Kerry Blue Terrier

The Kerry Blue Terrier, also known as the Irish Blue Terrier, is considered by many to be the national dog breed of Ireland. To others that honor goes to the Irish Wolfhound. Suffice it to say there is no official breed holding this title!

two Kerry Blue TerriersCourtesy Hilarmont

Somewhere along the way their was a divergence about the breed's official name which resulted in a general recognition of both names.

Whatever the case, he is a good-humored fellow as you might well imagine, but not without a dose of pepper in his personality!

The breed origins can be traced back over a hundred years to the Kerry Mountain region in Ireland where they were used as a general working dog. Their skills range from hunting and retrieving both on land and water, to guarding the flocks and the homestead.

Likely breeding stock included the Bedlington Terrier and the Bull Terrier. It is a very sturdy and well-balanced looking dog with unmistakable Terrier characteristics.

It has a full and beautiful dark coat and a dominant square-shaped head.

Though not a dog commonly seen, in the year 2000, it was the winner at the UK Crufts Dog Show - a highly coveted award for any breed.

Living With The Kerry Blue Terrier

The Irish Blue Terrier, as he is known in Ireland, is very charismatic, smart and bold. He is an affectionate and loyal dog to his entire family - not a one person dog. Like most terriers, he is confident and independent, except in his case, these traits are more dominant.

The Kerry Blues need strong owners who can unequivocally establish their leadership. Otherwise, they may end up with a boisterous dog that can be a handful. Training needs to be challenging and creative to hold their attention.

Early socialization is recommended to balance their protective traits and potential dog-aggressiveness.

An ideal owner should have a sense of humor, be firm and fair in training, but not domineering, and enjoy a challenge of wits with this clever canine. This is not a dull dog!

Physical Stats And Coat Care

Kerry blue terrier

Height: 17-1/2 to 19 inches
Weight: 33-40 lbs.
Color variations: Blue gray, light blue gray, gray blue, deep slate

Unlike many terriers that are double-coated, the Kerry Blue Terrier has a single coat.  It is soft and silky, though very plentiful and quite dense. Puppies are born with a black coat that takes several months to transform into one of the adult blue shades.

The coat is a signature feature of this breed and it does need to be brushed, combed and bathed regularly to maintain its good looks. However, there is virtually no shedding and as such the Kerry is considered to be a hypoallergenic dog breed easily accepted by those with allergies. It also has little to no odor.

To keep up on routine maintenance, a slicker brush and metal combs are basic necessities. These will help avoid the dreaded matting and tangling for which this lush coat is prone to, if neglected. A grooming table will also make the job a lot easier on the back!

Tools we like as a starting point for everyday upkeep are the Wahl Combination Double Row Pet Rake along with a buttercomb to glide through the coat like - well butter! Although this comb might seem a little pricey, it's amazing and just the ticket for doing-no-harm to the Kerry's thick locks - also happens to be what the pros use!

If you come across any difficult areas while brushing or combing, a small amount of  detangling spray is helpful to the process.

Grooming is an important priority in owning a Kerry Blue Terrier to his coat healthy and prevent it from becoming matted. While salon visits are usually needed to maintain the unique cut, home care can defer the need for pro help.

So in summary, to keep up with the basic needs, routine care consists of cleaning wipes to the bearded area to remove food residue and dirt; frequent brushing and combing and a monthly bath.

Kerry Blue TerrierCourtesy Alofok

Activity Level

The Kerry Blue Terrier is quite an active dog that enjoys long walks, vigorous games and definitely some mental stimulation.

Toys invented by neuroscientists that will test your terrier's intelligence are the answer. Choose one to engross your pet in all day play while providing a challenge to solve puzzles with these unique toys. Perfect for smart dogs!

Ideal Living Space

With sufficient exercise, the Kerry Blue dog adapts well to either house or apartment.

That being said, there is no doubt that a fenced yard would be useful for training and games or days when getting out is not possible .

How Is the Kerry With Children?

This Terrier is very playful and seems to have a natural affinity with children. Although the Blue is patient and gentle with kids, their sometimes rambunctious behavior may make them better pals for bigger children.

As always, when it comes to interaction between pets and children - no matter what the breed - they should be taught how to handle dogs and be considerate of them.

It goes without saying that because both pets and children can be unpredictable, activities should be supervised by an adult.

Suitable Companion for Seniors?

With some exceptions, seniors or more sedentary owners would most likely find this breed a lot more dog than they need!  Exercise needs would be a major consideration.

However, if you love the breed and are up for a feisty dog, adopting a rescue is a great way to find one.  You can learn more through the Kerry Blue Foundation.

Book Recommendation

Kerry Blue Limited Edition Owner Guide

Covers breed history, description, grooming, puppy selection, nutrition, housetraining, general health care, breeding, and owner responsibility. A good resource for the novice or someone considering the breed. Good color photos.

  1. Home
  2. AKC Breeds
  3. Terrier Dog Breeds
  4. Kerry Blue Terrier


Image Credits:

Hilarmont Image: And License:

Alofok Image: And License:

Share this page:
Solo Build It!