Hailing from County Kerry in Ireland, the Kerry Blue is a distinctive member of the Terrier breed group, possibly descending from the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier and the Bedlington Terrier, with Irish Terrier and Irish Wolfhound blood potentially contributing to its lineage. Originally utilised as a sheep and cattle herder, whilst efficiently retrieving over land and water, the Kerry Blue originated in the 1700s, being shown in Britain and Ireland in the early part of the 19th century. Despite being considered unfashionable and thus being relatively rare, the Kerry Blue is not suffering such decline as the Skye Terrier, Dandie Dinmont Terrier or Sealyham Terrier.
The single, wavy coat is widely credited to the Portuguese Water Dog, although this is difficult to confirm. Solid in structure, the Kerry Blue Terrier possesses thick, straight legs, a sloping topline, small, triangular ears, dark eyes and a straight, upright tail. Despite being an illegal practice in most countries across Europe, tail 'docking' is commonly observed in the breed. A Kerry Blue Terrier puppy will usually be born black, lightening through to blue as the dog matures. Said to have a good memory, the Kerry Blue can be trained to a high standard.
Vigilant to change and threat and highly territorial, the Kerry Blue Terrier makes an excellent watch dog. Otherwise remaining calm, gentle and affectionate, the Kerry Blue is the ideal breed choice for active families, being compatible with children and engaging well in exercise and play. In order to avoid willful, disobedient or aggressive behaviours, early socialisation, firm leadership and consistent training is important and beneficial. On average, a fully grown Kerry Blue will weigh 15-18 kg, with a life expectancy of 12-15 years when shown the appropriate love and care.
Besides the common health afflictions prevalent across breeds, including optical disorders, skin allergies, orthopedic problems and epilepsy, the Kerry Blue Terrier is susceptible to a neurological disease called cerebellar abiotrophy, as well as von Willebrand's Disease, a rare bleeding disorder.