The Australian Silky Terrier is an Australian dog, classed as a toy dog in that country, and as a terrier in Europe.
The Australian Silky Terrier is about ten inches high, and weighs about ten pounds. Its head is longer than the Yorkshire Terriers but shorter than that of the Australian Terrier. The coat is five to six inches long with a silky texture.
Though 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”. The silky terrier does not shed as much as other dogs.
Generally healthy, some small concerns are inter vertebral disc disease, elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation and Legg-Perthes. This breed sometimes is afflicted with diabetes, epilepsy, tracheal collapse. All afflictions are rare, expect your silky to stay healthy and active for up to 15 years.
The Silky is believed to have developed by crossing the Yorkshire Terrier with the Australian Terrier in Sydney in the 1890s, 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 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 in 1872 as “Broken-coated Terriers, Black and Tan”, however, the breed is not mentioned in The Dog of Australia, Walter Beilby’s 1987 book.
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 intra bred 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.