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Spiculosis in Kerry Blue Terriers


© 2010 Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation

Every year the Foundation receives many calls and emails asking about “hard, black, kinda looks like whiskers” hairs growing in different areas of their dogs.

The most common answer is: These are probably “Spicules” that are more commonly found in males than females. Spicules are “very dense and hard strands of hair that are very thick and spiky in both texture and size.” This condition is called Spiculosis which are also known as “rose thorns, bristles, and spikes. There is rumor that some Kerry Blue lines are more prevalent in producing dogs with spicules. Currently it is felt that Kerry’s with a more stiff coat will develop this condition while those that have the more “breed standard of soft, dense, and wavy coat are not as likely to develop spicules.  Spicules are normally found on the face around the normal whiskers, the neck where the coat changes directions, the tail especially around the apocrine gland, elbows, hocks and since we are talking dogs here they can be virtually any where on the dog’s body.

Most owners will find these spikes during normal grooming. If you are a seasoned owner or comfortable groomer, you would pull these spicules out by hand or tweezers and move on to the next grooming phase. In some cases, the spicules will not easily come out and may have become infected at the root ball and has basically become impacted in the skin causing it to be too painful for the dog to pull out. If you discover it is indeed infected, it may well be very painful just in the movement of the hair when petting the dog or when brushing. Normal body movements may give you an indication that the dog has a spicule as they sometimes grow between the toes or even in the area between the pads of the foot. If the hair breaks off in an area such as the foot it will continue to fester as the infection worsens and a trip to the vet will be needed.

Since there is no way to prevent these thick hairs or even knowing who will get them, observation and removal must be done as soon as they are noted. If antibiotics aren’t effective and breakage occurs, surgery may be indicated to prevent further problems. Regular grooming and plucking of these thick hair shafts will maintain proper skin and a healthy coat.

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Today is July 22, 2019

In this month in 1974:

At the World Series Dog Show in Detroit MI, KBT Little Princess O'Malley, U.D., received eighth place in world-class obedience competition. Owned and trained by Orville Mittchell.

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The Kerry Blue Terrier Foundation is a nonprofit charity dedicated to promoting the welfare of the Kerry Blue Terrier breed in the areas of education, rescue and health & genetics. Learn More.


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P. O. Box 1495
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