Written by Doris Donnerman (last updated April 6, 2009)
In any discussion of treatise written on this true dog of Eire, color strikes the important note. Gameness, of course, as in all the Terrier breeds, was uppermost, but even in the early days of the Kerry, color ranked a close second. As an indication of pigmentation, old Kerry men insisted on a black roof of the mouth and black gums.
The highly distinguishing characteristic color in the Kerry Blue has been zealously guarded. So meticulous are present-day Kerry fanciers in preserving the true blue coloring that in 1947 a standard was devised to forestall any deviation into lilacs, violet blues, purples or greenish blues that might have qualified under the existing standard of "a shade of blue." Kerry color, in its process of "clearing" from an apparent black at birth to the mature gray blue or blue gray, passes through one or more transitions-involving a very dark blue, shades or tinges of brown, and mixtures of these, together with a progressive infiltration of the correct mature color.
The Kerry had been an all-purpose dog in the homes of the County Kerry folks. They were used to tend cows and sheep, destroy vermin, and acted as guardians for the home and children. Moreover, they were indispensable in the important sports of early days, ratting and drawing badgers. They were also used for hunting small game and birds to some extent and were good retrievers.
His actual antecedents are veiled in mystery, but in Ireland it is believed that the Kerry is related to the old Irish Wolfhound. The secretary of the U. S. Kerry Blue Terrier Club has raised both Kerries and the present-day Irish Wolfhounds. He claims that there is a period in the juvenile Wolfhound when the puppy resembles a Kerry and there is a period in a few Kerry puppies when they show signs of consanguinity with the Wolfhound. But there he leaves it.
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. A low-slung Kerry is not typical.
The ideal height for a Kerry would be a height of 18 to 19-1/2 inches for a male dog and 17-1/2 to 19 inches for a female. The most desirable weight for a fully developed male is around 33 to 40 pounds, with females weighing proportionately less.
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