Yorkshire terriers and silky terriers are close genetic cousins; you could almost say that they're identical cousins, except that the Australian silky is slightly larger than his English cousin. Both breeds share a long coat of fine hair that needs regular grooming and maintenance.
Basic Grooming Needs
Yorkies and silky terriers both need to be brushed and combed regularly to keep their coats tangle-free. Start by dampening the hair with a detangling spray. Using a pin brush, gently brush the hair starting at the ends and working toward the base, lifting the hair up and away from the body. Pay special attention to the area around her butt, wash or trim away any "accidents" that might have gotten snagged her hair there. Once the entire body is free of tangles, use a dog comb to smooth the hair and promote drying. Finish by securing the dog's hair on top of her head in a top knot with a bow, or part it and secure it with bows at the ears.
Bathe your silky or Yorkie weekly. Begin by removing any bows, collars or clothing she might be wearing and combing any tangles out of her coat. Place cotton balls in her ears to protect her ear canals from water. Wet her coat thoroughly and apply shampoo. Avoid scrunching or scrubbing as you work the shampoo through the hair. If you have a spray nozzle, aim it downward as you rinse your dog, working in the direction of her coat. Otherwise, use a plastic cup to pour water down her back until she is thoroughly rinsed. Make sure no shampoo is left in her coat, which can dry out her skin and increase matting. Gently pat her dry with a clean towel and follow the instructions above for brushing.
Brush your dog's teeth once a week to reduce tartar buildup and help freshen her breath. Use an infant or toddler toothbrush that's both soft and small enough to fit in her tiny mouth, along with toothpaste that's made specifically for pets. Never use fluoridated human toothpaste on your dog. If necessary, you can use a soft rag or your finger in place of a toothbrush. Gently rub the toothpaste on your dog's teeth to loosen plaque and tarter. Don't worry about rinsing -- pet toothpaste is made to be swallowed.
Nails should be trimmed and filed every two weeks or so, preferably after a bath when the nails are soft from soaking in water. These little dogs are not generally fans of getting their nails cut, so you may need a partner to hold your dog while you do the trimming. If help isn't available, you may find it easier to sit on the floor while holding her in your lap. Use small nail clippers, preferably a set designed specifically for toy dog breeds, and trim her nails up to the quick (that's the pink part). With darker nails, the quick can be hard to see, so trim gradually, working your way up as close as you can to the quick without cutting into it. If you accidentally cut the quick, use styptic powder or flour to stop the bleeding. Use a nail file to smooth rough edges.
Yorkie and silky coats don't stop growing, which means that, like humans, they need regular haircuts. You can either give your dog a puppy cut, leaving the hair just an inch or two long all over her body, or leave it long. If you decide to leave the hair long, keep the ears trimmed inside and outside, and trim away excess hair where the ear meets the head. On the face, trim her whiskers and the hair between her eyes. Use thinning shears to trim excessive hair at the elbows, feet and tail, leaving the hair on the tail about the width of your finger. The hair around the toes should be kept short like a cat's paw. Use the shears to trim the body coat a little at a time to a length that will keep her from tripping over her own fur.
- You can make your own detangling spray by mixing equal parts conditioner and water.
- If your dog's coat is more soft and fluffy than smooth and silky, it will be more prone to matting. A shorter puppy cut will help control tangles and cut down on brushing frequency.
- If you're new to cutting your dog's hair, it might be helpful to spring for a professional groomer to handle the first haircut to give you a guide as to how it should look.
- Look for a pin brush without balls on the end, which can cause breakage and make brushing a painful experience for the dog.
- If your dog refuses to submit to nail trimming by either becoming aggressive or squirming so much that you fear injuring her, it might be necessary to let either a veterinarian or a professional dog groomer deal with her nails.
Jean Marie Bauhaus has been writing about a wide range of topics since 2000. Her articles have appeared on a number of popular websites, and she is also the author of two urban fantasy novels. She has a Bachelor of Science in social science from Rogers State University.