Kerry Blue Terrier Breed Magazine - Showsight

Kerry Blue Terrier Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.


Let’s Talk Breed Education!

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Official Standard of the Kerry Blue Terrier General Appearance: The typical Kerry Blue Terrier should be upstanding well knit and in good balance, showing a well-developed and muscular body with definite terrier style and character throughout. Correct coat and color are important. A low-slung Kerry is not typical. Size, Proportion, Substance: The ideal Kerry should be 18½ inches at the withers for a dog, slightly less for a bitch. In judging Kerries, a height of 18 to 19½ inches for a dog, and 17½ to 19 inches for a bitch, should be given primary preference. Only where the comparative superiority of a specimen outside of the ranges noted clearly justifies it should greater latitude be taken. In no case should it extend to a dog over 20 inches or under 17½ inches, or to a bitch over 19½ inches or under 17 inches. The minimum limits do not apply to puppies. The most desirable weight for a fully developed dog is from 33 to 40 pounds, bitches weighing proportionately less. A well-developed and muscular body. Legs moderately long with plenty of bone and muscle. Head: Long, but not exaggerated, and in good proportion to the rest of the body. Well balanced. Eyes - Dark, small, not prominent, well placed and with a keen terrier expression. Anything approaching a yellow eye is very undesirable. Ears - V-shaped, small but not out of proportion to the size of the dog, of moderate thickness, carried forward close to the cheeks with the top of the folded ear slightly above the level of the skull. A "dead" ear, houndlike in appearance, is very undesirable. Skull - Flat, with very slight stop, of moderate breadth between the ears, and narrowing very slightly to the eyes. Foreface full and well made up, not falling away appreciably below the eyes but moderately chiseled out to relieve the foreface from wedginess. Little apparent difference between the length of the skull and foreface. Jaws deep, strong and muscular. Cheeks-Clean and level, free from bumpiness. Nose - Black, nostrils large and wide. Teeth - Strong, white and either level or with the upper (incisors) teeth slightly overlapping the lower teeth. An undershot mouth should be strictly penalized. Neck, Topline, Body: Neck - Clean and moderately long, gradually widening to the shoulders upon which it should be well set and carried proudly. Back short, strong and straight (i.e., level), with no appearance of slackness. Chest deep and of moderate breadth. Ribs fairly well sprung, deep rather than round. A slight tuck-up. Loin short and powerful. Tail should be set on high, of moderate length and carried gaily erect, the straighter the tail the better. Forequarters: Shoulders fine, long and sloping, well laid back and well knit. The elbows hanging perpendicularly to the body and working clear of the side in movement. The forelegs should be straight from both front and side view. The pasterns short, straight and hardly noticeable. Feet should be strong, compact, fairly round and moderately small, with good depth of pad free from cracks, the toes arched, turned neither in nor out, with black toenails. Hindquarters: Strong and muscular with full freedom of action, free from droop or crouch, the thighs long and powerful, stifles well bent and turned neither in nor out, hocks near the ground and, when viewed from behind, upright and parallel with each other, the dog standing well up on them. Coat: Correct coat is important it is to be soft, dense and wavy. A harsh, wire or bristle coat should be severely penalized. In show trim the body should be well covered but tidy, with the head (except for the whiskers) and the ears and cheeks clear. Color: Color is important. The correct mature color is any shade of blue gray or gray blue from the deep slate to light blue gray, of a fairly uniform color throughout except that distinctly darker to black parts may appear on the muzzle, head, ears, tail and feet. Kerry color, in its process of "clearing," changes from

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an apparent black at birth to the mature gray blue or blue gray. The color passes through one or more transitions-involving a very dark blue (darker than deep slate), shades or tinges of brown, and mixtures of these, together with a progressive infiltration of the correct mature color. The time needed for this "clearing" process varies with each dog. Small white markings are permissible. Black on the muzzle, head, ears, tail and feet is permissible at any age. A black dog 18 months of age or older is never permissible in the show ring and is to be disqualified. Disqualification - A black dog 18 months of age or older is to be disqualified. (White markings on a black dog 18 months of age or older does not constitute clearing or mature color and the dog is to be disqualified.) Gait: Full freedom of action. The elbows hanging perpendicularly to the body and working clear of the sides in movement; both forelegs and hind legs should move straight forward when traveling, the stifles turning neither in nor out. Disqualifications: A black dog 18 months of age or older is to be disqualified. (White markings on a black dog 18 months of age or older does not constitute clearing or mature color and the dog is to be disqualified.)

Approved October 10, 2005 Effective January 1, 2006



T he Kerry Blue Terrier is a long-legged Terrier that originated in southwestern Ireland, sometime in the late 1700s or early 1800s. It was developed as a multi- purpose farm dog, and was used by mostly peasants to hunt vermin, guard livestock and serve as a companion dog. The General Appearance section of the US Kerry Blue Terrier standard highlights key elements of the breed: • upstanding, well-knit; • well-developed and muscular body of definite Terrier style and character throughout; • good balance;

Be cautious of over-angulation of the rear assembly. When viewed from the side during motion, the reach in front and the extension of the rear on the same side should be nearly equal, forming a “tri- angle” in appearance at the point of full extension. A good mov- ing Kerry will reach in front to the level of the nose, or even past. Dogs with good reach and drive will have a tendency to drop their head down when moving; those carried high may be ewe-necked or straight shouldered. When viewed moving from the front or rear, the Kerry does not double-track; there is some tendency towards convergence in the cent (but not true single-tracking either). COAT AND COLOR Proper type in the Kerry requires proper coat texture and color. It is one of the breed’s defining hallmarks. The standard states the coat is to be soft, dense and wavy. A harsh, wiry, crispy, or bristle coat is to be severely penalized. There are too many Kerries being shown (and often rewarded) that sup- port a wiry, nappy, tight-curled, harsh or bristle coat. Coats that are “packed” by their groomers like a Poodle coat should be heavily penalized. The body coat should have the required wavy coat— visualize a “Marcel” or pinched wave. An excellent coat will have row after row of rippled waves. The coat is a single coat—no undercoat. There is no such thing as an “open” coat. The beard is blown dry straight, or left natural with a slight wave. The upper part of the legs have a wavy coat; the lower legs are blown dry straight and sculpted. Lighter colored dogs (silver, silver-blue, silver grey) often have a tendency to have looser waves, while darker-colored Kerries (darker grey-blue, slate blue) tend to carry a denser coat with tighter waves (but not small/ tiny waves). Light silver Kerries used to have a tendency to have a cotton-textured coat, but not so much anymore. Darker Kerries should not have a packed—Poodle type coat. The coat is hand scissored—not clippered. The only areas clip- pered are the neck, ears, sides of the head, between the foot pads, the abdomen and below the anus/scrotum/vulva. Talented groom- ers can hide a number of faults with clever scissoring—you must go over the dogs with your hands. The color range is broad: from silver, to silver-blue and silver- gray, to blue-gray and into slate blues. Slate blues are not black. In natural light, slate blues will show a bluish hue and colored hairs can be found dispersed throughout their body coat. A Kerry is born black and develops its color as it matures. Some bloodlines are slow in developing color, but will eventually get color at an older age. Up to 18 months of age in the young dog, black is permis- sible. A black dog 18 months of age or older is to be disqualified. A white mark on a black dog over 18 months of age does not con- stitute clearing or mature color and the dog is to be disqualified. Some lines support a black mask on the head, with or without dark points on the lower legs. Black on the muzzle, head, ears, tail and feet is permissible at any age.

• a low-slung Kerry Blue is not typical; • correct coat and color are important.

Proper balance and proportions, correct movement for a long-legged Terrier and the breed’s hallmark coat are items to be

particularly stressed. BODY STRUCTURE

The standard does not specifically describe body proportion; Kerries are slightly longer than square (height versus length). Square Terriers include Lakeland Terriers and Miniature Schnau- zers—Kerries do not have this square proportion. But they are also not long-backed. They are not low-slung (short leg length in relation to back length). The neck is to be clean and moderately long—well set and carried proudly. A short-necked Kerry will look long-backed and often will have upright shoulder angulation. The chest is deep/moderate breadth, ribs fairly well sprung/ deep rather than round. Slab-sidedness is faulty. Shoulders should be long and sloping, well laid back. The front assembly of a Kerry is more like a sporting/working dog; it does not have the shortened forearm of the Fox Terrier—which is reflected in its movement. The back is short, strong and straight (level) (note: short back not referring to overall dog length). There is a slight tuck-up, short loin. The dog should not be waspy-waisted. Tail set on high, mod- erate length, carried gaily erect/the straighter the tail the better. This does not mean long tails. This does not mean tails curving to the side like a Chinese Shar-Pei. There are dogs that are un-docked that have moderate tail length and proper carriage. MOVEMENT Kerry Blue movement is more akin to sporting/working dog movement than movement seen in Fox Terriers. They do not have a shortened forearm/humerus. Restricted reach and drive in the breed is faulty. Gait should have full freedom of action. Kerries do not goose-step in a pendulum motion when moving in the front— there is a bend of elbow and pastern which then extends out to full extension and reach. A problem seen in the breed is poor front movement often related to poor angulation—restricted reach in the front is the result. This is a difficult fault to breed out of— it often takes generations. Hindquarters are strong and muscular and provide the power for good reach and drive during motion.




SIZE The most common problem involving size in the breed are over- sized dogs; rarely do you see an undersize dog. Kerries the size of Airedales are atypical for the breed—the standard addresses this spe- cifically, even though there is not a size disqualification. Dogs over 20 inches or under 17½ inches and bitches over 19½ inches and under 17 inches are to be severely penalized—please read the standard for size descriptions. Legs should be moderately long with plenty of bone and muscle. TEMPERAMENT/SPARRING Kerry Blues are spirited, energetic dogs—they often show such temperament in the show ring. They should not be vicious or show biting or attacking behavior. Dogs that bite people in the ring should be dealt with in accordance with AKC rules and procedures. Vicious, uncontrollable dogs should be excused from the ring in accordance with AKC rules and procedures. When sparring Kerries, be sure to have plenty of space between dogs. Spar two at a time—bring the dogs from opposite sides towards each other, but keep four or more feet between dogs when sparring. Kerries are fast and will try to nab a beard (or more) if allowed to do so. It is recommended to spar males with males, bitches with bitches. Males may not want to spar with a bitch. Be weary of novice handlers that may not know how to spar Terriers. Do not let handlers get the dogs too close to each other. The Kerry Blue Terrier Illustrated Standard states the following: at a dog show, a judge should put to the side any exhibitor who allows a Kerry to lunge and snarl. This is not typical of good Kerry tem- perament—Kerry Blues should be sparred. “If they eye each other intently, throwing themselves forward on their front toes, arching their necks, raising their ears to proper Kerry position, stand taut and ready for anything, each waiting for the other to make the first move and when, neither does, if they wag their tails, turn slowly and return happily to their places, then they are truly Kerry Blue Terriers.” This is a quote by Dr. E. S. Montgomery, author of the original KBT book. In summary, remember that balance, correct movement, proper coat and color and correct temperament are very important factors in your judging. The Kerry Blue Terrier is a wonderful breed and a lot of fun to judge—an outstanding specimen can take your breath away. Your educated decisions will be well received by exhibitors.

In judging light-colored dogs, black marks may be present that have occurred due to previous injury to the skin—the hair at the healing area may come in darker or black, the dog should not be penalized. Puppies and juveniles that display an almost human-like hair textures will develop into the proper coat as an adult. The hair tends to lie a little flatter on the body and leg areas. Puppy and juvenile coats are transitional, or clearing, until they reach an age of about 18-24 months (some bloodlines are even slower). The transitional stage may display a tan or brown- ish color tinge—this clears out as they mature. They may also have color splotching, uneven coloring or unusual color-turning patterns as juveniles. There is no such thing as a parti-color in the breed. Kerries may have a small white spot on their chests. HEADS The head is long, but not exaggerated and is in good propor- tion to the rest of the body. Well-balanced, with no apparent difference between the length of skull and fore-face. A lack of back skull is a fault. Cheeks should be clean and level, free from bumpiness. The zygomatic arch should be flat, not protruding. The ears are V-shaped, small but in proportion to the size of the head. A small, flying ear and a high breaking set, as in the Fox Terrier, is foreign to the Kerry head and expression. Ears are carried close to the cheeks with the top of the folded ear slightly above the level of the skull. Ears that are not reaching the cheeks, but end above the eyes are incorrect. A dead, hound- like ear is very undesirable. Kerry ears are partially man-made; puppy ears are glued to create the correct ear set. Some forgive- ness may be needed if ears are not perfect. Avoid snipey muzzles. Correct bites are either scissors or level. Large, round, or light eyes are faulty. The silver, silver- grey, silver-blue, lighter gray dogs will usually have eye color- ing lighter than the darker-hued Kerries. When viewed from the front, the Kerry head should be rectangular (or brick) in shape, sitting on an arched neck .Heavy heads, short heads, cheekiness, bumpy domed top skull, short back skull, hound ears, flying ears, high-breaking ears, light eyes, too wide/breadth of skull, down face, snipey muzzle, lack of beard and eyebrows are all faults when looking for the “perfect” head.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS Scott Kellogg DVM and Billie Kneale (son/mother) are third/second generation dog show exhibitors and have shown Kerry Blue Terriers since 1978 under the Camshron prefix. They have finished many champions, including three national specialty winners, BIS/Group/Specialty winners, the top-producing Kerry Blue Terrier dam of all-time and a #1 ranked bitch. Both are Terrier group judges and have judged Kerries at the Montgomery County National Specialty, Traveling National Specialties, Chapter Club specialties, Westminster and internationally (including its native country).



T he Kerry Blue Terrier has a single, non-shedding coat, which is soft, silky, and wavy. This coat type is found in no other breed, and is a major characteristic of cor- rect Kerry type. A Kerry’s coat should never be back- brushed and blow-dried to resemble a Poodle pack! A single coat, such as a Kerry’s, absolutely cannot be stripped. Characteristics and grooming of the head are unique to the Kerry; the fall between the eyes should never be removed! These how-to-do-it instructions for correct Kerry grooming are divided into three sections: 1. Pre-Bath: Brushing and Combing the Kerry’s Coat; 2. Bathing and Drying the Coat; and 3. Trimming the Coat, Using both Clippers & Shears. BRUSHING & COMBING A DRY COAT Use a firm-to-medium slicker (depending on the density of the coat) to brush the coat. Part the hair so that you can see the skin (Figure 1), and brush the coat, working loose any tangles or mats. I usually begin with the tail, holding the coat flat with one hand and brushing in the direction the coat grows, working from the tail to the top of the head. For the legs, back-brush from the skin out, beginning at the top of the leg, and brush to the base of the paw. Back-brush the fall, whiskers, and beard. After the coat has been thoroughly brushed, use a coarse comb in the same direction as you brushed, except for the fall, whiskers, and beard, which should be brushed forward towards the dog’s nose and then combed. Any small mats or tangles not removed by the slicker should come out. I find that the English-made Greyhound combs and English combs with a handle (such as PSI or Richter) work better than most American combs, which have thicker blunter teeth, as it’s more difficult to get down to the base of the skin and the hair tends to slip through them. Brush again to remove coat loosened by the comb, and comb again using a medium comb. Unless the dog’s coat is very long or matted, it should be ready to bathe. Dogs with long or matted coats can be “roughed in”—clipped or scissored before bathing and then finished after they dry; scissor-finishing should only be done after the dog has been bathed and dried. I use long, heavier shears for “roughing in.” I do not pluck ears, but flush them instead with an ear cleaning solution, and I do not squeeze anal sacs. I recommend that new cli- ents have their dog’s ears and anal sacs checked by their veterinar- ian before I groom their dog; if necessary, the ears can be plucked (controversial, as many veterinarians feel that healthy ears do not need to be plucked) and the anal sacs emptied (again, controversial,

because most dogs empty them with each stool). I will not groom dogs with infected ears or obvious skin infections. Nails can be trimmed and ground before or after the bath. (I usually do this before bathing.) Using a 40 blade, I clip between the dog’s pads after it has been bathed, as dirty feet will dull and damage your blade. Before bathing the Kerry, I usually clip the head and ears, underside of the tail, the belly, around the anus, around the vulva of a bitch, the sheath of a male, and around and on the scrotum (I use a 15 blade) of an intact male. (See TRIMMING THE COAT.) BATHING AND DRYING THE COAT Even if you have clipped the dog, make sure there are no mats or tangles in the coat before you bathe it! Bathing and, especially, drying are critical in maintaining the Kerry’s correct coat texture. Before bathing, use a protective opthal- mic ointment in the dog’s eyes. I do not use cotton plugs in the ears. I recommend using a “blue” shampoo, which brightens color and removes or reduces yellow stains. A good shampoo will not strip out the oils in the coat and will leave it soft and shiny, with body. Use luke-warm water to wet (and rinse) the dog, then soap the neck first, followed by the tail and rear, the body, legs, and finally, the head, being careful not to get soap in the eyes or ears. The fall, whiskers, and beard should be thoroughly soaped. When rinsing, all of the shampoo should be completely washed out (rinse the head first) and the coat squeezed to remove excess water before you apply the rinse. A proper rinse should give body to the coat in addition to leaving it soft and shiny. Although I dilute the rinse, I use it full-strength on the fall, whiskers, and beard, which makes them flatter and easier to comb out. After the rinse has been thoroughly washed out of the dog’s coat, squeeze out excess water, let the dog shake a few times in the tub, wrap it in a towel, put it on a table, and use super-absorbent

Figure 1. Hair Parted Showing the Skin Figure 2. Correct Coat Texture

Figure 3. A Brushed and Combed Kerry



Use a 15 on the underside of the tail. Scissor blend the edges

15 in “sanitary area” blending into legs




15 on upper inside thighs



Use a 7 from the upper thighs down the back of hind legs to hock



Figure 4. Ready for a Clip and Trim




towels to remove most of the water. Then put the dog in a crate and use a cage drier set on medium or low to dry the dog. This will keep the correct wave in the dog’s coat. Do not use a blaster to remove water from a Kerry’s coat! After the dog is dry, it should be brushed and combed before trimming. If you do not want to crate-dry the dog, damp-dry its coat using a hand dryer in the direction the coat grows, combing and brushing until the coat is dry. This will retain the wave, but in my opinion, crate-drying gives better results. Not all Kerries have a good coat; some may have naturally wooly or fuzzy coats that lack wave; some coats are thin, thick and straight, or too curly. Curly coats can be brushed when damp in the direction the coat grows to relax the curves. Puppy coats are usually thinner than adult coats, and may have looser waves. You can see what kind of coat the dog has after it has been bathed and dried. It is impossible to manufacture wave in a straight coat, make cottony or wooly coats silky, or harsh coats soft. TRIMMING THE COAT The numbers provided here refer to blade size. These numbers are a guide to which lengths you (or the clients) prefer, and may vary with the type of coat, the time of year, and the amount of work the client wants to do to maintain the coat in between trims. Note: I prefer to use different blade sizes rather than snap- on combs, and I use a specific set of blades on each dog that I groom. Before the bath, clip the belly and around the anus and genitals. Use a 10 or 15 to clip the underside of the tail and around the anus and genitals (Diag. 2). Clip (10 or 15) the hair around the vulva of a female, and the belly, including the hair around two-three pairs of nipples; clip the belly of a male, including his sheath (scissor the tip of the sheath), and continue with a narrow strip forwards of the sheath (Diag. 2). If he is intact, clip the hair around and on the scrotum with a 15. (Note: Please use a cool blade!) After the bath, clip (30 or 40) between the foot pads (Diag. 3); clip and grind the nails if necessary. Using the 15, clip a narrow strip between the hind legs down to approximately the level of the patella (“knee”), then continue with a 7 down to the hock. After the coat between the hind legs and the inside of the hocks has been scissored, there should be a straight line from the crotch down to the feet (Diag. 1). A correct clip on the head and neck will immediately identify the dog as a Kerry! Clip the top and underside of the ears (30 or 40), including the base of the ear around the opening. Then flush the ears with an ear cleaner. You can use a 7 blade on the top of the


Clip belly with a 10 or 15 blade






10 15

Use a 10 or 15 on sheath and scrotum on intact males

Use a 10 or 15 around nipples Both sexes

Clip nails if they are too long before grinding them

head, but I prefer to scissor it, as a clipper can produce a “billiard ball” effect. Use a 10 or a 15 on the sides of the skull to the corner of the eye, leaving coat from the rear corner of the eye to the corner of the mouth. The underside of the neck is clipped with a 15 from the base of the ear, arching down almost to the tip of the sternum (breastbone), with the sides of the neck clipped to form a


Clip hair between pads with a 40 blade

slight arch (Diag. 4 and 7). Looking at Diagram 4, you can see that the clipped area on the underside of the neck forms a V, which wid- ens from the sternum up to the bases of the ears. Clip the underside of the jaw, past the hair follicle and forward to the corner of the lip. Never remove the fall, the long hair from between the eyes! The fall extends from slightly behind the eyes, and should be thinned and shaped to lie flat from the top of the skull, between the eyes, and forward past the nose. Let the dog shake its head, and where the fall spreads out over the sides of the whiskers, point the shears towards the nose, trimming and thinning the fall to make a straight line on each side of the muzzle. When viewed from the top, the skull and foreface should be a rectangle that tapers slightly from the skull to the nose (Diag. 5). From the side, the head should appear flat from the occiput (rear of the skull) to the tip of the nose. For correct expression, the hair over the eyes should be tapered over the upper eyelid, shorter at the corner, and becoming gradually longer towards the center of the foreface where it blends in with the fall (Diag. 6). Clip the top of the neck from the occiput with a 3 3/4 blade, and gradually blend the coat into the back past the withers (top of the shoulders) with a 1-inch Geib blade. Then back-brush the coat








Corner of mouth


Hair Follicle

Short “fringe” or hair covers upper eye


Clip upper and inside of ear Use a 15 backwards on the neck and cheeks Clip the neck into a “V” ending at the top of the sternum Blend into legs



Brush fall forward between eyes. Lightly scissor or thin to keep it flat. Do not remove hair between eyes!






Entire eye is exposed

between the hind legs. The coat on the inside of the hocks is usu- ally trimmed short, but is longer on the back of the hocks, which are perpendicular to the ground (Diag. 1 & 7). The coat should be long enough so that the feet are not vis- ible; the pasterns should be straight. The coat should be rounded around the base of the front and hind feet (Diag. 8). After the coat has been clipped and trimmed, lightly mist it and scissor to even it. Put the dog on the floor, let it shake, and scissor any loose hairs or bulges. You can use a damp sponge on the fall, the body coat, and lightly down the legs. I use water mixed with a squirt of conditioner to mist and sponge the coat. There are also products that can add body to the thinner coats. Now you have a Kerry that looks like a Kerry should look! TRIMMING THE SHOW KERRY There are differences between a pet trim and a show trim. For show trims, the body and legs are scissored rather than clipped, and the coat is usually longer based on the substance of the dog, its coat type, and its size. In show trimming, a dog is initially observed both standing and moving, followed by a hands-on evaluation—usually more complete than that of a judge in the show ring. The purpose is to create an illusion of “the perfect” Kerry, both standing and mov- ing, and you must know what its virtues are as well as its faults. A good trim will accentuate the former and hide the latter. A correct dog that is balanced, with a good head and length of neck, correct tailset and carriage, body and legs, and a correct coat, is easier to trim than one with a lot of problems to cover up. Kerries are a “moderate” breed. Look at the standard; that word is used over and over. The head is an important component of Kerry type, so let’s begin there. “Long, but not exaggerated, and in good proportion to the rest of the body. Skull flat with very slight stop, moderate width between the ears, narrowing very slightly to the eyes. Fore- face full… not falling away appreciably… little apparent difference between the length of the skull and foreface… Cheeks - Clean and level…” In other words, when looking down on the top of the head, you should see a rectangle that tapers slightly from the back of the skull to the nose (Fig. 7). If the dog is cheeky, shave the cheeks with a 40, allowing some hair to fill in below the cheeks. If the dog is skully, clip the skull with a 30 or 40, allowing 4-6 days for regrowth, then blend with a thinning shear. Scissor the top of the skull, and pointing your shears forwards, lightly scissor the fall so that the entire head appears flat (Fig. 6). Avoid close clipping right before a show; that “eight ball” look will immediately draw the judge’s attention to the head. Pull the

Best to scissor front and hind legs

on the neck and scissor it to give an arched appearance to the neck, and smoothly blend it into the coat on the back. Blend the clipped underside of the neck into the sides of the neck and shoulders. The shoulders should be clipped (#5-15) so that they appear flat and blend into the neck. When looking down at the top of the dog, or from its front, the neck should gradually widen into the shoulders with no bulges; there should be straight lines from the neck down to the feet. The body can be clipped with a 1-inch, 3 3/4, 4, 5, or 7 blade, depending on the length of coat the client wants. The back should be trimmed to appear level. It should not slope either up or down towards the tail, and should not have a dip or roach in it (Diag. 7). The front of the tail can be clipped (5 or 7) or scissored. Blend the underside of the tail in with the front. The tail should be as straight as possible (the longer the tail, the more curve), high set, and taper slightly from the base to the tip, which is rounded. The tail should not resemble a finger, a dagger, or a sausage! The ribs should be almost flat, “deep rather than round,” and the coat on the brisket (chest) should be down to the elbows, fol- lowing the curve of the brisket to the loin, and curved into the coat on the front of the hind legs (Diag. 7). Use a curved shear to round the coat on the ribs into the brisket; the Kerry should not have a skirt on its sides. The brisket is moderately deep; it and the loin are not exaggerated (as in a Greyhound). Back-brush the legs and, using a 3 3/4 or 1-inch blade, lightly clip the coat below the shoulders and down the hips. Then scis- sor-finish the legs; the coat length should be longer than the body coat. When the dog is standing, facing you, there should be a space between between the front legs, approximately the width of a medium-sized male hand, that is in balance with the dog. The Kerry should not have a wide “bully” front or a narrow “two legs out of one hole” front. Trim the coat on the elbows so that they don’t stick out when the dog moves. The coat on the front legs should be rounded, with a straight line from the shoulders down to the feet. From the side, the coat on the hind legs should curve, show- ing the angulation of the rear legs (Diag. 7). There should be a “shelf ” below the tail, and the hocks should extend out behind the body when the dog is standing naturally. From the rear (Diag. 1), there should be a curve from the base of the tail down into the legs, which from the rear appears straight. There should be space



7 on top of skull or scissor flat


7 or scissor front of tail

7 40


Use 3/4 or scissor. Blend neck into body

Blend into legs and body. Scissor legs




Feet should not be visible and pasterns straight

Trim around bottom of foot while dog is standing



Show angulation on hind legs

Blend shoulder into neck, legs, and body


case with the long-legged Kerry. The coat on the top of the neck gradually lengthens as the neck joins the withers, and is blended into the body. If the dog has an arched neck, well-laid-back shoul- ders, and a short body, the coat does not have to be overly long. With a short neck, the coat gradually lengthens over the withers into “the middle of the back,” which gives the illusion of a longer neck and shorter body. An arch can be created by clipping an exag- gerated arch on the side of the neck and trimming the coat on the top of the neck (Fig. 5 and Diag. 7). The shoulders should be flat. Looking down at the dog, there should be a straight line from the top of the neck, which gradually widens; there should be a straight line from the shoulders to the front legs to the ground. For a heavy, bulging shoulder, scissor or clipper the shoulder flat, being careful to fill in with coat where the neck meets the shoulder. The shoulders blend into the back, which should be “short, strong, and straight (level)..." The back does not include the loin, which is that area from the end of the ribs to the point of the hip (ilium). The back plus the loin equals the body. Too many call a dog “long-backed” when the length is in its loin; the dog should more correctly be termed “long- bodied.” Body length is measured from the point of the shoulder to the “pin bone” (ischium) of the hip, which is below the tail and forms the “shelf.” TRIMMING THE BODY AND LEGS Trim the coat so that the body appears straight and level from where the shoulders blend into the back to the tail. If the tail is low-set, leave more coat on the front of it, blending the coat into the croup; the area from the ilium to the tail. Hold the dog’s tail up and blend in the coat; you should not see any puffiness or bulges, nor should you when the tail is relaxed. If the dog does not have a level topline, or if the back is roached or arched over the loins, you will have to trim the coat shorter over the roach, leaving it longer on either side of it. The body coat should make the dog appear “well covered but tidy.” The length should be sufficient that the texture is obvious, but not so long that it flops around when the dog moves. If the dog is tall and/or well-muscled, the coat can be shorter, while a smaller or more refined dog can carry more coat to give the illusion of more substance or size. The coat on the body should be blended into that on the ribs (“deep rather than round”); take more coat off a fat dog or one with barrel ribs, and blend the coat into the brisket. If the dog’s brisket reaches the elbows (it may not in puppies, immature dogs, and some adults), trim the coat shorter; if it doesn’t, leave the coat longer down to the elbows and between the front legs to give the illusion of a deep chest. Taper and blend the coat gradually into the loin. The Kerry should not appear “wasp-waisted” or have an exag- gerated drop in chest with a high-curved loin as in a Greyhound. From above, there should be only a slight indentation over the loin. The Kerry’s body should not resemble a sausage!

Round coat on ribs into chest. No skirt!

Blend into legs and body. Scissor legs

Hocks low and perpendicular to the ground


whiskers out from each side and trim off the coat that is flaring out from the muzzle. You can also use thinning shears to reduce the volume of coat if the dog has thick furnishings. Scissor a line from the corner of the eye to the corner of the lip. Lightly scissor the coat under the eye, so when you look down on the head you will not see a bulge or an indentation below the eye. Clip under the jaw to the lip (right around that little hair follicle). If the dog has a short muzzle, you can clip a little further forward than that. Taper the beard so that it increases gradually in length and tapers to a point. For a short-headed dog, long face furnishings that extend out from the nose will make the overall appearance of the head look longer. But a huge clump of untapered beard can make the head look short. The face furnishings should be in balance with the head and the rest of the dog. Avoid the “billy goat” look. From the side, the head should also appear rectangular, with the beard tapering gradually to the end of the whiskers. The ears should be “...carried forward close to the cheeks with the top of the folded ear slightly above the level of the skull.” If the ears appear too low, the coat on top of the skull can be closely scissored. The tips of the ears and part of the leather should touch the side of the skull right above the corner of the eye. If the ears are too high (“flying”), leaving coat on the underside of the flaps could give the illusion that the tips are touching the skull. Trim closely around the edges of the ears, particularly if they are large. Eyes: “Dark, small, not prominent...” Trim from the outside corner of the eye, tapering so that the coat gets longer as it reaches the inside corner. This will make a large or round eye look small- er, and the coat over the eye will make a light eye appear darker. (Diag. 6). The Neck and Sternum (Fig. 8): The neck is "Clean and mod- erately long, gradually widening to the shoulders..." It should have a definite arch. Using a 15, clip from the underside of the jaw down the underside of the neck, and from the base of the ear down to— or just above—the tip of the sternum. If the dog has a long, clean neck, clip down to the sternum. A short neck can also be clipped that far down, unless the dog is ewe-necked and has a bulge above the sternum. In that case, clip down to approximately the middle of the bulge, and gradually taper the coat so that the neck appears straight from the head down to the toes. Even though the legs are naturally under the body, we fill in with coat to give an illusion of a straight line (the “straight terrier front”), even though the sternum slightly protrudes. Some trimmers are now showing the prominent sternum, with the forelegs slightly under the body, which is the



Figure 6. Correct Side Trim on Head of Mature Kerry

Figure 7. Correct Front Trim on Head

Figure 5. The purpose is to create an illusion of ‘a perfect Kerry.’

Figure 10. Proper Movement and Color for a Kerry 18 Months and Under

Figure 8. Properly Clipped Neck

Figure 9. Properly Trimmed Rear (Notice the right leg still needs to be trimmed.)

The Front Legs: From the side, there should be a straight line from the shoulder down to the ground (or trim to show a slightly prominent sternum); from the front, a straight line from the neck to the ground. If the dog has a wide “bully” front, trim the coat short on the shoulders and on the outside of the front legs; leave more coat on the inside of the front legs. If the dog is narrow, take more coat off between the legs. The coat on the feet should be rounded; the feet should not be obvious and should blend into the legs; the pasterns should be straight. If the dog is long-bodied, leave more coat on the back of the front legs and the front of the hind legs. The Hind Legs: Looking down on the dog from the front, there should be a straight line to the ground, with no “chaps” or “bloomers.” From the side, there should be a “shelf” formed by the angle of the fused ilium and ischium. The shelf curves outward under the tail; the ischium articulates with the upper leg bone (femur) and the femur with the lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) to produce the curves seen in the rear leg. This is probably one of the most sculptured areas in the Kerry. If the dog doesn’t have much shelf, build one with coat. The same for the stifle (knee) area; carve curves with coat! Make sure the curves of the front and back of the hind legs match. The lower leg bones articulate with the hock, which should be short and upright. If the dog “digs its hocks,” fill in the area with coat where the hock slants under the body. Looking at the dog from the rear, there should be a space between the hind legs, and they should appear straight from the body to the ground

(Fig. 9). The hocks should turn neither in or out, and the feet should point straight ahead. If the dog is close behind, take off more coat between the hind legs; if it is cow-hocked, take coat off the top, turned- in part of the hock, filling in at the bottom of the hock. Trim coat off the outside of the foot to make the foot appear that it is pointed straight ahead. If the dog is open-hocked, with too much space between the hocks and the feet pointing inwards, fill in the space between the hocks with coat, and trim coat off the insides of the feet. Hopefully your dog will not require most of these corrections. The more you work the coat, the better it will look; you will elimi- nate dead coat and dead-ends in the coat. Quoting the late Horace J. “Jud” Perry, a top handler and breeder (Kearnach Kennels) in the 1940s-80s: "A coat that is kept trimmed and clean will grow as it should, and will fit the body with no fluff and very little shake to it. I once heard the fit of a good Kerry’s coat described ‘like a properly fitting corset’.” Therefore, begin preparing your show Kerry with regular bathing and trimming. The more you do it, the better your dog will look. With a good diet, and a shampoo and rinse with moisturizers in them, there should be no adverse effects of frequent bathing and grooming. Your dog will have healthier skin too. This also applies to pet grooming. Even if you are not showing your dog, it will be healthier, happier, and more beautiful if bathed and groomed regularly. I would like to thank my longtime friend and excellent groomer, Carol Basler, for her suggestions on using Diagrams as well as how to brush-dry a Kerry coat and retain the wave.



T he history of the Kerry Blue Terrier, like the history of Ireland itself, must be viewed through the mists of legend and myth. One popular story is that the Kerry, or Irish Blue Terri- er arose from black, soft-coated dogs that swam ashore from the remnants of the Spanish Armada driven onto the west coast of Ireland on their return to Spain. Another version tells of black dogs from Russian cargo ships, bound for England during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, driven off course and landing in Ireland. By either account, the story of the Kerry Blue Terrier seems to date from the mid-years of the reign of Elizabeth I in England. This was a time of great repression of the Irish People when private land

holdings were stripped from the native population and given as gifts and rewards to the great families of Eng- land and as punishment to the locals for holding on to their Catholic faith. Whatever its origin, the Kerry Blue became a popular dog in rural county Kerry, known for its small farms with herds of sheep and cows. The Kerry developed into an all-around farm dog in the days of tenant farmers—hunter of vermin, herder of livestock, and guard of the hearth and home. One of the nicknames for the Kerry is the “Gray Ghost,” a title bestowed for the Kerry’s ability as a provider of extra meat for the table from the rabbits it ran down and killed, hunting silently so the gamekeepers would not know that poachers were about.

Gentle, lovable and intelligent, the Kerry in more recent times has become an all-around working and utility terrier, used in Ireland and Eng- land for hunting small game and birds, and for retrieving from land and water. This overall working and sporting ter- rier is a faithful companion to the fam- ily, showing great personality, drive and energy. As one would expect from a dog of lowly and utilitarian origins, there are no Stud Books or pedigree histories. The earliest mention of what might have been Kerries was a report in 1808 by Bennelson, of packs of large gray, hunting terriers maintained by a few land owners in County Kerry. The first authenticated mention of a “silver- haired Irish Terrier” was made by Allan


Lewis in a “journal newspaper” in 1887. These dogs were seen at a dog show in the southern part of County Kerry. This is also the earliest reported dog show in which Kerrys appeared. But it was not until after the formation of the Irish Republic that Kerrys began to appear in shows throughout Ireland, encouraged in part by their association with Gener- al Michael Collins, “The Big Fella,” who was an early Kerry owner and exhibitor and whose name and story is so intrinsi- cally entwined with the creation of the Republic. In 1921, Michael Collins spon- sored an Act of the Oireachtas in the Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament) to recog- nize the Irish Blue (or Kerry Blue) as the National Dog of Ireland. However, with the death of General Collins, the initia- tive died as well. “THESE DOGS WERE SEEN AT A DOG SHOW IN THE SOUTHERN PART OF COUNTY KERRY. THIS IS ALSO THE EARLIEST REPORTED



1922 was the watershed year for the Kerry Blue. In that year, the breed was formally recognized by the Irish Ken- nel Club, the English Kennel Club and the American Kennel Club. This was also the year that the Dublin Kennel Club held the first Championship show for Kerries, drawing 257 entries. That year was also the first appearance of Kerrys at Crufts and at the Westmin- ster Kennel Club Show. The English standard is with a few minor excep- tions identical with the American stan- dard in that coats must be trimmed. English fanciers, always more fastidi- ous than their Irish neighbors, show the Kerry in a trimmed, more stylized coat, whereas the Irish still prefer a longer, less manipulated trim. “SOME OF THE FIRST KERRYS WERE IMPORTED INTO THE UNITED STATES BY SUCH


Some of the first Kerrys were import- ed into the United States by such nota- bles as Mrs. William Randolph Hearst and Gene Tunney. In 1938, with the amalgamation of the Kerry Blue Terrier Club of America and the United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club, both founded in the late 1920s, the United States Ker- ry Blue Terrier Club became the official parent club for the Kerry breed. The Kerry is of medium height, up- standing and square, well muscled and with the strong bite of a hunter, but not accompanied by the visible jaw muscula- ture found in the Bully breeds. This size and structure makes the Kerry ideal for hunting small game and large rodents, such as badger, fox and rats. From the 1920’s one of the requirements to gain a championship in Ireland was for the Kerry to go to ground in a badger lair and bring the prey out. One might won- der if the Kerrys did to the Irish badgers was what Saint Patrick did to the snakes in Ireland, for in the 1960s the badger population had become sufficiently


endangered that this requirement was dropped. The characteristic fall and beard is still retained as a relic that once protected the eyes and nose of the Kerry from the claws and teeth of the badger and the thorns of the brambles. Above ground, the open gait and strong musculature of its rear also makes the Kerry a formidable herder of cattle and sheep. The soft, nonshedding coat of the Kerry makes it an ideal house dog, and its size, combined with its love of family and home makes it a good dog for warning off potential intruders. In temperament, the Kerry will romp with the children, chase thrown balls for hours and then curl up beside you as you read the paper, ready for pets and scratches behind the ear. The ideal height for the Kerry is between 17 and 20 inches. While born black, the coat color matures into a blue- gray that allows for a wide spectrum of shade. A young Kerry needs some level of training and socialization, which its

intelligence readily accepts. However, left untrained and unsocialized that intelligence may result in unruliness. Kerrys, like most dogs of their size, require some level of exercise. While the Kerry is adaptable to apartment living as well as to a ranch, Kerrys need to have some room and time to exercise. Free access to a small yard may be enough, but where living space is restricted, owners must be willing to take their Ker- rys out for walks, runs or to parks where they can be free to romp. Kerrys also require grooming. The beautiful, soft lush coat required brush- ing at least weekly, but preferably more frequently. The nonshedding aspect of the coat requires that it be trimmed at least every month to six weeks. Kerrys are eligible to participate in numerous AKC events and receive titles for their efforts. Confirmation showing is popular, but growing in popularity are performance events, such as Obedi- ence, Agility, Rally and Herding, where

Kerrys are enthusiastic and successful in their participation. Kerrys are found in the ranks of Therapy dogs where their soft coat and love of people make them very suitable to that task. Kerrys also have retained their retrieving instincts and are frequently seen in Dock Dog Events where their enthusiasm, love of water and impish sense of humor often provide the watching crowd with great amusement. In general, the Kerry loves to please its owner, but does so on its own terms, as witnessed by Kerry that loved Obedience, but hated frosty grass. She would finish each routine by squat- ting beside her handler, her bottom a few inches above the wet, cold grass. With proper treatment, training, food and exercise, the Kerry Blue Ter- rier is very long-lived and healthy and will retain his activeness until the end. In fact, a Kerry Blue Terrier of six and eight years of age may well be taken for a young dog.


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