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Kerry Blue Terrier - History and Health

Source: PetWave, Updated on July 16, 2015
Kerry Blue Terrier


The Kerry Blue Terrier was developed in southwestern Ireland sometime in the late 1700s or early 1800s. His original job was to kill rats, tend livestock, guard property and protect people. He was said to be the only dog that would tackle an otter, single-handed, in deep water. The exact lineage of the breed is unknown. It has been suggested that the Kerry Blue descends from Irish, Welsh, Bedlington and Soft-Coated Wheaten terriers, although no one knows for sure. Kerry Blues started appearing in the show ring in the late 19th century and rapidly gained favor. The Dublin Irish Blue Terrier Club was formed in 1920. The newly-organized Irish Kennel Club officially recognized the breed in 1922. Dog fanciers in England quickly became besotted by the Blue Terrier, which gained full recognition by The Kennel Club (England) as a distinct breed. Its popularity skyrocketed almost instantly, and the Blue Terrier Club of England became the parent group for the breed in England. The Kerry Blue reached its peak of popularity in 1924, representing more than 25% of the total Irish Kennel Club registrations.

The English and American breed standards are virtually identical and provide that the Kerry Blue’s coat must be trimmed for show competition. The first major show in America at which Kerry’s were entered was the 1922 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show at Madison Square Garden, where Kerries competed in the Miscellaneous Class. The breed was officially recognized as eligible for championship competition by the American Kennel Club in 1924. In 1926, a group of fanciers met during the Westminster show and organized the Kerry Blue Terrier Club of America. At about the same time, the United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club, Inc., was formed. In 1938, those two clubs merged to form today’s parent club, called the United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club.

The modern Kerry Blue Terrier remains true to its roots. He excels in obedience and agility. He is an accomplished earthdog, gundog and retriever, and his herding skills are solid. He performs in the show ring and is indomitable as a watchdog. He has been used for police and military work as well. Most importantly, he makes a faithful and watchful companion, when raised and socialized properly.


The average life expectancy of the Kerry Blue is 12 to 15 years. Breed health concerns may include cerebellar abiotrophy, cryptorchidism, ear infections, epidermal or sebaceous gland cysts, dermal cysts, eye problems (keratoconjunctivitis sicca aka dry eye, cataracts, entropion), footpad keratoses, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, missing teeth, patellar luxation and patent ductus arteriosus.

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