Saturday, March 1, 2014

KERRY BLUE TERRIER (dog)

The Kerry Blue Terrier in Ireland is often called the Irish Blue Terrier.  Originally bred to control "vermin" including rats, rabbits, badgers, foxes, otters and hares, over time the Kerry became a general working dog used for a variety of jobs including herding cattle and sheep and as a guard dog.  Today the Kerry has spread around the world as a companion and working dog.  Despite winning Crufts (the most important UK dog show) in 2000, it remains an unfashionable breed.. still distinctly uncommon, but not as threatened as some of the other terrier breeds such as the Skye Terrier Sealyham Terrier and Dandie Dinmont Terrier.  This is an immature Kerry Blue:


Some of the characteristics of this dog include a long head flat skull, deep chest, and a soft0waty-to-curly coat that comes in several shades of "blue". the general term outside this breed being progressive grey.  Puppies are born black; the blue appears gradually as the puppy grows older, usually up to 2 years of age.  The coat is the key feature of the Kerry.  It is soft and wavy with no undercoat.  The texture is similar to that of fine human hair and like human hair does not shed but continues to grow throughout the year.  This means the Kerry needs very regular grooming (at least once each week) and clipping on an average of every 6 weeks.

These dogs are strong-headed and highly spirited.  They have always been loyal and affectionate towards their owners and very gentle towards children but were often considered downright mean toward other animals, including other dogs.  In the early days of competitive dog showing the Irish Kennel Club required Kerries to pass a "gameness" test, known as Teastas Mor ceritification, before they were deemed worthy of being judged.  These tests included catching rabbits and bringing a badger to bay in its set.  They are fast, strong, and intelligent.  They do well in obedience, dog agility, sheep herding and tracking.  They have been used as police dogs in Ireland.  Modern breeders have attempted to retain high spirits whilst breeding out aggression.


As a long-legged breed, the activity level of the Kerry Blue Terrier ranges from moderate to high.  They require an active skilled owner who can provide them with easly socialisation and obedience training.  They require daily exercise.


The Kerry has an amazing sense of humour/"touch of the blarney"!  Ideally owners should have a sense of humour themselves to fully appreciate a Kerry = "to be owned by a Kerry" is a famous quote in Kerry circles.


The Kerry Blue was first observed in the mountains of Kerry in Ireland, hence the name of the breed.  There is a romantic story of a blue dog swiming ashore from a shipwreck:  the coat of this dog was so lovely that it was mated with all the female Wheaten terriers in Kerry (or in all Ireland according to some), producing the Kerry Blue.  Perhaps this story is not entirely myth as the Portuguese Water Dog is often suggested as part of the Kerry's make up.  Others suggest the Kerry was produced by the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier crossed with the Bedlington terier with (or without) some Irish Wolfhound or Irish Terrier blood.  The extinct Gahar herding dog is also mentioned as another possible branch of the Kerry's family tree.  One certain fact is the breed became very popular as an all-round farm dog in rural Ireland.


7 comments:

  1. Human hair does not shed?
    Oh no! I'm an alien!
    ha ha, every morning I comb my hair and a couple of dozen fall into the sink.
    I know what you mean though.
    This would definitely not be a dog for me. The constant grooming, the energetic exuberance, would all be too much.

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    1. I shed very little and yet have less hair than years ago. It was very, very thick to begin with so am fortunate from that aspect.
      I have enough brushing to do with Precious...a daily task and I have no energy so this dog wouldn't suit me either but I still love the shape of it.

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  2. They are lovely dogs but way too high energy for me.

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    1. I really do love the look of them but have to admire them from afar as just not my cup of tea these days.

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  3. Such a majestic looking dog in that first photo. And I echo River on the shedding front. I shed nearly as much as the cats.

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    1. A beautiful canine specimen. If I shed as much as Precious does I'd have been bald years ago. A few hairs in my brush in the morning but otherwise I seem to hold on to my hair thank goodness.

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