Kerry Blue Terrier

"Blue Streak"

Photo of Kerry Blue Terrier


This blue-gray Irish fellow with the crispy coat probably came from in and around Kerry, Ireland, where he worked as an all-purpose farm dog, watchdog, herding dog, hunting dog, water retriever, and of course, vermin hunter. Some people like to say the Kerry Blue originated when a “Russian Blue Dog” swam ashore after a shipwreck off the Irish coast, and mated with local terriers. Nobody can prove it, though. The Kerry probably did mix with local Irish Wolfhounds, even though these dogs don't really resemble each other much. Many other Irish terriers may have been intermingled, too, but nobody really knows for sure. We do know the Kerry could, and still can, do it all, but somehow escaped the notice of other countries until the 1920s, when fanciers began to exhibit him in dog shows. Even today, the Kerry isn't wildly popular in the U.S., maybe because of his grooming needs or just because people still don't know about him. He's currently ranked as the 128th most popular breed.


Fiercely loyal, surprisingly comical, full of energy, and brimming with affection for his friends (but a bit of suspicion for those he doesn't know yet), the Kerry Blue is a classic terrier type—fiery but fun, always ready to chase a small animal, and sometimes scrappy with other dogs (always pair them with the opposite sex for household peace). Kerries are sturdy enough to play with responsible kids, big enough to intimidate burglars, energetic enough to be a good exercise buddy, vocal enough to play watchdog, and companionable enough to share your life. As long as you have the time and money to keep the Kerry well groomed, you'll be happy he's by your side - unless he's busy ridding the yard of squirrels).


A medium-sized terrier with tight muscles, bright eyes, and that terrier spark, the Kerry Blue Terrier stands about 17.5 to 19.5 inches and should weigh about 33 to 40 pounds. The Kerry has a long head, strong jaws and clean lines, accentuated by closely trimmed, wiry blue curls, folded-over ears, and long bushy eyebrows and beard that give the Kerry his unique look. Don't be surprised that Kerry Blue puppies are black. They fade into their beautiful blue-gray color sometime between about 9 months and two years. If a show dog is still black by 18 months, he's disqualified—but that doesn't mean he can't still be your beautiful, happy pet.


Training the Kerry Blue Terrier Can a dog be too smart? The Kerry Blue Terrier might be that dog, but never fear - you can train him! You just have to be even smarter. Train Kerry puppies from day one, teach them the house rules, correct them verbally for bad behavior, and reward the good stuff with enthusiasm. Never let a Kerry puppy do anything you wouldn't want the adult dog to do (like bite fingers or jump on the white couch), and practice every day. You'll be amazed at the capacity of this breed to learn it all…and then some. He may even teach you a trick or two.

Grooming & Care

The Kerry Blue needs lots of grooming to keep his unusual blue coat in good condition. Brush and comb every other day, clip nails, clean ears, brush teeth, and take the Kerry to a professional groomer (or learn to clip him yourself) about once a month. Kerries also need lots of exercise every day, preferably in partnership with you, to stay strong, healthy, and fit.

Health Concerns

Kerry Blue Terriers can be prone to a few health issues, including dry eye, cataracts, and other eye problems. They can also develop chronic ear infections, skin cysts, degenerative hip disease, and a serious, untreatable nervous system disease called Progressive Neuronal Abiotrophy or PNA. Ask the breeder whether the parents of the litter have their eyes certified as clear and healthy by a veterinary ophthalmologist, and what other tests have been done.

Famous Kerry Blue Terrier

Kerries were also the first breed registered with the Irish Kennel Club, but are not, as some say, the national dog of Ireland.

Ideal Owner
Activity Level 4
Schedule 6
Home 44
Children 10
Experience 54
Quick Facts
Grooming 57
Exercise 61
Challenges Needs a lot of activity, can be over-protective and dog-aggressive, will chase small animals, some bark a lot.
Height 17 to 20 inches
Weight 33 to 40 pounds
Life 10 to 12 years
Home Alone 83
With Kids 114
With Strangers 113
Availability 95

This client information sheet is based on material written by: LifeLearn

© Copyright 2014 LifeLearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.

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