Kerry Blue Terrier

Type: Terrier

Height: Females: 17.5 - 19 inches; Males: 18 - 19.5 inches.

Weight: 33 - 40 lbs.

Life Span: 12 - 15 years.

Litter Size: 4 - 8 puppies.

Country of Origin: Ireland

Activity: High

Watch-dog: Very High. Kerry Blue Terriers are very alert to their surroundings.

Guard-dog: High. Being a Terrier, they are protective of their family and their items, and will not back down from a fight.

Description: The Kerry Blue Terrier is gentle, lovable and intelligent. They are an all-around working and utility terrier. They are successful in herding sheep and cattle. They also excel in guarding, trailing, police work and just being playful. Kerry Blues, like their name, are a rich bluish gray color, but they don't start out that way. Kerry Blue Terriers carry what is known as the "fading gene", apparent in some breeds such as the Briard. As puppies they are born with black fur, their coats begin to change sometime between nine and twenty-four months to red, brown or gray and then to Kerry blue. They have rich, long hair on their face and a curly, gray coat. Their paws sometimes look like stumps because of the profuse curly fur going all the way down to their paws. Their beard is long and often the fur on the face covers their eyes. Outgoing, plucky and friendly towards their family, they are known to give big slurpy kisses.

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Other Names: Irish Blue Terrier

Colors: Any shade of blue, with or without black points. A small white patch on the chest should not be penalized. Puppies are born black, and within 18 months receive the grayish blue coloring, as well as sometimes red and brown before they turn gray.

Coat: Soft, dense, profuse, spiky, plentiful and wavy. Coat is curly, but without ringlets or individual curl.

Temperament: Kerry Blue Terriers are determined, friendly, and enthusiastic. They can be stubborn and like to challenge authority, but are trainable and extremely efficient at their job. They are courageous, spirited, and alert. They make excellent watchdogs and guard dogs. They are aggressive with other dogs, and are not the best breed for being around other pets, but can be trained to do so. They love the companionship of their humans. Kerry Blues are good with children.

With Children: Yes, patient and protective of children.

With Pets: May not be advisable to keep with other males as the Kerry Blue Terrier will not back down from a fight. Socialize to cats at a young age to prevent their prey drive from taking over.

Special Skills: Watchdog, guard dog, herding dog and family pet.

Care and Training: Kerry Blue Terriers need regular brushing or combing with a steel comb or a slicker brush. Bathe monthly. If shown in dog shows, they need regular clipping and trimming with scissors and a trimmer. Kerry Blue Terriers do not shed, nor do they have a body odor. Check ears, eyes, teeth and nails frequently for built up dirt. Nails should also be clipped regularly. Daily exercise is essential, which should consist of long walks on a leash and/or games off-leash, but never around other dogs or other animals such as cats. Obedience training is necessary for the Kerry Blue Terrier as they are an active, self-confident and stubborn dog. Training should be combined with patience and firmness. They often like to challenge authority.

Learning Rate: High. Obedience - Low. Problem Solving - High. Intelligent as they are, they do have a mind of their own.

Special Needs: Exercise, fenced yard, leash, firm training, grooming and socialization.

Living Environment: A house with a yard is preferable but is not essential if they can receive enough exercise. Owners should recognize that the Kerry Blue also needs a fence, as it will chase other animals. The best owner for this breed would be a dog-experienced active owner living in a suburban or rural environment with a fenced yard.

Health Issues: Kerry Blues are unfortunately prone to several genetic disorders. Of these are cerebellar abiotrophy, cataracts, blood disorders, hair-follicle tumors, and tear deficiency. Other health concerns include spiculosis (disorder of the hair), entropion, hip dysplasia and dry eyes (keratoconjunctivitis sicca).

History: Kerry Blue Terriers were developed in the 1700s by Irish shepherds. The first documented records of the breed did not appear until the late 1800s, however. Their name comes from the county of Kerry in south-western Ireland in the Ring of Kerry. Kerry Blues are thought to be related to the Bedlington Terrier, Irish Terrier and Bull Terrier. Some say that the Irish Wolfhound also contributed to the breed. Legend tells of a shipwreck in the Tralee Bay in the 1700s, from which survivors swam to the County Kerry coast. Here, a certain blue terrier survived along with the men. The dog was said to be so vicious that it defeated any opponent in its path, thus earning it the right to start its own breed lineage. That it did, breeding with various local dogs to create pups with a dark blue coat and the temperament of a terrier. Crossed between the Irish Terrier and Dandie Dinmont Terrier, they were originally used as a companion, farm dog, guard dog and hunting dog. Known to dispatch rats and other barnyard vermin, they were also a good retriever fetching prey from the water. One spectator stated that the Kerry Blue Terrier is the only terrier that "will tackle an otter single-handed in deep water." The Kerry Blue Terrier is one of three of Ireland's long legged terriers. Joining the show world at Westminster Kennel Club in 1922 as well as the Crufts Dog Show in England, they were officially recognized by both the AKC as well as the British Kennel Club in 1924. The Kerry Blue had four clubs in Ireland by then, making up 25% of all Irish Kennel Club registrations. Soon the breed was set as the mascot for Irish patriots trying to free the country from Britain's rule. In more recent times, Mrs. William Randolph Hearst and heavyweight champion Gene Tunney both owned Kerry Blue Terriers.

First Registered by the AKC: 1924

AKC Group: Terrier

Class: Terrier

Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 3), KC (GB), UKC