Developed as an all purpose breed in Ireland, the Kerry is an energetic and robust terrier. Admittedly, saying a terrier is energetic and robust is redundant, however, the Kerry is active even by terrier standards.
Like most terriers, a Kerry can be counted on for vermin patrol. Additionally, they have been used as farm dogs, as hunters and retrievers — this is a truly multi purpose breed that was up to filling multiple needs for their people.
The refined look that comes from grooming, however, was not an early trademark of the breed. The Kerry was a rougher looking dog before they became popular off the farm and out of the highlands of County Kerry. Once they attracted the attention of English fanciers and were cleaned up though, their popularity quickly spread to bench shows.
The Kerry continues to be a breed that is at home in the show ring, family room, and in vermin competitions.
This is a breed that needs an even hand, exercise, training, and has a sense of fairness and fun. Best introduced to smaller animals/cats at a young age, their strong sense of prey drive means they may not do well with cats or bunnies should they only meet them later in life. Many terriers automatically chase that which moves quickly and Kerrys are no exception to this rule.
A Kerry pup is born black and with time and grooming their coat will lighten to the characteristic “blue”. Grooming is also necessary to keep a Kerry looking like a Kerry and not a pile of animated hair – or a different kind of dog.
Sometimes people are attracted by the handsome looks and cheerful personality without realizing the bundle of energy and grooming requirements it takes to keep a Kerry healthy and looking like a typical member of the breed.
As a result of people sometimes obtaining a Kerry without realizing what they’re actually signing on for, members of the breed require new homes and can be found through rescue. Retired show dogs also may be looking for a home once their career in the show ring is over.
This is a devoted, multi purpose, clever breed that can turn their paws and noses to many kinds of work. As a very low-shed breed they also are on the list of possible breeds for those with allergies. This is yet another breed on my list of maybe someday dogs. Handsome, fun, and just-independent-enough to make things interesting.