The Kerry blue terrier is an Irish dog breed that is also sometimes referred to as the Irish blue terrier, and was originally bred as a vermin control dog, to hunt and destroy pests including rats, rabbits and foxes. Later, the Kerry blue’s versatility meant that it became more of a general purpose working dog, used for roles including guarding, and herding sheep and cattle. While today, the Kerry blue terrier has been exported all over the world, they are one of the less common terrier breeds, although they are not at the time of writing classed as a vulnerable native breed.
The Kerry blue terrier stands up to 19” tall at the withers, and can weigh up to 15kg. Puppies of the breed are black at birth, and only develop their full blue colour as they age, with their full and final coat colour not being achieved until the dog is around two years old.
Their fur is wavy and very soft, without an undercoat, and with a very fine texture similar to human hair. They only shed their hair very lightly, and so they require regular grooming to keep their coats in good condition, as well as trimming and clipping to manage the length of their fur.
If you are wondering if the Kerry blue terrier might be a good choice of dog for you, in this article we will cover the temperament and main traits of the breed in more detail. Read on to learn more.
The Kerry blue terrier is an active, lively and spirited dog that is sure to keep you on your toes, but assuming that you can earn the dog’s respect and trust, you will have a friend for life. They are very loyal dogs once they have bonded with you, and are also good with other people and almost universally gentle with children, but they can be problematic with other dogs.
They are bold, confident and can be stubborn, and may not be a good pick for the first time dog owner, or those who are unfamiliar with the traits of the terrier. They like to be active and have a role to fulfil, and require plenty of both mental and physical stimulation to keep them happy.
The Kerry blue terrier needs to be able to both play and run off the lead, and be walked on the lead several times per day, and they are lively, energetic dogs that like to be outside. They have relatively high exercise requirements, and do not thrive within a sedentary lifestyle.
Good, effective early training of the Kerry blue is vital in order to ensure that the dog is responsive and well behaved when they are fully grown, and while they are bright, intelligent dogs, they can be a challenge to train. They are prone to stubbornness, and can be unruly when they are full of beans, and so catching and retaining their attention is vital for successful training.
When properly trained and managed, the Kerry blue is quick, tenacious and bright, and is a good fit for roles including dog agility, herding, and obedience classes. Historically used as police dogs in Ireland, the Kerry blue terrier does have a history of a slight predisposition to aggression, something that selective breeding has worked hard to breed out of the modern variant of the dog.
The Kerry blue terrier has a very strong prey drive, and will naturally hunt and pursue all manner of smaller animals without having to be taught to do so. This means that they may, if poorly managed, pose a significant threat to wildlife and even domestic pets such as cats. Good recall training, supervision when off the lead and muzzling if the dog displays a heightened propensity to chase other animals is essential.
Early socialisation with other dogs is hugely important for the breed, as they do have a tendency to be dominant and sometimes aggressive with other dogs, particularly strange dogs, if this is not achieved. When properly socialised as a puppy, however, the Kerry blue terrier is usually ok with other dogs, and may be able to live happily with another dog too.
The Kerry blue terrier requires an experienced owner that knows how to manage a challenging, intelligent dog, with all of the core terrier traits. They are notably very kind and gentle with children, and so could be a good fit for families with children of virtually any age.
They require lots of exercise, supervision and interaction with their families, and do best when they have a job to do and a role to fulfil, such as a working role, or participation in a canine sport. They are not among the easiest of breeds to own and manage, but are infinitely rewarding and very loyal when the balance is right.