Kerry Blues are Not Perfect
by Janet Joers
Although probably all of us with a Kerry Blue think it is the best dog in the world , it is not for everybody. But often, what others consider a "fault" is what someone else considers an "attribute."
Imagine this scene: A person is walking down the street with a beautifully groomed Kerry (and it took a lot of work to get it that way, let's face it) who suddenly goes ballistic--or at least stands at attention and barks--when another dog (especially a terrier--and they know the difference) rounds the corner. Do you think: "That dog's vicious or miserably trained," or "That dog's fearless with plenty of spunk"?
The spirit of the Kerry, which is often simple dog aggression (NOT people aggression, and most often exhibited to dogs of the same sex), is something many people are unprepared for. Can they be trained to behave? Of course! Lucky, this is an extremely intelligent breed and they learn quickly. Every Kerry needs to be under control, but if you're thinking you want to train this excitement completely out of them (which surely some people have), you probably ought to look at another breed.
In the scene above, my 5-year-old girl Jazz would stand at attention, probably strain on the lead (though not always), and bark. She still acts this way after God knows how many dog shows. Is she dog aggressive? Heck no. Given a chance to sniff the other dog, she'd walk away from boredom. My 1-year-old neutered male, Guinness, would go ballistic. He's young and needs more training and experience. Is he dog aggressive? Heck no. He most likely would put his butt in the air, wag his tail, and try to entice the other dog to play.
But suppose the other dog challenged a Kerry. My two and probably every Kerry I know, including the best trained dogs, would not back down. Suppose the other dog made a move to fight (snapped, snarled, or lunged). Mine would too. Therein lies a big responsibility in owning a Kerry.
Other "faults" include the high-maintenance coat (which allows you to spend time with your dog), the drippy beard that gets into everything (oh well), and their idea of a good time--pursuing and often killing "vermin" like squirrels, raccoons, opossums, field mice (ah, the instinct lives on!), and, unfortunately, sometimes kittens and birds. They also often dig gophers, if you know what I mean!
Kerries are lovable, charming, quick-witted dogs with a bit of the leprechaun in each one of them. All have personality plus, and all need some form of training, but with a firm yet gentle hand. (If you aren't the boss, they will be!) I can't imagine a more wonderful dog.