Many different theories have been given over
the years regarding the origin of the Australian Silky Terrier.
The true origin is clouded because little, if any true records exist
from the late 19th century when the silky first appeared.
In the early colonial days, travel to Australia
from England took many months. Space on the ships was restricted,
as was the amount of food that could be carried. So except for a
few working dogs, most carried breeds on the ships were short-legged
Terriers. Such as the Sandy Rough Coated Scotch Terrier, Paisley
Terrier, Sky Terrier, Clydesdale Terrier and Waterside Terrier.
These were interbred over the years to produce a Broken-Coated Terrier.
From this stage there are several theories
regarding the production of the Silky Terrier. One theory is that
in the early 1800's Broken- Coated dogs with blue body colour and
tan markings were developed in Tasmania. They were excellent watchdogs,
alert and with an instinctive reaction to bark at any approaching
strangers. Between 1820-1830 some Broken-Coated Terriers were exported
to England. These were mated with the Dandy Dinmont Terrier. Some
of these offspring were imported back to Australia by
Mr. McArthur Little. The result can be seen in the soft silver topknot
of the Australian Silky Terrier. Several had developed a softer
coat and were referred to as the Soft Silky Coated Terrier. In following
years, two separate strains of Terriers were developed, one the
Australian terrier and the other Soft Coated Terrier although similar
In the early 1900's fanciers of these Soft
Coated Terriers preferred a longer and even softer and smoother
coat to enhance the dogs attractiveness and draw it away from the
rugged Terrier appearance. This is where the Yorkshire Terrier was
introduced to the Soft Coated Australian Type Terrier to produce
the Australian Silky Terrier.
The second Theory still follows the thought
that the Australian Terrier originated from the cross breeding of
the Broken Coated Terrier and the Dandy Dinmont Terrier. This resulted
in the early Australian Terriers having a silky soft silver topknot.
Years later the Australian Terrier Breeders cross bred larger Yorkshire
Terriers with the Australian Terrier to improve the blue and tan
colouring which was lacking. The results of these matings introduced
a new breed, the Australian Silky Terrier. The cross breeding between
the three breeds continued for many years until prohibited.
In 1904 a Silky Terrier and Yorkshire Club
was formed in Melbourne, where a breed standard was written for
both breeds. Sydney followed with their own Silky and standard two
In 1932 the Kennel Control Council of Victoria
prohibited cross breeding between the Silky, Australian and the
Yorkshire Terrier to protect Breed identity as small Silky Terriers
were becoming difficult to separate from large Yorkshire Terriers.
On 30 th March 1959 the Australian National
Kennel Council approved and adopted a standard for the breed and
changed the name to the Australian Silky Terrier. During the drafting
of the national standard, the Silkies were weighed measured in height
and size; colour was defined as blue and tan or grey blue and tan
and body conformation was defined.
The standard was later amended in the 1970's to include fawn topknots
acceptable. Several other theories exist, but we believe that parts
of both stories are non-fiction and combine to represent the true
origin of the AUSTRALIAN SILKY TERRIER. Who Knows?