Kerry Blue Terrier: The Latest Guard Breed Kills Varmints Too
Copyright 1994 National Lamb & Wool Grower
Reprinted with permission
The human equivalent of a terrier might be the guy who arranges his crops according to height, and his jeans according to shade of fade. This breed is obsessive.
So what would keep a terrier with the sheep instead of chasing mice, rabbits and woodchucks? Oddly enough, the Kerry Blue's protectiveness of sheep (or llamas or alpacas or goats) supercedes its natural and infamous obsessiveness.
This is the finding of the Blue's best friend, Arthur Yanoff of Concord, NH Yanoff is the driving force behind the Kerry Blue's ever-widening acceptance in America as a livestock guarding dog.
"I've never seen any other breed bond with livestock like she has," Yanoff says, referring to his test-case Blue bitch Nafora. Yanoff has conducted what he terms the Kerry Blue Terrier Sheep and Goat Guarding Project on his small sheep operation in New England. "Nafora stays with the flock, follows them around and gets out their way. She's attentive to them, and even though she's exuberant and loves people, she will leave people to go back to the sheep."
Yanoff has almost single handedly made the breed known throughout the American guarding dog community through his involvement with the Greater Boston Kerry Blue Terrier Club's Livestock Protection Committee [now defunct] and his reports in the Kerry Blue Kerry Blue Terrier Times, as well as small newspapers and magazines. And in March 1993, Nafora herself made the cover of Dog World Magazine, signaling the acceptance of the breed as a guarding dog.
Developed in 19th-century Ireland, Kerry Blues are more people-oriented than most guard dogs, but not at the expense of their job. And they not only practice predator control but rodent control as well on the farm and pasture. "The Kerry Blue- is most effective on small farms," says Yanoff. "It respects fences and will protect its territory."
With their bluish-colored, wiry coat and smaller stature (20 inches at the withers and 40 pounds), Blues don't look as imposing as the larger white breeds - but don't be fooled. Animal Damage Control termed Nafora's success in predator control "remarkable." Yanoff has bred Nafora carefully to produce a dynasty of sheep-guarding, rodent-killing Kerry Blue Terriers. His interest in the breed and its success most closely resembles obsessiveness ... not unlike the Blue apple of his eye. As Yanoff might say: "Terrier now, terrier forever."