AKC Dog Breeds: Kerry Blue Terrier

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Terrier Group
Height: 17-20 inches   Weight: 33-40  pounds  
Black, Blue, Gray-Blue, Blue/Grey, Black Speckles, White Speckles

The typical Kerry Blue Terrier should be upstanding well knit and in good balance, showing a well-developed and muscular body with definite terrier style and character throughout. The Kerry Blue Terrier originated in the County Kerry region of Ireland in the 1700's. Originally a mountain dog, the naturally heavy coat kept them warm throughout different climates. The Kerry is the national terrier of Ireland, and has become Ireland's symbol. The dog's coat may have been derived from the Portuguese Water Dog with its signature silky, wavy coat; it may also have been derived from Irish Wolfhounds, the soft coated Wheaten Terrier, or the classic Irish Terrier. The Kerry Blue has been used as a farm dog, house guardian, police dog, and small game hunter. They have consistently been family companions and are often involved with police research and work involving hunting. They are easy to train and can perform a variety of tricks. Today, the Kerry Blue Terrier is most commonly a companion and home guardian. The breed was registered with the AKC in 1922.

General Appearance
The Kerry Blue Terrier is a well-built, muscular, medium-sized dog with true terrier style and character. Born black at birth the coat changes color through one or more transitions.  Black to very dark blue (darker than deep slate) shades or tinges of brown to different shades of blue gray.   The correct mature color is from slate blue to light gray.  The color should "clear" by the time they are 18 months old.  Solid black after the age of 18 months is not permissible in the show ring.  Black or dark blue points on the Head, muzzle,  feet and tail are permissible at any age. Some adults never lighten properly. Adults may retain dark points even when the rest of the coat lightens. The long, well-balanced head sports abundant whiskers, beard and eyebrows. In show dogs, the eyebrows reach all the way to the bridge of the nose. The ears are v-shaped and crease above the skull to fall toward the outside corner of the dark, keen eye. The ears are pasted while the puppy is of teething age to create the necessary crease. The nose is black and the keen eyes are dark. Dewclaws are removed, especially those on the hind legs. The limbs are straight with a powerful bone structure. The tail is docked and carried upright - the straighter the better.


The Kerry Blue Terrier is a lovable, gentle, and sociable dog, with a high degree of intelligence and plenty of enthusiasm. This energetic breed loves to play and spend time sharing activities with his family - this is not the breed for those with little time for their pets, as these dogs can otherwise get bored and destructive. Lively and confident, the Kerry Blue Terrier can make a good family pet, but is best suited to those with some experience of dog ownership and training. This is because this breed can be headstrong and quite manipulative, requiring a confident, assertive owner who known what they are doing in terms of training. It is important to make sure that your Kerry Blue Terrier is socialized from an early age to ensure that he develops a well balanced temperament and personality. These dogs make effective watchdogs, as they are protective, but some can be a little too protective. These dogs get along well with children who are gentle, but do not appreciate being handled roughly. The Kerry Blue Terrier may be wary around strangers.

Requiring grooming every six weeks, the Kerry Blue Terrier requires a lot of coat maintenance. Ear hair plucking is required as this breed is prone to ear infections and dirty ears. A very light shedder, this breed should be brushed and combed every week to keep coat silky, tangle free, and presentable. Bathing every week is required for this dog or their beard will become very dirty.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

The life expectancy of the Kerry Blue Terrier is around 12-16 years, and there are a number of health problems associated with the breed, although it is largely a fairly hardy and healthy breed. The Kerry Blue Terrier is generally a very healthy dog, and is known to live for extended years above other breeds. These dogs are especially prone to genetic disorders involving a variety of eye problems, and a few notable skin conditions.

Activity Level
The Kerry Blue Terrier is a naturally athletic dog, and requires plenty of long walks. The best exercise for these dogs involves a combination of running, walking, and jogging. Jogging alongside the owner is a wonderful way to bond with the dog, and provides plenty of fresh air. These dogs require stimulation on a regular basis, so dog toys and other activities indoors will help them stay positive and intelligent. These dogs do not tend to be destructive in the house, and thus are well suited for smaller living spaces. An ideal workout for the Kerry Blue Terrier is running outside in a large, open space.


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