Yorkshire Terrier and Australian Silky Terrier

Australian Silky TerrierAustralian Silky Terrier

These two breeds are coupled together here because from the Yorkshire terrier, the Australian Silky developed. It is often hard to believe that the Yorkshire Terrier with his glamorous coat historically originated as a ratter. The Australian Silky Terrier which also was originally a ratter, developed from a cross between the Australian Terrier and the Yorkshire Terrier.

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier 1905Yorkshire Terrier 1905

Historically, the Yorkshire Terrier was bred from terriers designed to kill rats. It was first separately identified in the English Stud Book in 1886 as being longer-coated than any other terrier. Weighing up to 14 pounds, classes were provided in two sections, those over and those under 8 pounds. As their popularity as a showdog increased, the larger dogs became increasing unpopular but the smaller ones with the beautiful long silky coats began to command large prices[1] and so we have the Yorkshire Terrier we know today.

In Australia they were one of the few Toy Breeds to the mentioned in Tyzack's Annual published 1912 which lists some 58 importations from England from 1890 to 1911 with another 50 being listed in the Stud Book[4]. Yorkies have arrived in Australia at various times ever since, the most worthy of mention being Mrs Molly Hole ("Stragar") who migrated here in the early 1970's accompanied by 8 bitches and 2 stud dogs and encouraged so many others in this breed[5].

Australian Silky Terrier

Australian Silky TerrierAustralian Silky Terrier

"Its sire was Australian; component parts were many -
Yorkshire, black and tan,and Scotch - it proved much worse than any.
Another dash of Yorkshire; the result was far more pretty;
They called it 'Sydney' Silky but quarrelled o'er the city"[4a] 

History of the Australian Silky Terrier

The Silky Terrier 1904The Silky Terrier 1904

The Blue and Tan Silky Terrier was originally a bi-product of a mating between the English favourite the Yorkshire Terrier, and the rough-coated black and tan Australian Terrier to soften the coat. By 1900 the break between the Australian Terrier and the Silky Terrier seemed complete with the writing of the original Breed Standard by the Victorian Silky and Yorkshire Terrier Club with two classes - those weighing under 6 pounds and those weighing 6 up to 12 pounds. By 1912 there were 22 listed in Tyzack's Annual, without designating the weight of any of them[4a].

Meanwhile in 1906 the rival body in Sydney adopted a similar Breed Standard but with only one allowable weight, this being 6 and under 12 pounds. The Sydney version was called the 'Sydney Silky' while the rest of Australia knew it simply as the 'Silky', making this essentially same breed known under two different names! These two Breed Standards remained in place until 1950 when the Victorian Kennel Control Council (KCC) developed and revised it. In March 1959 after the ANKC was formed, this revised Breed Standard was adopted and the breed became known as the Australian Silky Terrier[2].

By 1972 the Australian Silky Terrier was taking its rightful place alongside other recognized breeds with Ch Dulcannina Kansas owned and bred by Mrs Sybil Camac of South Australia and handled by her son James, winning Best Exhibit in Show at Australia's largest dog show at that time, the Melbourne Royal. Please click on the accompanying video clip.

Yorkshire and Australian Silky Terrier Comparison

The Yorkie is a neat compact spirited Toy Terrier, and although he conveys an important air, his straight silky distinctive coat is his most defining characteristic. In comparison, the Australian Silky Terrier should definitely display Terrier characteristics, embodying keen alertness, activity and soundness, appearing capable of killing vermin such as rats and mice.

Yorkshire Terrier Australian Silky Terrier
Country of Origin England Australia
Size Weight up to 7 pounds (3.2 kilos) with no specified height. Dogs - Height 23 to 26 cms (9 to 10 ins) at the withers, bitches slightly less, weight proportionate.
Colour The body coat from occiput to root of tail is dark steel blue (not silver blue), and should never be intermingled with fawn, bronze or dark hairs. The rich golden tan hair of the head is called a 'fall' because of its length about the ear roots and muzzle. Any shade of blue and tan with a silver blue or fawn top-knot desirable. The blue body colour should be free from tan or bronzing while the tan markings must be free from smuttiness
Coat The hair on the body is moderately long, glossy, perfectly straight, with a fine silky texture but never wavy or woolly. The length of coat should be shorter than that of the Yorkie, allowing daylight to be seen underneath the dog.

Yorkshire TerrierYorkshire Terrier

Australian SilkyAustralian Silky
Head The head is rather small with a flat skull, small erect ears and medium dark eyes that look straight ahead. The strong head of the Silky is of moderate length in contrast to the rather smaller head of the Yorkie.
Ears Small, V-shaped and erect, covered with short hair Small V-shaped and erect but entirely free from hair
Mouth Normal scissors bite Normal scissors bite
Forequarters Legs straight, well covered with hair of rich golden tan a few shades lighter at ends than at roots. The straight forelegs have refined, round bone and are set well under the body with no weakness in the pasterns.
Feet Round with black nails Small and cat-like with black or very dark toenails
Body Compact with level topline Moderately long in proportion to height with a level topline

Yorkshite TerrierYorkshite Terrier

Australian Silky TerrierAustralian Silky Terrier
Hindquarters The legs should be straight when viewed from behind with a  moderate turn of stifle. They should be well covered with rich golden tan hair, a few shades lighter at ends than at roots. The well developed thighs and well bent stifles should accompany well let down hocks that are parallel with each other.
Tail Carried a little higher than the level of the back. The tail should be free of feathering, set on high and carried erect but not over-gay.
Gait Free with a straight action fore and aft Free with drive from behind, retaining a level topline.

References and Further Reading

[1] Rawdon B. Lee, "Modern Dogs (Terriers)" published by London: Horace Cox, "Field" Office, Windsor House, Bream's Buildings, E.C 1903.  Pages 382 - 384

[2] W.A.(Fred) Wheatland, "The Australian Terrier and The Australian Silky Terrier", W.A.Wheatland printed by The Hawthorn Press, Melbourne January 1964, Chapter 8 Pages 30 - 31.

[4] "Tyzack's Annual" Compiled by T.W.Tyzack and C.S. Turner published by the Victorian Poultry and Kennel Club 1912, printed by Bellmaine Bros., Printers 66 - 70 Flinders Lane Melbourne Australia Yorkshire Terrier Imporations P. 99 - 101 Stud Book Page 79

[4a] ibid "Tyzack's Annual" Compiled by T.W.Tyzack and C.S. Turner published by the Victorian Poultry and Kennel Club 1912, printed by Bellmaine Bros., Printers 66 - 70 Flinders Lane Melbourne Australia P.75

[5] 'The History of Purebred Dogs in Australia' published by OzDog Newspaper 1997 , Yorkshire Terrier by Bill Zaal Page 309


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