The Kerry Blue Terrier
Irish Blue Terrier

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Kerry Blue Terrier
(Irish Blue Terrier)
Weight: 33 — 40 lbs
Height: 17” — 20”
AKC Rank 2008 #118
Lifespan: 12—15 yrs
Group: Terrier
Origin:: Ireland

Dog Breed Info - Kerry Blue Terrier

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Breed Overview

Origin 1700’s. Original function: Farm dog. Today: Herding. Colors: Any shade of blue-grey in an adult dog, young dogs, dark blue or some brown.

Kerry Blue Terriers came from the southwestern part of Ireland in the County of Kerry back in the 1700’s. Here, the dog was used on farms, managing vermin (rodents) in barns and fields, hunting small game like rabbits and birds, retrieving them over both land and water. The Kerry Blue also helped by herding sheep and cattle for the farmers for over a century. In the early 1900’s, the dog was noticed and brought to England and America. It started as a show dog, ending up at the Westminster dog show in the 1920’s. This new breed was recognized by the AKC in 1924 but only gained a limited popularity as a house pet in America. Oddly, this dog is born nearly black and sometime between 9 months and 2 years old, a bluish coloration shows up, sometimes with some brown tinges along the way. The Kerry Blue does do some police work and trailing along with herding and vermin chasing, even today.. The Kerry Blue is possibly a mix of the Harlequin Terrier, Soft Coated Wheaten, Russian Blue Dog, Irish Terrier, Portuguese Walter Dog, Whatever the heritage, the dog remains popular overseas.

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Relatively easy to train. Intelligent breed but can be head-strong and stubborn. Able to learn agility, obedience and games as well as hunting, herding and guarding by using clicker training and positive reinforcement. It's a method dogs love and the process is very simple.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Kerry Blue Terrier? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

Most Kerry Blue Terrier puppies are easy to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.


The energetic, busy, handful of fur known as the Kerry blue or Irish Blue Terrier is a multi-purpose little dog that can hunt, guard, herd or be content to serve the role of fun-loving companion and family dog that mixes it up with other pets and children. The Kerry Blue Terrier loves to be in the center of thins and is a bit of a show off, always ready to play rough and tumble games and not afraid of something new. He needs a dominating master and early obedience training with plenty of socialization as a puppy. Given the right start in life and an aloha-type owner, this dog will give lots of fun, laughs and love. This dog loves to be the center of attention so he needs to be indoors and around his family. He’s a bit of a showoff you might say.

The Kerry Blue has moderately high energy and loves to romp and play. His antics are such that he needs plenty of daily mental and physical exercise in the form of games, running, jogging, fetch or whatever. He makes a good family pet, a good watchdog, and a good playmate for the well-mannered kids in the house. The Kerry Blue doesn’t bark excessively and aside from being a bit stubborn at times, is as great little bundle of energy for the active family.

If you happen to get a Kerry Blue Terrier with aseparation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

No.. Can be aggressive with strange dogs. Picks and chooses his dog friends.

Friendly Toward Other Pets

.Maybe. Introduce to other dogs and house cats on common turf and slowly. It may take time, but the Kerry Blue should come around and include them in his world as family. The dog will go after small animals such as hamsters.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Wary of strangers, but once the new people are announced and greeted, the Kerry Blue Terrier will embrace them like family!


Very spunky and playful, sometimes rambunctious and silly little dog.


Moderately affectionate. On a scale, the Kerry Blue Terrier is about 6 bars out of 10. He’s not a couch potato. He is loyal, a great watchdog and guardian and bonds tight with his family, likes his tummy rubs, but he doesn’t necessarily slobber all over your face. He’s the sort that is at your side all day and will lift your spirits if you’re feeling down. He needs your constant companionship.

Good with children

Yes, especially older, well-mannered children. The Kerry Blue Terrier can get a bit rambunctious and play hard so the dog isn’t for very young kids.

He will NOT tolerate the noise, poking, pulling and usual nonsense young children often come with when around a dog. He WILL run, romp and chase a ball for them, however.

Good with Seniors over 65?

Yes. The Kerry Blue would be good for seniors. This is a good, loyal, protective companion. If the senior can walk around the block twice a day and drive to the vet, this should work out. The Kerry Blue is playful, funny, affectionate, craves attention. and needs a ton of grooming. Perfect for a senior.

Living environment

Apartment, condo, farm, ranch okay. The Kerry Blue Terrier would like a house with a doggie door and a medium size fenced backyard where he could go out and chase balls and play for exercise. If necessary, the dog could do fine in an apartment, though.

Energy level

Moderately high. The Kerry Blue loves to run, hunt, explore and dig like a true terrier.

Exercise needs, daily

Moderately high. Rate this 6 bars out of 10. One or two walks around the block OR brisk games of fetch (the dog likes to catch balls) OR some running on leash, such as jogging.


Excellent watchdog.

Guard dog

Pretty good. Will offer protection for his family.


No, does not shed or sheds very little at most. Good for those allergic to dogs. Has no “doggie odor” either.


Brush daily. Keep the rough coat looking clean and neat. Bathe only when absolutely necessary, as too much bathing will dry the skin. To keep the coat looking sharp, see your groomer every two months or so for professional scissoring.


Suggested Reading For the Kerry Blue Terrier


Kerry Blue Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Kerry Blue puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
Kerry Blue Breeders with puppies for sale.

Kerry Blue Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older dog and are looking for a Kerry Blue Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Kerry Blue Rescue - (Nationwide) NOTE - As I write this, Petfinder is listing only 4 Kerry Blue Terriers available for adoption in the entire USA! That number is subject to change, of course, but it is an indication.
Adopt A Pet4 This is an interesting site, however, this appears to be a hard-to-find breed. "Search for Kerry Blue Rescue groups, Kerry Blue Terrier Shelters or dogs available to adopt."

Health Issues For The Kerry Blue Terrier
Below are the illnesses or medical problems listed for the Kerry Blue by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own Kerry Blue will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are medical issues this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every Kerry Blue Terrier and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and is not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Cerebellar abiotrophy—Brain disorder with no known treatment. It’s a degenerative condition that indicates loss of necessary nutritional substances. Cerebellar nerve cells form normally and then degenerate and die off causing inability to control distance and speed. Loss of muscular control is not seen at birth of the Kerry Blue Terrier, but gradually appears over time until finally disabling completely. Cause, unknown. The diagnosis is made when there is increasing neurological dysfunction seen day to day in the dog.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain, lameness, arthritis and difficulty walking. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • Spiculosis - Hair follicle problem. Individual hairs become thick and brittle, spike-like hairs among normal hairs on the skin, forming nodules called "spicules." This probably starts at 6 to 12 months of age in the dog and is an abnormality in the fusion of primary and secondary hairshafts. The condition is considered inherited and is found primarily in the male Kerry Blur Terrier.

  • Retinal dysplasia—Caused by trauma, hereditary or damage from an infection. Abnormal development of the retina with folds in the outer layers. The folds are small and may not bother the dog, however, larger obstructions can lead to blindness. Retinal dysplasia is a congenital problem that does not necessarily worsen with age.

  • Patent ductus arteriosis—Canine congenital heart failure. Before birth, blood from the heart passes the lungs by a small vessel called the ductus arteriosis. That small vessel is supposed to vanish after birth and the infant breathes on it’s own With this disease, the vessel does not go away resulting in improper circulation of blood.

  • Otitis externa—Ear infections—Inflammation and infection of the outer ear, especially dogs with long, floppy ear flaps. Dirt and moisture collect and breed yeast and bacteria. Ear hair and wax contribute to the infection environment. If left untreated it can become a serious infection. If at home treatments with cleaning and meds don't work and the problem worsens, surgery might be the last resort.

  • Entropion—Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—(PRA) An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the Kerry Blue Terrier and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates

  • Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca—(Keratitis) A fancy way of saying “dry eye.” Inadequate tear flow causes painful eye infections of a chronic nature. Causes vary from distemper to certain medications to removing the third eyelid tear gland.. Often treated with cyclosporine drops. or an ointment called cyclosporine topical therapy.

  • Cataracts - Hazy or cloudy vision and if not treated will eventually lead to total blindness in the dog.

Other health problems could occur with your Kerry Blue Terrier. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide

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