I've never had a dog before. Is this the breed for me?
The Kerry Blue can be a great dog for a first time owner if you remember a few things. This is a bigger terrier, possibly 40 - 50 lbs, that requires firm, consistent discipline all its life. It is a breed that loves its people, but can be pushy and dominant without clear limits. The average life span for a Kerry in good health is 12 - 15 years. That's a big committment. Many breeders are reluctant to sell Kerries to people with little to no terrier experience. Owning a Kerry Blue places more demands on the owner for socialization, excercise, training and grooming than many people are prepared to do.
I want a dog for my kids. Are Kerries and kids a good match?
Kerry Blues are a high energy breed that are usually up for anything and enjoy the rough-housing of older kids. Many seem to instinctively love children. However, most Kerries have a high pray drive and sometimes the screaming and running of young children can trigger this response. On the plus side, a well made Kerry Blue is sturdy, healthy and quick on its feet, making it harder to be hurt by rough play than some breeds. As a dominate breed, the Kerry Blue needs to know exactly what his place in the family order is. Without training, this is a breed that can take over a house and you will find yourself constantly fighting for control.
We just spent a fortune on new carpet and furniture. And my daughter has allergies. Is this breed really hypo-allergenic?
The Kerry Blue Terrier is a true non-shedding breed. This doesn't mean it's a hypo-allergenic dog. People with allergies to dog dander or saliva may still react in the presence of this breed. Non-shedding also doesn't mean non-grooming. The coat of a Kerry Blue is really hair, not fur like most dogs, and there is no genetically set length of the coat. The hair will grow to the ground and twist into cords without proper care. Regular brushing is essential. Since the Kerry Blue is soft coated, the hair is a magnet for stickers, weeds, burrs. and general debris that will be tracked into the house.
Ok, what about the grooming? Can I do it myself or is it a job for a professional?
Kerries need to be brushed a couple of times a week. A once a month bath and trim are ideal. Since the Kerry Blue doesn't shed, brushing removes dead hair and conditions the skin. Most breeders can refer buyers to competent groomers in the buyer's area and you can check out the grooming section on this website for more info. Everybody struggles with the grooming at first, but it is something that can be learned with a little time and patience. You might find it is an excellent bonding experience for you and your dog.
While we're talking about the grooming, I don't like the hair covering up the eyes. What's that about?
The Kerry Blue was used as a utility dog on Irish farms where the breed was developed. It is thought the hair over its face and eyes, called a fall, was grown long to protect the dog's eyes from the claws of the larger vermin he was charged with eradicating. In modern times, it has become part of the stylish look of the breed for the show ring. The hair can be cut away somewhat to reveal more of the small, dark eyes or tied up in a rubber band.
I have a lot of friends with dogs and I'd like to take my Kerry Blue to the local dog park. I've heard terriers are dog aggressive and hard to train. Is that true?
The thought of taking an intact Kerry Blue to a dog park makes many long-time breeder/owners cringe. However, more and more breeders encourage puppy buyers to take their puppies to doggy day-care and dog parks regularly to reinforce socialization. With firm and consistent training some Kerries can get along with other dogs. Generally, the Kerry Blue is prone to inter-sex aggression and won't back down from a perceived challenge. A Kerry can be quite single-minded when he decides to fight and is not easy to control. Kerries are trainable if approached with creativity and positive reinforcement. Repetition will bore this breed. Kerry Blues are great problem solvers and learn quickly. Harsh methods and punishment only yield negative results. Raising a teenager is great training for living with a Kerry.
I've heard dogs need the companionship of their own kind. I work and don't want my Kerry to be lonely all day. How about getting two litter mates?
Most responsible breeders won't sell litter mates together. As a pack animal, the natural competition between siblings raised together will usually continue their whole lives. If you work away from home all day, be sure to spend some quality time with your Kerry once you return home. Go for a walk or run. Kerry Blues are very people oriented and many owners find their dogs follow them everywhere around the house. This is a breed that needs to be part of the family and not relegated to the yard or basement. The more you include your Kerry in household activities, the better the dog you will have. Don't substitute another canine for your attention.
How much can I expect to pay for my puppy?
The cost of a Kerry Blue puppy may seem staggering. Each breeder sets her own price and this can vary depending on part of the country and sometimes the value placed upon the sire and dam. Expect to pay a minimum of $1000 for a puppy from a hobby breeder. Most breeders don't make money on their litters. Usually the cost put into a successful breeding exceeds the total cost of the puppies sold. The price of your puppy reflects the breeder's care of the litter, health testing of the parents and the current market value in the area. If you cannot afford the price asked by the breeders you contact, go home and save it up. The initial price of the puppy is, in the long run, the least expensive cost associated with pet ownership no matter the breed.
Are Kerries a healthy breed and will my puppy come with a health guarantee?
While the Kerry Blue is a healthy breed, no breeder can look into the future and guarantee a puppy won't develop an illness at some time in its life. There are a few health concerns in the breed and you can review them on our Health overview page. Through health testing performed on the parents, and sound decisions, a breeder will have an excellent chance of producing healthy puppies for sale. Your puppy should come to you free of internal and external parasites, puppy shots given, a clean shiny coat and his ears should be set. He should be in good weight and curious about his new family. These things indicate good health in a puppy and a caring breeder.
My friend bought a puppy and is going to try showing it with his breeder. We just want a dog for our family. What's the difference between a pet and a show puppy?
A puppy sold as a family pet and a puppy sold as a show prospect should be indistinguishable from each other to you. Both puppies should be healthy, well-made examples of the breed. What separates the two from each other in the breeder's eye are subtle differences such as attitude, coat type or movement. With experience, the breeder learns to pick out which puppies are best suited for life as a show dog and life as a much loved family companion. The goal of most breeders is to give each puppy a good home no matter what his role in life will be.
I want to really bond with my puppy. Why can't I have him when he's eight weeks old?
In puppies, week eight is the fear week. Puppies going to new homes during that time are often overwhelmed by the new routines, people and other pets they meet. Most Kerry breeders won't send a puppy to its new home until it's ten or twelve weeks old. This gives the breeder time to set the ears and get the puppy used to grooming. A twelve week old pup is more ready to join a family than one even a few weeks younger. He will be more confident and better suited to adapt to his new home. Kerries are very people oriented even as young puppies. They want to be with their people and will have no problem bonding with you no matter when he joins your family.
My husband and I love to run and go camping. He says a Kerry won't be able to keep up with our active lifestyle. Is that true?
Kerries are medium sized dogs with a high level of energy. They love to run and are usually up for an adventure anytime. They are sturdy, hearty dogs that are built to work all day. If kept in good shape a Kerry should go as long as you do. However, the soft, dense hair picks up sticks, twigs and trail debris and these can cause matting. A thorough brushing when you get home will restore him to his good-looking self. A word of caution when hiking and camping with puppies. Puppies should not be walked or run for miles at a time. Your puppy will try to keep up with you and in the process will place too much stress on his joints. Save an all day outing with your pup for a time when he is older.