Kerry Blue Terrier – More information about this breed
- Other names Irish Blue Terrier
- Nicknames Kerry
- Country of origin Republic of Ireland Ireland
- Height Male 18-20 inches (46-51 cm)
- Height Female 17-19 inches (43-48 cm)
- Weight Male 35-40 pounds (16-18 kg)
- Weight Female 33-38 pounds (16-18 kg)
- Life Span 12 – 15 years
- Litter Size 4 to 8
Some characteristics of the Kerry Blue Terrier include a long head, flat skull, deep chest, and a soft wavy-to-curly coat that comes in several shades of “blue”, the general term outside this breed being progressive grey. Puppies are born black; the blue appears gradually as the puppy grows older, usually up to 2 years of age.
The Kerry Blue terrier was first observed in the mountains of Kerry in Ireland, hence the name of the breed. There is a romantic story of a blue dog swimming ashore from a shipwreck: the coat of this dog was so lovely that it was mated with all the female Wheaten Terriers in Kerry (or in all Ireland according to some), producing the Kerry Blue. Perhaps this story is not entirely myth as the Portuguese Water Dog is often suggested as part of the Kerry’s make up.
The coat is the key feature of the Kerry. It is soft and wavy with no undercoat. The texture is similar to that of fine human hair and like human hair does not shed but continues to grow throughout the year. This means the Kerry Blue requires very regular grooming (at least once per week) and clipping an average of every 6 weeks.
Kerry Blue Terriers are strong-headed and highly spirited. They have always been loyal and affectionate towards their owners and very gentle towards children but were often considered downright mean toward other animals including other dogs. In the early days of competitive dog showing the Irish Kennel Club required Kerries had to pass a “gameness” test, known as Teastas Mor certification, before they were deemed worthy of being judged. These tests included catching rabbits and bringing a badger to bay in its set. They are fast, strong, and intelligent. They do well in obedience, dog agility, sheep herding, and tracking. They have been used as police dogs in Ireland. Modern breeders have attempted to retain high spirits whilst breeding out aggression.
As a long-legged breed, the activity level of the Kerry Blue Terrier ranges from moderate to high. They require an active, skilled owner who can provide them with early socialisation and obedience training. Kerries require daily exercise.
The Kerry has an amazing sense of humour/ “touch of the blarney”! Ideally owners should have a sense of humour themselves to fully appreciate a Kerry – “to be owned by a Kerry” is
a famous quote in Kerry circles.
They are prone to eye problems such as Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eyes), cataracts, and entropion. They sometimes get cysts or tumorous growths in their skin, but these are rarely malignant. Hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism,cryptorchidism have also been reported.