The Kerry Blue Terrier, otherwise known as the Kerry, owes its name to its Irish origins. During the struggle for Irish independence, the Irish patriots actually used the Kerry Blue Terrier as their people-oriented mascot. A part of the Terrier group, this hard-working farm dog was known for its versatility and work ethic. There is some debate surrounding the exact origin story of the Kerry Blue Terrier, with some fanciful origin tales telling of beginnings involving shipwrecks and leprechauns. Regardless of how the Kerry arose, though, it is a beloved Irish breed that is a showstopper at dog shows all around the world.
Characteristics of the Kerry Blue Terrier
The Kerry Blue Terrier is a people-oriented, yet sophisticated, breed. Let’s take a look at what makes the Kerry so unique.
The signature physical feature of the Kerry Blue Terrier is his beautiful blue coat that can range from a deep slate to a light blue grey. Unsurprisingly, this coat is also extremely soft and luxurious. Like many other Terriers, the Kerry Blue Terrier has a long head accentuated by a beard and dark eyes, making him look very similar to a Schnauzer, but with a more muscular, sturdy build. The Kerry’s coat is as dense as it looks but does not shed. To avoid matting, the coat must be brushed at least once per week.
Kerry Blue Terrier males grow slightly larger than the females and can reach between 18-19.5 inches in height, while the females only reach between 17.5 – 19 inches in height. Females also weigh slightly less than the males, which can range anywhere from 33 to 40 pounds.
Originally bred to control vermin such as rats, rabbits, and foxes, the Kerry Blue Terrier eventually became a versatile dog that was used for herding cattle and sheep, and as a guard dog. In modern times, the Kerry can be used to help farmers with these tasks, as well as used for companionship among dog lovers everywhere. This breed is smart, alert, people-oriented, and adaptable. An animated watchdog and family companion, the Kerry is loyal to his family and will protect them to the death. While good with children due to his sturdy nature and ability to play rough games, the Kerry is likely to be aggressive toward strangers, cats, and other dogs if not trained properly or given proper socialization opportunities as a puppy. To be safe, your Kerry Blue Terrier should never be left alone with other animals or young children.
Kerry Blue Terriers can be great during travel if proper preparations have been made. If you are traveling by car or plane in which your Kerry will need to be kept in a crate (which is recommended), make sure your pet is used to the crate beforehand by placing him inside a few times so that he can get a feel for the new environment. Also plan for frequent stops if possible so that your Kerry can take a quick walk and bathroom break at least every couple of hours.
Kerry Blue Terriers do not often suffer from severe separation anxiety, but when left alone, they tend to dig rather than bark, which can be bad news for your carpet. Make sure to address this digging behavior during puppy training classes.
Kerry Blue Terries usually live between 12 and 15 years of age.
Caring for the Kerry Blue Terrier
To live a long and happy life, your Kerry will require proper care. Let’s take a look at the proper way to care for this breed.
Your Kerry Blue Terrier will need to be fed a high-quality dog food – wet or dry– that is appropriate for its age- puppy, adult, senior, etc. Treats can be a valuable tool to use during training but avoid feeding your pet too many treats as this can cause obesity, which can lead to many other problems. Table scraps should also be given sparingly and avoid especially those table scraps containing cooked bones and contents rich in fat. In addition to high-quality food, make sure that your Kerry always has clean, fresh water available to drink, as he is an active breed. You should consult your veterinarian if you are concerned about your pet’s diet or weight.
Kerry Blue Terriers can be very active animals and will enjoy playing fetch, running around the backyard, going on walks, and even jogging with their owners. Their favorite activities are those in which they get to spend quality time with their owners. It may seem like the Kerry is too active a breed for most dog owners, but in fact, the Kerry Blue Terrier is quite content with lounging on the couch or in his doggy bed for the majority of the day, so long as he has received his proper exercise for the day. This means that the Kerry can be well-suited for living in both large homes and small apartments.
Kerries are extremely smart and have historically placed well in obedience competitions. However, because Kerries tend to be aggressive toward other dogs, it is imperative that this breed be given ample opportunities for socialization as a puppy. Puppy manners classes and obedience classes with experienced trainers who have worked with Terriers before are great ideas. However, Kerry Blue Terriers should not be taken to the dog park for socialization because the over-stimulation of so many other dogs could be too much for your Kerry to handle.
Kerry Blue Terriers are a generally healthy breed but can be prone to certain health conditions. These include entropion (inward rolling of the eyelids), hypothyroidism, skin cysts, cancer, keratoses (corns, warts, and calluses on the feet or nose), cataracts, dry eye, Chronic Otitis Externa (chronic infection in the outer ear canal), Progressive Neuronal Abiotrophy, (a rare, inherited nerve disorder), hip dysplasia, patellar luxations (sliding kneecaps), and Factor XI Deficiency (severe bleeding after surgery or trauma). If this list looks long and scary, don’t worry. It’s unlikely that your beloved Kerry will develop any one of these disorders, let alone most of them. These conditions are even less likely if you received your Kerry Blue Terry from a responsible breeder who performed DNA tests on the Kerry’s parents before your puppy was bred. However, it is always extremely important to bring your pet to the veterinarian on a regular basis. Always contact your veterinarian as son as possible if you have a question about your pet’s health.