From County Kerry in Ireland; Feisty but Sociable
Kerry Blue Terriers are the biggest of the Terrier breeds from Ireland. They are strong willed and have an independent spirit, very loyal to their owners and family, but with a reputation for aggressiveness towards all other dogs.
This is not a particularly popular breed these days, despite a Kerry Blue winning the coveted Cruft’s Dog Show in the U.K. in the year 2000.
Kerry Blue Terriers – Temperament
These dogs are very active, feisty and athletic. They love attention, and getting involved with games. They make good family dogs as they are affectionate with all members of the household, and are especially good with children.
However they need a firm hand and careful socialization as puppies, as they are intelligent and can take advantage of their owners if they perceive they can get away with rowdy behavior. They will tend to think they are in charge, unless it’s made clear that the owner is in charge.
These dogs are suitable for apartment life, as long as they get one decent walk a day. It’s very important that you train your Kerry to walk at heel, or even behind you, otherwise they will think THEY are the alpha male, and therefore in charge of YOU.
Kerry Blue Terriers –
Like many breeds, the origins of the Kerry Blue are shrouded in uncertainty and myth. Many people believe that the Portuguese Water Dog is an ancestor, which fits in with the story of a dog swimming ashore to County Kerry in Ireland from a shipwreck. This dog was then bred with the local Wheaten Terriers, supposedly producing the Kerry Blue.
Other authorities believe that the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier was crossed with the Bedlington Terrier and Irish Terrier, resulting in modern-day Kerry Blue Terriers.
However this breed came into being, it proved to be a very popular general farm dog in rural Ireland, originally used for catching and killing rats, rabbits, badgers and foxes, and later for herding sheep and cattle, guarding the farmhouse from intruders, and as a family companion dog.
The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1924.
Height; 18.5 to 20 inches (males); 17.5 to 19 inches (females).
Weight; 33lbs to 40lbs
Life Span; 12 to 15 years
Color; Black to very dark Blue, Slate Grey to Light Grey.
Ease of Training
Kerry Blue Terriers are not easy to train. They are intelligent, and have a mind of their own. This means that training must start early, as a puppy, and consist of multiple short sessions or 5 to 10 minutes a day. If things get predictable, this dog will become bored and easily distracted.
Although the Kerry Blue has had a reputation for aggressiveness towards other dogs, this has been largely bred out by responsible breeders, and with careful socialization as a puppy there should not be any issues. The puppy must be exposed gradually to everyday sight, sounds, strange people and strange dogs, under controlled conditions.
Once an adult, and after full puppy training, the Kerry Blue will learn new tasks quite quickly, and they do well in obedience and agility trials and tests.
We have a very good page on this website reviewing the 7 best dog training books – I recommend you take a look HERE.
Kerry Blue Terriers make for very good watchdogs. They are alert and have good hearing, and will bark to let you know that something needs your attention. They were bred in part to guard the rural houses of farmers in Ireland, and this protective nature is still strong.
This breed is very territorial, and will defend its ‘patch’ vigorously. They are very brave, like all Terrier breeds, and actually strong and muscular; they will put up a stout fight if called upon, but are not physically big enough to make an effective guard dog.
If you are looking for protection, I would suggest looking at a bigger breed.
The Kerry Blue has a soft and wavy coat, with no undercoat. This coat does not shed, but it continues to grow slowly throughout the year. This means that the coat should be trimmed about every six weeks, to a length you like. This should be shorter during warmer summer months and left a bit longer during cooler winter months.
This breed is one of the few that can (and should) be bathed each week, followed by a comb-through and brushing. This frequent bathing will not dry the skin, as it may in other breeds. Without weekly washing, their beard in particular will become full of dirt and food, and start to smell bad.
Because the Kerry Blue does not shed hair, it is considered a good breed for allergy sufferers. Also, apart from the beard, the coat does not develop a bad smell or ‘doggy odor’. Unless showing your dog in a show ring, it’s a good idea to trim the beard quite short. It makes life easier!
Kerry Blue Terriers are generally healthy, but there are a number of genetic conditions that may crop up.These include
- Hip dysplasia
- Cerebellar abiotrophy
Famous Kerry Blue Terriers
The Irish Nationalist Michael Collins had a Kerry Blue, which he called Prisoner 224.