Silky Terriers

Some think they're just large Yorkshire Terriers, and others think they're tiny Australian Terriers. But even though those dogs are in his ancestry, the Silky Terrier has his own identity – and isn't likely to let you forget it. Sure, he's a charmer and, at 10 pounds or so, highly portable. But he's also a smart, sassy demanding little dog with a great gift for getting his humans to do exactly what he wants them to, and being a pretty big pain in the neck (and a noisy one) when they don't.

Is the Silky Terrier the Right Dog for You?

Make no mistake: He might be tiny and he might lack the usual scruffy-rough coat of his terrier cousins, but the Silky is no lap dog. Or he is, but mostly on his own terms. He's endlessly curious, full of energy and loves to play. And like most terriers, he has a great fondness for that sub-genre of gardening known as "digging huge holes in the yard" along with a well-developed interest in barking loudly and chasing cats.

Train him gently but consistently from a young age to channel his cleverness and independence into activities that won’t involve noise or destructiveness. The American Kennel Club's Earthdog events offer one such possibility; agility or other active sports are others. He's also a bit difficult to housebreak, so careful training from the day he comes home is essential as well.

Bigger than the Yorkshire Terrier, the Silky is a better choice for families with children, but is still much too small to be played with roughly or unsupervised. In fact, he can be a bit nippy and possessive of his toys, food and favorite humans. And while the Silky Terrier is not a big shedder, his coat is long and – yes, you guessed it – silky, and it requires frequent brushing to prevent matting.

6 Tips to Bring Home a Healthy Silky Terrier Puppy

  1. Don’t ever, ever, ever buy a puppy from a pet store or Internet site that offers many breeds and popular mixes, or that ships with no questions asked. If you buy a puppy from these sources, you’ll be more likely to get an unhealthy, unsocialized and difficult to house-train puppy and will be supporting the cruelty of high-volume puppy mills.
  2. Start your search for a good breeder on the website of the Silky Terrier Club of America, which maintains a referral list for breeders; choose one who has agreed to be bound by the club's Code of Ethics, which prohibits its members from selling puppies to pet stores and outlines the responsibilities of its member breeders to the dogs they produce and the people who buy them.
  3. Do not purchase a puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with written documentation that the parents were cleared of health problems that affect the breed. Having the dogs "vet checked" is not a substitute for genetic health testing, and any breeder who says her lines are free of all these problems or that they're not a concern is either lying or knows almost nothing about Silky Terriers. Look for your puppy elsewhere.
  4. Consider an adult dog from a shelter or a rescue group. Many of the health and behavior problems in Silky Terriers aren't apparent in puppyhood, but by adopting an older dog, most of them can be ruled out. Since a Silky Terrier can live to be 12 years of age, even an adult dog will be with your family for a long time.
  5. Puppy or adult, take your Silky Terrier to your veterinarian soon after adoption. Your veterinarian will be able to spot visible problems, and will work with you to set up a preventive regimen that will help you avoid many health issues, and in particular to watch out for the early signs of knee problems.
  6. Make sure you have a good contract with the seller, shelter or rescue group that spells out responsibilities on both sides. In states with “puppy lemon laws,” be sure you and the person you get the dog from both understand your rights and recourses.

Health Issues Common to Silky Terriers

Silky Terriers are fairly healthy, but they can be affected by a few genetic health problems. Your puppy's breeder should have written documentation from the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) that her breeding dogs have had their eyes tested within the last year, along with Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) clearance on their knees.

Many small dog breeds, including the Silky Terrier, suffer from Legg-Calvé-Perthes disease (LCPD), a bone disorder that requires surgery. Even though LCPD and other diseases have no screening tests at this time, your puppy's breeder should be willing – if not eager – to go over the health histories of his parents and their close relatives and to discuss how prevalent those particular health concerns are in his lines.

Condition Risk Profile Cost to Diagnose and Treat
Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease
Medium $1,000-$3,000
Estimates based on claims paid by Embrace Pet Insurance


Pet Insurance for Silky Terriers

Pet insurance for Silky Terriers costs more than for mixed breed dogs. This is because Silky Terriers are much more likely than mixed breed dogs to make claims for hereditary conditions that are expensive to treat.

Embrace pet insurance plans offer full coverage for all breed-specific conditions (excluding those that are pre-existing) to which Silky Terriers are susceptible. The best time to get pet insurance for your Silky Terrier is when he’s a healthy puppy. You can’t predict what will happen in the future, and pet insurance is the one thing you can’t get when you need it the most.