Kerry Blue Terrier

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Life span

15 Years


15 Kg


Terrier Dogs

Kerry Blue Terrier Overview

The Kerry Blue Terrier is a medium-sized terrier breed originally used to hunt vermin like rats, rabbits, foxes, otters, badgers, and hares. When the need for a vermin hunter was no longer needed, the Kerry Blue became a general working breed used by the Irish people for a variety of tasks including herding sheep and cattle and as an effective guard dog. Today, the Kerry Blue still retains those characteristics and is seen in many parts of the world mainly as a companion and family dog. Some of the distinctive characteristics of the Kerry Blue Terrier include a long head (typical Terrier), flat skull, deep chest and a “blue” coat made of silky wavy to curly hairs. Interestingly, puppies are born black and only change to shades of blue by around one and a half years of age. The ideal height for dogs is between 46-48cms at withers with females slightly shorter. The ideal weight for an adult Kerry Blue Terrier is 15-17kgs with females weight proportionally less.

Kerry Blue Terrier Characteristics

Size InformationIntelligence
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Size InformationExercise Needs
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Size InformationDogs Health
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Size InformationChild Friendly
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Size InformationApartment
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Size InformationShedding
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Size InformationGrooming Needs
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Size InformationBarking
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Size InformationAlone
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Size InformationTrainability
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Size InformationEnergy Levels
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Size InformationDog friendly
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History & Origin

The Kerry Blue Terrier is a native of Ireland and was first seen in the mountains of Kerry (hence the name) during the late 1800s. However, the real origin of the breed is difficult to say, if not impossible to determine. It is believed by dog experts that the Bedlington Terrier and the Irish Wolfhound played an important role in the development of the Kerry Blue. There are also popular legends that say it is descended from a Terrier-type dog that survived a wrecked vessel off the coast of County Kerry and mated with the local dogs. Whatever the origins may be, the ancestor of the Kerry Blue was sought after for its aggressiveness and gameness. It was originally used as a fighting dog and is a direct descendant of the Irish fighting dogs during those periods. Through the years, the role of the Kerry Blue Terrier shifted from the fighting arena to the field as a gun dog doing all the tasks of a pointer, retriever or setter and could also herd large flocks of sheep or cattle independently. It was also extensively used as a very effective guard dog not only of the stock but also of the family as well. When field work was no longer popular, it was used to fend off vermin like rats, foxes, and otters. Today, the Kerry Blue Terrier is seen more as a companion dog. It is considered as one of the vulnerable native breeds by the Kennel Club of UK although not as threatened as the other terrier breeds.

Kerry Blue Terrier Temperament

Owning a typical Terrier spirit, the Kerry Blue is strong-headed and highly spirited. It has a very high energy level and is always ready to play. As a result, it will not tolerate being alone for long periods of time or it will get into a world of mischief. It is a sensitive breed, tends to be moody, and has a stubborn streak and will not tolerate teasing or rough handling. It is typically dog-aggressive but early and proper socialisation can correct this issue. As a working dog, it is a fast and strong breed. It is also an intelligent dog and will do well in obedience training, dog agility trials, sheep herding, and tracking events if trained properly. In Ireland, one of the unique jobs of the Kerry Blue is in law enforcement. The Kerry Blue Terrier is a reliable watchdog and is quick to sound the alarm when someone is at the door.

Kerry Blue Terrier Training

Although it is a highly intelligent dog, it is difficult to train. It is highly observant and can learn quickly based on observation. It is an adaptable breed that can live both in a town or country setting. It will do well even in a small house preferably with a small to medium-sized garden or yard. Training should be done by a confident and consistent handler. A typical approach is positive reinforcement training with mixed routines because repetitive tasks will get the Kerry Blue Terrier bored.


The soft wavy to curly coat of the Kerry Blue Terrier is the key feature of the breed. This breed does not shed because it has no undercoat but the coat continues to grow all-year-round. This means that grooming should be done at least once a week and clipping should be done every six weeks.


The Kerry Blue Terrier is a fairly healthy breed with an average lifespan of 10 years, but there are some hereditary health issues that affect the breed including eye problems such as dry eyes (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), cataracts, and entropion. There are other dogs that get cysts in their skin although these are rarely cancerous. Other rare health issues that have been known to affect the breed include:

  • Hip dysplasia – an abnormal formation of the hip socket which can cause lameness or arthritis of the joints;
  • Hypothyroidism – also called underactive thyroid, is a condition where the dog’s thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone which can cause poor ability to tolerate cold or tiredness;
  • Cryptorchidism – is a birth defect that results in the absence of one or both testes from the scrotum;
  • Progressive neuronal atrophy (PNA) or Cerebellar Abiotrophy (CA) – is a genetic neurological disease in dogs that develops when the neurons known as Purkinje cells located in the brain, begin to die off.

Kerry Blue Terrier Exercise Needs

Exercise requirement is up to an hour per day such as long walks and hikes but it will prefer a game of fetch or tag in the house or outside the yard. As a working dog with long legs, the activity level of the breed ranges from moderate to high – which means that it requires an active lifestyle from an equally active and skilled handler who can provide the Kerry Blue Terrier its needed training including socialisation with as many experiences as possible.

Children and other pets

It is very loyal and affectionate towards its family and has a gentle nature towards older children who know how to handle a dog properly. However, the Kerry Blue Terrier will not tolerate teasing and rough handling from toddlers and smaller children and is typically aggressive towards other animals including other dogs.