Kerry Blue Terrier Breed Guide

Kerry Blue Terriers are medium-sized dogs with soft, wavy coats that range in color from deep slate blue to light blue gray. The breed is born all black, but these dogs possess a gene that causes their coat color to fade. By the age of 18 months, Kerry Blue Terriers have their adult color. These dogs have small dark eyes, V-shaped ears, and large, wide, black nostrils. Ideally, the breed measures 18.5 inches tall at the shoulder and weighs 33 to 40 pounds, with female Kerry Blues measuring slightly smaller.

These dogs respond well when required to work for praise, food, or play rewards. Training must be kind, consistent, and firm. Additionally, too much repetition will quickly bore this breed and reduce the effectiveness of training exercises.

Affectionate, fun loving, and energetic, the Kerry Blue Terrier makes a great family pet and loves being part of a big family. The breed does possess a true terrier personality, though, which means any family who brings one of these dogs into their home needs a lot of patience and time to devote to play and leash walks. While these dogs get along well with children, they may be unaccepting of cats and other small animals.

The Kerry Blue's coat is considered hypoallergenic, but no dog is truly hypoallergenic. This is because dog dander and saliva are responsible for allergic reactions, not dog hair.

The Kerry Blue Terrier is a versatile dog, able to herd, hunt, guard, or simply serve as a loyal companion animal. The breed is smart and independent, and these dogs require plenty of physical activity to remain mentally and physically healthy. Kerry Blues enjoy running, hunting, and exploring outdoors, and they also like chasing and digging, when allowed. A long, daily walk on a leash combined with an occasional vigorous play session should be sufficient to satisfy the needs of these dogs.

These dogs are protective and will alert their owners to strangers or other perceived dangers, but they are friendly with familiar people and greet friends with great enthusiasm. The breed is devoted to its human family and does not like to be left alone for long periods. Kerry Blue Terriers should definitely live inside the house and not in a yard.

Although these dogs are adaptable and do well almost anywhere, they are ideally suited to homes with enclosed yards. They need a high, secure fence; an electronic fence will not contain this breed. Make sure the breed has plenty of shade and water during the summer and a warm place to hang out during the winter.

Kerry Blue Terriers are known to suffer from a variety of health problems that reduce quality or length of life. Progressive neuronal abiotrophy, cerebellar abiotrophy, hair follicle tumors, degenerative myelopathy, and blood clotting disorders, such as von Willebrand's disease and Factor XI deficiency, are some of the more serious disorders known to affect this breed. Spiculosis, congenital hip dysplasia, and patellar luxation are other risks.

These dogs are also prone to a number of eye diseases that range in severity, from minor to blinding. Cataracts, entropion, retinal folds, narrow palpebral fissure distichiasis, and keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye) are all more common in this breed than in some other dogs. Routine veterinary visits should include full eye examinations starting early in life.

With regular exercise, a well-balanced diet, routine veterinary care, and timely vaccinations, Kerry Blue Terriers can live a full life of 12 to 15 years.

Kerry Blue Terriers are independent, clever, and stubborn, but this does not mean they are not trainable. These intelligent dogs are independent thinkers, like most working dogs, but they can be trained under the right circumstances. Training that begins early in life and involves positive reinforcement techniques usually bring the most success. These dogs respond well when required to work for praise, food, or play rewards. Training must be kind, consistent, and firm. Additionally, too much repetition will quickly bore this breed and reduce the effectiveness of training exercises.

Early socialization is a very important part of caring for this breed. Kerry Blue Terriers need frequent exposure to different sights, sounds, smells, and people to avoid becoming overly suspicious. Ideally, socialization should begin very early and continue throughout life. Puppy kindergarten, walks around town, and trips to the dog park are all beneficial.

Kerry Blue Terriers have a very strong prey drive that does not always fully respond to training. These dogs will chase small furry animals if given the opportunity, but they may be able to tolerate cats and other small animals if they are brought up together. Without extensive training, Kerry Blues tend to be aggressive toward other dogs.

Kerry Blue Terriers are high-maintenance but fairly easy to groom. They need combing or brushing every few days and regular trimmings, but their coat is not prone to excessive matting or tangling. When mats and tangles do occur, they can be removed with gentle brushing. The coat requires scissoring and shaping about once each month, but that is best left to experienced groomers. Shedding is minimal.

Kerry Blues are not known for their neatness. Their beard drips water after drinking and their faces needing cleaning after every meal. Plus, the breed's coat somehow manages to pick up every stick and leaf outside. Removing these objects is essential to prevent matting. Bathing should only be done when needed.

The nails need trimming every couple of weeks, and the teeth require daily brushing to protect against cavities and gum disease. About once weekly, the ears should be cleaned with an otic cleanser and checked for signs of infection, such as redness, pain, discharge, or odor. Any excess earwax can be removed with a veterinarian-approved product.

Kerry Blue Terriers were originally bred in their native Ireland to hunt and retrieve. They hailed from County Kerry, Ireland, and were prized as all-around working terriers, skilled at herding cattle and sheep as well as excellent hunters of small game and birds. These dogs have been around for more than a hundred years.

Some believe the Kerry Blue Terrier was created by the peasantry of Ireland to compete with the noble's Irish Wolfhounds. The Kerry Blue could silently hunt the noble's hunting grounds at night, helping the peasantry.

Today, the breed can be found in the show, agility, herding, obedience, and earthdog rings. Due to their unique appearance and fun-loving personalities, Kerry Blue Terriers are primarily kept as family companions in the United States and other countries.

The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Kerry Blue Terrier in 1922.