Sunday, April 1, 2012

Breed Profile: Kerry Blue Terrier

The Kerry Blue Terrier is a unique colored, medium sized dog of the terrier style.  By terrier style: think squarish body and rectangular head.  The Kerry is similar in appearance to the Airedale, Irish, Welsh or Lakeland Terriers.  The Kerry does that distinctive Terrier Strut found in the longer legged terriers to which he adds his own special brand of cockiness and panache.

What is most striking about the Kerry Blue is his coat.  Born black, the Kerry's coat changes to blue-gray between 9 months and 2 years of age.  The coat is soft, dense and wavy.  Trimming is required to keep the hair on the body tidy.  A chunk of hair is left long on the forehead which hangs over the nose.  These bangs tend to be a little darker in color than the rest of the body, giving the dog a bold tough guy look.


 There is some disagreement on the origin of the Kerry Blue Terrier, some versions have taken on a legendary quality.  What is most probably true is that the Kerry Blue was originally developed in the county of Kerry in Ireland, as an all around farm dog.  He kept the vermin in check, herded cattle or sheep, served as a guard, and helped with hunting by retrieving game in water and on land.

One version of the origin of the Kerry goes something like this:  the Irish nobles and their Irish Wolfhounds hunted on the noble hunting grounds.  These hunting grounds were off limits to the peasantry.  Determined to hunt on these fertile grounds anyway, the peasants developed a clever stealthy dog to poach noble game.

Another version of the origin of the Kerry goes something like this:  there was shipwreck in Ireland's Tralee Bay.  A Russian Terrier swam ashore turning blue in the process.  This dog mated with a local terrier and the Kerry Blue was born.

How about this version?  Among the goods other countries traded with Ireland, were dogs.  The Spanish brought the Poodle.  The Portuguese introduced the Portuguese Water Dog.  (Many say the Kerry's personality is very much like the Standard Poodle.  And there is the compelling matter of the coat similarities of the Kerry, the Poodle and the Portuguese Water Dog).

Still another explanation may be that the Kerry Blue was developed from the Irish Terrier, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, the Irish Wolfhound, and some now extinct terrier.

Kerry Blue Manifesto

- I'm not big on playing well with others, so go easy on the dog parks, please

- remember, I'm a terrier.  So if you want me to live peaceably with little rodent style critters you better tell me up front before my natural hunting prowess takes over

- I love to do things with you, then sleep in the house with you when we're through 

The personality of the Kerry is mischievous, stubborn, energetic, curious and independent.  Kerrys are athletic, high energy dogs.  They are protective and exuberantly affectionate with their people.  Fond of children, the Kerry is an eager playmate and guardian. The Kerry Blue has been successful not only in herding and hunting, but also agility, obedience and conformation competitions.

Some Kerry Facts

- lifespan 12-15 years
- weight 30-40 pounds
- height at shoulder 17.5-19.5 inches
- also known as Irish Blue Terrier

see some nice pictures at

Next Breed Profile:  Kuvasz!


  1. My mother used to breed show dogs, and I learned a lot from her...but I don't a tenth of your knowledge, Lynn! Thanks for the education!

  2. Cute picture Lynn. I'm looking forward to my cousin's favorite breed next week and the one that won the local dog show. The Hungarian Kuvasz is a beautiful and very strong dog.

  3. I hadn't heard the breed type before, but looking at the pictures, I've seen that kind of dog from time to time. Beautiful animal!