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 for ratting. 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 for ratting. 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.

Yorkshire TerrierYorkshire Terrier

History of Yorkshire Terriers in Australia

In Australia the first Silky and Yorkshire Terrier Club was founded in 1908, the Yorkshire Terrier being one of the few Toy Breeds to be popular at that time[4c].  Some 58 importations from England from 1890 to 1911 were listed[4]. Additionally another 50 were listed in the Stud Book[4a].

Yorkshire TerrierYorkshire Terrier

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].

But the most prolific winning Yorkshire Terrier in Australia from 1982 to 1991 was Bill Zaal's home bred Ch Glen Petite Sweet Joany (pictured). As well as all-breed Best Exhibit in Show and Group wins, at breed level she won 9 consecutive 'Royal Melbourne Show' Best of Breeds, and most of the Victorian Yorkshire Terrier Shows during that period as well.

Australian Silky TerrierAustralian Silky Terrier

Australian 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 Blue and Tan Silky Terrier was originally a bi-product of matings between the rough-coated black and tan Australian Terrier and the Yorkshire Terrier to soften the coat.

The Silky Terrier 1904The Silky Terrier 1904

By 1900 the break between the Australian Terrier and the Yorkshire Terrier was complete. The Australian Terrier Club already had its own Breed Standard. At that time, the Yorkshire Terrier Club of England held classes for two separate weights, from 8 to 14 pounds, and under 8 pounds.

In 1904, when the Victorian Silky & Yorkshire Club wrote their Breed Standard, they followed example set by the Yorkshire Terrier Club of  England where there were 2 weight divisions. But the Victorians decided their weight classifications would be for those under 6 pounds and those weighing from 6 and up to 12 pounds. In contrast the first known classification for the Sydney Silky was at the Sydney Royal in 1901. It had only one class. This was for 'Terriers, Australian Soft or Silky Coated'. In 1909 the Victorian Silky and Yorkshire Club held its first Show. By 1912 Tyzack's Annual had listed 22 Silky Terriers (Victorian), 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 recognised 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 Longer than its height at withers, with a level topline

Yorkshire TerrierYorkshire 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", Published 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 Importations P. 99 - 101

[4a] ibid., "Tyzack's Annual" Silky Terriers Stud Book Page P.75, Yorkshire Terriers Stud Book P. 75

[4c] ibid., "Tyzack's Annual" 'The Book of Chronicles' P 135

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