Kerry Blue Terrier

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The Kerry Blue Terrier's beautiful coat will catch your eye, but they'll steal your heart with their energy and brains.

Breed Snapshot

Life Expectancy:
12 to 15 years
Size:

Medium

Maintenance Level:

Medium

Shed Level:

Low

Temperament:
AlertIntelligentAffable
Coat Color:
Deep Slate BlueLight Blue Gray

Best For

A Kerry Blue Terrier puppy is best for an active family with experience raising a dog and pet parents who are willing to train consistently and have time for lots of grooming—or, as you'll come to call it, bonding time. A house without any other dogs and cats is ideal.

Kerry Blue Terrier Traits

What makes the Kerry Blue Terrier a Kerry Blue Terrier? Let's find out how they stack up.

Kerry Blue Terrier Temperament

The Kerry Blue Terrier temperament is alert and intelligent, with a capable, strong-willed approach to work and play. Like other terriers, they tend to be fearless, energetic, mischievous and tenacious (yes, they can be a handful!). A potential Kerry pet parent must bear in mind that this tough-as-nails former hunting and guard dog was bred to work at singular tasks, which can make Kerry Blue Terrier training somewhat challenging, though definitely still achievable.

Raising a Kerry Blue Terrier as a family pet is a fine idea as long as early and consistent training is on the schedule. They don’t enjoy being left alone for long, so if you work outside the home, you may want to sign up for doggie day care or enlist the aid of a dog sitter or neighbor to stop by for some playtime. As with every dog breed, small children should be supervised around a new dog until they’ve been properly socialized. This is especially true of the Kerry Blue Terrier dog as their biting tendency falls in the mid-level range. Still, aggression from this breed isn’t common, and Kerries are considered good family dogs.

The Kerry Blue Terrier is friendly and playful on the whole, but when it comes to other dogs and cats in the home, they just don’t play nice with others. Alas… With that in mind, Kerry Blue Terriers are happiest when they’re the (sole) leader of the animal pack and your only pet.

As all-purpose working terriers, the Kerry Blue held many positions in the past, including that of livestock herder, sheep guardian and CEO in charge of removing any and all vermin, such as mice, otters, badgers and hares. Today’s Kerry Blue Terrier characteristics feature high energy and a lively manner, making this breed a lovely canine companion for the get-up-and-go set.

How to Care for a Kerry Blue Terrier

Much of any Kerry Blue Terrier guide to care focuses on their telltale blue coat, which needs diligent work to keep it looking sharp. And you’ll be spending the majority of your time training and exercising your loveable pup.

Kerry Blue Terrier Health

A Kerry Blue Terrier has a lifespan of 12 to 15 years, and their health issues aren’t usually extensive, but like any breed, certain conditions may develop over time. Here’s more about each one:

  • Hip Dysplasia: A genetic malformation of the hip can cause the ball of the joint to be ill-positioned in the socket, resulting in dysplasia. You may notice pain, limping and lameness in your Kerry, though dietary changes and surgery, for more severe cases, can correct this health issue.
  • Eye Conditions: Cataracts may occur in an older Kerry, which appear as opacity of the eye’s lens. A veterinary ophthalmologist can remove them surgically. Your Kerry may also develop dry eye which happens when the tear glands don’t produce enough tears. Sore, itchy eyes are the result, but your vet can prescribe an ointment to treat it.
  • Neurological Disorders: Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive neurological condition that affects the myelin sheath on canine nerve cells, disrupting normal communication between the brain and limbs. While no cure is available at this point, therapeutic treatment is available to slow the disease’s progression. Another similar disorder known as progressive neuronal abiotrophy affects a Kerry’s gait and balance, though it’s rather rare since breeders carefully screen for this condition.
  • Blood Conditions: Hemolytic anemia and thrombocytopenia are blood disorders that cause the immune system to attack the dog’s own red blood cells or platelets. Dogs with this anemia type have weakness, lethargy and whitish or yellow gums; dogs with a platelet issue have blood that won’t clot properly. Treatment is possible either with steroids, immune-suppressive drugs or transfusions.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease: IBD is an immune disorder that affects the intestinal lining, causing chronic diarrhea and vomiting. While it may flare and then subside, medication and special diets can treat IBD.
  • Hypothyroidism: Too little thyroid hormone means your dog may exhibit a dry coat and skin, hair loss, weight gain and behavioral changes. Replacement hormones are the treatment for this condition.

Kerry Blue Terrier History

The Kerry Blue Terrier’s history is an old Irish tale that centers on County Kerry, from which this canine gets their name. Also known as the Irish Blue Terrier for obvious reasons, the true Kerry Blue Terrier origin is a bit of a mystery. Some believe that Irish laborers bred the Kerry in response to the much larger Irish Wolfhounds who were favored by the noble class. And while the Wolfhounds were tasked with keeping illicit hunters off of their masters’ property, the more stealth, diminutive Kerry Blue Terrier allowed those laborers to poach game on these same noble grounds.

More evidence points to the Kerry Blue’s original role, which was that of a utility terrier on the farm. Stepping in to help in myriad ways, this dog hunted down pesky creatures like rats, rabbits and badgers and aided in the guarding and herding of livestock such as cattle and sheep. The breed was also used in England as well as their native Ireland to assist in hunting small game and birds, then retrieving them from the land and water once the hunters hit their marks.

The Kerry Blue Terrier has a patriotic streak as a mascot for those who strove for Irish independence. The breed first came to North America in 1918 and started to appear in various dog shows in the early 1920s. Today’s Kerry Blue is still well-equipped to find a mouse in the house, but most pet parents set up a comfy dog bed near the fireplace so their beloved companion can just relax instead.

If you’re considering this blue-coated dog, which the American Kennel Club recognized in 1922, keep in mind that Kerry Blue Terrier prices tend to range between $2,000 to $2,500 for puppies. To find a puppy, check out the reputable breeders of the Kerry Blue Terrier at the AKC Marketplace. You can also reach out to Kerry rescue organizations to adopt a Kerry or keep an eye out for the breed at your local animal shelter.

FAQs

Do Kerry Blue Terriers shed?

Luckily for you (and your upholstery!), Kerry Blue Terriers barely shed at all. But weekly brushing and combing is still important to remove loose hair and keep knots from forming in your pup’s fur.

Are Kerry Blue Terrier good family dogs?

Yes, the Kerry Blue Terrier is good with kids and rather amiable as long as training is consistent and started when your dog is a puppy. But don’t mix a Kerry with other canines or cats—this one prefers to be the top dog at home.

Are Kerry Blue Terriers aggressive?

No, the Kerry Blue Terrier isn’t known to be aggressive to people, but they need proper socialization and training. They can be aggressive with other dogs (without proper socialization and training as noted above) and they have a high prey drive, so they don’t mix well with cats or other small animals. Still, this friendly, playful breed is an excellent companion and family pet. With enough exercise and a chance at games or dog sports, you’ll enjoy having a well-behaved and satisfied Kerry Blue Terrier.

How long do Kerry Blue Terriers live?

The Kerry Blue Terrier lifespan is a long one, dog-wise, with this breed living between 12 and 15 years.

Do Kerry Blue Terriers bark a lot?

Kerry Blue Terriers tend to bark at a medium level. As former guard dogs, they’re well-equipped to sound the alarm if someone unknown approaches or there’s a delivery in the driveway.

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Top Takeaways

Lively and determined, with a coat that causes people to stop and stare, these are just a few of the positive traits you’ll find in a Kerry Blue Terrier. Though this terrier type does have a mind of their own, this personality quirk doesn’t rule out the breed as a loving pet. High energy families with spare time to brush and clip are welcome here!

Expert input provided by veterinarian Jerry Klein, DVM and certified animal behaviorist, Dr. Mary Burch.

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