Kerry Blue TerrierAn interesting breed, the Kerry Blue Terrier has a truly unique appearance matched only by its incredible history. Find out more about this fascinating breed on this week’s BestBullySticks Breed Spotlight.

According to Irish folklore, the story goes a little something like this:

One stormy evening a lone canine swam ashore. Leaving his owner’s wrecked ship behind, he braved the rough coastal seas and soon found himself on the plush grass of County Kerry, Ireland. Covered in a handsome coat of curly slate-gray fur, he set out across Ireland mating with all the Wheaten Terriers he encountered.

While the verdict is still out on the validity of this legend, we do know for certain that the Kerry Blue Terrier is from County Kerry, a lush and mountainous coastal region of southwestern Ireland. Able to trace their lineage to the Portuguese Water Dog, Kerry Blues are very at home in the water as legend would suggest. A working dog by nature, this energetic and fun-loving breed has a playful sense of humor and is eager to please at a moments notice.

Originally used by Irish farmers as a retriever for hunting, the Kerry Blue Terrier was an all-purpose working dog of the peasantry class. Loyal and obedient, the Kerry Blue found numerous roles in and around farms fitting of it’s breed characteristics. From tracking and hunting vermin to herding sheep and cattle, this versatile breed would eventually become the layman’s Irish Wolfhound.

The first breed to be registered with the Irish Kennel Club, the Kerry Blue Terrier was the breed responsible for the foundation of the organization in 1922.

Founded at a time when the Republic of Ireland was just coming into being, the Irish Kennel Club, and more specifically a mutual love for the Kerry Blue, provided a common forum for people of opposing political factions to come together. In this regard, the Kerry Blue Terrier can be seen as a pivotal player in helping to defusing political tensions of the era. With later attempts to make the Kerry Blue Terrier the national dog of Ireland, the breed eventually came to stand for the nation itself. 

Later that same year, the Kerry Blue Terrier was also recognized by the American Kennel Club and Kerry Blue popularity had never been higher. But what exactly made the Kerry Blue such a popular breed during the early 20th century? Perhaps it was the appeal of an all-purpose working breed. Or maybe it was the breed’s folklore-esque origin story. Either way, the Kerry Blue Terrier gained much notoriety because of it’s social and political connotations. We’re pretty sure the Kerry Blue’s dashing good looks didn’t do him harm, either.

Born black with black fur, Kerry Blue Terrier’s coat fades over time if they carry the correct recessive genes. After a Kerry Blue reaches 18 months they will exhibit a wide variety of possible fur colors. From blue, blue and black, silver, slate blue, to black and gray — there are a wide range of possibilities for this breed’s coat. With an incredibly soft and wavy top coat but with no undercoat to speak of, these curly haired canines don’t shed. Instead, their hair continues to grow year round and requires routine maintenance. Because they don’t shed they’re also hypoallergenic making a fantastic choice for owners with allergies. BBS has heaps of all-natural dog grooming products to help keep your dog looking good and feeling healthy.

Full grown, Kerry Blues Terriers reach 17–20 inches (44–51 cm) in height, and top out around 30–39 lbs (15–18 kg). 

Hyper Pet Critter Tails BunnyUnfortunately due to their hunting and herding background they tend not to do well around smaller pets and cats. Best suited for homes able to offer ample running space, Kerry Blues require daily exercise and rewarding engagement. The Hyper Pet Rabbit Critter Tail is a great toy for retrievers of all types.

Like most dogs, the Kerry Blue is prone to some breed specific health problems. The most common issues being eye related. These include keratoconjuctivits sicca, a swelling of the cornea and inner eyelids, entropion and cataracts. Epidermal cysts, while commonly reported, are usually benign. Generally long-lived, Kerry Blues have an average lifespan of 10 years, however 13-15 years is not uncommon.

This breed may night be right for everyone, however if you do bring one of these loving companions into your home, make sure you’re able to give them the things they need to stay happy and healthy.


The Kerry Blue Terrier is without a doubt one of the most unique breeds BestBullySticks has showcased on our blog. Are you a Kerry Blue owner yourself? Share your experiences and advice below or on our Facebook!