Species group: Terrier Group dogs
The national dog of the Republic of Ireland, the Kerry Blue Terrier is thought to have been developed by the peasants of Ireland, who were denied the right to own the Irish Wolfhounds bred by nobility. The legend says the blue coat comes from a dog that swam ashore from a shipwreck in ancient times. Able to hunt silently both on land and water, these terriers became versatile dogs that could hunt small game and birds or herd sheep and cattle.
As a result of this heritage, the Kerry Blue is an energetic dog that expects to perform high-energy tasks with its family. Left alone and bored, this dog will find trouble. They may not be able to resist giving chase to small pets, so they probably do best in the single pet home.
Many terriers require reward-based training, and the Kerry Blue can be particularly challenging for the first time dog owner. They can be sensitive, and you don't want to lose your dog's trust, but they can also take advantage if you're not capable of establishing yourself as the alpha.
Appearance / health:
Kerry Blue Terriers are muscular dogs that display typical terrier characteristics. The eyes are dark and small. The V-shaped ears are small and of moderate thickness. The skull is flat with a slight stop. The neck is long and gradually widens to the shoulders. The nose is black with wide nostrils. The chest is deep and of moderate breadth. The tail is of moderate length and set on high.
The Kerry Blue Terrier does not shed and can be tolerated by many people with pet allergies. However, weekly brushing is still required to prevent the coat from matting. They do not have any odor. Frequent bathing and cleaning may be required to keep their coats clean.
Daily jogs, walks, and agility training are sufficient to keep the dog healthy and happy. The owner may provide the dog with a small children's pool or take the dog out for swimming.
Spiculosis, a skin disorder characterized by abnormally thick hairs, is common in Kerries and may cause pain. They may also suffer from cysts on the skin, which may lead to infections. A nerve disorder called progressive neuronal abiotrophy affects the dog's gait, causing lameness in these dogs. This condition is inherited, progressive, and untreatable. Luxating patellas (dislocation of the kneecap) occurs in some dogs. Ear infections, eye problems, corns, and thyroid disorders may occur in these dogs. Hip dysplasia or abnormal hip formation is not common but may affect few dogs.
Behavior / temperament:
Kerry Blue Terriers are born diggers, and if left unsupervised, are capable of destroying the owner's garden. They are happiest in the company of their owners. When left alone for long periods, these dogs tend to be destructive. Hunting comes naturally to the Kerries who love chasing smaller animals and be excellent vermin killers. Some Kerries tend to herd other animals even if they are not trained to do the job. They have great endurance and stamina.
Owners need to be firm, patient, and kind when training these dogs. Early socialization and obedience training can work wonders with Kerry Blue Terriers. The training lessons need to be short and engaging enough.
They are not very noisy though they tend to "talk."
entertaining dog, gorgeous dogs, great guard, wonderful dog
strong stubborn streak, barking habits, aggressive hunting instinct, puppy chewing stage
Kerry Blue Terrier - Wonderful dog, but was sometimes challenging
I've had 5 dogs over the years. I chose to review the Kerry Blue Terrier first, as there are not many reviews for this breed. I was 11 years old when we got Lance from a breeder. He bred the dogs in his home and conducted in depth interviews before allowing someone to purchase one of his pups. Lance was very easy to house train. He went through the normal puppy chewing stage, but nothing out of the ordinary or exceptionally destructive. He was a wonderful dog in general, very sweet, but somewhat aloof...he definitely enjoyed his alone time. He had a very strong stubborn streak. If my father tried to take him for a walk while there was food in his bowl, Lance often growled and showed his teeth. He snapped at my father during some of their showdowns. My parents briefly had concerns about my safety, however Lance was never aggressive with me. He was sweet and gentle with all children. He bit my mother on the face once, but she admitted it was partly her fault. She was on the floor playing with him and he gave a warning growl - he wasn't in the mood to play. She began to wrestle playfully with him and he grabbed her chin in a reflex reaction. He let go as soon as she yelled. It certainly wasn't an attack, more of a warning nip, but he did break the skin. Immediately after, he followed her around the house with his ears down. He seemed aware of what he did and appeared submissive and remorseful (I know, I'm projecting human emotions, but he did really did seem concerned and sorry). We did not experience any other problem behaviors after that.
He was extremely intelligent. My experience with him convinced me that dogs do understand human vocabulary. He loved traveling in the car and would get very excited if someone said the word "car", so we began spelling it. He quickly learned to associate "C-A-R" with a car ride. I took German in high school and decided to see if he could learn words and commands in another language. He absolutely did. One of his favorites was "der Strauss", German for ostrich. He would spend hours staring at our ostrich feather duster while sitting or standing in a hunting position. When I said, "der Strauss", he would run to the spare bedroom closet in which we kept the duster. If he accidentally got out of the house and wouldn't return, we would yell that word and he would run back in the house, down the hall, and sit in front of the closet door until someone showed him the duster.
He was not an excessive barker. He was healthy without any issues other than multiple sebaceous cysts. My parents eventually chose not to give him the traditional Kerry Blue groom, as food would get trapped in his beard, causing him to be a bit smelly.
He was very loyal, sweet, and smart. We had to work with him to resolve the issues with my father, but he was highly trainable and overcame his stubborn/bad behaviors. I would definitely recommend this breed, although probably not for families with small children..
From carsc Jun 20 2014 10:42PM
A fantastic dog for adults and older children!
I have had four Kerry Blue Terriers over the years; I have had three males and one female. They are fantastic dogs for adults and older children. However, due to the aggressive hunting instinct in the breed, I wouldn't recommend Kerrys for very small children. With that said, I have had a Kerry living around a 6-year old boy before and they were completely fine; it all depends on the particular dog.
Kerry Blue Terriers are classy looking dogs. They are black as puppies and progressively turn grey as they age. While their grooming is somewhat complex due to their beard and puffy legs, they are gorgeous dogs and well worth the effort.
They are typically energetic, playful dogs and they are mid-sized. They are not highly athletic and are not the strongest swimmers, but they can typically swim and love to run around and play. Luckily, their barking is kept to a minimum and, in my experience, they only really bark at squirrels or the doorbell. I have always found this barking at the door beneficial because they have an aggressive sound which makes me feel like my house is safe when I am not home.
With people, they are typically sweet tempered so long as they were raised in a loving way. With other dogs, it can be a little bit hit or miss. If Kerrys are raised around many other dogs, they should be fine. However, small dogs are always a concern because of their instinct to hunt small animals and large dogs can also be an issue if they show any signs of aggression to the Kerry.
If you buy from a breeder who understands the maintenance of good bloodlines, they are a breed with relatively few health problems..
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