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Australian Silky Terrier

Australian Silky Terrier



The histories of the two native Australian terriers are tied inextricably—one to the other. Both the Australian Terrier and the Silky Terrier were developed in the 19th century by Australians using various British terrier breeds. Records show that blue and tan broken-coated terriers of about ten pounds were renowned watchdogs around Tasmania, even in the early 1800s. Other terriers of that era in Australia were sandy colored.
Sometime in the 1820s, one of those early small-sized blue/tan bitches was taken to England and bred to a Dandie Dinmont, The resulting progeny eventually returned to Australia and became the foundation for the Silky Terrier. The Dandie imparted the silkier coat and back length, as well as the tendency to an arched back and high rear still seen in modern specimens. Not all of the credit for silky coat belongs to the Dandie, however, since Skyes, used in the make-up of the Aussie, sometimes produce a faulty predisposition to silky coats. Selection for the Skye's faulty trait contributed to the desirable coat of the Silky. Additional backcrosses to Yorkshire Terriers may have fixed the small size and blue color.

MacArthur Little was an early prominent breeder of these "silkys," and when he migrated to Sydney with his kennel, the name of Sydney Silky Terrier was adopted. Because the "Silky" was not accepted as an official name until 1955, the term Sydney Silky is heard still.
The Silky standard was accepted in 1906 in New South Wales, and another—different— standard was drawn in Victoria. It wasn't until 1959 that all discrepancies were smoothed out, and AKC recognized the Silky shortly after the revised standard was approved. Although officially the Silky Terrier in the USA, he is called Australian Silky Terrier in his native Australia and Silky Toy Terrier in Canada.
The Silky was developed as a pet and house dog and needs only regular brushing to keep his coat in good condition. The Silky's coat is long and soft, but is never intended to cascade clear to the floor like that of the Yorkie's. It must stop at about knee level, leaving feet and pasterns exposed.

Modern dogs all have the erect ear, although for many years both prick and drop ears were allowed. This was probably another throwback to the Skye, which has both ear carriages. The Silky, like his cousin the Australian Terrier, has his gaily carried tail docked short. Although the Aussie is still classified by AKC as a Terrier, the Silky is in the Toy Group, Despite his diminutive size, he is still capable of killing rodents and snakes and shrilly announcing the presence of intruders.

Australian judge, Frank Longmore, describes the Silky, as "The little dog that fits into our hearts and homes, no matter how large the former nor how small the latter . . ."

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