Early Days of the Kerry Blue

Two articles from an Irish publication of the 1920s.
No author or publisher was provided.
Submitted by Judith Bruno

(If anyone recognizes the text, please let me know the source.
John Van den Bergh)

MR. BENNETT, of Dublin, stated, about 1890 that: ” In 1887 a class was given, at a show in Limerick, for silver haired terriers, the specimens exhibited
being a slate-blue color. They were not, to my mind, a distinct variety, nor very terrier-like in appearance.”

This seems to be the Kerry Blue’s first appearance as a show dog; he reappeared after the war.

The Kerry Blue was not necessarily a whole-colored dog. Many excellent specimens were Yorkshire terrier colored (tan legs, blue back, silver head),
but the show judges favored the all-blue type.

Like all dogs not bred for show, the Kerry was of several shapes and sizes, varying from 20 to 40 lb.

His coat was silky and longer than that of other Irish breeds, he was more heavily built, his head was larger and heavier in proportion, and his legs
as a rule somewhat shorter,

The Kerry Blue’s origin is legendary, some of his admirers going so far as to state that he is a dwarfed version of the Irish wolfhound, which breed
is now, in its pure form, extinct.

The Kerry Blue is intelligent; like all Irish terriers, he is a good water dog and a natural, though frequently hard-mouthed, retriever.

For his size he is immensely strong and his activity is surprising. Weight for weight, the old type are probably the best fighters alive: they are
game to a fault and, once at grips, it is nearly impossible to choke them off.

For these reasons, in my opinion, they are not dogs for women; they need a master whose word is law to look after them. In English shows the Kerry
Blue is trimmed and made to look as like a blue Airedale as possible; in Ireland trimming is or was, quite rightly, prohibited.

The Kerry Blue should not even remotely resemble a show Airedale: he should be far more powerfully built and his head should be broad and strong.

The Kerry (Blue) Terrier

Since the close of the Great War [WWI] we have had this variety of Irish Terrier introduced to us under its present title, and the county bearing its
name is supposed to be responsible for its production. Several clubs have sprung into being, each of which acclaims that these Terriers have been
in existence for ages, and extols the breed accordingly.

The All-Ireland Kerry Blue Terrier Club has been recognized by the Kennel Club, and classification for the breed granted by that august body so that
we have something new in the Terrier world.

As the breed has now received recognition by the Kennel Club there is no doubt that it will make headway in spite of the’ fact that it may be nothing
more than a variety of the Irish Terrier as stated by one reliable authority.

The standard of points formulated by the Club is very unsatisfactory, and the sooner it is amended the better for the welfare of the breed. Dogs of
of this variety should not exceed 40 lbs in weight, or stand higher than 21 inches at the shoulders (see Club’s standard of points). Granting these
two features to be correct, the Kerry Terrier is a fairly big dog-in fact, really too big for the work he is required to perform namely that of
the ordinary duties of a Terrier working.

As the Club’s standard of points is at present, the coat may be either soft or hard. This is absurd. A soft coat is incompatible with a jacket required
in a working Terrier. Doubtless it has been set forward by the Club owing to the differences of the coats of these Terriers. Still, faults must
be eliminated, and the Kerry Terrier must have a hard coat assigned to him. It is untenable to think that one breed of Terrier may have either
a hard coat or a soft one. The Club prefers a soft coat, and so encourage this type of coat.

In general conformation the Kerry Terrier is similar to the Irish Terrier; in fact, the nearer it comes up to the standard of this breed the better
for it. Blue Terriers used to come in litters of the red ones, but were discarded by breeders.


Any shade of blue, light or dark, is considered correct for a Kerry Terrier, but some are varicolored, namely, blue body with tan markings on the head
and legs. There is no reason why these colors should not be in, in the perpetuation of the Kerry Terrier. In conclusion, there is no necessity
to sandwich the word “blue”- between the “Kerry ” and ” Terrier,” as the animal must either be a Kerry Terrier or not one. A corresponding anomalous
word (red) is often prefixed to the Irish Setter.

The writer hopes that the Kerry Terrier will come into the front ranks, and prove its worth at the field trials which the Club intends to establish.

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