Linda Simon
Dr Linda Simon (MVB MRCVS, University College Dublin)
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An adaptable little dog that thrives when in the company of its family, the Poolky is a crossbreed of the Poodle and the Australian Silky Terrier. Small but well-built with a solid body, this dog may be little but is certainly not delicate. With their deep brown eyes, floppy ears and cute, wavy coat it is no wonder that this hybrid is quickly growing in popularity.

Well-suited to living an urban lifestyle, the Poolky is happy to inhabit a small space and does not need a garden as long as they have a few walks outdoors each day. While they love to play, short bursts of activity are more their style and they will happily curl up on your lap after a 20-minute game of fetch.

About & History

While the Poodle is a frequent contributor to designer dogs, the Australian Silky Terrier is not used as often. It is thought that this mixed breed was first created in America, sometime in the early 21st century.

Though any size Poodle can be bred, the Miniature and Toy poodle are used far more often than the Standard Poodle in order to create a smaller hybrid. Though Poolky is the term used by the Designer Breed Registry, some will refer to this dog as the Silky Poo. While the Poolky has not been around long enough for us to discuss their history, their parents certainly have a tale or two to tell.

The Poodle

The Poodle is much-loved within the designer dog community thanks to their hypoallergenic coat, good disposition and intelligence. They became popular within France during the 1700s, though it is likely they are originally a German dog. They have always had a love of the water and were originally employed to retrieve water fowl. The smallest version, however – the toy Poodle – was only ever really used as a lap dog.

The Australian Silky Terrier

The Australian Silky Terrier is a product of the English Yorkshire Terrier and a mixture of Australian Terriers that was created within Australia in the late 1800s. Mainly used for hunting vermin, though small and long-haired, this breed was traditionally a working dog. This breed has always been appreciated for its hardy nature and tenacious attitude.


The Poolky, or Silky Poo, is a dog with quite a varied appearance, particularly given the fact that its parent can be a Poodle of any size. They have a small skull with almond-shaped brown eyes and a petite black nose. Their expression is sweet and trusting. Their muzzle is square and in proportion to their face. Their short ears hang down in triangular flaps. Their neck is short and leads to a sturdy, lithe body. Breed members will typically weigh between 3.5kg and 10kg and will measure from 23cm to 38cm at the withers when fully grown.

Most Poolky dogs have lost the long and silky coat of their Australian Silky Terrier parent, having instead a short to medium length wavy coat, which is certainly less maintenance – though can look somewhat unkempt at times. Their coat colour is variable and may be a solid colour, such as black, white or brown, though many will have white or brown patches, as well.

Character & Temperament

A wonderful family pet and a dog that loves to be fussed over and be in on the action, the Poolky will fit right in with most families. They enjoy spending time with children and are gentle and patient when in their presence. While their loving nature and desire to be around people is certainly a bonus, they can become over-reliant on the company of their owners and tend to dislike being left alone for too long. In some individuals, separation anxiety can develop into a real issue.

As the Poolky is a little dog, they can be kept in small homes and flats and do not necessarily need garden access as long as they receive sufficient exercise. However, owners should not expect a dog that will simply lounge around all day as this breed is playful and energetic despite its small size.

As both parent breeds have hunting in their history, it is no surprise that the Poolky can have a well-developed prey drive. It’s important that owners are aware of this and do not try to home the dog with smaller pets such as gerbils or rats. With thorough socialisation it is possible for the Poolky to co-exist with other dogs, as well as cats.

The inherently friendly nature of the Poolky makes them a poor guard dog, however, they make wonderful watch dogs as they are constantly alert and will yap incessantly when a new person arrives to the home.


A delightful dog to train, the Poolky loves to please their master and is smart enough to learn a large number of commands in little time. They do not need much repetition and benefit most from training sessions that are varied and do not last more than 15 to 20 minutes.

Owners should be cautious to not treat these small dogs as babies as it could cause something known as ‘small dog syndrome’. Small dogs that are constantly babied, picked up and mollycoddled can become frustrated and spoiled. These dogs may be over-protective of their master, yapping at anyone who tries to approach them and even becoming snappy in some cases. Dogs with this syndrome do not listen to commands and become overtly stubborn. Regular play and training sessions, whilst maintaining a firm approach, can prevent this condition from ever becoming an issue.


As with any dog, there are certain conditions that we see more in the Poolky than in other breeds. Knowing what to look out for can give owners a real advantage. The following health issues should be monitored for within the Silky Poo population:

Mitral Valve Disease

A heart disease affecting the mitral (or bicuspid) valve that separates the left atrium and ventricle. The valve does not work efficiently and allows blood to leak back into the left atrium inappropriately, causing it to enlarge. A leaky valve will often present as a murmur that gets louder as a dog ages.

Chest X-rays, heart ultrasounds, ECGs and specific blood tests can all assist in the diagnosis of Mitral Valve Disease. While this is an inevitably progressive condition, medications can help to slow down disease progression.


Diabetes in dogs tends to be genetic rather than dietary related. The pancreas is unable to produce suitable amounts of insulin, leading to blood sugar concentrations that are inappropriately high. For some, this is secondary to chronic pancreatitis. Affected dogs will drink excessively, urinate more than usual, lose weight and have a ravenous appetite.

Uncontrolled diabetes can eventually lead to cataracts, chronic urinary infections, kidney failure and even death. Most dogs respond very well to daily insulin administration and will require life-long monitoring to ensure their condition remains stable.


An inflamed pancreas will cause a dog a huge amount of pain and can even be life-threatening. Pancreatitis results in lethargy, fever, a crouched position when standing, lack of appetite and vomiting. For some dogs, it is caused by a fatty diet, while for others, it may be secondary to medication they are receiving.

For a number of unlucky canines, they seem to be genetically predisposed and can develop bouts of pancreatitis for no specific reason. The most unwell patients will be managed within the veterinary hospital on a drip for several days. They will need anti-nausea medicines and strong pain relief. Changing to a low-fat food is often recommended to avoid recurrences.

Addison’s Disease

Addison’s Disease is relatively uncommon in canines, but certainly something that Poolky owners should be aware of. Known as ‘The Great Pretender’ it can take some time to reach the diagnosis of Addison’s, as it mimics a large number of other conditions and is not particularly easy to diagnose.

Addison’s is a result of the adrenal glands not being able to produce glucocorticoids and mineralocorticoids as they should. Symptoms include inability to deal with stress, lethargy and chronic gastrointestinal upsets. Medications are used to control Addison’s and are given life-long. Once their disease is under control, diagnosed dogs can go on to live normal lives.

Patellar Luxation

Saying a dog has a ‘luxating patella’ is another way of saying that they have a kneecap that pops in and out of place. For some, this is a rare occurrence and they are not bothered by it. For others, their kneecap may luxate constantly or may even stay out of place permanently.

For those with high grade patellar luxations, it is recommended that they have a surgery to correct the defect. Any dog with patellar luxation should maintain a lean body condition and would benefit from joint supplements and a tailored exercise programme.

Legg Calvé Perthes Disease

A condition that causes irreversible bone disintegration, Legg Calvé Perthes is thought to be secondary to poor blood supply to the hip joint. The first signs are a lameness of the hind limbs and local muscle atrophy.

X-rays can be carried out under heavy sedation or anaesthesia to diagnose the problem. While some cases may be managed conservatively, a surgery to remove the affected bone is typically advised.

Exercise and Activity Levels

While the Poolky loves to run and play just as much as the next dog, they do not have excessive exercise requirements and would be content with a few short walks a day to stretch their legs and get some fresh air. They need plenty of mental stimulation to prevent boredom and love to participate in interesting activities, such as agility or obedience training. Similarly, they will never say no to a new doggy puzzle or interactive toy to keep their mind ticking over.

If owners do not meet either the physical or the mental needs of this breed, it is not unheard of for them to develop some problematic behaviours. Incessant yapping, furniture chewing and digging may arise in the face of boredom.


Not every Silky Poo will be a hypoallergenic dog that does not shed like their Poodle parent, though most will shed only minimally. Fur should be trimmed every few months to keep it neat and the dog should be brushed every few days.

Pendulous ears should be checked regularly to ensure there is no sign of an early infection and dogs prone to waxy build-ups should have their ears cleaned every couple of weeks with a dog ear cleaner.

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