Kerry Blue Terrier

Table of Contents

kerry blue terrier portrait
Meet the Kerry Blue Terrier, a charismatic Irish charmer with a coat as unique as its personality! Boasting a beautiful blue-gray hue and a playful, intelligent nature, this breed wins hearts not just with their looks, but also with their spirited antics.

Join us in this comprehensive guide as we explore everything you need to know about this breed, including their appearance, temperament, ideal environment, grooming, exercise requirements, training tips, dietary needs, health concerns, history, and more.

Best For

The Kerry Blue Terrier is a dream companion for active families with a sense of adventure. Their energetic, intelligent, and loyal nature makes them great for those who love outdoor activities and mental challenges. If you’re ready for a playful partner with a zest for life, the Kerry Blue might just be your perfect match!

Overview

OFFICIAL NAMEKerry Blue Terrier
OTHER NAMESIrish Blue Terrier
ORIGINIreland
BREED GROUPTerrier Group
BREED SIZEMedium
HEIGHT17.5-19.5 inches
WEIGHT22-40 lbs
LIFESPAN12-15 years
LIVING SPACELarge
SENSITIVITY TO COLD WEATHERLow
SENSITIVITY TO WARM WEATHERModerate
GROOMING NEEDSHigh
EXERCISE NEEDSHigh
TRAINABILITYHigh
BARKING TENDENCYModerate
BITING TENDENCYLow
DROOLING TENDENCYLow
SHEDDING LEVELLow
POPULARITY RANK146th
kerry blue terrier in a forest
Photo: AsyaPozniak/Getty Images

Appearance

The Kerry Blue Terrier is an enchanting blend of strength, agility, and style. Standing below 20 inches at the shoulder and weighing up to 40 pounds, this medium-sized marvel boasts a muscular, well-developed body that hints at its terrier tenacity.

One of the first things you’ll notice about the Kerry Blue is their distinctive coat. It’s not just blue, it’s a mesmerizing spectrum of hues, ranging from pale silver to deep slate. This dense, wavy coat gives them an air of elegance and sophistication. What’s fascinating is that Kerry Blue puppies are born black and transition to their signature blue-gray as they mature.

A closer look reveals a sporty beard that adds a touch of character to their appearance. This breed’s head is proportionate to its body, with a flat skull that gives way to a long, refined face. Their eyes, dark and keen, exude an alert and intelligent expression which mirrors their inquisitive nature.

Their ears, neatly folded, frame their face, adding to their overall charm. The Kerry Blue’s deep chest and muscular frame speak volumes about their working-dog heritage. This is a dog that’s built for action, yet carries itself with undeniable grace.

The tail of a Kerry Blue, often docked, stands proudly, matching their spirited personality. Each part of this breed, from the tip of their nose to the end of their tail, tells a story of Irish heritage, working roots, and a unique aesthetic appeal.

In essence, the Kerry Blue Terrier is a sight to behold, a blend of strength and elegance wrapped in a stunning blue coat. Their physical characteristics not only make them stand out in a crowd but also hint at their lively, energetic personality.

kerry blue terrier standing on green grass
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Temperament

The Kerry Blue Terrier’s personality is as vibrant and charming as their unique coat. This breed is known for its spirited character, intelligent mind, and affectionate nature, making them a delightful companion.

One of the most striking aspects of the Kerry Blue’s temperament is their intelligence. This is a breed that thrives on mental stimulation. They’re quick to pick up new commands and love being involved in activities that challenge their minds. Their sharp intellect, coupled with their eager-to-please nature, makes them fantastic companions for those who appreciate a smart, responsive dog.

But don’t let their intelligence fool you into thinking they’re all business. The Kerry Blue is a playful soul with an infectious zest for life. They are always ready for a game or a bit of fun, adding a spark of joy to every day. Their playful demeanor is balanced by a calm and composed side, making them adaptable to various situations.

The Kerry Blue is also known for their strong-willed nature. They have a mind of their own and aren’t afraid to show it. This trait adds a dash of spice to their personality, making them all the more interesting. But rest assured, their strong will is tempered by their loyalty and affection towards their family.

Speaking of loyalty, the Kerry Blue Terrier is a devoted companion. They form strong bonds with their family members and are happiest when they’re part of the household activities. They thrive on companionship and love being wherever their human is. Their love for their family is evident in their protective nature. They are alert and vigilant, always keeping an eye out for their loved ones.

One of the endearing traits of the Kerry Blue is their gentle nature. Despite their energetic personality and working-dog roots, they are known to be gentle and patient. They’re sociable creatures who enjoy meeting new people and animals, making them great for families and individuals who lead social lifestyles.

kerry blue terrier standing outdoors
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Ideal Environment

Ideal Owner & Other Pets

The Kerry Blue Terrier is a versatile breed that can adapt to various living environments, but there are certain conditions where they truly thrive. Their energetic and playful nature makes them well-suited for active pet parents who can provide plenty of mental and physical stimulation.

They’re social dogs, so they enjoy being part of a bustling household with people around to interact with. They’re good with children and can get along with other pets if they’re introduced properly. However, their terrier instincts might kick in around smaller animals, so supervision is necessary.

One thing to remember is that the Kerry Blue Terrier is a people-oriented breed. They don’t do well when left alone for long periods. They crave human companionship and involvement in family activities. Isolation can lead to boredom and destructive behaviors.

Physical Environment

As for the physical environment, they’re not too picky. They can comfortably live in an apartment as long as they get enough exercise and mental stimulation. But they’ll certainly appreciate a house with a secure yard where they can romp and play to their heart’s content.

Climate Adaptability

When it comes to weather adaptability, the Kerry Blue is fairly resilient. They can handle colder climates thanks to their dense coat. However, they’re not built for extreme cold and should be kept indoors during harsh winter weather.

On the flip side, they can also tolerate moderate heat. But like any other dog, they should have access to shade and fresh water during the hot summer months and should never be left in a hot car.

kerry blue terrier in a spring garden
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Grooming

When it comes to grooming, the Kerry Blue Terrier sits somewhere between low-maintenance and a diva. Their unique coat requires some special attention, but don’t worry, it’s all part of the charm of owning this stylish breed.

Coat Care

Let’s start with that beautiful blue-gray coat. One of the first things you’ll love about the Kerry Blue is that they’re a low-shedding breed. This means you won’t be finding tufts of fur on your furniture or clothes.

However, their wavy locks do require regular brushing to keep them looking their best. A thorough brush every few days with a slicker brush or a comb will help prevent matting and keep their coat healthy and shiny.

But the grooming doesn’t end there. The Kerry Blue’s coat grows continuously, much like human hair, and will need trimming every six to eight weeks to maintain its shape. You can learn to do this yourself, or you can take your Kerry Blue to a professional groomer. Either way, regular trims are essential to keep them looking neat and tidy.

Finally, a good bath every three to four weeks will keep your Kerry Blue smelling fresh. Use a gentle, dog-specific shampoo to protect their skin and coat.

Dental Care

Next up is dental care. Just like any other breed, the Kerry Blue’s teeth should be brushed regularly to prevent tartar build-up and gum disease. Start this habit early and your Kerry Blue will soon get used to having their teeth cleaned. Aim to brush their teeth a few times a week, although daily brushing is ideal.

Ear Care

Don’t forget about their ears! Check them weekly for any signs of redness, bad odor, or irritation, which could indicate an infection. Clean them gently with a cotton ball and a vet-approved ear cleaner to keep them in tip-top shape.

Nail Trimming

Then there are those nails. They grow quickly and will need regular trimming, usually every two to three weeks. If you can hear their nails clicking on the floor, it’s time for a trim. Be careful not to cut into the quick, as it can cause pain and bleeding. If you’re unsure, a groomer or vet can do this for you.

two kerry blue terriers sitting on grass
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Exercise

For the energetic and lively Kerry Blue Terrier, exercise is not just a necessity, it’s a way of life! With their working-dog roots and high energy levels, this breed needs a good amount of physical activity to keep them happy and healthy.

Exercise Amount & Types

So, what does this mean for you as a pet parent? Expect to spend at least an hour each day on exercise. This could be split into two half-hour walks or one long walk, depending on your Kerry Blue’s energy levels and your schedule. But remember, a walk around the block won’t cut it for these active dogs. They enjoy a good jog or a brisk walk that gets their heart rate up.

But it’s not all about walking or jogging. The Kerry Blue Terrier also loves playtime. Games of fetch in the backyard, tug-of-war, or even hide-and-seek with their favorite toy can provide both physical exercise and mental stimulation.

Dog Sports

If you’re looking for more structured activities, consider dog sports. The Kerry Blue excels in various canine competitions such as agility, obedience, and even herding trials. These activities provide excellent physical and mental exercise, and they’re a great way for both of you to make new friends!

Exercise Precautions

Another thing to note is that the Kerry Blue’s exercise needs don’t diminish as they age. Older Kerry Blues might not have the same stamina as their younger counterparts, but they still require regular physical activity. Shorter, more frequent walks coupled with gentle playtime can work well for senior dogs.

kerry blue terrier in a crowd
Photo: Ihalavach

Training

Training a Kerry Blue Terrier can be an exciting journey. These dogs are intelligent and eager to please, which makes them highly trainable. However, they’re also known for their independent streak, so training requires a mix of patience, consistency, and a sense of humor.

Start with basic obedience training. Teaching your Kerry Blue commands like ‘sit’, ‘stay’, ‘come’, and ‘leave it’ will not only instill good manners but also enhance your bond with them. Remember, these dogs are quick learners, so they’ll pick up new commands swiftly.

However, the Kerry Blue’s intelligence comes with a catch. They’re smart enough to try and outsmart you! They might test boundaries or even try to take charge. This is where consistent, firm, yet gentle guidance comes in. Make sure you establish yourself as the leader early on, otherwise your Kerry Blue might assume that role!

Socialization is another crucial aspect of training. Introduce your Kerry Blue to a variety of people, animals, sounds, and experiences from a young age. This will help them grow into well-rounded, confident adults who can handle different situations with ease.

Positive reinforcement works wonders with this breed. Praise, treats, and lots of love will motivate your Kerry Blue to learn and behave. Avoid harsh methods as they can backfire and lead to behavioral problems.

Lastly, remember that training is not a one-time thing. It’s a lifelong process. Continue to challenge your Kerry Blue with advanced training or dog sports. They excel in activities like agility, obedience, and herding trials, which can be a great outlet for their energy and intelligence.

kerry blue terrier behind a tree
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Diet & Nutrition 

Feeding your Kerry Blue Terrier is not just about filling their bowl, it’s about providing them with the nutrients they need to live a healthy, active life. So, what does the ideal diet look like for this energetic breed?

What to Feed & How Much

Whether you opt for dry kibble, wet food, or a raw diet, make sure it meets the guidelines set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). This ensures that the food contains the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals that your furry friend needs.

The amount of food your Kerry Blue requires will depend on their age, size, and activity level. Puppies usually need smaller, more frequent meals, while adults can be fed twice a day. As a general rule, an active adult Kerry Blue Terrier should eat about 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals. However, always consult with your vet for personalized feeding guidelines.

Treats

Treats are a great training tool and a way to show your Kerry Blue some love. However, remember that treats should make up no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake to avoid weight gain. Opt for healthy options like small pieces of chicken or carrots instead of high-calorie dog biscuits.

Water

Don’t forget about water! Your Kerry Blue should always have access to fresh, clean water, especially during hot weather or after exercise.

Additional Feeding Tips

Lastly, keep in mind that each dog is unique. Your Kerry Blue might have different dietary needs or preferences. Regular check-ups with the vet will help you monitor your dog’s weight and overall health, allowing you to adjust their diet as needed.

kerry blue terrier standing on the green grass
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Health

The Kerry Blue Terrier is a robust breed with a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. But, like all breeds, they’re prone to certain health conditions. It’s important to remember that not all Kerry Blues will get any or all of these diseases, but it’s crucial to be aware of them if you’re considering this breed:

Hip Dysplasia: This is a common condition in many dog breeds where the hip joint doesn’t fit together perfectly, which can lead to arthritis over time.

Eye Disorders: Some Kerry Blues might suffer from eye conditions such as cataracts and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), both of which can affect their vision.

Hypothyroidism: This is a disorder of the thyroid gland that can cause weight gain, skin conditions, and other health problems.

Skin Cysts: Kerry Blues are known to develop benign skin cysts, which are usually not serious but can be uncomfortable.

Cancer: The breed is prone to certain types of cancer, including cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma and plasmacytoma.

While this list might seem daunting, there’s a lot you can do to ensure your Kerry Blue lives a long, healthy life. A balanced diet plays a crucial role in keeping them fit and preventing obesity-related health issues. Regular exercise helps maintain their weight and keeps their joints healthy.

Regular veterinary check-ups are vital for early detection and treatment of health issues. Your vet can guide you on preventive care, including vaccinations, heartworm prevention, and regular screenings for the health issues common in the breed.

Remember, your Kerry Blue relies on you for their well-being. With good care, regular vet visits, and lots of love, you can help your furry friend enjoy a long, happy life by your side. After all, there’s nothing more rewarding than watching your Kerry Blue thrive!

kerry blue terrier standing on the tree trunk
Photo: AsyaPozniak/Getty Images

History

The Kerry Blue Terrier has a history as captivating as the breed itself. This Irish native traces its roots back to the 1700s in County Kerry, Ireland, hence the name “Kerry” Blue Terrier.

According to legend, the breed’s origins involve a bit of maritime mystery. Some believe that the Kerry Blue descended from a dog that swam ashore from a shipwreck of the Spanish Armada. Over time, this shipwreck survivor is said to have bred with local dogs, leading to the creation of the Kerry Blue Terrier we know today.

Originally, the Kerry Blue was a utilitarian breed, used for various tasks around the farm. From hunting rats, rabbits, foxes, and otters to herding sheep and cattle, the Kerry Blue was a jack of all trades. Their versatility, coupled with their intelligence and tenacity, made them invaluable companions to Irish farmers.

The breed’s popularity began to spread beyond Irish shores in the early 20th century. The first Kerry Blues were shown at England’s Cruft’s Show in 1922, and by 1924, the breed had made its way to the United States. The American Kennel Club (AKC) officially recognized the Kerry Blue Terrier in 1924.

Despite its many charms, the Kerry Blue is not widely known outside of dog circles. The breed currently ranks 146th on the AKC’s list of Most Popular Dog Breeds. However, those who are lucky enough to share their lives with a Kerry Blue wouldn’t trade them for the world.

While not typically a Hollywood star, the Kerry Blue has had a few moments in the limelight. In the 2007 film “Firehouse Dog”, a Kerry Blue named Rexxx wins hearts with his daring exploits. The breed also enjoys recognition as the mascot of Ireland’s national rugby team, the Leinster Rugby Club.

Parent Club

The official parent club for the Kerry Blue Terrier in the United States is the United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club, Inc. (USKBTC). The USKBTC serves as the national representative and guardian of the breed, promoting responsible ownership and breeding. You can visit their website for more information about the club and its activities.

Breed Standard

A breed standard is a set of guidelines established by breed clubs or kennel organizations, defining the ideal appearance, temperament, and physical traits of a specific breed.

It serves as a reference for breeders, judges, and enthusiasts to evaluate and maintain a breed’s unique qualities. Covering aspects like size, appearance, and temperament, breed standards are used in dog shows and competitions to assess individual dogs against the ideal representation of their breed.

Check out the Kerry Blue Terrier’s breed standard as set by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

kerry blue terrier puppy outdoors in the snow
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Acquiring

So, you’ve decided to welcome a Kerry Blue Terrier into your life – that’s fantastic! Before you bring your new furry friend home, ensure you’re thoroughly prepared. Create a comfortable space with a bed, toys, and food and water bowls.

If you’re buying a Kerry Blue, it’s crucial to choose a reputable breeder who prioritizes health and temperament over appearance. Ask lots of questions and request to see health clearances for the puppy’s parents.

However, consider rescue as an alternative to buying. There are many loving Kerry Blues in rescue centers waiting for their forever homes. The United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club, Inc. (USKBTC) and the American Kennel Club can assist you in your rescue journey.

Remember, adopting a rescue dog doesn’t just give them a second chance at happiness, it also opens up a spot for another dog in need. Good luck!

FAQs

Is the Kerry Blue Terrier a good family dog?

Absolutely! The Kerry Blue Terrier is known for its loyalty and love for its human family. They can be great with kids and enjoy being part of family activities. However, remember to supervise interactions between younger children and your Kerry Blue to ensure they’re respectful of each other.

How rare is the Kerry Blue Terrier?

While not as common as some other breeds, the Kerry Blue Terrier is not extremely rare either. They currently rank 146th on the American Kennel Club’s list of Most Popular Dog Breeds.

Do Kerry Blue Terriers bark a lot?

Kerry Blue Terriers are not excessive barkers. However, like many terriers, they will alert you if they see or hear something unusual. Training from an early age can help manage their barking.

Do Kerry Blue Terriers like water?

Yes, most Kerry Blue Terriers enjoy water. They were often used to hunt otters in their native Ireland, which involved swimming. However, individual preferences can vary, so it’s best to introduce your Kerry Blue to water gradually and in a safe way.

Are Kerry Blue Terriers easy to train?

Kerry Blue Terriers are intelligent and eager to please, which makes them quite trainable. However, they also have an independent streak, so consistent, positive reinforcement methods work best.

Do Kerry Blue Terriers shed?

One of the advantages of the Kerry Blue Terrier is that they’re a low-shedding breed. They have hair rather than fur, which grows continuously and falls out less. However, they do require regular grooming to keep their coat looking its best.

Are Kerry Blue Terriers good with other pets?

Kerry Blue Terriers can get along well with other pets, especially if they’re raised together. However, due to their terrier nature, some might see smaller animals as prey, so it’s important to supervise interactions and socialize your Kerry Blue from a young age.

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