The Kerry Blue Terrier is known for its loyalty, intelligence and sometimes funny playtime antics. It is a dog of medium build but is quite solid and muscular and needs to be supervised during play especially around young children. They can be moody, even reserved if not socialised fully as a pup, and need a strong owner who is fair in their handling and consistent with training. They respond best to praise and reward rather than strict, harsh training. They are surprisingly sensitive to unjust treatment and can become aggressive if they decide that any treatment is unfair. They are energetic but do make good inside dogs even in apartments although they always need a good daily walk to burn off their energy. When out walking, they need to be kept on a leash as their hunting instincts are very strong and they will chase any small animal as they see fit. They can also be aggressive with other dogs, always wanting to assert their dominance. While their coat is lovely and soft and great for allergy sufferers, the coat does need weekly brushing. Their beards a regular wash or it can become smelly from old trapped food. Usually, these dogs need a bath once a week and clipping every six weeks. But they have low or no smell, don’t drool and be devoted and loyal to their family. They can become a bit of a barker unless you train them to stop after the first bark – this needs to be taught right from puppyhood!
The Kerry Blue Terrier originated in the 1700s and got its name from the County Kerry in Ireland where it originated. The blue refers to the dogs dominate coloring of their coat. The Kerry is the national Terrier of Ireland where is known as the Irish Blue Terrier. These dogs were developed to hunt small game and vermin and retain those strong instincts. However, it is also good down on the farm herding sheep and cattle. The use as a companion dog led to the formation of the United states forming its own Kerry Blue Terrier club, with the breed being recognised by the AKC in 1924. The credit for the single silky wavy coat is said to be from the Portuguese Water Dog. There has been some debate on the Kerry Blue’s ancestry with some crediting the old Black Terrier, Spanish Blue Dog, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and others, including the possibility of the Irish Wolfhound or Irish Terriers. Writing in the history books of dogs in Ireland that are over a century old, mentions a Harlequin Terrier that sounds just like the Kerry Blue. Unlike other breeds, there is no absolute proof of where they came from, but one thing is certain, wherever the Kerry’s lineage came from, it is a very pleasing well-proportioned breed.
Best described as a medium sized dog, although they have a muscular body with a long head that is in good proportion to the body. The skull is flat and boxy, with a slight stop. The eyes of the Kerry Blue Terrier are small, dark and alert. The nose is black with wide nostrils, and blends with its overall color. They have small V-shaped ears that are carried forward on the head. They possess a long neck that widens towards the shoulders. With their soft wavy dense coats that can range in color from a deep black to dark blue and shades of blue gray or even a tinge of brown, the Kerry is an attractive looking dog. They carry themselves with a sense of pride, standing tall and erect. The tail is high set and straight, and docked to a medium length, although this is illegal in most parts of Europe. If you are showing your dog, the correct color for a mature dog is from slate blue to light gray. Often the Kerry Blue Terrier has black or deep blue points on the head, muzzle, feet and tail. The color usually lightens as this breed matures, although the points may remain. While they maintain a dignified pose, they can be animated and playful, sometimes even a bit ‘goofy’, making people laugh.
The Terrier breeds are all similar in temperament, and the Kerry Blue is no exception. Words that come to mind are lively, bossy, scrappy, clever, independent, stubborn, persistent, impulsive, and quick to bark and even quicker to chase. This breed is very proud, although they can be sensitive, and moody with a strong sense of justice. In other words, the Kerry Blue Terrier is not a dog that will meekly accept teasing, unfairness or any rough handling. Because of their inherited nature to chase game, they must be kept on a leash when out walking or they will chase anything that they consider a fair sport. They have a very strong personality and need a strong but fair owner. This dog needs a pack leader who they respect, and although they are lovely pets, they need to be supervised with small children as they are not tolerant to ear pulling and also will not tolerate someone trying to take their food or interfere with them while they are eating. The Kerry Blue needs intense socialising when they are a puppy to get them used to many people, and to see that their place is not as pack leader, but as follower. They respond to fair training, will not cope with severe punishment and may react aggressively. As an active dog, they need plenty of exercise to wear off their abundant energy. They are fine with a small yard but make sure the fence is high, much higher than you would normally think because a fence can be a challenge to this breed and they can become escape artists. The Kerry Blue will become a digger if bored, and may even dig their way out by going under a fence, so ensure you have plenty of toys, exercise, games and attention for this pooch. It pays to be aware that these Terriers are dominant or aggressive with other dogs. If you have small pets such as a cat, you need to introduce them at a very early age, and even then, they need to be supervised especially in play in case it gets a bit rough. While they sound like a handful and they are a bit of a barker unless trained properly, these dogs make lovely loyal companions for an experienced owner and are playful and a lot of fun to have around.