GROUP 2 - TERRIERS
The Kerry Blue Terrier is one of the nine native breeds of Ireland. The Kerry, sometimes called the Irish Blue Terrier, was a peasant farmer’s dog. It was bred with great courage, adaptability and intelligence and was used to bring horse, cattle and sheep in from distant paddocks. Then, at night, the dog would sleep on the hearth and guard the house.
The Kerry Blue Terrier was also bred to hunt vermin. Irish farmers from the Ring of Kerry reported that the breed was bred in both light and dark colours as a way of disguising it on hunts, as the peasant farmers were not allowed a hunting dog. So, on moonlit nights they would run with the lighter colour dog to poach hare and various other small game, and then when the night was dark they would use the dogs with darker coats.
The breed is of a medium size in body, and muscular. It is a square dog with slightly longer legs and is an ideal family member. The Kerry Blue Terrier will play untiringly, then comfortably relax with you at the end of the day. It is well adapted to being a house dog with the family and has a non-shedding coat that is soft and wavy – this starts out black but over time the colour changes to any shade of grey-blue, from pale silver to gunmetal.
Because it does not shed coat, the breed will need a weekly brushing. It can be clipped as a pet by any grooming parlour. You can have the Schnauzer trim or a total clip oﬀ and this will keep your pet in good shape as a member of the house.
Remember, if you leave the Kerry’s beard and moustache it will require some washing on a regular basis.
The temperament of the Kerry Blue Terrier is disciplined; you need to be in charge and a young pup will look to you as pack leader. It is always good to fully socialise a new puppy, at puppy preschool and possibly some Obedience training, especially the basic commands of sit and stay. These days, most puppies are raised in the house and some have even become lifelong companions with house cats.
Apart from making an excellent watchdog, the Kerry Blue Terrier is devoted to children and will play with them for many hours. If you consider obtaining a puppy, most breeders will have a waiting list so you will have to be patient.
Health and Suitability
Kerry Blues have been bred very carefully in Australia and have very few health issues, the most common being ingrown hair cysts.
To keep them in top condition, the breed does require some exercise, either a half-hour walk or 10 minutes of fetch to help keep it ﬁt and healthy. You can expect your Kerry Blue Terrier to live up to the age of 12 to 15 years.
Please remember that a Terrier is not for all families. It does thrive on attention and responds well to being part of the family. When left to its own devices, without interaction or exercise, the breed can be destructive to gardens. It is best to always leave it with its own toys and a Kong or other device to entertain it when left for long periods.
Words: Wayne Lewis
Image: Tony Manning
Now you know a little about the Kerry Blue Terrier, you may think that this is the dog for you. Before you make a decision, please make contact with the breed club or your State controlling body for purebred dogs. They will be able to give you information about available puppies and also suggest dog shows where you can see the breed and speak to breeders. In this way you will gain a better perspective of the Kerry Blue Terrier and its needs, and whether this breed would suit your lifestyle.