A Little About Kerrys

[picture - "Gibson" Ch Olizure Silhouetto of A Man & Pauline]

A Little (which became a lot) About Kerrys 

The Kerry is a striking dog, projecting nobility-and boy - does he know it! Take him for a walk down the main street and watch people turn admiringly in your direction. In fact, before you know it, complete strangers will "talk Kerry" to you and often ask the question that will always be asked of you - what breed is he - Poodle, Scottie or maybe even an Airedale? At least the converted know the true answer.

But beauty is only skin deep. The Kerry's real values lie below the surface. Known in Ireland for some 130 years as the Irish Blue Terrier, Kerrys were used as farm and herd dogs, as well as ratters and retrievers, on land and in the water. Without losing any of his early talents and hardiness, this rugged working terrier has been refined to become the sophisticated house pet of today-alert and intelligent, game but controlled, protective yet friendly and especially - full of love and life.

Kerry Traits:
* Stubborn, proud, tenacious, courageous, bold, can be pugnacious
* Highly intelligent, curious, trainable, eager to please
* Energetic, sometimes to the point of boisterous, and playful
* Good sense of humour
* Good-natured, merry, affectionate
* Loyal
* A "family" dog, not a one-person dog
* Good with children, has a gentle mouth
* Has stamina, vigour, and endurance; is very stoical

Kerry Owner Traits - a MUST have:
* Firm, consistent, fair, and determined (more stubborn than the Kerry!)
* Fun loving, affectionate, energetic, a good sense of humour.

If you possess these traits and think that a Kerry might be for you – please read on for more information of this great breed-

History of the Kerry 

The origin of the Kerry Blue Terrier is lost in the dim past. No one knows with any certainty how or when the breed was started. The best that can be done is to relate some of the legends about it and throw in my thoughts and then you may decide for yourself what to believe.

One legend says that in the days when only the nobility in Ireland was permitted to hunt with the Irish Wolfhound, the peasantry developed the Kerry Blue Terrier for the purpose of poaching. There has been some speculation that the Irish Wolfhound was mated to the basic terrier breed in Ireland to produce the Kerry. (Hence the great working attitude and possible coat colour)

Then there is the romantic legend of the Russian "Blue Dog"-a blue terrier, that swam ashore from a Russian ship wrecked in Tralee Bay and was mated to local bitches to produce the Kerry Blue Terrier. Another version identifies the ship as one of those in the Spanish Armada.

Then there are my thoughts of the origin of the Kerry.

During the development of the Kerry, many countries traded with the British Isles. Among them were Spain and Portugal. As Ireland has always had a reputation for good sheep, it was only natural that these were considered valuable throughout Europe. It wouldn't seem impossible that the Portuguese might bring along their Spaniel-like dogs (Portuguese Water Dogs) or that the Spanish might bring along their poodle-like dogs on their ships to various ports during these trades. Some dogs might have been bartered (back and forth) or simply jumped ship upon arrival to be adopted by a new country. It was not uncommon to trade or sell back and forth ANY livestock, so why not dogs?

Having known a number of Poodles and a few Porties, I can say that they have many of the same character-traits of our Kerrys, not the least of which would be similar coat and colours. In fact, I think Kerrys are just like Standard Poodles in temperament, as I've known some pretty tough poodles and the Porties share the same bubbly attitude of the Poodle and the Kerry Blue.

Who can say that this is the true origin-or that it is not? You be the judge.

Probably though, this much can definitely be accepted as fact: The Kerry Blue Terrier, or Irish Blue Terrier, as he is called in Eire, has been known for well over one hundred years; the Kerry Blue has every attribute an Irishman would seek in a dog.

Years of selective breeding have produced an intelligent, athletic dog that has been called "a canine Jack-of-all-trades and a master at most." In their native Ireland, they were expected to hunt, herd, guard, retrieve, and go to ground, all as part of a day's work – definitely a farmer’s dog.

In modern times though, the Kerry has been successfully used as a police dog, livestock herder and guardian, therapy dog, assistance dog, and in search and rescue, obedience, flyball, and agility. Most importantly, though, they are devoted companions to the many people who are proud to be owned by one.

Kerry Coat

The Kerry's most distinguishing characteristic is its coat. Described in the breed standard as "soft, dense, and wavy," it does not shed and can be tolerated by many people with pet allergies. The colour of an adult Kerry (puppies are born black) ranges from light silver to a dark blue-grey, which gives the breed its name.

The coat is trimmed to give Kerrys their classical terrier look. However, this crowning glory can also be the breed's biggest drawback. This is a high maintenance breed. The coat needs to be thoroughly brushed and combed at least once a week, and a monthly trim is recommended. Most professional groomers have never seen a Kerry, let alone know how to trim one properly, and you must be prepared either to cultivate a relationship with a good groomer, learn to groom the dog yourself, or live with a Kerry that is trimmed more like a Schnauzer or Poodle! But as a breeder – I am always there to help and teach where and when I can.

The coat can also be liken to a piece of "Velcro" which can make a Kerry owner think twice about letting them romp in the bush, park, or at the beach, as the time required afterwards to pick burrs, twigs, and other debris out of their coats can be truly intimidating. Having said that, by keeping the coat shorter (in a pet clip), your Kerry can be a dog and do dog things and you both can enjoy your time together while grooming – it can be relaxing and is certainly valuable time spent with your best mate.

Kerry Size

The ANKC standard calls for Kerrys to be "18"-19" (46-48 cm) tall, bitches proportionately less," and a weight of 33-40 lb. (15-16.8 kg). However, larger ones are not uncommon; 20" dogs and bitches are frequently seen, and even some 22" and 23" dogs have been reported. Although this still places them in the medium-sized range for dog breeds, many people consider Kerry Blue Terriers to be large dogs. In addition, they are deceptively strong for their size. Their size and strength, combined with a surprisingly deep bark and natural protective tendencies, make Kerrys excellent watchdogs. Not being yappy by nature, Kerrys also adapt well to apartment living. This is a very people-oriented breed, and should be included as part of the family. Under no circumstances should a Kerry spend its life confined to the backyard or to a kennel.


Kerrys have a typical terrier personality. While extremely intelligent and quick to learn, they may only obey when it suits them unless properly trained. If you want a dog that will stay happily in an unfenced yard and never leave the property, do not get a Kerry Blue Terrier!

This is a breed that is quick to learn exactly where and under what circumstances it can get away with not obeying, and for this reason is not a good choice for a wishy-washy, overly indulgent, or submissive owner. Firmness and consistency are important when you own a Kerry Blue Terrier, and obedience training is highly recommended.

Being terriers, they may have problems accepting cats or small pets (especially rodents). Dog aggression (aggression towards other dogs, not people!) can occur in the breed and therefore proper training, and common sense, go a long way in preventing these problems. Once again – Firm, consistent and fair training techniques work with this breed, and brought up in this manner and you will have a family member to be proud of.

We do encourage you to come and meet our kerry kids and that way you see them for yourself.  This will give you a good chance to see if this is the breed for you.


The Kerry Blue Terrier is generally a long-lived breed (about 12 years), plagued by relatively few health problems. Skin problems, usually flea allergies or sebaceous cysts, are the most common complaint. Eye and ear problems may occur due to the profuse hair growing on the Kerry's face and down in the ear canals, but can be prevented with vigilant care and regular grooming. Immune problems and bleeding disorders have been reported within the breed. It is advisable to find a reputable breeder who is aware of these problems and knows what breeding is behind their own dogs. And it is best to meet family members of your prospective Kerry in order to make up your own mind with regards to their health and temperament.

When you are seeking a puppy (either a Kerry or any breed) we suggest you Google "inherited diseases in name of breed here". Look for a Registered breeder who tests and provides certification for any possible testing. Just saying 'full vet check' is not enough.

If a breeder answers your questions with 'oh, mine don't have this or that condition' ask them how they can prove this to you with either certification or showing you that their Kerry’s family members are happily living into old age and are cyst free. If your puppy comes from a long line of healthy, cyst & lump free Kerrys with lovely clear eyes – right through to old age, you will know that you are one step closer to finding a healthy Kerry puppy for your family.

In Summary

  • They are 17" to 21", 30-45 lbs in size.
  • The Kerry Blue's coat is non-shedding and can be suitable for people with allergies, but the coat does require lots of maintenance
  • The Kerry is extremely intelligent, hence requires training.
  • They are good with people especially children, although dog aggression can occur.
  • The Kerry has few health problems.

A Family Dog

Kerrys are an excellent choice for families with children. They are an energetic, fun-loving breed, with a lot of common sense, and are big enough to handle some good natured rough-and-tumble without getting hurt or feeling the need to "defend themselves." Your children will find him a lively, lovable and an inquisitive friend, always ready for play and armed with patience. Instinctively, the Kerry seems to know that children do get rough, and doesn't mind. Of course, for their own safety and that of the kids, no dog should be left totally unsupervised with small children and common sense should always come first.

Even during play the Kerry will be vigilant and act as a guardian when necessary; for the Kerry is a watchdog with no equal. By alerting the household to callers, yet calmly accepting them if you do, the Kerry demonstrates his sense of responsibility to his home. (Properly trained, there should be no unnecessary barking.)



Contact Details

Barry & Pauline Oliphant
Lowood (1 hr west of Brisbane), QLD, Australia
Phone : 0419 023 950
Email : [email protected]