Grooming The Kerry Blue

If you have just acquired a Kerry Blue and want to keep it looking as the well coifed canine they are famous for you should consider having it groomed every 6-8 weeks. This does not include the daily maintenance of ear, eye and tooth cleaning, nor the weekly duty of brushing. This is the works the full bath and hair cut. This can be done by any competent groomer or with practice you may be able to do a nice job. Following are some simple directions for pet grooming that will keep it looking most like its show ring cousin, I suggest you follow these or hand them over to your groomer to ensure the proper style.

If the dog has grown long you may wish to prep him.

Prep work includes running a clipper guide, #4 or shorter blade over the body and neck in the pattern shown, leaving a wide band of longer hair from the occiput to just past the shoulder blades, the width of the neck. Followed by the Head; using a #10 or #15 clip the top of head run the clippers with the grain to leave it slightly longer, cut from 1 cm above the eyes to the occupit but not beyond, Neck; cut in a deep V shape staring just above the breast bone and continuing up to 1 clipper width behind the ears. Ears; shave both sides well and either scissor or clipper the edges. Cheeks; run the clippers against the grain of the hair to get a nice neat appearance. Clip under the chin to about 1 cm. forward of the corner of the mouth. Clip to outer corner of eye, but no further forward than a line drawn from the outer corner of the eye to the corner of the mouth. Continue with a #10 or #15 , clipper around the anus, privates and about 2 cm. up the base of the tail. Clip with the grain under the anus about 1 blade width, around the testicles or vulva and on to the inside back of the thigh about 3 cm. You will blend this in latter. Clipper the hair out from between the pads. I would then scissor off any excess hair on the legs, brisket, neck and tail. Pluck the hair from the ears using tweezers or hemostats, and clean them with a proper ear cleaner or alcohol on a cotton ball. Clean out any build up in the corner of the eyes with a comb and/or a wet face cloth. Trim the toenails using toenail clippers (I recommend Millers Forge brand as they don’t splinter the nails), have a small bottle of syptick powder ( Kwik- Stop ) handy just in case you cut to short. Terriers tend to have longer quicks than other breeds so just remove a little at a time looking for the end of the quick between each snip. If you prefer use a Dremel grinding tool to file the nails down. Finally give the dog a good brushing. He is now ready for a bath. 

I recommend that you use a shampoo with bluing for white dogs as it will help to minimize any brown stains. Be absolutely sure to rinse the coat well, shampoo left in can cause a multitude of skin problems. Use flea shampoo only if you have fleas as it will dry out the coat if used to often. You may want to use a hypo-allergenic shampoo if bathing seems to irritate the skin. Follow the shampooing with a good conditioner. Allow the dog to air dry (Cage dry) then fluff out legs and back brush the rest of the coat. He is now ready to finish.

Begin by running the same blade you used on the bodyall over the pattern again. Touch up the head, neck and ears. Comb out the rear legs and scissor it. It should blend in to the clippered area and look natural (no lines ) Contour the rear legs by leaving the coat on the front longer. Shorten the hair on the back of the leg to give the illusion of a shorter dog. Round the top of the haunches to make the dog appear wider and more powerful . Scissor the inside of the legs close so they look wide apart and parallel. This will help accentuate the structure (angulation) of the dog. Scissor the bottoms of the feet at a 45 degree angle so that the toenails are just showing and the rest of the foot is round and tidy. Pick up the foot and scissor any long hairs hanging down between the toes. Scissor the front legs in a stovepipe affect. Lift the leg and trim any hair sticking out in the armpits. Make sure the leg is straight and not sticking out at the elbows. Cut the tail in a pine tree shape rounding the end, remove most of the hair from the back of it so it’s cleaner.( this also makes the dog appear shorter) Blend in the hair on the sides of the brisket and shorten them. (no skirts please these are not cocker spaniels) The body should run into the brisket with no lines , it should be well blended and look natural. Next blend in the longer hair on the neck into the rest of the body it should be just slightly longer than the body. You may decide to clipper this part as well, but I feel it is necessary to have that near ring look. Blend in the hair along the V in the neck and you are ready to do the head.

The easiest way to do the head is picture it as being brick shaped. All four sides should be flat and squared off. Comb the whiskers forward and trim off the sides, using thinning shears, to make the eyes visible, DO NOT CUT EYEBROWS

Then comb out the sides and do the same, continue with each side until you have four flat sides. Comb the longer whiskers forward and trim of any straggly hairs or shorten to the desired length, (be careful when shortening as it is easy to ruin the appearance by removing too much)

Common Mistakes Shaving top of head past occiput. 
Cutting too far down back legs. 
Cutting too much off beard- leaving too much on. 
Cutting eyebrows-between eyebrows. 
Leaving a definite skirt. 
Leaving pantaloons on rear legs-tapering feet.

Remember Practice Makes Perfect !!

Show Trim

The Kerry Blue Terrier is a strong square dog with plenty of its native Irish pride and spirit. When done up in show clip it is nothing short of a masterfully sculpted piece of artwork. Used in Ireland as all purpose farm dogs and family protectors Kerries are very devoted to humans but are very untrust worthy with other animals. Until as recently as the 1970’s Kerry Blues in Ireland still had to go to ground to bring out a badger before acquiring their championships. This history has strongly influenced the body structure and style of the clip. To get into the badgers den the Kerry needs a narrow front end. Then it must reach up on a ledge in the den and grab the badger, thus the long narrow head and longer hair to protect the face and eyes. Finally the Kerry will use its strong powerful rear end to back out of the den with its quarry, the tail being used as a handle if assistance is needed. To achieve this look prepare your dog with a good bath and a fluff dry. Some breeders prefer to scissor the naturally wavy coat of the air dried dog but I feel a better job is done buy scissoring a straight coat then putting the curl back in latter. Do the rough out as above doing the #10 or #15 work, but leaving the body hair long.

Setting the Pattern.


Starting back just in front of the tail scissor a flat topline. Try to visualize an equilateral triangle. Begin just over the hip bones tapering down ( but not coming to a point) to end just past the the first rib. This part is very short about 2 cm. or less.


The neck tapers from the head getting wider toward the withers. This is a very important part of the trim because it gives the breed that mystical elegant look. Hold the head up and forward, arching the neck. Start at the front point of the topline while facing the dog begin scissoring tapering up the side to the neck at a 45 degree angle. The neck should look natural and solid, no mane of floppy hair. When viewing the neck from above the side should blend into the side of the body and end at the loin.


Scissor around the clippered area defining the ‘V’. Trim the front straight and close. Scissor the side blending it into the top of the front legs at a 90 degree angle to the front. Finally round the corner. 

Rear legs

Scissor around the back feet at a 45 degree angle. Using scissors or thinning shears work in the angualation from the lowest point of the clippered area down to the hock, angle this area slightly forward so that a judge can see the angulation better even when standing slightly in front of the dog. Blend the clippered area of the back leg into the longer hair on the inside of the thigh. Scissor the outside of the hock close angling the scissors to the rear of the dog thus lowering the hocks visually. The thigh should not be flat it should curve around to give the illusion of forward movement. Leave the hair longer on the front and outside of the back legs. Moving the tuck up forward compliments the rear to give the impression of a shorter bodied dog.


Above the tuck up, just behind the last rib, slightly cut in on the loin to give the dog a waistline. However this should not be apparent when viewed from above. Scissor the underline from the tuck up in a straight downward line to the elbow. To give a curved dimension to this area comb the hair up on the sides of the dog and scissor the rib spring. In contrast to the shoulder the brisket behind the elbow should not be flat.


Scissor the back of the tail very close. Leave the hair longer on the front and at the base and taper it from the base to the tip.

Front Legs

Scissor around the front feet. Continue the shoulders down the outside of the front leg in a straight vertical flat line. Lift the leg and scissor out any excess armpit hair. Too much and it will look narrow , too little and it will appear wide. Stovepipe the leg slightly off center, the front being shorter than the back of the leg. Trim any hair sticking out at the elbow.. Do not scissor the leg while holding it up or it will get a bowed look.. Leave a ‘V’ of hair between the front legs.

Comb fall forward. Holding the scissors parallel to the skull scissor the eyes about 1 cm. from the outside corner of the eye. This line must join the fall straight forward and not become hour glassed. Picture the head as brick shaped and continue working all four sides with scissors and thinning shears until the eyes are clear and the whole head piece appears long and narrow. Never trim the length of beard on a show clip.

Final Touches

Spray the coat lightly with a diluted mixture of conditioner and water, gently comb in the waves, this may take several sprayings. be careful not to get the legs wet. Snip off any uneven edges and work the pieces together with the natural wave of the coat.

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