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The Kerry Blue Terrier


Submitted by Judith Bruno

ALTHOUGH Kerry Blue terriers have only recently come to the fore in the show ring, the breed has undoubtedly existed for many years. Rawdon Lee, in his book on "Modern Dogs" (Terriers), published in 1894, quotes Mr. Cotton as follows: "There is a glen, Imaal, in the Wicklow Mountains, that has always been, and still is, justly celebrated for its terriers. Mr. Galway of Waterford, the celebrated breeder, long before the Irish terriers came into fashion, always kept and bred the variety, and there was no getting one from him. I know also one Irish family who has kept Kerry Blues for ninety years from father to son."

Three-month old pups. Sire: Leyfield Bluebeard. Dam: Stella Maris of Warwick

The Kerry Blue terrier has been known outside of Ireland as a first-class terrier for only four years, presumably because he was too good to let go. It has only taken this short period for the Kerry to jump into a prominent place in the hearts of those who love a game one. He is not too big to live in the house, and with children he is the most lovable dog living; its companionable qualities are many and calculated to please the most exacting dog fanciers. It may safely be said that he is not one of the noisy terriers with a distracting bark. That it can render an excellent account of itself against any aggressor of its size is certain, but it cannot be described as an animal continually seeking a quarrel, though, like the race with which it has so long been allied, it is somewhat impulsive.Mr. Carberry, writing of the progress of the Kerry Blue terrier in Ireland since their first appearance on the bench at Crufts in 1922, says, "In Ireland the progress of the breed, for the past few years, has been phenomenal, with the result that the dog today is one of the best and gamest of the whole canine race. In these days it is very unusual to find terriers, on which Dame Fashion has set her seal, lauded to the skies, yet those looking for a breed of pronounced working qualities are most likely to overlook the charms of lesser known ones quite as worthy of attention. This is, undoubtedly, the case of the Irish Blue terrier, which is essentially a workman, and, to my mind, is far superior to those it is so fashionable to paint in glowing colors. For gameness, the Kerry Blue cannot be excelled; I doubt if it can be equalled. It will track a hare for miles, will fight to a finish the badger in his mountain den, will tackle the otter in deep water, and has frequently been known to save the lives of people attacked by vicious bulls (which I have seen the dog bring to earth) and, withal, is the grandest companion we know."

The Kerry Blue terrier is one of several breeds that differ markedly in color as puppy from what it is as an adult. In fact, Kerry Blue puppies are born jet black and do not assume the true light or dark blue until they are about two years old.

The largest breeders of Kerry Blue terriers on the Pacific Coast are the Warwick Kennels at Hawthorne, where both imported and American-bred puppies and dogs are on exhibit.

The general impression conveyed by the Kerry Blue terrier is that of a hairy dog, solidly built, ready for an encounter, unafraid. The type for the breed is not standardized, leaving no little to the discretion of the judge.

Hitapo Jacko, Warwick Kennels

Hitapo Jacko, Warwick Kennels

Standard compiled by the Warwick Kennels:

  • The weight ranges from 33 to 35 pounds in dogs, and from 30 'to 33 in bitches.
  • The coat is not wiry, but silky soft to the touch, weather-resisting.
  • The head and feet should be clear, body full coated but tidy. T h e whole coat must be soft. Some specimens have a woolly thatch to the head.
  • The head is long and level, jaw rather square, strong and deep-nearly level with cheeks. Skull, very slight stop. Mouth, even, strong and level teeth.
  • Eyes should be darkblack or dark brown-full of life, showing fire and intelligence. Nose, black.
  • Ears, not too heavy, V-shaped, and carried close to sides of the head or over the eyes.
  • Shoulders should slope to back. Neck muscular and moderately long. Chest, muscular and deep, neither too full nor too wide. Back, strong and straight, medium length, well coupled.
  • Legs should be straight, even at the elbows and hocks; loins broad and powerful. Forelegs with plenty of bone and muscle, elbows working clear of sides. Feet, strong and fairly round; toe nails, black.
  • Ribs fairly well sprung; -deep, rather than round.
  • Hindquarters, strong and muscular, showing good development, with powerful thighs, and hocks strong and near to the ground. Tail carried gaily, but not curled over the back.
  • Color, any shade of blue, from light to dark; slight tan permissible up to the age of eighteen months, after which tan markings constitute a disqualification.
  • General appearance is active, hardy and wiry.

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Question of the Week

Previous Questions of the Week Ideas

Today is October 27, 2016

In this month in 1920:

Michael Collins, on his 30th birthday, competed in the first Kerry show in Dublin.

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