Kerry Blue Terrier

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33-40 lbs
Irish Blue Terrier

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!

ratting, hunting, farm dog, companion
Date of Origin
portuguese water dog, spanish blue dog, irish wolfhound, irish terrier

Kerry Blue Terrier Health

Average Size
Height: 18-19 inches Weight: 33-40 lbs
Height: 17-19 inches Weight: 33-40 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • PNA
  • Cerebellar Abiotrophy
Minor Concerns
  • Cataract
  • Spiculosis
  • Narrow Palpebral Fissure Distichiasis
  • Congenital Heart Defect
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Physical Examination
  • Hip
  • X-Rays
  • MRI
  • Eye Examination

Kerry Blue Terrier Breed History

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.

Kerry Blue Terrier Breed Appearance

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. 

Kerry Blue Terrier Breed Maintenance

While the soft wavy coat does not shed much at all, the coat is considered high maintenance. It continues growing all year and if not clipped can become a problem with matting. The coat is soft and silky with no undercoat, almost with a texture of human hair and wool mixed. The Kerry Blue Terrier needs regular brushing and clipping. Bathing should be done on a weekly basis, especially around the moustache (for food particles) with clipping every six weeks. They also need the hair removed from within the ears to prevent ear infections from wax and dirt build up. The Kerry Blue is good for allergy sufferers as it sheds little to no hair and is odorless even when they are wet to the skin. Brushing the teeth will keep their mouth healthy, regular ear checks prevent trouble (smelly ears indicate an infection), and plenty of exercise for these energetic, active dogs will keep them content. Regular training beginning from when they are very young is advisable, along with plenty of socialising so that they can adapt to strangers and prevent an overprotective attitude.

Kerry Blue Terrier Breed Activity Requirements