Kerry Blue Terrier
Life span: 12-15 Years
Height: 18 – 20 inches (male), 17 – 19 inches (female)
Weight: 35 – 40 lbs. (male), 33 – 38 lbs. (female)
Originally developed for the control of pests, such as rats, rabbits, and other small animals, the Kerry Blue Terrier has transformed into an all-purpose breed. In fact, the Kerry Blue can aid hunters in finding game, as well as serving as a herding dog. The Kerry Blue Terrier has a wavy coat that ranges from a dark-blueish color to light grey. In certain breeds, the coat will fade in color as the dog begins to mature.
This breed is loving with its family, but also a handful to have around. They have very strong personalities, and need an equally strong owner to be able to handle them. Proper training is required to keep them in check, but once they have that, they can be quite the fun companion.
Their ears are small and fold downwards although not quite falling, and their tail is straight and stands erect and is usually cut, which is not recommended due to its cruelty. The eyes are brown with a black nose. Their coat is dense, wavy and soft to the touch. Coat colors include different shades of black, blue, and sometimes even some brown.
Originating in Kerry County, Ireland in the 1700s, this breed is the national Terrier of Ireland, although how it got to Ireland is unknown. It is also called Irish Blue Terrier and their original purpose was to hunt small animals, however, it was also used for herding. Once it began being used as a companion, the Kerry Blue Terrier Club of the United States was created. It is believed that its ancestor, the Portuguese Water Dog, is what gave it their wavy coat. Their other ancestors are highly debated, with the most common theories including the Black Terrier, Spanish Blue Dog, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, Irish Wolfhound and even Irish Terriers. In 1924 it was recognized by the American Kennel Club.
This breed is loving and extremely affectionate towards its family, including children. However, they need to be watched with young children, as they are not very tolerant. They do get along with other pets, as long as they are introduced properly and at a young age. They need plenty of exercise, or will resort to destructive behavior. They have a strong personality and therefore need an owner that establishes dominance as the leader. Never let them out of a leash or fenced area due to their hunting instincts.
This breed may suffer from many diseases, including:
- Cancer, noticeable through unusually swollen bumps, bleeding from any orifices, or sores that do not heal, along with difficulty breathing.
- Cataracts, in which the lens of the eye clouds, causing partial or complete loss of vision.
- Chronic Otitis Externa, which is a chronic infection of the outer ear canal that can be prevented by cleaning the ear and plucking out the excess hair.
- Entropion, which affects both lower eyelids, is an inward rolling of the eyelid and is treated through various surgeries to prevent ectropion (a rolling out of the eyelid).
- Factor XI Deficiency, or Plasma Thromboplastin Antecedent Deficiency, is a rare inherited blood clotting abnormality caused by a deficiency of the XI factor regarding the blood clotting mechanism, which causes the dog to bleed extreme amounts after surgery or an injury.
- Hip dysplasia, a hereditary disease in which there is an abnormal formation in the hip socket, that may eventually cause painful arthritis. It may also be affected by the environment they reside in.
- Hypothyroidism, a disease that affects the thyroid gland, its symptoms are ear infections, skin infections, hair loss, lethargy, and depression.
- Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca, or dry eye, is caused by an autoimmune reaction to the tear glands that causes lack of tears, and can lead to blindness.
- Keratoses, in which the dog may develop warts, corns or calluses on the feet or nose, which can be removed surgically.
- Luxating Patella, in which the kneecaps may dislocate or move from its proper place.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), in which the dogs may become night blind at first and progressively lose their day eyesight as well.
- Skin Cysts, in which the dog might develop lumps, and although epidermal and sebaceous cysts tend to not be a problem, they could be if they rupture by becoming infected.
Given that they do not shed, a thorough weekly brushing is required, with a full grooming sessions every two months, including trimming. Their nails should also be trimmed regularly, as well as their teeth brushed, and ears checked for dirt to prevent infections. They do need daily exercise, preferably alongside their owners, although they are not overly energetic. Training is relatively easy given that they are extremely smart. Early socialization and training are a must with this breed.