Yorkshire Terrier and Australian Silky Terrier

Australian Silky TerrierAustralian Silky Terrier

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

Yorkshire Terrier

Yorkshire Terrier 1905Yorkshire Terrier 1905

Originally derived from ratting terriers, the Yorkshire Terrier 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 to Australia in the early 1970's accompanied by 8 bitches and 2 stud dogs and encouraged so many others in this breed[5].

The Yorkshire Terrier Today

Yorkshire TerrierYorkshire Terrier

Today the Yorkshire Terrier can only weigh up to 7 pounds. He is a neat compact spirited Toy Terrier, and although he conveys an important air, his straight silky distinctive coat is his most defining characteristic.

His head is rather small with a flat skull, small erect ears and medium dark eyes that look straight ahead. The muzzle should not be elongated and should house a normal scissors bite. His rather high set tail completes his level topline. Under the coat should be a well constructed sound little dog with a good lay of shoulder, a moderate turn of stifle and a moderate spring of rib. This produces his free movement and straight action fore and aft.

Yorkshire TerrierYorkshire Terrier

The hair on the body is moderately long but should never interfere with his movement. The coat is glossy and perfectly straight, with a fine silky texture but never wavy or woolly. The rich golden tan hair of the head is called a 'fall' because of its length about the ear roots and muzzle. This distinctive tan colouring on the head, chest and legs should be clear tan with no sooty or dark hair intermingling with it. The tan hair is darker at the roots than the middle and this shading extends to the tips. 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.

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] 

The Silky Terrier 1904The Silky Terrier 1904

The Blue and Tan Silky Terrier was originally developed from a cross between the English favorite the Yorkshire Terrier, and the rough-coated black and tan Australian Terrier. 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, wihout 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].

Yorkshire and Australian Silky Terrier Comparison

Australian Silky TerrierAustralian Silky Terrier

Because the fine silky coat is defining feature on both the Australian Silky Terrier ("Silky") and the Yorkshire Terrier ("Yorkie") , they may appear alike. But below are some of the differences:

  • The Silky gives a height only 9" - 10" whereby the Yorkie gives a weight only - up to seven pounds
  • The Silky should appear capable of killing vermin such as rats and mice
  • The head of the Silky is strong and of moderate length rather than the smaller head of the Yorkie. However, both breeds should have a flat skull and a normal scissors bite.
  • The Silky has a silky topknot which should not fall over his eyes whereby the Yorkie has a long fall that is characteristically tied up over the eyes for the show ring.
  • Although the Silky's body is moderately long and the Yorkie has a compact body, both breeds should have a level topline and a high set tail.
  • The coat of the Silky can be any shade of blue and tan while the coat of the Yorkie is specifically defined in the breed standard as dark steel blue (not silver blue) with shaded rich golden tan.
  • Whereby the length of coat on both breeds state it should not be so long as to impede movement, the Silky is more specific in saying it should allow daylight to be seen under the dog. So it is generally accepted that the Yorkie has a longer coat than the Silky.

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