In the late 19th century, a number of Yorkshire Terriers were brought from England to Australia – particularly, to Victoria and New South Wales. Some of these Yorkshire Terrier dogs were crossed with the larger, working Australian Terrier bitches in an attempt to improve their blue-and-tan coats. Some of the offspring of these crosses were initially shown as Australian Terriers, while others were exhibited either as Yorkies or Silkies. Some authorities think that the Dandie Dinmont Terrier, Skye Terrier and/or Cairn Terrier may also have a place in the Silky Terrier’s ancestry. Eventually, the Silky Terrier bred true to type and was recognized as a distinct breed in New South Wales in 1906, and in Victoria in 1909. There were some discrepancies between these two standards, particularly with regard to weight and ear type. A revised standard was adopted in 1926 in an effort to standardize the breed, and legislation was introduced in 1932 by the Kennel Control Council of Victoria to prevent further cross breedings between the Yorkshire, Australian and the then-called Sydney Silky Terriers.
In 1955, the Sydney Silky’s name was officially changed to the Australian Silky Terrier. In 1958, the Australian National Kennel Club was founded and recommended development of a national standard for the Australian Silky Terrier. That happened in March of 1959, and the national Australian standard narrowed approved weights for the Silky to “ideally from eight to ten pounds.” The previous standards had varied from 6 to 12 pounds, with one even allowing a variety below 6 pounds.
Silky Terriers made their way to the United States with American servicemen and women returning from Australia after World War II. The Sydney Silky Terrier Club of America held its first meeting in March of 1955. Shortly thereafter, it was renamed as the Silky Terrier Club of America. The Silky was accepted by the American Kennel Club in 1959, as a member of the Toy Group. The breed was not recognized in England until a breed club was developed there in 1979. Today’s Silky is an energetic, intelligent, fun-loving companion that thrives on attention from his owner and is a terrific urban pet. It also makes a great watchdog and will vigorously announce the arrival of any visitors, welcome or not.
The average life span of the Silky Terrier is 12 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include allergies, collapsing trachea; diabetes, elbow dysplasia, epilepsy, intervertebral disk disease, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, malassezia dermatitis, short hair syndrome of Silky breeds, cataracts, cystine urolithiasis, refractory corneal ulceration and patellar luxation.