Ethics of Breeding Silkback (“Silkie”) Bearded Dragons

Silkback (or “silkie”) bearded dragons have always rubbed me the wrong way. Mostly because they look like someone crossed a bearded dragon with a naked mole rat and the offspring…well..let’s be honest, nothing good can come of that pairing. Thus the silkback beardie.

But that’s just my opinion. Lots of people love their silkies — there’s one on Instagram named Smeagol (perfect name, right?). Silkback bearded dragons are some of the most expensive beardies out there, as something of a “luxury” type. And for good reason: because silkies’ scales are so tiny, their colors and patterns are unbelievable.

silkback bearded dragons

red Italian silkback bearded dragons

from Dachiu Bearded Dragons

Unfortunately, the pretty hide comes at a price: their health. Silkback bearded dragons suffer increased risk of illness, shorter lifespan, and difficulty shedding. If you think peeling after a sunburn is bad, think about what it would be like to do that on a regular basis — all over your body.

Since silkies have virtually no scales for protection, they’re more likely to lose limbs as babies — walk in to a pet store to see what I mean.

Furthermore, female silkbacks used as breeders sustain serious injuries during the mating process.

I’ll let you make the decision whether or not to buy silkies, thus supporting the trade. But you should read this article first:

Silkback Bearded Dragons – And Why They Should Be Banned






  1. I’m sorry to hear about Charmander! Silkback bearded dragons are heavily inbred and I wouldn’t be surprised if a majority of his Previous issues stem from bad genetics. That being said, there are certainly ways to improve his quality of life and hopefully get him eating again. To establish a baseline, can you tell me about his setup (in detail), recent medications (if any), any supplements, and he generally eats over the course of a week?

  2. I’m prefacing this with the fact that I don’t like silkbacks as a morph and I don’t think they should be bred. I know a lot of people have knee jerk reactions to them and having had one a few years now I completely agree. Charmander was given to me by a friend who picked him up at an expo because he looked cool and the breeder told he he was just like any other beardie. Not true. He’s has multiple respiratory infections, terrible shed issues leading to missing toes and the tip of his tail. He’s about 9 now and he’s stopped eating. No worms, veggies, nothing. I suspect he’s also going blind. I’m on the fence about stressing him out yet again with a vet visit and antibiotics (which have been IM injections in the past) especially if this is just him getting old for his morph. I know standard dragons can go much longer but this poor guy has been through the ringer from day one. I’m looking for advice.

  3. Actually silkbacks have no scales whatsoever. A study has been recently done that looked for the gene that causes the defect, and they found it is the same gene which is linked with hair, gland and tooth abnormalities in mammals. When it is heterozygous in a dragon, the dragon is leatherback, and still has scales, but smaller ones. When it is homozygous, then it is a true scale-less silkback.