Australian. Early examples of the breed were simply known as rough or broken-coated terriers and were crosses of various larger British terrier breeds, of which some are no longer recognised. Further crossings to Dandie Dinmont and Skye Terriers and later to the Yorkshire Terrier contributed to the silky coat and small size we know today. Initially the breed was known as the ‘Sydney Silky’ due to the prominence of the breed in Sydney. But Victorian and Tasmanian breeders also laid claim as the originators of the breed, so the official name, Australian Silky Terrier, was eventually adopted in 1956.

Appearance

Australian Silkies are compact and moderately low set to the ground. They have a keen and alert appearance, further conveyed by their upright ears and watchful expression. The single coat is long, soft and as the name implies, silky. Puppies are born black and tan, changing to a silver and tan with blue evident along the spine as the dog ages. Some dogs will not change colour. Silkies stand around 9 inches (about 22.5 cms) at the wither.

Temperament

Usual terrier characteristics embody keen alertness, constant activity and occasional defiance. Silkies were originally bred to kill rodents, and still posses ratter characteristics; always watchful for scurrying prey. Silkies are a robust breed, generally very happy and love to play. But they also have a mischievous side, and although they are regarded as quite intelligent, very loyal and trainable, a defiant streak can appear. Silkies are known to maintain a puppy attitude throughout life. Obedience classes are recommended.

Silkies are a very game breed, full of bravado and have strong guarding instincts. Some have a reputation for constant barking. Silkies often appear to think they are a large dog trapped in a small dog’s body. As such they are known to try and take on much larger dogs, and invariably lose.

Breeders state that though Silkies were once very snappy and aggressive this characteristic has been recognised by dedicated, responsible breeders and great efforts made to eliminate it. However the strongly independent and game nature of the breed can predispose to a tendency for surliness, leading to outbursts of snappy aggression if pushed beyond their tolerance. If dominant males are nearby, it is possible they will clash.

Silkies will often devote themselves to one particular member of the family, usually the one who provides food. It is recommended that a child feed the dog as this will assist with its integration with members of the family.

Health and lifespan

Silkies are a hardy breed. Rotten teeth are the most common health problem. This is a genetic weakness in the breed and is best addressed by feeding raw bones from puppy age onwards. Ensure that the parents of your pup have been cleared for eye defects and be aware that patella luxation, slipping kneecaps, is known to occur. It is less common than once before but have your vet check the pup after purchase. Silkies have a healthy lifespan of up to 15 years.

Breeding and cost

Silkies are good whelpers and bitches have very strong maternal instincts. Phantom pregnancies are known to occur if bitches are exposed to other pregnant bitches or pups. Litter size is around four to five pups. Waiting periods of up to 12 months may apply for a pup. Prices range from $350 for a pet to $500 for a show quality pup.

Space and exercise

Silkies are full of energy though can still make good house pets. If given the opportunity to exercise daily, Silkies will also make suitable pets for units. Although full of energy, 20 minutes a day exercise will generally suffice. This can simply be in the form of play with a ball, rather than walks on the lead.

Maintenance and grooming

Bath Silkies once every couple of weeks, conditioning the coat. As their hair is a similar texture to humans, standard shampoo and conditioner can be used. A quick daily brush will keep knots out and will remove shedding hair which will cling to the coat. An alterative is to have the coat clipped. It saves on grooming and the dog will still look quite attractive. Silkies have two seasonal moults but little hair is dropped.

Ideal owner

Silkies are great for those people who prefer a small Aussie dog with lots of personality. They’re always happy to play, love human companionship and make a wonderful addition to active families.

National contacts

To find up-to-date contacts for breeders, contact the following organisations.

The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)
www.ankc.org.au

Dogs NSW
http://www.dogsnsw.org.au/breeders-directory
Email: info@dogsnsw.org.au
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872

Dogs Victoria
http://www.vca.org.au
Email: office@dogsvictoria.org.au
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599

Dogs ACT
http://www.actca.asn.au
Email: info@dogsact.org.au
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 – Fax: (02) 6241 1129.

Dogs West
http://www.cawa.asn.au
Email: k9@dogswest.com
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190

Dogs SA
http://dogssa.com.au
Phone: (08) 8349 4797

Canine Control Council of Queensland
http://www.cccq.org.au
Email: dogsqld@powerup.com.au
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864

Tasmanian Canine Association
http://www.tasdogs.com
Email: tca@iprimus.com.au
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844

Dogs NT
http://www.territorydogworld.com
Email: naca3@bigpond.com
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)
www.ankc.org.au

Dogs NSW
http://www.dogsnsw.org.au/breeders-directory
Email: info@dogsnsw.org.au
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872

Dogs Victoria
http://www.vca.org.au
Email: office@dogsvictoria.org.au
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599

Dogs ACT
http://www.actca.asn.au
Email: info@dogsact.org.au
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 – Fax: (02) 6241 1129.

Dogs West
http://www.cawa.asn.au
Email: k9@dogswest.com
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190

Dogs SA
http://dogssa.com.au
Phone: (08) 8349 4797

Canine Control Council of Queensland
http://www.cccq.org.au
Email: dogsqld@powerup.com.au
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864

Tasmanian Canine Association
http://www.tasdogs.com
Email: tca@iprimus.com.au
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844

Dogs NT
http://www.territorydogworld.com
Email: naca3@bigpond.com
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409