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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Kerry Blue Terrier

Kerry Blue Terrier

Origin: Ireland

AKC Group: Terrier

Height: 17 - 20 inches (Male)

Weight: 30 - 40 pounds (Male)

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Kerry Blues are intelligent and playful, but often moody. They're very suspicious of strangers, and sometimes aggressive with other animals. Kerry Blues are fast runners that love to bark and dig. They're stubborn, and they'll be assertive if they are not properly trained. Kerry Blues make excellent watch dogs.

Kerry Blues are part of the Terrier group. In general, terriers have a very distinctive personality that's unlike any other breed. They're feisty and energetic. Originally bred to hunt and kill vermin, terriers love the chase-don't let your terrier off its leash unless it's in an enclosed area.

Terriers make excellent pets. These tough little canines have an attitude, however, so they usually adapt better to quiet households. Most terriers are usually jealous and snippy around other pets, especially dogs.

While some terriers are good with children, most will snap if provoked. If you want your terrier to be friendly with strangers, you need to accustom it to people at an early age. Terriers are also barkers and diggers.

In terms of health, terriers are very hardy dogs with few health problems. Most live a long time, usually around 15 years. Terriers need to be brushed twice a week and professionally groomed about every three months. While pet terriers are usually clipped, show dogs are stripped, which means the dead hairs are plucked out one by one so the coat color doesn't fade.

Male height: 
17 - 20 inches
Male weight: 
30 - 40 pounds
Silky and wavy with lots of hair on the face. Tail is docked; ears fold forward.
Puppies are born black, and their color changes several times before reaching the adult coat color - steel blue or silvery gray. This process takes about 18 months. Eyes are dark; nose is black.

The origin of the Kerry Blue Terrier (known in his homeland as the Irish Blue Terrier) is a mystery, but lore and legend surround this Emerald Isle terrier. Perhaps he was a "Russian blue dog" who swam to shore from a shipwreck off of Tralee Bay in the late 1770s. Or maybe he was a "dark spaniel" who survived from one of the Spanish Armada wrecks in 1588 and mated with indigenous terriers. Or he may have been developed as a poaching dog by Irish peasants by using the nobility's Irish Wolfhounds. Whatever his beginnings, the Kerry Blue Terrier has been seen in Ireland for at least a century, concentrated around the county Kerry near Lake Killarney. Hardy terriers like the Kerry were used by farmers to kill vermin, hunt, tend stock, guard property and watch over their families. In addition to these jobs, the Kerry was said to be the only dog who would "tackle an otter, single-handed, in deep water." The Kerry Blue is related to the Irish Terrier and Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, both of whom played a factor in his development.

The solidly built Kerry Blue Terrier is a rough-and-tumble playmate for people of all ages. Vivacious, charming and feisty, he can light up a room and commands attention. He is an intelligent and confident dog who can be territorial when it comes to how he views outsiders - especially when they interact with his family. Extensive socialization from puppyhood is needed to quell his sometimes overly protective instincts.
At home: 
The Kerry Blue Terrier is just as at home in an urban setting as he is on the farm using his hunting instincts. As long as he is properly exercised and socialized, he can make a good apartment dog - he has no doggy odor and is practically nonshedding. He is an effective watchdog, sounding the alarm when necessary, but he's not overly noisy. A fenced-in yard will allow him to play safely and dig to his heart's content (something that many terriers like to do).
The Kerry Blue Terrier requires plenty of exercise that keeps him physically and mentally challenged. This all-purpose dog is game for any activity. He enjoys long walks outside and is athletic enough to take on almost any kind of sporting event.
Kerrys are enthusiastic eaters who will usually gobble whatever is fed to them. Because of this, it is important to monitor their food intake to prevent obesity. They can expend a lot of energy in various family activities - from playing to hiking - and require the highest-quality diet to ensure that they are getting the nutrition they need.
The Kerry needs a firm hand in training but not a harsh one. He loses interest easily, so keep training interesting. Short, focused lessons are best. His territorial nature is best tempered by socializing him with other people and animals from puppyhood.
The Kerry Blue is good with children. He needs training and socialization to get along with other pets and should be monitored in the company of other dogs.
The average life span of the Kerry Blue Terrier is 12 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include cerebellar abiotrophy (CA); ear infections; eye problems; hypothyroidism; patellar luxation; and skin problems.
Fun fact: 

This "true blue" native of Ireland enjoyed a peak of popularity in 1924, when he represented more than 25 percent of total Irish Kennel Club registrations.

Grooming blurb: 
The Kerry Blue Terrier's coat must be brushed and combed daily with a slicker brush and a steel comb. If not tended to, his coat will mat. He also needs to be clipped every few weeks, a task that many pet owners leave to a professional groomer. He is practically nonshedding, making him a suitable choice for some allergy sufferers.
Copyright by T.F.H. Publications, Inc. This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.