by Carolwyn Beckett B.Ed(sec)
The Australian Silky Terrier as a breed originated as a result of early matings between the Australian Terrier and the Yorkshire Terrier.  Early breeders continually selected for those criteria that produced a unique Toy Terrier which still retained the ability to hunt rodents.  The harsh coat of the Australian Terrier was replaced by a soft non shedding coat, and a dog was produced that was more robust and practical than the Yorkshire Terrier for Australian conditions.
In todays Silkies we often see dogs and lines that strongly throw back to one of these ancestors.  To award dogs that pocess either Aussie or Yorkie traits is to ignore true Silky Breed Type.  The Silky is a distict breed and must present as such. 
The eye shape and size are a property that must again be of Silky Type.  Whilst the standard refers to the eye as full, it must not be as large or prominent as that of a Yorkie.  Niether should it be oval in shape as this would give a distinctly Aussie expression.  The eye set should not be as wide as the Yorkie but should still show fair distance or the impression of the head may tend towards looking snipey.  In keeping with the function for which it was bred, The Silky should show good strength of underjaw and soundness in dentition akin with the Aussie. 
The ears on a Silky must be high set.  Wide ear sets and rounded skulls suggest Yorkie Type.  The skull must be broad enough to suggest ample room for brain capacity but not so broad as to give the impression that the head is short and unbalanced.  The length of head ina Silky must be somewhere between the shortness of foreface in a Yorkie and the more elongated head of an Aussie.
When judging the body of the Silky we are looking for a "low set" dog.  He should be more in line with the proportions of an Aussie, rather than the squareness /compactness of the Yorkie.  Silkies should not show excessive leggines, something that is creeping into the breed today as breeders try and produce a dog with ever increasing size.  The attitude that," small dogs can't be seen in the group line up" is in direct conflict with the  purpose of breeding of a toy dog.  Niether should a silky be too long. 
Excessive length in the back will only lead to a weekness in top lines
and unecessary strain on the spine and joints.
The tail set of a Silky should be high.  This little dog must posses presence when he struts around the ring!  a low tail set caused by excessive length in the croup region, detracts from this impression.
The coat of a Silky must obviously be soft, and yet it amasing to find the number of dogs which  posess an incorrect harsh coat, or a coat where the hairs are not of a very fine texture.  Wooly or harsh coats are a distict fault and must be severly penalised.  Beware of coats that have been artificially conditioned. 
Perhaps the most obvious and wide spread problem facing the Silky as a breed today is coat colour.  Too often we see dogs that are sorely lacking in pigmentation.  Silver and Fawn coats are in direct contradiction with the breed standard which clearly states, body, "Blue and Tan or Grey - Blue and Tan, the richer the colour the better".  The only area where fawn or silver is permitted is on the top knot. 
Many dogs are also lacking richness in their tan. 
In some exhibits Tan is virtually non existant and the dog appears whole-coloured.
With the exception of coat length, the Silky is one of only a few of the Terrier and Toy breeds that exhibit no exaggerations.  As such we should be better able to adhere to soundness of structure and yet we find that many dogs posses severe basic structural defects.  The incidence of cow hocks, roachy/dippy toplines, east-west fronts,
looseness of elbows and lack of required angulation are high. 
These problems must be recognized and eleminated. 
Unfortunately the trend seems to be "Coat in preference to Soundness." 
The silky is a lively, spirited , charming breed, please let us try and keep it as such.