If you can't tell the difference easily between a Yorkshire and a silky terrier, don't fret. Even experienced breeders might have to take a good look at a particular dog before coming to a conclusion. Since the number of Yorkies far exceeds the number of silkies, bet on the Yorkie.
Silkies are larger than Yorkies, with a mature height ranging between 9 and10 inches at the shoulder. Their heads and muzzles are larger, and backs longer. Yorkies are slightly smaller, but the real difference is in weight. The proper weight for a well-developed Yorkie is seven pounds. The silky ranges between eight and 12 pounds at maturity. So, if you're a gambler,the bigger dog probably is the silkie, unless it's an overweight Yorkie.
The silky's coat is, well, silky. The hair on the head grows especially profusely, with a part running from the top of the head all the way down the back to the tail. While the tail also is silky, it doesn't have a plume. The Yorkie's hair also is silky, but does not include any waviness. In the show ring, his coat is far longer than the silky. Odds are about even on this one.
The bi-colored silky coat is blue and tan. The Yorkie coat also is blue and tan, but the blue and tan in the silky ranges from a silvery blue to a slate blue, according to AKC standards. The Yorkie blue is the color of dark steel, not silvery. The deep tan of the silky appears on the face, ear base, feet and legs, and the anal area. The tan areas of the Yorkie are similar, but the color is not. Yorkie tan hairs are darker at the root, becoming progressively lighter up the hair shaft and light tan at the hair tip. Make sure the owner lets you inspect the hair closely before placing your bet.
Silkies and Yorkies are cousins. The Yorkie developed as a working dog in the north of England, bred to kill rats. As small as they are, that terrier instinct still is there -- brave, feisty and energetic. The silky terrier hails from Down Under, when Yorkies were brought to Australia in the late 19th century and crossed with the Australian terrier. The Aussie terriers have a rougher coat than the Yorkies, and the silkie owes its additional size to these ancestors. The silky's origins were more companion than working dog. Since it's unlikely you'll find a Yorkie or silkie who actually works for a living, these are tough odds.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.