Kerry Blue Terrier - Information and NZ Breed Standards

Membership ID

Kerry Blue Terrier

General Information - Kerry Blue Terrier



12-15 years


Very high

Very low

Watchdog Ability:
Very high

Protection Ability:

Area of Origin:

Date of Origin:

Other Names:
Irish Blue Terrier

Original Function:
Ratting, badger and fox hunting


The Kerry Blue Terrier originated in the 1700s in the mountainous regions of County Kerry from which its name is derived. The Kerry is the national terrier of Ireland (under the name Irish Blue Terrier) and has become a symbol of Ireland. The name comes from colour of the coat. No one knows for certain which breeds were used to develop the Kerry Blue, but many believe the Portuguese Water Dog contributed the silky, wavy single coat. Others think the Kerry Blue Terrier was developed from the old Black Terriers, Spanish (or Russian) 'Blue Dog', Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier and possibly Irish Wolfhounds and Irish Terriers. There is writing on dogs in Ireland over a century ago that mentions a Harlequin Terrier that sounds like a breed description of the Kerry Blue. Once groomed, the Kerry Blue is one of the most striking of all dogs. It has the peculiarity of being born black, the blue coloration not appearing until between nine months and two years of age. The Kerry Blue has been used as a small game hunter, retriever, herd and farm dog, house guardian, family companion, and even in police work. He can also be used to perform tricks. Today the Kerry Blue is primarily a companion and home guardian.


Highly intelligent, determined and playful, Kerry Blue Terriers require firm handling as they may be dog-aggressive. It gets along splendidly with people and loves to be challenged. It can guard, hunt, herd or just be a fun-loving companion. It needs daily mental and physical activity in a safe area. It loves to run, chase, hunt, explore, play and dig. Indoors, it is well-mannered.


The Kerry Blue needs a good amount of exercise, but its needs can be met with a long walk on leash, a vigorous play session or a chance to explore off leash in a safe area. It can live outdoors in temperate climates, but it does better with access to the house. Its coat needs combing about twice a week, plus scissoring and coat shaping every month. Its ears may need to be taped when developing to ensure proper shape.

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