Kerry Blue Terrier

The Kerry Blue Terrier is the quintessential working dog. He hails from County Kerry, Ireland, where he was bred to hunt small game and birds, kill rodents, and herd sheep and cattle. Intelligent and brave, he became a cherished pet as well, displaying fierce devotion to his family or pack. While not a particularly well-known dog breed, the Kerry Blue enjoys a dedicated following of fanciers, thanks to his working abilities and loyal companionship.

See all Kerry Blue Terrier characteristics below!

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Breed Characteristics:

Adaptability
Adapts Well to Apartment Living3More info +

Contrary to popular belief, small size doesn't necessarily an apartment dog make — plenty of small dogs are too high-energy and yappy for life in a high-rise. Being quiet, low energy, fairly calm indoors, and polite with the other residents, are all good qualities in an apartment dog.

See Dogs Not Well Suited to Apartment Living

Good For Novice Owners2More info +

Some dogs are simply easier than others: they take to training better and are fairly easygoing. They're also resilient enough to bounce back from your mistakes or inconsistencies. Dogs who are highly sensitive, independent thinking, or assertive may be harder for a first-time owner to manage. You'll get your best match if you take your dog-owning experience into account as you choose your new pooch.

See Dogs That Are Good For Experienced Owners

Sensitivity Level3More info +

Some dogs will let a stern reprimand roll off their backs, while others take even a dirty look to heart. Low-sensitivity dogs, also called "easygoing," "tolerant," "resilient," and even "thick-skinned," can better handle a noisy, chaotic household, a louder or more assertive owner, and an inconsistent or variable routine. Do you have young kids, throw lots of dinner parties, play in a garage band, or lead a hectic life? Go with a low-sensitivity dog.

See Dogs That Have Low Sensitivity Levels

Tolerates Being Alone3More info +

Some breeds bond very closely with their family and are more prone to worry or even panic when left alone by their owner. An anxious dog can be very destructive, barking, whining, chewing, and otherwise causing mayhem. These breeds do best when a family member is home during the day or if you can take the dog to work.

See Dogs Poorly Suited To Be Alone

Tolerates Cold Weather4More info +

Breeds with very short coats and little or no undercoat or body fat, such as Greyhounds, are vulnerable to the cold. Dogs with a low cold tolerance need to live inside in cool climates and should have a jacket or sweater for chilly walks.

See Dogs Poorly Suited For Cold Weather

Tolerates Hot Weather3More info +

Dogs with thick, double coats are more vulnerable to overheating. So are breeds with short noses, like Bulldogs or Pugs, since they can't pant as well to cool themselves off. If you want a heat-sensitive breed, the dog will need to stay indoors with you on warm or humid days, and you'll need to be extra cautious about exercising your dog in the heat.

See Dogs Poorly Suited For Hot Weather

All Around Friendliness
Affectionate with Family4More info +

Some breeds are independent and aloof, even if they've been raised by the same person since puppyhood; others bond closely to one person and are indifferent to everyone else; and some shower the whole family with affection. Breed isn't the only factor that goes into affection levels; dogs who were raised inside a home with people around feel more comfortable with humans and bond more easily.

See Dogs Less Affectionate with Family

Incredibly Kid Friendly Dogs4More info +

Being gentle with children, sturdy enough to handle the heavy-handed pets and hugs they can dish out, and having a blasé attitude toward running, screaming children are all traits that make a kid-friendly dog. You may be surprised by who's on that list: Fierce-looking Boxers are considered good with children, as are American Staffordshire Terriers (aka pit bulls). Small, delicate, and potentially snappy dogs such as Chihuahuas aren't so family-friendly.

**All dogs are individuals. Our ratings are generalizations, and they're not a guarantee of how any breed or individual dog will behave. Dogs from any breed can be good with children based on their past experiences, training on how to get along with kids, and personality. No matter what the breed or breed type, all dogs have strong jaws, sharp pointy teeth, and may bite in stressful circumstances. Young children and dogs of any breed should always be supervised by an adult and never left alone together, period.

See Dogs Not Kid Friendly

Dog Friendly2More info +

Friendliness toward dogs and friendliness toward humans are two completely different things. Some dogs may attack or try to dominate other dogs even if they're love-bugs with people; others would rather play than fight; and some will turn tail and run. Breed isn't the only factor; dogs who lived with their littermates and mother until at least 6 to 8 weeks of age, and who spent lots of time playing with other dogs during puppyhood, are more likely to have good canine social skills.

See Dogs That Are Not Dog Friendly

Friendly Toward Strangers5More info +

Stranger-friendly dogs will greet guests with a wagging tail and a nuzzle; others are shy, indifferent, or even aggressive. However, no matter what the breed, a dog who was exposed to lots of different types, ages, sizes, and shapes of people as a puppy will respond better to strangers as an adult.

See Dogs That Are More Shy

Health Grooming
Amount Of Shedding1More info +

If you're going to share your home with a dog, you'll need to deal with some level of dog hair on your clothes and in your house. However, shedding does vary greatly among the breeds: Some dogs shed year-round, some "blow" seasonally -- produce a snowstorm of loose hair -- some do both, and some shed hardly at all. If you're a neatnik you'll need to either pick a low-shedding breed, or relax your standards.

See Dogs That Shed Very Little

Drooling Potential1More info +

Drool-prone dogs may drape ropes of slobber on your arm and leave big, wet spots on your clothes when they come over to say hello. If you've got a laid-back attitude toward slobber, fine; but if you're a neatnik, you may want to choose a dog who rates low in the drool department.

See Dogs That Are Not Big Droolers

Easy To Groom2More info +

Some breeds are brush-and-go dogs; others require regular bathing, clipping, and other grooming just to stay clean and healthy. Consider whether you have the time and patience for a dog that needs a lot of grooming, or the money to pay someone else to do it.

See Dogs That Require More Grooming

General Health3More info +

Due to poor breeding practices, some breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, such as hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that every dog of that breed will develop those diseases; it just means that they're at an increased risk. If you're buying a puppy, it's a good idea to find out which genetic illnesses are common to the breed you're interested in, so you can ask the breeder about the physical health of your potential pup's parents and other relatives.

See Dogs More Prone To Health Problems

Potential For Weight Gain3More info +

Some breeds have hearty appetites and tend to put on weight easily. As in humans, being overweight can cause health problems in dogs. If you pick a breed that's prone to packing on pounds, you'll need to limit treats, make sure he gets enough exercise, and measure out his daily kibble in regular meals rather than leaving food out all the time.

Size3More info +

Dogs come in all sizes, from the world's smallest pooch, the Chihuahua, to the towering Great Dane, how much space a dog takes up is a key factor in deciding if he is compatible with you and your living space. Large dog breeds might seem overpowering and intimidating but some of them are incredibly sweet! Take a look and find the right large dog for you!

See Medium Dogs

See Small Dogs

Trainability
Easy To Train4More info +

Easy to train dogs are more adept at forming an association between a prompt (such as the word "sit"), an action (sitting), and a consequence (getting a treat) very quickly. Other dogs need more time, patience, and repetition during training. Many breeds are intelligent but approach training with a "What's in it for me?" attitude, in which case you'll need to use rewards and games to teach them to want to comply with your requests.

See Dogs That Are Challenging To Train

Intelligence4More info +

Dogs who were bred for jobs that require decision making, intelligence, and concentration, such as herding livestock, need to exercise their brains, just as dogs who were bred to run all day need to exercise their bodies. If they don't get the mental stimulation they need, they'll make their own work -- usually with projects you won't like, such as digging and chewing. Obedience training and interactive dog toys are good ways to give a dog a brain workout, as are dog sports and careers, such as agility and search and rescue.

See Dogs That Have Low Intelligence

Potential For Mouthiness4More info +

Common in most breeds during puppyhood and in retriever breeds at all ages, mouthiness means a tendency to nip, chew, and play-bite (a soft, fairly painless bite that doesn't puncture the skin). Mouthy dogs are more likely to use their mouths to hold or "herd" their human family members, and they need training to learn that it's fine to gnaw on chew toys, but not on people. Mouthy breeds tend to really enjoy a game of fetch, as well as a good chew on a chew toy that's been stuffed with kibble and treats.

Prey Drive3More info +

Dogs that were bred to hunt, such as terriers, have an inborn desire to chase and sometimes kill other animals. Anything whizzing by — cats, squirrels, perhaps even cars — can trigger that instinct. Dogs that like to chase need to be leashed or kept in a fenced area when outdoors, and you'll need a high, secure fence in your yard. These breeds generally aren't a good fit for homes with smaller pets that can look like prey, such as cats, hamsters, or small dogs. Breeds that were originally used for bird hunting, on the other hand, generally won't chase, but you'll probably have a hard time getting their attention when there are birds flying by.

See Dogs That Have Low Prey Drive

Tendency To Bark Or Howl4More info +

Some breeds sound off more often than others. When choosing a breed, think about how the dog vocalizes — with barks or howls — and how often. If you're considering a hound, would you find their trademark howls musical or maddening? If you're considering a watchdog, will a city full of suspicious "strangers" put him on permanent alert? Will the local wildlife literally drive your dog wild? Do you live in housing with noise restrictions? Do you have neighbors nearby?

See Dogs That Are Mostly Quiet

Wanderlust Potential3More info +

Some breeds are more free-spirited than others. Nordic dogs such as Siberian Huskies were bred to range long distances, and given the chance, they'll take off after anything that catches their interest. And many hounds simply must follow their noses, or that bunny that just ran across the path, even if it means leaving you behind.

See Dogs Less Prone To Wander

Exercise Needs
Energy Level4More info +

High-energy dogs are always ready and waiting for action. Originally bred to perform a canine job of some sort, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding livestock, they have the stamina to put in a full workday. They need a significant amount of exercise and mental stimulation, and they're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and investigating any new sights and smells. Low-energy dogs are the canine equivalent of a couch potato, content to doze the day away. When picking a breed, consider your own activity level and lifestyle, and think about whether you'll find a frisky, energetic dog invigorating or annoying.

See Dogs That Have Low Energy

Intensity4More info +

A vigorous dog may or may not be high-energy, but everything he does, he does with vigor: he strains on the leash (until you train him not to), tries to plow through obstacles, and even eats and drinks with great big gulps. These dynamos need lots of training to learn good manners, and may not be the best fit for a home with young kids or someone who's elderly or frail. A low-vigor dog, on the other hand, has a more subdued approach to life.

See Dogs With Low Intensity

Exercise Needs5More info +

Some breeds do fine with a slow evening stroll around the block. Others need daily, vigorous exercise -- especially those that were originally bred for physically demanding jobs, such as herding or hunting. Without enough exercise, these breeds may put on weight and vent their pent-up energy in ways you don't like, such as barking, chewing, and digging. Breeds that need a lot of exercise are good for outdoorsy, active people, or those interested in training their dog to compete in a high-energy dog sport, such as agility.

See Dogs That Don't Need Tons of Exercise

Potential For Playfulness4More info +

Some dogs are perpetual puppies -- always begging for a game -- while others are more serious and sedate. Although a playful pup sounds endearing, consider how many games of fetch or tag you want to play each day, and whether you have kids or other dogs who can stand in as playmates for the dog.

See Dogs That Are Less Playfull

Vital Stats:

Dog Breed Group: Terrier Dogs
Height: 1 foot, 5 inches to 1 foot, 7 inches tall at the shoulder
Weight: 33 to 40 pounds
Life Span: 12 to 15 years
  • This working-class dog is definitely all terrier: alert, resourceful, muscular, and always ready for action. His defining characteristic, however, is his coat: blue, with a gray tint (though it doesn't start out that way). Puppies are often born black, transitioning through dark blue, brown, gray, and combinations of these colors until they reach a mature blue-gray color at about 18 months of age. His V-shaped ears, black nose, and the mop of hair that falls over his eyes further distinguish his look.

    The Kerry Blue Terrier is typically good-natured with people of all ages, including children. He is an excellent family dog who enjoys participating in all family activities and he is happiest when he is with those he loves. He makes a good watchdog too, ready to warn his family of intruders or anything out of the ordinary. The Kerry Blue is not especially vocal, but when he barks, he sounds intimidating.

    The Kerry Blue is not especially good-natured with other dogs. In fact, he is prone to dog aggression (fighting with other dogs), especially if he's intact. Early Kerry Blue Terriers were even more aggressive than those found today. Conscientious breeders have worked hard to retain the liveliness of the breed while toning down their natural inclination to aggression.

    Good breeding, combined with proper socialization (the process by which puppies or adults dogs learn how to be friendly and get along with other dogs and people) and training, helps prevent dog aggression, but watch out. This is not a dog to back down from a fight.

    The Kerry Blue is loyal and affectionate toward his family, but he is strong willed. He needs an equally strong-willed owner, one who can kindly and consistently show leadership. The Kerry Blue will walk all over a wishy-washy human, which is why he is not always recommended for first-time dog owners.

    Not surprisingly, the working Kerry Blue is an active dog who needs a great deal of exercise every day. (If he is trained and socialized not to fight with other dogs, he makes an excellent jogging, hiking, and bicycling companion.) Grooming is another daily activity. Although the Kerry Blue doesn't shed and is relatively odor-free, he must be brushed every day to prevent matting and to keep his coat neat and clean.

    It's not difficult to be captivated by this proud dog from Ireland with the blue-gray coat. However, in considering a Kerry Blue, it's important to realize he has many traits similar to all terriers: the love of digging, a bit of an attitude, and a high prey drive. These traits must be taken in account when considering adding him to the family.

  • Highlights

    • The Kerry Blue Terry is a quick study, though he can be strong willed at times. You'll need a lot of patience and firmness, plus a good sense of humor, when training this breed.
    • The Kerry Blue is friendly to people, but his distaste for other dogs is well known. He can be aggressive and quarrelsome. Owners must be vigilant when taking the Kerry Blue in public. If he's socialized and well trained, he probably won't pick a fight, but he might try to end it if he's taunted.
    • Keeping your Kerry Blue groomed is expensive and, if you do it yourself, it's hard work.
    • Like all terriers, the Kerry Blue can be feisty. He loves to dig, chase, chew, and sometimes bark.
    • This is an active breed. He needs plenty of exercise, every day. A yard to play in is best, combined with daily walks.
    • To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments.
  • History

    Ireland — specifically, the mountainous area of County Kerry — is the birthplace of the Kerry Blue Terrier. He was originally a working terrier, hunting small game and birds, killing rodents, and guarding his homestead. He was used successfully for herding sheep and cattle. Eventually, the breed was shown in conformation and highly favored. English fanciers saw potential, too, and the breed was recognized by the Kennel Club.

    Aggressiveness was originally was bred into the Kerry Blues intentionally. In early dog shows, the Irish Kennel Club required each to pass a "gameness" test before he could be judged. The tests included catching rabbits and bringing a badger to bay. From these tests, the Kerry Blue earned the nickname "Blue Devil."

    No one really knows who brought the first Kerry Blue to the United States. He was thought to have appeared at the Westminster show in 1922, and the breed was officially recognized by the Amercian Kennel Club in 1924. During the Westminster show of 1926, a group of fanciers met at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City and organized the Kerry Blue Terrier Club of America.

    In the early 1900s, Irish patriot Michael Collins introduced legislation to name the Kerry Blue the National Dog of Ireland. His own Kerry Blue was named Convict 225. Collins was murdered, however, before the legislation could be passed, and after his death, interest in the initiative was lost.

  • Size

    Males stand 18 to 19.5 inches tall. Females stand 17.5 to 19 inches tall. Males and females weigh 33 to 40 pounds.

  • Personality

    The Kerry Blue is a hard-working, independent, and athletic dog with plenty of energy and stamina. Like most terriers, he is prone to dig, chase, and bark (occasionally). If you are considering a Kerry Blue, think about whether or not you are willing to live with his propensity toward these behaviors. If so, you will be delighted with the Kerry Blue's fun-loving, even silly, attitude.

    The Kerry Blue is an active breed, and he needs plenty of exercisemental and physical. Don't leave him alone for long periods of time, or he is likely to become bored, which leads to the destructive behaviors mentioned above. Training is essential to teach him proper canine manners. And as delightful as he is, the Kerry Blue does not get along well with others. He tends to fight with other dogs and chase small animals he perceives as prey.

    Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization. Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who's beating up his littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner.

    Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who's available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you're comfortable with. Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up.

    Like every dog, the Kerry Blue needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Kerry Blue puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog.

    Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.

  • Health

    Kerry Blue are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Kerry Blue will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed.

    If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition.

    In Kerry Blue, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for hip dysplasia (with a score of fair or better), elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation (CERF) certifying that eyes are normal. You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site (offa.org).

    • Entropion: Entropion is the inward rolling of the eyelid, usually the lower one, and found in both eyes. It causes vision loss and irritation, and generally occurs before a dog turns a year old. Corrective surgery when the dog reaches adulthood is an effective treatment.
    • Hypothyroidism: This is a disorder of the thyroid gland. It's thought to be responsible for conditions such as epilepsy, alopecia (hair loss), obesity, lethargy, hyperpigmentation, pyoderma ,and other skin conditions. It is treated with medication and diet.
    • Skin Cysts: It's not unusual for the Kerry Blue to develop lumps and bumps, usually epidermal cysts or sebaceous gland cysts that don't cause a problem. If a cyst ruptures, however, it can become infected.
    • Cancer: Symptoms include abnormal swelling of a sore or bump, sores that do not heal, bleeding from any body opening, and difficulty with breathing or elimination. Treatments for cancer include chemotherapy, surgery, and medications.
    • Keratoses: Keratoses (of the nose and foot) is the development of corns, warts, and calluses on the feet or nose. Often painful, corns can be inherited and are associated with thin pads or flat feet. Keratoses can be removed surgically or treated with antibiotics and corticosteroids.
    • Cataracts: Cataracts cause opacity on the lens of the eye, resulting in poor vision. The dog's eye(s) will have a cloudy appearance. Cataracts usually occur in old age and sometimes can be surgically removed to improve vision.
    • Dry Eye: Keratoconjunctivitis sicca and pigmentary keratitis are two conditions seen in Kerry Blues and can occur at the same time, or individually. Dry eye is caused when the eyes don't produce enough tears to stay moist. Your vet can perform tests to determine if this is the cause, which can be controlled with medication and special care. Pigmentary keratits is a condition that causes black spots on the cornea, especially in the corner near the nose. If the pigment covers the eye, it can cause blindness. Your vet can prescribe medication that will help keep the eyes moist and dissolve the pigment. Both of these eye conditions require life-long therapy and care.
    • Chronic Otitis Externa: This is a chronic infection of the outer ear canal, often caused by excessive hair in the ear that fosters bacterial and fungal growth. The Kerry Blue can be prone to infection. Treatment includes cleaning the ears and plucking the hair growing inside the canal.
    • Progressive Neuronal Abiotrophy (PNA): This is a rare, inherited nerve disorder. Symptoms usually appear when the dog is between 2 and 6 months of age. By the time the dog is a year old, he can't stand up. There is no treatment, nor are there any tests that determine if breeding dogs are carriers of the condition. Research is underway to create testing for breeding stock.
    • Hip Dysplasia: This is an inherited condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but others don't display outward signs of discomfort. (X-ray screening is the most certain way to diagnose the problem.) Either way, arthritis can develop as the dog ages. Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred — so if you're buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems.
    • Patellar Luxation: Also known as slipped stifles, this is a common problem in small dogs. The patella is the kneecap. Luxation means dislocation of an anatomical part (as a bone at a joint). Patellar luxation is when the knee joint (often of a hind leg) slides in and out of place, causing pain. This can be crippling, although many dogs lead relatively normal lives with this condition.
    • Factor Xl Deficiency (Plasma Thromboplastin Antecedent Deficiency): This is a rare inherited blood clotting abnormality that is characterized by severe bleeding after surgery or trauma. As the name implies, it's caused by a deficiency of the factor XI in the blood-clotting mechanism.
  • Care

    The Kerry Blue Terrier is a powerful, agile, and athletic dog who requires regular exercise. While some Kerry Blues will exercise themselves in a securely fenced back yard, others do not.

    Not only will a daily walk maintain muscle tone and keep a Kerry fit and trim, it will provide the necessary stimulation and socialization to keep him mentally alert. The Kerry Blue who lives in an apartment or condo requires at least three daily walks, even if it's raining or the temperature is below freezing.

    Training and socialization is essential for the Kerry Blue, beginning with puppy classes. Incorporate socialization with training by taking your Kerry Blue with you to many different places — the pet supply store, outdoor events, or long walks in busy parks — anywhere there are a lot of people to meet and sights to see.

    Remember, though, that he has a tendency to quarrel with other dogs. Also: if you don't have children, but may in the next few years, the Kerry Blue must be socialized early to them.

    The Kerry has a mind of his own and requires a firm but loving hand to show what is expected from him. He instinctively wants to please, and with positive reinforcement and praise, learns quickly. Harsher techniques aren't useful with a Kerry, because despite his toughness, he is surprisingly sensitive.

  • Feeding

    Recommended daily amount: 1.5 to 2 cups of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.

    Note: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.

    Keep your Kerry Blue in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight, give him the eye test and the hands-on test.

    First, look down at him. You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise.

    For more on feeding your Kerry Blue, see our guidelines for buying the right food, feeding your puppy, and feeding your adult dog.

  • Coat Color And Grooming

    The Kerry Blue coat is soft, dense and wavy, and though considered non-shedding, the coat is high maintenance. He needs daily brushing, plus trimming and bathing every four to six weeks.

    Most owners opt to hire a professional groomer to trim the Kerry Blue, though finding one who knows the correct Kerry trim can be difficult. An uncommon breed, the average groomer doesn't have much experience with it; you might end up with your Kerry Blue looking like a Schnauzer or a Poodle.

    Your best option is to choose a groomer who certified with a national certifying agency. While certification is not mandated legally (like kennel licensing), it does show ongoing education. Also, owners can find a state-by-state listing of experienced groomers at The Kerry Blue Foundation website.

    Brush your Kerry Blue's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.

    Trim his nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you're not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers.

    His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection. When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear.

    Begin accustoming your Kerry Blue to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult.

    As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early.

  • Children And Other Pets

    The Kerry Blue loves kids, and because he is a sturdy dog, he can take a few knocks if the play gets rough. He is good-natured, and isn't normally grouchy with children.

    As with every breed, you should always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's eating or sleeping or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog, no matter how friendly, should ever be left unsupervised with a child.

    He is grouchy, even aggressive, with other dogs, though with socialization and training — and altering — this tendency can be minimized. Never let your guard down, though, when the Kerry Blue is around other dogs, especially those unfamiliar to him.

    The Kerry Blue isn't especially fond of small animals either, given his strong prey drive. His instinct tells him to chase, so keep him leashed in public. The best way to ensure he'll get along with cats or small mammals in his home is to raise him with them and introduce them properly. Following that, close supervision is advised.

  • Rescue Groups

    Kerry Blues are sometimes bought without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. These dogs may end up in need of adoption and fostering.