Kerry Blue Terrier
(Irish Blue Terrier)
A charming companion from the Kerry county, Ireland that is also trustworthy as a watchdog.
The Kerry is said to have been utilized as herder, terrier and sportsman. It is named after the Kerry county in the southwest of Ireland.  Traditionally, the Kerry County is esentially one of small
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farms with substantial numbers of sheep and cows.
The Kerry county is not the only one to claim paternity of the breed and at one point the breed was actually called Irish blue terrier.
Genetically, the Kerry Blue it apperas to be related to the Irish terrier, Bedlington terrier, Bull terrier and Soft Coated Wheaten terrier.
The Kerry, apparently, became a mascot for Irish patriots seeking independence from England and some sources even present it as the national dog of Ireland. While it is true that a Kerry Blue, named Convict 224, was the favorite dog of Michael Collins, one of Irelands most famous patriots, the Irish Blue Terrier can not really claim to be the National Dog of Ireland, as the Irish government never has given this designation to any of their native dog breeds. There is record of Michael Collins sponsoring an Act of Parliament in this diretion, however, there is no record of this act being heard or legislation passed.
A popular Irish lore tells us that his ancestor was a brave dog, the only survivor of a ship wrecked off Tralee Bey in the late 1700s who swam ashore and mated with local terriers. Their descendants were quite prone to fighting and were particularly appreciated to protect farms against intruders, animal or human.  The early Kerries were also said to be the only dogs capable of tackling "an otter, single-handed, in deep water". Unfortunately they were also used for dog fighting in the 1800s.
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In Brief
Moderate to high
soft, dense
Some of the most distinctive features of this breed is his bluish color, his soft wavy coat, unseen in other Terrier breeds, and his characteristic square head, with slight stop and flat over the skull.
All shades of blue are accepted, with or without black spots. Puppies are born black and this color is accepted untill the age of 18 months. If the dominant fading gene is present the color begins to fade and becomes slate grey by the age of 18 months.

In Ireland, the kerry is required to be shown with an untrimmed, natural coat.
Character and Temperament
Like most terriers,  Kerries were bred to work independently of human directives. Their job required fearlessness and a never-give-up tenacity. As a consequence, these willful, proud and head-strong dogs are a little less blindly obedient and a little more distractable than some other breeds, requiring both persistent and regular training, based on creative and positive reinforcement techniques. Because they can be dog aggressive and vocal, socialization from puppyhood, both with dogs and with people) is highly recommended.  Kerries do well in obedience, dog agility, sheep herding, and tracking and have been used as police dogs in Ireland. It is also a useful guardian dog. They do not do well when left alone for long periods of time, or when not allowed to join in family activities. It is not a breed recommended for the novice dog owner.
More information on Kerry blues can be found on the very complete website of the The Kerry Blue Foundation

Is the Kerry Blue the National Dog of Ireland ?
Kerry Blue Terrier
by Bardi McLennan

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