Kerry Blue Terrier

To expect the history of this Irish breed to be well documented is to expect the impossible. There is a long period of uncertainty between the year 1588, when ships of the Spanish Armada were wrecked off the coast of Ireland and some elegant Spanish "puddle dogs" swam ashore, and the year 1808 when the first Irish Blue Terrier is mentioned in writings. Nevertheless, it is believed that the shipwrecked dogs interbred with local terriers to found the breed we now call the Kerry Blue. In 1808, it is said that a race of silver blue dogs had been breeding true in County Kerry for 150 years, where they were used for fighting, ratting, controlling such farm pests as badger and rabbit, herding, hunting, guarding the flock and the homestead, even operating the butter churn when there was nothing else to do. Because these were dogs of the humble crofter who was forbidden by law to own sporting hounds, it is suggested that some of the blue dogs' versatility came from Irish Wolfhound and Otterhound blood that had been introduced on the sly.

However the breed was created, after the introduction of dog shows, classes were offered for the dogs in Ireland commencing in 1887. Over the years they were variously classified as ''silver-haired Irish Terrier," Irish Terrier (blue) and Blue Terrier (working). This muddled state of affairs continued until 1922 when Mrs. Casey Hewitt of Tralee, one of the breed pioneers who had helped standardize type, introduced the blue terrier to Britain. In that year, ten of the breeds were exhibited at Crufts' show in London, the Kerry Blue Terrier Club of England was formed and a breed standard written. At first the Kerry's unkempt appearance was held against him, but once the British had persuaded exhibitors to trim their dogs so they could compete on equal terms with other terrier breeds, the Kerry made a fine account of himself in the show ring. In Ireland the Kerry must still be shown in its natural state, and since 1926 before a dog may be confirmed as a breed champion it must qualify in two working tests. In one it must tackle a badger and draw it to ground; in the other it must demonstrate its natural hunting ability with rabbit and rat.

The first Kerry Blues came to this continent in 1918. Canadian registrations were first recorded in 1924-1925.