Kerry Blues have a sense of humour and a stubborn streak. They need experienced handling and are not the breed for a first time owner.
Kerry Blues are very special dogs. They are loving, full of fun and have a well defined sense of family loyalty. All this and good looks too! But if you are a first time dog owner, or lack confidence handling dogs, then a Kerry is not for you.
If you don’t have time for grooming or walking or the money for beauty parlours and dog walkers again another breed will be more appropriate. However, if you have the energy, time, dedication, lots of love and are firm, consistent and fair then a Kerry might just be the dog you’ve been looking for.
The Kerry Blue Terrier – Origins
The Kerry Blue is an old breed whose origins are lost in the mists of time. Being Irish a bit of the Blarney comes into play. One story is that the Kerry is descended from a Portuguese Water Dog who swam ashore from a ship wreck and mated with a local terrier. Another is that peasants, forbidden by the nobility to hunt with Wolfhounds, crossed them with Wheaten Terriers and Bedlingtons to produce dogs fleet of foot and lion hearted.
Whatever his ancestry the Kerry has been developed as a Jack of all trades. He’s been used to hunt badgers and small prey, as a gun dog and, surprisingly, as a herding dog. A testament to the inherent intelligence of the breed.
Health, Beauty and Exercise
The Kerry Blue is a striking animal. It’s impossible to walk a Kerry without getting admiring looks. They are gorgeous. But the looks come at a cost. That lovely coat needs constant care and most owners groom their dogs themselves. It can be difficult to find a professional groomer who knows how to clip a Kerry and even if you do the frequency of clipping makes the costs prohibitive. On the plus side they don’t shed and may be a suitable dog if you suffer from allergies.
Kerries are robust, healthy dogs who can live in excess of 14 years. They have few inherited ailments but are prone to eye problems such as cataracts and in-growing eye lashes.
Vigorous animals they need mental and physical stimulation. An hour’s walk a day is the very minimum required. Kerry Blues excel at agility training so after puppy classes this may be something to consider.
The Kerry Blue Character
Kerries are enormous fun. They are also very clever, so clever that it isn’t unheard of for a Kerry to train his owner rather than the other way round. Kerries, aka Velcro dogs, love to be with their special people so should never be left alone for any length of time. A Kerry is definitely not a yard dog; his place is in the home, preferably by your side.
Mischievous, big hearted and very affectionate, they also have a reputation for aggression towards other dogs. Well, dogs are dogs not Disney characters, and some Kerries, for all their charm can be pugnacious. If another dog starts a fight a Kerry won’t be the one to stand down. A Kerry Blue puppy needs early socialisation with other dogs and careful training to counter any signs of aggression.
Kerries With Children and Cats
Kerries can be very good with children. But, as with most breeds, if pushed too far a Kerry may snap and they have a hard bite. As well as training your dog you need to teach your child how to respect his canine friend.
I’ve known Kerries who regard the family cat as part of their pack and treat it with great affection. However, introducing a kitten to a Kerry family can be fraught. Anyone who’s walked a Kerry in squirrel territory knows what fast and potentially lethal hunters they can be.
Is a Kerry Blue the Dog for You and Your Family?
You have to be pretty dedicated to be a good Kerry owner. They are not for everyone. But if you are one of the few you will, without doubt, find it a privilege to share your life with this rumbustious, charming comedian.