Kerry Blue Terrier

Breed Group: Terrier

Temperament and Behavior

Even though the Kerry Blue Terrier is less social than many breeds, they still like to be with their owner whenever possible. In addition to the terrier trait of going to ground (digging out vermin from their den), they also have an ability to herd, retrieve, and hunt. Their prey drive and aggression toward other dogs makes him a poor choice for households with pets. Usually suspicious of strangers, they make an excellent watchdog with a willingness to provide protective services if needed. They are sturdy enough to ward off both two and four-footed intruders on a ranch and adaptable enough to fit into the condo lifestyle. Unwilling to accept teasing, they do best with older, well-behaved children. Kerry Blue Terriers are active, playful dogs both inside and out. Meeting their modest exercise and companionship needs will prevent hyperactivity and discourage them from using their considerable intellect to make mischief. But those who love gardening may be concerned with their love of digging. They are also possessive of their food and toys.

Physical Characteristics

The Kerry Blue Terrier is a medium size dog that stands 17 to 20 inches tall and weighs 30 to 45 pounds. His coat is medium length, quite soft, and dense. Puppies are born with a black coat, taking them about 18 months to develop their blue-gray adult color. Kerry Blue Terriers need attention paid to their grooming. Many owners shave them to avoid the shaping with scissors every 4 to 6 weeks needed to keep them looking like the dog pictured above. When brushed twice a week, their shedding is almost non-existent. Their beard needs to be combed daily to remove debris. They do well in virtually any temperate temperature.

Trainer's Notes

Strong socialization with people is important to prevent a Kerry Blue Terrier from becoming overly protective. They are one of the brightest of all dogs, but this does not mean he will be instantly obedient. He will use his intelligence to try and get what he wants. Providing them with advanced obedience and agility training will help keep them from becoming bored and mischevious. These dogs can learn anything but need an owner committed to firm leadership and even-handed training. However, he will resist treatment he views as unfair. They do best with experienced owners.

Photo © by Pleple2000 available under the GNUFDL
Kerry Blue Terrier

Kerry Blue Terrier


The Kerry Blue Terrier is affected by a number of health issues. Genetic issues include 11% of the breed affected by the blood disorder Von Willebrand’s Disease and 6% affected by Hip Dysplasia. They are prone to the eye problems of Dry Eye, Entropion, and Distichiasis. Problems with their hair follicles including cysts and spiculosis also occur. Cerebellar abiotrophy rounds out their most frequently seen genetic issues. This disease affects the nervous system of puppies usually from the ages of 2 to 6 months. Initial symptoms are stiffness of the limbs and head tremors. Later signs are stumbling and an inability to stand by one year of age. The condition is progressive (it gets worse) and there is no genetic marker or treatment for the disease. The most frequent non-genetic issue seen are chronic Ear Infections. Keeping their ear canals free of hair and clean is the key to minimizing the problem. They have a lifespan of 12 to 15 years.


A relatively rare breed, the Kerry Blue Terrier is ranked 105th in popularity by the AKC. There are about 500 dogs registered each year.

Breed History

The Kerry Blue Terrier originated in the south and west of Ireland, frequently narrowed down to County Kerry. He had been known for at least a century in Ireland before being introduced to English and American dog fanciers in the 1920’s. How a dog with skills as a hunter of small game and birds, land and water retriever, and sheep and cattle herder remained unknown outside the area it was created for so long is still a mystery. Today the dog has added police work to his long list of accomplishments.

Additional Information

The National (US) Breed Club is the United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club.

Is A Kerry Blue Terrier THE BEST Dog For YOU?

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