The distinctive looking Kerry Blue Terrier dog breed wears many hats as an excellent hunter, a dependable guard dog, a good herder and a devoted companion, depending on what you expect from your dog. This is because these dogs were originally used as hunters of vermin, and later for herding sheep. Though very active and playful when out in the open, these dogs keep a low profile indoors, remaining well-mannered and amiable. They make excellent family dogs as they are affectionate and great with children.
The Kerry Blue Terrier dog breed gets its name from the mountains of Kerry in Ireland where they originated. It is not clear exactly when this breed came into being, but they have been found both in the southern and northern parts of Ireland from the 18th century onwards. They are thought to have some part of the Portuguese Water Dog and the Soft-coated Wheaten Terrier, along with Irish Terrier and Irish Wolfhound blood.
These multipurpose dogs were very useful to have around farms as they would rid them of vermin and hunt small prey and retrieve game from both land and water. They were good at herding and guarding sheep, and proved to be excellent guardians of the property and trusted companions to their owners as well. Though they were extremely popular in the rural Ireland, they remained unknown outside the country until the 20th century. The dogs got noticed in the English show circles in the 1920s and was introduced into the United States soon after. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1924.
The Kerry Blue Terrier dog breed is the most distinctive among the Terriers with their curly coat of blue. The dogs are about 18 to 19 inches at the withers, their weight ranging from 25 to 35 pounds. The females are noticeably smaller in stature. These non-shedding dogs have single coat with the hair growing continuously like human hair, requiring regular trims. They are hypoallergenic and devoid of doggie odor even when their hair gets wet.
The puppies are born black, but the color lightens as they age. and should ideally become a blue or steel grey before they are two years old. They have a long head and muscular body with long legs. The ears are half folded to the front and the tail is docked to medium length where docking is still permitted. The tail is high-set and generally carried upright.
Kerry Blue Terrier dog breed is known for its affection and devotion towards the family and their love for children and tolerance to their rough play. However, they are very territorial and intolerant of other pets, particularly dogs. Even though these qualities make them ideal guardians, they are downright quarrelsome with other dogs and actively pick fights.
These intelligent dogs need early socialization and obedience training. They need firm handling by an authoritative owner who is consistent; otherwise they may become willful and disobedient. The owners of the Kerry Blue Terrier are expected to have a sense of humor to fully appreciate and enjoy the comical side of this dog.
Grooming and exercise
The shaggy coat of the Kerry Blue Terrier dog breed requires regular grooming that includes trimming it short every month or once in 6 weeks, in addition to thorough brushing at least twice a week. Their ears need special attention while grooming, as hair can grow into the ear canal. These dogs are expensive to keep if professional help is sought in grooming.
This high-spirited breed needs to be active to stay happy and healthy, but intense activity is not necessary. Brisk walking, roaming about in open spaces, and a bit of exploration will provide the necessary physical and mental stimulation.
Once they have their share of outdoor fun, they are content to stay indoors with the family and just laze about on a couch. These tough dogs can tolerate both heat and cold to some extent, and can even live outdoors year round acting as guardians of the property and the people. However, when kept as a family pet, they become so attached to the family that they are better off sleeping indoors.
Common health issues of Kerry Blue Terrier dog breed
The Kerry Blue Terrier dog breed is relatively free of major disorders barring cerebellar abiotrophy that is occasionally seen. Some minor problems such as hip dysplasia, ear infections, eye disorders like entropion, and dry eyes (Keratoconjuctiva Sicca) do occur. They are prone to a congenital skin disorder called spiculosis and hair follicle tumors that are not usually malignant. The breed has a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years on the average, but many dogs live up to 15 years.