Kerry Blue Terrier: Dog Breed Information and Owner’s Guide

What is a Kerry Blue Terrier?

kerry blue terrier

Kerry Blue Terriers (or Kerries) are named after their place of origin in Country Kerry, Ireland, and their striking, distinctive, blue-gray coats. There are many colorful folk legends about the origins of this unique breed, which is also known in Ireland as the Irish Blue Terrier. They were bred approximately 150 years ago to hunt rodents and other small animals.

These affectionate, spirited, terriers make great family pets. They also make excellent hunting dogs, watchdogs, retrievers, cattle herders, and sheepdogs. 

Kerry Blue Terriers are known to get aggressive with other dogs and animals, so it is essential to train them properly. With appropriate training, this behavior can either be eliminated or reduced to controllable levels. 

Kerry Blues became popular during the Irish revolution when both sides of the conflict adopted this beloved dog as a mascot. On October 16, 1920, revolutionary leader Michael Collins entered his Kerry Blue Terrier Convict 224 into the first Dublin Blue Terrier Club dog show. His dog won the event, on a day that was also memorable for being his 30th birthday. 

Prior to his assassination, Collins was advocating to have the Kerry Blue Terrier named the national dog of the new Irish Free State.

There are many positive qualities to this unique breed. But Kerry Blues can be challenging as well, so if you are considering this breed as a pet, you will want the most accurate information available. The following article will hopefully help you on this path.

Appearance

Kerry Blue Terriers have strong, well-proportioned muscular bodies, long heads, small ears, small dark eyes, and a distinctive blueish coat. They have a high set tail and a colorful coat which varies from deep blue to blue-gray. They are also known for their unique mop of hair which flops over their eyes. 

Kerry Blue Terrier Weight and Size

This breed can reach 17.5-19.5 inches. Male Kerry Blues usually weigh approximately 26-33 pounds, although males can grow as heavy as 40 pounds. Females average 22-29 pounds. 

Common Colors

Kerry Blue Terrier puppies are adorable. But don’t expect a little blue-gray fur-ball when you select your puppy. Puppies are always born with black coats. By approximately 18-19 months, the coat starts to become blue-gray. Upon reaching maturity, you can expect to see its famous beautiful coat which can vary from shades of dark blue to blue-gray. 

Coat

Kerry Blues are famous for their beautiful coats. Their gorgeous blue coats are not only aesthetically pleasing but soft to the touch. Pet owners describe their coat as wavy, soft, dense, and silky. They are hypoallergenic so their hair does not shed. 

Personality and Temperament

kerry blue terrier

Behavior around other dogs

Although Kerry Blues are good with children, they are known to be aggressive and temperamental around other dogs and animals. This is particularly true when your pet is not neutered. 

Historically, this breed was even more aggressive, but breeders have successfully bred out their most aggressive tendencies over the years. Some experts will encourage you to socialize the dog with other dogs at a very young age.

Pet owners should take this behavior seriously with other dogs when considering whether to own a Kerry Blue. Remember that walks and other activities outside your home increase the opportunities for aggressive encounters with animals. This is where training comes in. With the proper type of training, this aggression can be mitigated. 

Is the Kerry Blue Terrier A Good Family Dog?

Under the right conditions, Kerry Blue Terriers make excellent pets. They are loyal, affectionate, energetic, trustworthy, and they get along great with children. They are hypoallergenic and do not shed.

While experts agree that they would never deliberately harm a child, some argue that their high energy makes them much more suitable for older children. It is possible that a small child or toddler can get accidentally knocked over by a loving but overly energetic Kerry Blue. 

While they are not known for excessive barking, their bark sometimes intimidates people who are fearful or unaccustomed to dogs. This is an important consideration if you plan on frequently entertaining guests at home. With proper training, barking can be controlled. Some experts attribute excessive barking to boredom.

Is it a good dog for new pet-owners?

Some experts recommend that first-time dog owners choose a different breed. They believe that Kerry Blue requires an experienced owner with the knowledge and patience to train an obstinate breed. 

Others argue that with the information and dedication, first-time owners should have no problem dealing with this breed. They claim that the overall benefits of owning this dog are such that even a dedicated first-time owner should consider it. Provided of course that the owner is willing to put in the effort to train and care for him. 

See Related Article: Biewer Terrier: Dog Breed Information and Owner’s Guide

How Do You Train a Kerry Blue Terrier?

With their stubborn and independent temperament, Kerry Blues are admittedly difficult to train. Yet with correct techniques and discipline, your dog can become a well-behaved pet. 

Experts recommend that owners display firmness, fairness, and consistency in any training regimen. It should also be fun and rewarding. Finally, training will only be effective if the owner and pet develop trust and mutual respect. Recommended activities to aid in training include dog sports and daily training.

As with all breeds, training is usually most effective when it begins when they are young. As intelligent natural learners and problem solvers, training should be fun and rewarding, use lots of positive reinforcement, and provide enough flexibility that the routine does not become boring for them. All of this while still maintaining consistency.

How to Care for Your Kerry Blue Terrier

Exercise Requirements

As a continually active breed, Kerry Blue Terriers have a lot of energy. That is one of the qualities that endear them to active pet owners. Yet with this spirited temperament, they require daily exercise and attention. 

You may need to take them for long walks, play dog sports with them, and engage with them in other physical activities. Some experts warn that bored Kerrys tend to start digging holes, chewing on things, and barking. 

A large backyard will give your Kerry Blue additional opportunities for exercise. This does not mean your dog will take advantage of and use the extra space. Not all Kerry Blue Terriers will take advantage of a large yard, so pet owners need to make sure that they get the necessary exercise. 

Those who live in small apartments or tight living quarters may need to walk their dog several times a day, although they are known to be active even in very small apartments.

Grooming and Shedding

The good news is that Kerrys do not shed their hair. The bad news? Their hair grows at a quick rate. Kerrys require frequent grooming and combing to prevent their hair from matting. Their muzzles are another troublesome area that frequently gets dirty. 

When grooming Kerry Blues, you will have to clip the hair in and around their ears and trim their nails. Other troublesome areas include the hair over their eyes which can cause irritation and even lead to infections. Many owners use professional dog groomers to maintain their dog’s overall appearance.

What to Feed Kerry Blue Terrier

Many of us have experienced the temptation. Your hungry dog looks at you with those beautiful, sad, eyes of his and starts to beg (or bark) for a piece of Rib Steak. It is only natural to want to give him some. Who can resist that face? 

Like bears, dogs are sometimes described as noses with legs. They are always hungry and if they smell food, they will want to eat it. 

This includes your food! As understandable as this is, please do not do it! For two reasons. 1) He will never stop begging for human food. 2) Human food is bad for him.

Kerry Blues require high-quality food for overall health. It does not matter if it’s homemade or commercially made, as long as it meets AAFCO standards. 

Many dog owners grow lax with their dog’s diet over time. They start off with a disciplined healthy diet but eventually start sharing human food with their pet. 

Treats are important and certainly appropriate, provided owners do not overdo it. The trick is moderation. 

Too many treats can lead to severe weight problems and obesity. It goes without saying that regular sources of fresh, clean water should always be readily accessible.

Important: If you want to enjoy many rewarding years with your dog, feed him only what is best for his body. The importance of diet for overall health cannot be overstated. 

Not only is the quality of the food important, but owners also need to be aware of the food requirements during their different stages in life. What is appropriate for a puppy is not suitable for a full-grown dog. Bottom Line: Do not share your food with him!

Known Health Problems

If you purchase a Kerry Blue Terrier from a breeder, you will want to do your research to ensure that he has a good reputation. This will ensure that all proper procedures and protocol were followed, including genetic testing and medical tests. 

They should also have medical charts to show your pet’s overall medical condition. As with many other breeds, Kerry Blues are susceptible to several genetic health conditions including Degenerative Myelopathy, Factor XI Deficiency, von Willebrand’s Disease, type 1. 

Additional health issues include hypothyroidism, cysts, skin conditions, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, ocular and dental problems, bacterial infections, and obesity. Obesity can lead to many additional health problems, including putting undue stress on the dog’s joints. 

Kerry Blue Terriers have long lifespans so cancer can be a concern as they grow older. They are also susceptible to the heart condition Patent Ductus Arteriosis. This disease causes strain to the heart because of the rapidly flowing blood traveling to the lungs.

Degenerative Myelopathy: This debilitating neurological disease affects the spinal cord. It usually affects the dog’s hindquarters and can eventually lead to paralysis. 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for this disease currently. Veterinarians recommend that owners provide their pets with proper diet and exercise to alleviate many of the secondary ailments associated with this degenerative illness.

Factor XI Deficiency: This bleeding disorder affects the body’s ability to produce the necessary protein for clotting. The mutation takes place in the F11 gene. It is currently unknown how common this disease is among this breed. 

Veterinarians say that there is no reason to fear that your dog will experience any sudden incidents of sudden bleeding. That isn’t how this disease worlds. They note that the disease usually presents after the dog undergoes some sort of trauma or following surgery. 

Von Willebrand’s Disease, type 1: This is another inherited bleeding disorder that prevents clotting. Treatments include blood transfusions and administering the drug DDVAP.

It is important to note that just because a breed is susceptible to a disease, it does not mean that your dog will actually suffer from any of them. It simply means that these ailments are common with this breed. 

With proper exercise, diet, maintenance, and medical examinations, Kerry Blue Terriers can live exceptionally long and active healthy lives. The most important thing to do to ensure their longevity is to provide them with the best diet, exercise, and first-rate medical treatment to give them the best opportunity.

Kerry Blue Terriers and Water

Do you have a pool? Do you love spending the day at the beach? No problem! Kerrys love the water! 

As natural retrievers on land and water, Kerry Blues are naturally very fond of the water. Owners often note that the biggest problem can be trying to get them OUT of the water. 

Buyer’s Guide

kerry blue terrier

How to Choose a Kerry Blue Terrier Puppy

So, you have made the decision to get a Kerry Blue Terrier. Now what? How do you choose the right puppy? 

This is tricky. We have all heard the standard advice which seems sensible enough. The idea that you are supposed to choose the very first little furball that runs up to you and climbs up your leg. 

It sounds good in principle and it is emotionally tempting. This is how it usually happens in the movies. It seems like a great litmus test. But is it really?

There are several downsides to this approach, which may prevent you from selecting the absolute best puppy for you. For one, the other puppies in the litter might get overlooked if you immediately fixate on the one who runs to you. 

Additionally, while the puppy’s initial energy and excitability may be endearing and adorable to you at first, it may become exhausting for you once you go home with your pet. A more subdued puppy may be more desirable for you and your family.

The problem is that a more docile puppy with the potential to become an excellent family pet can easily get overlooked. The impulse to take the first enthusiastic one in the litter may overshadow a quieter but more suitable pet in the background.

Here is a different approach that others recommend. Prospective owners should first view the entire litter to assess how they interact as a group. 

Afterward, they should give themselves the opportunity to observe and interact with each individual puppy when they are separated from the litter. 

By considering all the dogs in the litter and not only the ones that are more excitable, but you will also give yourself the opportunity to carefully evaluate and choose the best dog for you.

Check out Michele Whelton’s informative post where she offers great advice for those considering a Kerry Blue Terrier and the most essential things you want to consider when choosing a puppy.

Read Related Article: Patterdale Terrier: Dog Breed Information and Owner’s Guide

Good Questions To ask Breeders

There isn’t a perfect list to address all questions and inquiries. But these are a good representation of the types of questions you should ask:

  • What is your policy if my dog ever experiences serious genetic problems later in life?
  • What DNA tests have you used to check for genetic disorders and conditions? Do you have documentation confirming the findings of these tests?
  • Can I meet the puppy’s parents? What is the dog’s family medical history? What papers do you have for the dog’s medical history?
  • How long have you been a professional breeder? Are you a part of a breed club? If yes, which club do you belong to?
  • What vaccinations has the dog received? What vaccinations are still required?
  • Have you ever refused to sell someone a puppy?
  • Are the puppies registered? If so, with which organizations?
  • When can I take my puppy home?
  • Can I visit the facility where you raise the puppies? Can I see and interact with the entire puppy litter?

Things to Look for in a Breeding Facility

While there are many important things to look for when selecting a puppy, the following list includes several critical things you would expect to see at a facility. Each of these bullet-points is essential. Your radar should go up if even one of these points does not match.

  • The breeding facility should be clean and hygienic. A dirty facility is evidence of a problem.
  • They do not ask you to sign a contract.
  • They are willing to bargain over the price.
  • They are unable to provide proper papers for the dog.
  • The dog is being sold for considerably less than it normally would.
  • The dog appears disheveled, dirty, unhealthy, or even neglected.
  • They do not ask you questions. A good breeder wants to make sure that they are finding a loving home for their puppy. If they do not ask you comprehensive questions, it shows that they are not interested in the puppy’s welfare.
  • They have no professional references to provide you, or they refuse to show you their references.

How Much Do Kerry Blue Terriers Cost?

kerry blue terrier

If cost is an issue for you, you want to have all the facts at your disposal before you decide. Without a doubt, buying a Kerry Blue Terrier can be an awfully expensive breed. If you buy one from a professional breeder, prices can range from $1000 to $2000. 

An adoption center will cost considerably less than a breeder. Depending on the specific animal shelter and the overall cost of the dog’s maintenance prior to the adoption, it can cost anywhere from $250 to $450.

In addition to the cost of the purchase, you will have to consider the costs of feeding your dog through a lifetime of stages, including veterinarian fees for checkups, exams, and vaccines, and for periodic grooming

Kerry Blue Terrier vs Irish Terrier

kerry blue terrier

Summary Table

PROS

  • Good traits: Kerry Blue Terriers are affectionate, loyal, spirited, trustworthy, and highly intelligent.
  • They are particularly good with children.
  • They have a long lifespan.
  • They are suitable for different needs and chores.
  • They are hypoallergenic.
  • Breed does not shed hair.
  • With their unique blue-gray coat. they are very good-looking dogs.

CONS

  • Kerry Blue Terriers are susceptible to genetic disorders, and other health issues.
  • They can be aggressive around other dogs and animals.
  • They can be stubborn, strong-willed, and difficult to train.
  • They require frequent grooming.
  • They require lots of attention and exercise.
  • They are expensive to buy and maintain.

Summary

Kerry Blue Terriers are a versatile breed. They make excellent hunting dogs, watchdogs, retrievers, cattle herders, sheepdogs, and family pets.

With their beautiful, distinctive blue-gray coats, these loyal, spirited, intelligent animals can make wonderful pets. Although they are affectionate with children, they are ideally suited for families with older children.

Kerry Blues are hypoallergenic and do not shed. It should be noted that hypoallergenic does not mean that people will not have any allergic reactions to this dog. It simply means that they are less likely to have an allergic reaction to a hypoallergenic dog.

This is not an ideal dog for everyone. Their training requires discipline and commitment and it must be in the form of positive reinforcement for it to be effective.

They require frequent activity and exercise. This is not the appropriate breed for a lazy pet-owner, or for someone who wants an easygoing low-maintainable pet.

There are different schools of thought regarding their suitability for first-time owners. Some experts argue that the difficulties involved in training this loving, but obstinate breed make them inappropriate for beginners.

Others claim that the positive benefits outweigh the negatives and make them suitable for dedicated first-time dog owners. Regardless, Kerry Blues can be a challenging dog and prospective owners need to know what they are committing to.

Kerry Blues are known to be aggressive with other dogs and animals. They can be obstinate, strong-willed, and difficult to train, but with the proper attitude of mutual trust and respect, and a consistent regimen, they can become very well-disciplined pets.

Kerry Blue Terriers require lots of exercise, so they are ideal for owners able to provide for them the necessary physical activity. This is not a lazy person’s dog.

Like other breeds, Kerry Blue Terriers are susceptible to various health issues including several genetic conditions.

Additional health issues include obesity, cataracts, eye disorders, heart disorder called Patent Ductus Arteriosus, cysts, and skin disorders, etc. Yet with good exercise habits and a healthy diet, you can expect your dog to live for 12-15 years.
Kerrys are expensive dogs to purchase and maintain. Initial costs from professional reputable breeders range from $1000-$2000.

Animal shelters can range from $250-$450. In addition to the costs of feeding, they will require frequent brushing, and proper grooming every few months.

Is a Kerry Blue Terrier the right breed for you? We have tried to provide you with enough information to help you decide. We have included pertinent information on their temperament, characteristics, health, and overall costs.

There is a lot to love about these fun and affectionate dogs. If you are willing to work with them and are committed to a good training regimen, you will find yourself with a very rewarding and loyal pet. And with proper diet and exercise, you can have a long relationship.

See Related Topic: Chihuahua Terrier Mix: The 5 Most Popular Mixes Revealed

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