The Kerry Blue Terrier: An Irish Legend

  • 22/11/2010
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The Kerry Blue Terrier is born black. As it grows, it turns into a slate-grey color, with definite tones of silvery blue. The adult Kerry can be anywhere from a deep shade of blue to a silvery gray with blue overtones. This is a terrier with some uniquely "un terrier" tendencies. He is noted as being an apt swimmer and has even been known to take on an otter in deep water. He is of course, like all terriers, an excellent ratter and vermin hunter. Families who have a Kerry Blue prize him as an alert and discriminating watch dog, who will not attack without provocation, but will surely let an intruder know that he is on forbidden territory.

It is believed that the Kerry Blue was used for centuries in the county of Kerry in Ireland, although there is little mention of this in written history until the nineteenth century. One of the tales of the Kerry's beginning has it that the dogs swam from a sinking vessel of the Spanish Armada. However he came to Ireland, the dog is an integral part of the country life and serves the natives well as a hunting dog, a rat catcher, a water retriever, a guardian and an all around family companion.

In Ireland, the showing and breeding of the Kerry Blue is overseen by the Irish Blue Terrier Club of Dublin. The dogs may not be scissored nor trimmed, the requirement being that they be shown "in the rough". In Great Britain the standard is virtually the same as the American Standard and the coats may be trimmed. The coat care of this terrier is extensive, for the hair is soft and dense and quite silky besides being tightly curled. Daily brushing is a must and a monthly bathing is in order, for the coat is oily and will not easily shed dirt. There is an extensive "fall" of hair over the eyes and even if this is kept trimmed, the eyes need to be regularly checked. The Kerry has few natural diseases within its genetic inheritance and is long lived.

It is naturally an active dog, somewhat insistent on its own way and needs to have a firm hand in puppyhood as it will assume the dominant role if given the chance. However there is no sign of aggression towards people and the Kerry Blue is a friendly and outgoing terrier who will accept strangers without animosity when they are allowed onto the property by his master. The Kerry is quite playful and enthusiastic and could be a handful were it not for the fact that it is also highly intelligent and will listen and respect his master when properly trained.

The Kerry Blue made quite a hit when it was first entered into the American Kennel Club in 1924. Since then its numbers have been carefully monitored by responsible breeders and seldom will you find a Kerry Blue being sold without some restrictions on the registration or breeding of future litters. This is due in great part to enthusiastic fanciers of the breed who are heavily involved in showing and are making a sincere effort to preserve the fine instinctive qualities of the breed and the correct conformation as well.

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