How to Train a Kerry Blue Terrier

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Among the largest of AKC terriers, the Kerry Blue Terrier is famous for his show-stopping blue coat. Named for the Irish county of his birth, this onetime farm dog is today an alert, adaptable, and animated watchdog and family companion. Of course, we begin with the show-stopping coat that turns heads wherever Kerries go. It comes in shades of blue from a deep slate to a light blue-gray and is so soft that it’s as pleasing to the touch as it is to the eye. The dense coat covers a muscular, well-developed body standing below 20 inches at the shoulder and weighing up to 40 pounds. A sporty beard and dark, keen eyes accentuate the nobility of the long terrier head.


The Kerry is named for its home county. The mystery of its beginnings gave rise to charming blarney about leprechauns, shipwrecks, and other fanciful origin tales. We do know that Kerries were hardworking all-around farm dogs, cherished for their versatility. The breed was a mascot for patriots in the struggle for Irish independence, and since the early 20th century they’ve been top winners in the show ring. A Kerry named Mick was among the great show dogs of the 2000s.

Quick Facts 

Temperament: Smart / Alert / People-Oriented

Height: 17-19.5 inches 

Weight: 33-40 pounds

Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Terrier Group


Kerries are a healthy breed. Responsible breeders are constantly monitoring new tools, including new DNA tests, that are available to help ensure the absence of hereditary defects in their breeding programs. Ask your dog’s breeder for his or her recommendations about health testing. Many breeders do basic DNA testing as a best practice, and will make you aware of test results. The website of the United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club is a good resource for the latest breed health information. Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club: Hip Evaluation Ophthalmologist Evaluation Read the Official Breed Club Health Statement.

Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
  • Hip Evaluation
  • Ophthalmologist Evaluation


Kerries do not shed, so their coat must be thoroughly brushed and combed once a week to avoid matting. Combined with regular brushing, a full grooming every six to eight weeks will keep the coat manageable. The head, neck, ears, and abdomen are done with clippers, but the coat is trimmed with scissors. Your breeder or another Kerry owner is your best resource when trying to learn how to trim your dog. There are excellent charts and guides available on the website of the United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club , and videos on YouTube. Trim the nails at least once a week, and clean ears at least twice a month.

Kerries have two speeds: They enjoy getting exercise through outdoor play, playing fetch, or jogging alongside their owner. They also love one-on-one time sitting by their owner as the family watches TV or sits around the fireplace. Most Kerries essentially want to be with their owners, engaging in whatever the activity is at the time. The breed especially enjoys exercising mind and body by participating with their human partner in a number of canine sports, including obedience, herding, dock diving, and barn hunt.

Kerries are very smart, and most enjoy participating in agility, obedience, rally, barn hunt, herding, and even dock diving. Keeping their mind and body engaged will help develop a happy and well-adjusted member of the family. Socialization is important, as is a beginning obedience class with an instructor who has worked with Terriers. It is always a good idea to take your puppy to a puppy training class and to consider earning an AKC Canine Good Citizen title. Regular outings although not to dog parks contribute to a well-rounded, well-socialized dog.


The Kerry Blue Terrier should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.