Kerry Blue Terriers (or “Kerries” as their fans call them) got their start by working all over Irish farms — they herded cattle and sheep, hunted and retrieved birds and small game, and kept the barns free of vermin. Today, they're prized as showdogs ; comparatively few are pets. This versatile breed also works as a guard dog.
Named for its homeland, County Kerry in Ireland, this medium-sized and medium-energy breed can grow to between 33-40 pounds and lives an average of 12-15 years. The breed is recognized by the American Kennel Club and classified as a member of the Terrier group. Kerry puppies are born black; they develop their blueish tint over their first 18 months.
AKC Recognized: Y
Breed's Original Pastime: Hunting
Breed Group: Terrier
Average Lifespan: 12-15 years
Bark Factor: Moderate
AKC RANKING 105
AREA OF ORIGIN Ireland
DATE OF ORIGIN 1700s
ORIGINAL FUNCTION ratting, badger and fox hunting
TODAY'S FUNCTION ratting
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 18-19.5 Weight: 33-40
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 17.5-19 Weight: <33-40
OTHER NAME Irish blue terrier
Energy level Medium energy
Exercise needs Medium
Playfullness Very playful
Affection level Moderately affectionate
Friendliness toward other dogs Shy
Friendliness toward other pets Shy
Friendliness toward strangers Shy
Ease of training Easy to train
Watchdog ability High
Protection ability Very protective
Grooming needs High maintenance
Cold tolerance Medium tolerance
Heat tolerance Medium tolerance
BEHAVIOR & TRAINING
WHAT IS A KERRY BLUE TERRIER'S PERSONALITY LIKE?
Kerry Blue Terriers are intelligent and alert. They adore their chosen people and enjoy making them laugh. Like many terriers, they often don't get along well with other dogs or small pets. They'll play best with older children.
WHAT IS KERRY BLUE TERRIER BEHAVIOR LIKE?
The Kerry Blue Terrier is lively and adventurous, and they will need time and space to run and explore. These are active, athletic dogs. Some Kerry Blue Terriers can be a bit barky.
HOW EASY IS IT TO TRAIN A KERRY BLUE TERRIER?
Kerry Blue Terriers are definitely independent-minded and can be somewhat resistant to training. These smarty-paws tend to lose interest quickly, so keep your training sessions interesting and brief. They respond well to food, play, and praise rewards.
Socialize your pup early and often to discourage timidity or suspicion of new people or animals.
Their strong prey drive means they're not good candidates for off leash play outside well-fenced areas. And we do mean well fenced — this dog will laugh its way over anything shorter than five feet and right through underground electronics.
Kerries excel in earthdog, herding, agility, and obedience competitions, as well as in rally and tracking.
CARE & HEALTH
HOW MUCH DO KERRY BLUE TERRIERS SHED AND WHAT ARE THEIR GROOMING NEEDS?
Kerry Blue Terriers are infrequent shedders. Those wavy, soft coats need a fair bit of tending, however. Plan for weekly brushing and trimming every month or so and bathe as needed.
It's worth noting that these dogs can be a bit messy. Those fuzzy faces will drip after every trip to the water dish and collect food debris after every meal. Her cute curls also pick up dirt, twigs, leaves, and anything else she can find while digging in the underbrush, so plan for regular combing to prevent tangles and mats.
WHAT HEALTH PROBLEMS DO KERRY BLUE TERRIERS HAVE?
Kerry Blue Terriers are usually fairly healthy dogs. Some experience eye disease or hip dysplasia.
Breed history has moved while this section is under construction. Please check out the first tab for fun facts about this breed's history. You can also read on to learn about this breed's ideal family situation.
ARE KERRY BLUE TERRIERS GOOD FOR PEOPLE WITH ALLERGIES?
The American Kennel Club lists Kerry Blue Terriers among its breeds recommended for allergy sufferers. This breed sheds infrequently and predictably, and produces less dander than most dogs.
You can reduce your furry friend's impact on your allergies with frequent baths and brushings to reduce loose hairs and allergy-aggravating proteins in your pet's dander. Use a damp cloth to wipe off your dog after playing outside. Smaller dogs have less surface area, so they produce comparatively less dander than larger breeds — definitely something to keep in mind with a dog like a Kerry Blue Terrier! Remember that no breed is 100% hypoallergenic, and any breed can aggravate allergies.
WHAT IS A KERRY BLUE TERRIER'S BEST DAY?
The Kerry Blue Terrier enjoys so many things: running, digging, herding, tracking, retrieving, swimming, exploring, and chasing small fuzzy things. Give her a job or space to play and just watch her go.
SHOULD I ADOPT A KERRY BLUE TERRIER?
Kerry Blue Terriers are versatile and adaptable dogs. They are equally well suited to warm and cold weather. They make smart, affectionate companions and impressive show dogs. If you're a one-pet household looking for a distinctive canine companion, the Kerry Blue Terrier could be just what you need.
Have you decided that a Kerry Blue Terrier is the perfect dog for you? Why not be your new best friend's hero and adopt a rescue! Be sure to check out our article on what to expect when you're adopting a dog or cat.