The Mysterious Kerry Blue Terrier—Leprechaun of the Dog World

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If a leprechaun decided to disguise himself as a dog, chances are he would choose the Kerry Blue Terrier. Like the leprechaun, these joyful, full-of-life, and mischievous dogs are from Ireland, and it’s often said their hearts are sprinkled with Irish humor. The Kerry Blue Terrier is known as the Irish Blue Terrier in its home country, but coming from County Kerry, they are called the Kerry Blue Terrier throughout the rest of the world.

Kerry Blue Terriers are medium-sized, long-legged, muscular dogs from the Terrier Group, and they have a typical terrier personality, which means they’re feisty and full of energy. They’re also quite bright, so they benefit from a good amount of both mental and physical exercise. Firm, yet positive training programs will suit them well.


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Kerry Blue Terriers also make perfect watchdogs. They’re an alert breed and will courageously protect their family and home. These dogs are bred to be companions and are keen to spend time with their people. Children and Kerry Blue Terriers are a great combination, as these dogs can be very gentle and lovable with their small humans.

On the other hand, Kerry Blue Terriers may not be the best fit with other animals. They can be scrappy with other dogs, so proper socialization is essential. And that terrier prey drive can cause problems if you also have a cat, rabbit, or other small animal as a pet.

The Kerry Blue Terriers’ wavy coat is one of their most distinguishing characteristics. It’s quite dense and actually very soft to the touch. And the gorgeous blue color comes in many shades ranging from slate blue to silver. Their coat is also non-shedding, so this breed may be an option for some allergy sufferers. However, the Kerry Blue Terrier’s coat does need regular maintenance to look its best, including brushing almost every day and trimming every month


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Interestingly, Kerry Blue Terrier puppies are born black, and if they possess the proper dominant gene for coat fading, their black color will fade into their adult color as they mature. The time it takes for this clearing process will vary from puppy to puppy, but should be complete by the time the dog is 18 months old.

 

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Leprechauns share something else in common with Kerry Blue Terriers: they are both shrouded in mystery. Although Kerry Blue Terriers have been found in Ireland for well over 100 years, nobody actually knows their specific origin. One entertaining tall tale says that blue dogs swam ashore from a Spanish Armada shipwreck off the coast of Ireland and bred with local dogs. Another legend tells the story of the Irish peasantry in times past when only the nobility could own the Irish Wolfhound. The nobility would hunt with their dogs, so the peasants developed the Kerry Blue Terrier so they could silently poach without getting caught.

Whatever their origin, Kerry Blue Terriers are great all-purpose dogs that are up for anything. They have been used in Ireland and England for hunting and retrieving birds and small game, and even for herding cows and sheep. This adaptability makes them suitable for many dog sports from obedience, to Earthdog, to agility.
 


Participating in these kinds of activities will give your Kerry Blue Terrier a purpose, engaging his lively brain and using up his energy. And as for their origin, perhaps only the leprechauns know.

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