Yorkshire Terrier vs Silky Terrier: What’s the Difference?

You could tell a Yorkshire Terrier and a Silky Terrier apart if they were standing side by side; however, the similarities far outweigh the few visual differences between these not-too-distant breeds. While both of them were originally used for hunting rats, their histories diverged long ago, resulting in two similar-looking but very different breeds.

Yorkies are commonly used in the show ring, and they’ve been a favorite pet of the elite for many centuries. Silky Terriers have led a simpler life, continuing to be used for ratting up until the present day. They both have long, flowing coats that are closer to human hair than dog fur, and they’re both under 10 pounds and 10 inches.

So, what are the real differences between these dogs? From grooming to exercise needs, to their personalities, more separates these breeds than you might expect.

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Visual Differences

Yorkie vs Silky Terrier
Image credit: Pixabay

A Quick Overview

Yorkshire Terrier
  • Average height (adult): 8 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 6 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Exercise: 15-30 minutes
  • Grooming needs: Excessive
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: If socialized
  • Trainability: Moderate
Silky Terrier
  • Average height (adult): 10 inches
  • Average weight (adult): 10 pounds
  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Exercise: 30-40 minutes
  • Grooming needs: Moderate
  • Family-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: With larger dogs
  • Trainability: High

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Yorkshire Terrier Overview

Yorkshire Terrier
Image Credit: shymar27, Shutterstock

Yorkshire Terriers, more commonly called Yorkies, are the most popular toy breed in America. According to the AKC, they’re the 10th most popular breed overall, with long, flowing coats and adorable faces that endear many to them.

These dogs are high-maintenance aristocrats. They’ve been the favored pets of royalty and the wealthy since back in Victorian times. But before that, they led very different lives as rat hunters in mills and mines.

Yorkies are tiny; under 8 pounds and 8 inches in height. They’ve got long and luxurious coats that need ample attention. Those same coats also help guide this breed to many wins in the show ring, which only helps to further their popularity.

Personality

Yorkies are the quintessential big dog trapped in a little dog’s body. Their personalities outsize their bodies, and this can often get them into trouble. They’ll chase a dog they don’t know with little regard for the size difference between them.

But these are also loving dogs that make incredible companions. They’re very affectionate and need a lot of attention. Yorkies don’t like to be left alone for long, preferring to accompany their people everywhere.

These are also extremely playful animals. They love to mess around and will likely keep you laughing with their hilarious antics. But they can also be pretty yappy. Overall, they’re great apartment pets, though the neighbors might not appreciate the constant barking at every little sound your dog hears.

Yorkshire Terrier
Image Credit: Mr. SUTTIPON YAKHAM, Shutterstock

Training

This breed is known for being difficult to house train. As such, it’s recommended that you crate train Yorkies instead. But when it comes to learning commands or tricks, Yorkies are quite capable. You’ll need to use a lot of positive reinforcement and a firm hand. These dogs won’t respond well to yelling or anger.

Health and Care

Yorkshire Terriers are considered to be healthy dogs overall, especially for their size. That said, all dogs are susceptible to some illnesses, and as a pure breed, Yorkies have their share of health concerns that you should watch out for, including:

  • Reverse sneezing
  • Eye infections
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Collapsed trachea
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Portosystemic shunt
  • Patellar luxation

Aside from health issues, a lot goes into caring for a Yorkshire Terrier. These dogs need ample grooming and maintenance. Those long, luscious coats are closer to human hair than regular dog hair. It’s going to require substantial upkeep to prevent their coat from matting, tangling, and becoming a complete mess.

Grooming

You’ll need to brush your Yorkie every day to keep their coat in good condition. You’ll also need to trim it regularly, so it doesn’t get too long. Yorkies also need weekly bathing, so you’ll have to factor that in as well.

Exercise

Regarding exercise, Yorkshire Terriers don’t need much. They’ll still need a couple of short walks each day, but 15-30 minutes of daily exercise is all it takes to keep this breed in good health.

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Silky Terrier Overview

Australian Silky Terrier mixed dog breed
Image: Zack, Flickr, CC 2.0

Named for their long, silky, flowing coats, the Silky Terrier is a tiny toy dog very similar in appearance to the Yorkshire Terrier. Silkies tend to have longer faces and bigger, pointier ears that help differentiate them from Yorkies. At about 10 inches tall and 10 pounds, Silky Terriers are a little bit bigger than Yorkies, though the difference is minimal.

While Yorkies are some of the most popular pets in America, Silky Terriers don’t share the same popularity. They’re ranked 112 on the AKC’s most popular list, even though they have some traits that would make them more desirable than Yorkies to certain owners.

Personality

While Yorkies often act like the hoity-toity pups you might expect, Silkies have very different temperaments. These Terriers act more like you might expect a ratting dog to act. They have plenty of energy and tend to act much larger than they are, displaying many typical Terrier traits.

These dogs love to dig, chase, and romp around. They have much higher energy levels than Yorkies and need a lot more exercise because of it. Similar to Yorkies, they often try to pick fights with dogs much larger than they are.

Your Silky will need a lot of attention. They tend to get mischievous when they don’t get enough attention and stimulation. Also, like other Terriers, Silkies bark quite often, though they’re not yappy like Yorkies.

These dogs are generally pretty friendly, but they can become territorial without proper socialization. Likewise, they may act aggressively towards other dogs, particularly smaller ones since they do have a naturally strong prey drive. But proper socialization can greatly mitigate these issues.

Australian Silky Terrier
Image credit: Radomir Rezny, Shutterstock

Training

Silky Terriers tend to be a bit easier to train than Yorkies. They aren’t quite as stubborn and they like to please their owners. They’re incredibly loyal dogs and highly intelligent, so they can understand what you’re asking and have a desire to do what you request.

Still, you’ll need a firm hand to properly train a Silky. You’ll also need to use plenty of positive reinforcement. Like Yorkies, Silkies don’t respond well to anger or aggression.

Because they like to bark, you’ll probably want to teach your Silky the quiet command. This will help make them much better suited for apartment living, especially since they’re a good fit for small living spaces as it is.

Health and Care

Silky Terriers are a pretty healthy breed. They’ve spent generations chasing down and hunting rats, after all. But that doesn’t mean they’re not prone to any illnesses. They do tend to be healthier than Yorkies and aren’t susceptible to quite as many diseases. However, you should still keep an eye out for:

  • Collapsed trachea
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Epilepsy
  • Patellar luxation
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes disease

Exercise

Silky Terriers need a lot more exercise than Yorkies. These dogs require at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. But you don’t want to leave them outside alone for long since they’re small enough to be considered prey by a great number of animals. They’re also very curious dogs that are likely to try and escape; a bad combination if you want to keep your Silky! But if you like to go on hikes and walks often, then a Silky is a great dog to accompany you.

Grooming

Though the Silky’s coat is pretty similar to the coat on a Yorkie, caring for it is a bit different. These dogs don’t need nearly as much grooming as a Yorkie. Instead, you can get away with only brushing their coat two or three times weekly. For bathing, you’ll want to limit it to once per month. You will want to ensure you get your Silky’s coat trimmed regularly though to prevent it from becoming unruly.

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Which Breed is the Best Fit for You?

While these dogs are very similar in appearance, there’s a lot that separates them. So, which one is a better fit for you?

If you’re looking for a dog with minimal exercise needs but loads of grooming maintenance, then the Yorkie is a great fit. They have big personalities and loads of love to give, but they’re not the most active dogs. Your Yorkie will spend most of its time inside, and they’re not going to want to come along on hikes and other long outings, though they also don’t want to be away from you for long.

If you’re an active person looking for a compact companion to accompany you on your excursions, then the Silky is a great choice. These dogs need far more exercise than Yorkies and they’re happy to come along on hikes and walks that would be too much for a Yorkie to handle.