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Welcome to the fascinating world of Kerry Blue Terriers

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Setting Kerry Ears


Kerry Blue Puppy

Picture: Don Mendo de La Cadiera, "Tim" by Sonya Aroaz

The tails are cut at birth so that they are not so long that they are injured around the house or working in the field. The dewclaws are cut at birth so that they do not catch on wire fences (terribly painful and bloody) or get cut by scissors when the Kerry is being trimmed.

By the age of about 12 weeks the ears have risen from hanging down along the cheek almost to the jaw line, to folding over at about the skull top, and tip pointing toward the outer corner of the eye. This is perfect--all that is wanted! The problem then is that all the puppy teeth fall out at once and by six or seven months a whole new set of teeth comes in, drawing heavily on the calcium in the system, and down go the ears! All that we do is to paste the tip of the ear to just where it is naturally before that fall--pointing to the outer corner of the eye. Usually this is done at the three or four months trim--the head and ears are clipped and the ears wiped out with an ear cleaner, and some of the hairs pulled out with the fingers or a tool. After a bath and drying, before the scissor trim of the body and legs begins, the ears are pasted.

There are special pastes for this at dog shows or drugstores--they do not cause a rash. The ears set while the body is scissored. Four weeks later this is all repeated. The dogs do not seem to know anything is different. By seven or eight months the new teeth are all in, and the ears set exactly as they were naturally. Occasionally with large, thick ears, or tiny thin ones, it is necessary to repeat the pasting until ten or eleven months. Very seldom does a Kerry scratch his ears because they itch, but I try rubbing them, and if this does not take care of it, then I put a bandage over the ears for a few hours.

Interesting that back about 1935 several top Kerries came over from England, and the famous terrier handler, Pop Sayres, realized that to compete in the terrier group that the ears would have to be encourages to stay alert, so he is the one who invented pasting!

How to Set Kerry Ears

by Carol A. Basler, Rabasler@AOL.COM © 1992 USKBTC

Now you have that wonderful and beautiful ball of black curls called a Kerry puppy. Someday it will grow up into that alert and stylish Kerry that stole your heart in the show ring. What is it that gives the Kerry its alert presence, its commanding majesty? It is his attentive expression, his sharp black eyes, framed by perfectly set ears. But to achieve that ear set, a great deal of care and effort must be expended.

The ears of the Kerry Blue terrier, regardless of variations in size and texture, should never require surgical alterations to achieve the desired position. We are blessed, as owners, in that we do not have to put our Kerries through the cropping that other breeds face. We are able to develop that perfect frame of face with glue and patience.

Kerry puppy ears fall naturally alongside the eyes. However, once the cartilage begins to set, the position of the ears must be controlled until the hardening process is complete. Cartilage begins to set usually at about three months of age and will continue for a variable period ranging from three months to a year or more. Without gluing, light or small ears will lift like a Fox Terrier's . Heavy or large ears will droop like a hound's. Even the Kerry with perfectly sized ears must be treated to ensure that the ears fall evenly. Contact the puppy's breeder as to their recommendations on a setter. If they are not able to assist you, the following instructions should see you through.

Until the puppy is twelve weeks old, nothing need be done with the ears, except to clipper them and keep them lean. This process serves to condition your puppy to being handled during grooming.

When your puppy turns three months old, give it a good bath and dry it thoroughly. Using an electric clipper with a #10 or #15 blade, clipper the head and ears, but do not back clipper as some hair is needed for the gluing. Start with the puppy on a grooming table with a grooming noose. After you have clipped the ears, trim the edges with scissors to clearly define their shape. Next you must thoroughly clean the puppy's ears of wax and hair. It is almost mandatory to have at least one additional person to help with the cleaning. While your assistant holds the puppy, pull all hair from inside the ears. A hemostat works well for this purpose. If the puppy fights your work, it may be necessary to take it from the grooming noose and wrap it in a large towel and lay it down on the grooming table.

Once the ears are cleaned, put the puppy back in the noose. Sprinkle the ears and top of the head with BFI powder. Blow some of the powder into the ears or wipe out with R7, a drying liquid. This keeps the potential for infection to a minimum. Since the ears will be partially closed, they are more apt to become infected. There are two glues which I can recommend--Duo Surgical Adhesive or their eyelash adhesive and Val-A-Tear Mender.

First you will set the inner part of the fold, toward the center of the skull. Place a small amount of glue, a line or dot about one inch long and 1/4 inch wide on the inner edge of the ear, with a dot of glue between ear and skull, starting just above the point where the ears rise from the head. Fold the ears over, matching the height above the head, and push the ear a little toward the center of the skull, holding it a short while until it is set. Be sure the puppy does not shake its head. The height above the skull is above the skull is dictated by the size of the ear. You do not want the fold to be any higher than it has to be to bring the tip to a position just beside the eye. Before you paste you can alert the puppy to see what he does naturally with his ears, then try folding them yourself. Somewhere between 114 inch to 1/2 inch above the skull is recommended. The ear should be set exactly where you want it, not very high because you think the ear is large. After pasting the fold, let the tip fall near the outer corner of the eye or just above the corner, and put on either a large dot of paste at the tip, or a thin v-line of paste. (fig. C) This method of pasting will leave an open space on each side, essential to prevent ear problems in the interior ear. In setting, remember the ear will grow with the puppy!

Keep the puppy entertained on the table for about fifteen minutes to allow the glue to set up. You may use this time to trim the puppy. Just make sure he does not scratch at his ears during this time. If you must put him down on the floor, a piece of masking tape wrapped loosely around a front leg will keep the puppy busy for a time, and he will forget all about his ears.

Some puppies just won't leave their ears alone or when you have several pups, the big game is to pull on your fellows' ears for sport. You can wrap the head with gauze or tape to protect the ears.

Do not glue anything inside the ear across the top fold. It is ugly to have such a wide fold that a "hole" appears at the inner edge where the ear folds over.

The coat will grow sufficiently in four weeks that you can cut the glue from ear and skull and repeat the procedure. Should one ear come down, put it right back up. Should the puppy scratch the ear loose and leave a sore on the skull, take down the other ear, using cold cream to loosen it. Get them both back up as soon as possible as soon as the sore permits. Immediately after pasting the ears look at them from the back and front to be sure they are identical, as you can move them slightly if necessary. Sniff the ears once or twice a week to be sure there is no infection inside the ear canal.

If your puppy is entered in a Futurity, Sweepstakes or Sanctioned Match, the ears must be free. Be sure to paste them four weeks before the date. After showing, you or your breeder can put them back up right that day. Remember when you pasted the ears and never leave them pasted more than four weeks as the long hair will allow the ears to rise too high. Take the ears down twenty-four hours before the match as the puppy will often fly his ears after they are cleaned.

If the ears are very small or very large or thick, it will be necessary to paste them longer as usual. When the permanent teeth are all in at seven months, the average ear is set and needs no further pasting. Not so the very large, thick, or small, which should be pasted until eleven or twelve months. If correctly done the fold will be level, folding over gently, with the tip touching the cheek at the outer corner of the eye. Wide ears and the skull, are helped by pasting the inner corner on the skull.. It should never be necessary to cut or sharply fold the ear-The American Kennel Club prohibits such cosmetic surgery.

What glue to use?

Jiffy Sew

(Recommended by many breeders in Canada and the US.)

Jiffy Sew is a fabric cement marketed by Jiffy Products Inc. in Peterborough, Ont. The following is a link to information about Jiffy Products.

Jiffy Products Inc.
R.R. #3
K9J 6X5


Jiffy Sew can be ordered from the following two Canadian Kerry breeders:

Barb Thompson, (
2078 Route 845
Bayswater, New Brunswick, E5S 1J6
Phone 506/763-2682

Marilyn Brotherton (
Pinnacle Pet Supply
7251 Pr 241 North
Cartier, Manitoba R4K 1B4
Phone 204/864-2206

In an emergency you can always use Duo which women use to glue on eyelashes. It works great but the tubes are small and too expensive to do numerous sets on a litter. You can find it in the women's makeup section of most drugstores.


(Recommended by Jennifer Brookdene, brookdene@T3A.COM, France)

Copydex Adhesive is manufactured in the UK by Henkel (Henkel Home Improvement & Adhesive Products), Winsford, Cheshire CW7 3QY, UK. Can be purchased from any hardware store in the UK and Ireland. Solvent-free, Copydex is certified to comply with stringent EC child safety legislation.

Surgical Glue

(Recommended by June E. Hulit,, Ohio, USA)

Surgical glue is hard to find. It is white creamy glue and is non-irritating. After setting the ear by glueing --- you can temporarily wrap tape to hold the ears in place until the glue becomes dry. In larger cities you can find this glue at a medical supply store.

Val-A Tear Mender

(Recommended by Carol Brown,, PA, USA)

For the past 8 years, I have been using a glue called VAL.A People in our kerry club used to order it in bulk from the company and then sell it to whoever needed it. At this time, Cherrybrook has it, as well as the solvent. It is the easiest, and most benign glue I've ever used. No one has had an allergic reaction in all this time.

Jiffy Sew

(Recommended by Edith Izant and Carol Basler Los Angeles, CA, USA)

Jiffy Sew holds well and I have never had an allergic reaction, but by far the best if you don't want to have to stand there holding the head forever, is Val-A Tear Mender! You can write or phone them at
700 W. Root St.
Chicago, Il 60609

and they even agreed to send me a 2 Fl.Oz plastic bottle to try. It was very inexpensive and seems to last forever.

(Recommended by Pasquale Goglia,, Los Angeles, CA, USA)

I have used Jiffy Sew and one puppy had a reaction, changed to Val-A Tear Mender without any problems. I bought 2 cases from Val-A and they included info on using the product with dog ears. If anyone wants to try or needs this product I will send it for what it cost me ,$2.80 round up to $3.00 for postage.

Let me know by private email:Pasquale Goglia,

A Tip

from Janet Joers, Santa Ynez, CA

When Ellen Smith-Wexler glued the ears on my puppies, she gave me small squeeze bottles of glue--one for each puppy. All my puppy buyers got a bottle of glue with their puppies so they could easily tack down those stray ears when they started to come loose. The bottles originally contained eye wash, and were just the right size to dispense the glue a little at a time--no fuss, no mess!

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Today is September 19, 2019

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An Ard Chomhairle of the Irish Kennel Club approved the affiliation of the Ulster Kerry Blue Club to the Irish Kennel Club.

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