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The Kerry Blue Terrier is known for its show-stopping blue coat that sets it apart from other terrier breeds.
They were initially bred to hunt smaller animals like rats, rabbits, and foxes. However, this dog breed slowly evolved into a generalized working dog – able to guard herds of sheep and keep rodents out of the fields.
Despite their versatility, these dogs are rare today. They are even difficult to find in Ireland and the UK, where the breed originates. Finding them in America is tricky, though not impossible.
12 – 15 years
Black, blue, blue & black, blue & silver, blue & gray, silver, silver blue, slate blue
Active, experienced owners
Active, stubborn, alert
This breed is known for being incredibly affectionate with their family and others that they know well. They are incredibly devoted dogs and bond equally with everyone in the family. They are great with children, assuming that they are socialized with them at a young age.
With that said, they are not great with other dogs. Their territorial nature tends to get the best of them. As terriers, they aren’t super trainable. Kerry Blues often require a patient trainer, as it takes a significant amount of time to teach them anything.
Kerry Blue Terrier Characteristics
Kerry Blue Terrier Puppies
Kerry Blue Terriers are very difficult to find in the United States. They are more common in the UK and parts of Europe. However, even in Ireland, they are much rarer than other breeds. That doesn’t mean they’re impossible to find, though. There are at least a dozen breeders in the United States that regularly produce litters. You can get your hands on a puppy if you want one – you’ll just likely find yourself sitting on a waiting list for a while!
The Kerry Blue Terrier Club of America keeps a list of all breeders and litters, making it an easy place to find puppies near you.
If you do find a Kerry Blue Terrier, consider yourself lucky because you’ll have a loyal and loving addition to your home. Keep in mind that they are very active and energetic and need an owner that is an experienced dog owner.
Temperament & Intelligence of the Kerry Blue Terrier
The Kerry Blue Terrier is a complicated dog. They were originally bred as working animals – not companions. Therefore, they are not your average lap dogs.
This breed can be very strong-headed. They were bred to keep rodents out of fields and protect sheep without the input of a person. Therefore, they had to do their job entirely independently. Kerry Blue Terriers were not bred to follow commands.
This trait is still apparent today. Even though they’re kept mostly as companion animals, these dogs aren’t the easiest to train. They are pretty independent and will often ignore commands that they know.
Like many terriers, they can be highly high-spirited. They are often set in their ways and believe that they know what’s best. This breed can be a bit hyperactive as well, which doesn’t help matters!
They are often highly affectionate towards their family members and people they know, though. They are loveable dogs, even though they weren’t bred as companion animals. In many cases, Kerry Blues can make excellent family dogs for this reason.
Because they are working dogs, Kerry Blue Terriers are extremely fast and robust. They perform remarkably well in dog sports, despite their stubborn nature.
Initially, this breed was somewhat aggressive. Though it wasn’t their primary purpose, they were initially used as guard animals. If you have a dog guarding your sheep and farmland, that dog needs to be a bit territorial.
You don’t want them wagging their tail to greet a thief!
Today, much of that aggressiveness has been bred out, though. They still aren’t the most social breed out there, but they aren’t nearly as aggressive as some other breeds, either.
Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪
Yes. These dogs are very affectionate and love their people. They are well-known for their devotion, even if that doesn’t necessarily translate into training.
Kerry Blue Terriers can make excellent companions for children. This breed is exceptionally patient with children in their family, especially when socialized from a young age. They can put up with a lot from children and are great playmates.
They also get along just fine with older children.
This breed does best with active families. They like to cuddle, but much of their time shouldn’t be spent lying around on the couch. They’re an excellent option for younger children who want a dog to run around with, as well as active older children.
Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?
No, not in the least.
If you have any other pets at all, this is not the breed for you.
Firstly, the Kerry Blue Terrier is territorial around other dogs. This is an area that careful breeding has not yet taken care of.
Secondly, they have a strong prey drive and will chase cats and other small animals. Even if they don’t chase your cat, they may try to herd them – which your cat will not appreciate!
Things to Know When Owning a Kerry Blue Terrier
Food & Diet Requirements 🦴
Kerry Blue Terriers don’t have any specific dietary requirements. However, they are pretty active, so they may eat more than your average medium-sized dog.
Be sure to keep an eye on their body condition and adjust their food if necessary.
At 12 weeks old, these dogs should eat three meals a day. By the time they reach 4-6 months old, their appetite usually decreases, and you can decrease their meals to twice a day – according to the U.S. Kerry Blue Terrier Club.
The Kerry Blue Terrier is a relatively active dog – like most terriers. They are working dogs that were made to be in the field all day long. They aren’t a dog that you can leave inside for much of the day.
You should plan on taking your Kerry Blue Terrier on at least two walks a day. These walks should be at least 30 minutes long, with plenty of time for sniffing. Follow your dog’s lead on how fast and hard to walk.
Forced exercise isn’t good for any dogs, including the Kerry Blue Terrier.
A fenced-in yard can be pretty helpful. However, you can’t place your Kerry Blue Terrier in a backyard and expect them to meet their activity needs by themselves. Active playtime in the yard is still required.
We highly recommend only adopting this canine if you are an active owner. They require daily, regular exercise – something laid-back owners may have a hard time giving.
Kerry Blue Terriers are notoriously stubborn and difficult to train. They are intelligent dogs. They just weren’t bred to listen to people.
This breed primarily worked independently, guarding farmland and flocks. These tasks required independent thinking, which has stuck with the terrier today.
However, that doesn’t mean training is impossible. You can train your Kerry Blue Terrier – you have to try a bit harder than you would for other breeds.
We highly recommend puppy classes as soon as possible. These classes help with both training and socialization. The faster your puppy learns the basics, the easier they will be to handle. While they aren’t the most social dogs, the socialization provided at puppy classes can be beneficial.
The Kerry Blue Terrier does require regular grooming. Their non-shedding coat must be brushed through and combed once a week to avoid matting. They aren’t as mat-prone as other breeds, but mats will form without regular brushing.
A visit to the groomer is recommended every 6-8 weeks. The Kerry Blue Terrier needs regular trimming, especially around the head, neck, and ears. Without proper trimming, the coat can get out of hand and be difficult to care for.
You can groom your Kerry yourself, but we recommend seeking professional advice from a groomer on how to do so. You can find videos on YouTube outlining how to groom these dogs properly, as well as guides on the United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club website.
Still, your best bet is to watch another owner groom their dog or to discuss your dog’s particular needs with a professional groomer.
Health and Conditions 🏥
Overall, Kerry Blue Terriers are an extremely healthy breed. However, they are prone to a few genetic health conditions that owners should be aware of.
Male vs. Female
There isn’t a significant difference between the males and females of this breed. They are about the same size and have similar temperaments.
Males are not particularly more territorial than females, for instance.
The only differences are those that come with reproduction. Females will go into heat, while males won’t. Dogs may have slight temperament changes during these times. Males are also more prone to urine marking, especially if they smell a female in heat.
Beyond this, what gender you choose is largely up to you!
3 Little-Known Facts About the Kerry Blue Terrier
1. Kerry Blue Terriers were bred by peasants.
These dogs were not the canines of nobility. Instead, it is thought that peasants bred these smaller dogs to hunt game – while the nobility had the larger (and more expensive to keep) Irish Wolfhound.
2. They don’t shed.
Most terriers shed; it’s just the nature of terriers. However, the Kerry Blue Terrier does not. They have a soft, dense coat that requires a decent amount of grooming. But they do not shed at all.
3. Puppies are born black.
Puppies are not born with the distinctive blue coat of the breed. Instead, they are born black and slowly fade to blue over their first 18 months. Many puppies remain black after birth but can lighten considerably as they approach sexual maturity.
The Kerry Blue Terrier is a rarer breed, but a few breeders in the United States specialize in them. Puppies may take a while to find (be prepared to sit on a waiting list), but it isn’t impossible.
These are working terriers, through and through. They are best suited for experienced, active owners who plan on putting a lot of time into their dogs. When you consider all the time you’ll spend training and exercising these dogs, you should expect to dedicate quite a bit of time to their care!
They aren’t a good dog for someone who just “wants a dog.” If you want to perform canine sports or have a constant companion for hiking trips, they can be a great option, though.
Featured Image Credit: Kseniia Kolesnikova, Shutterstock