This breed has been close to my heart for a very long time. I have been involved in showing them for some 25 years now and understand the importance of the history, purpose and this breeds’ unique coat colour and texture.
The Kerry Blue Terrier (also known as the Irish Blue Terrier) is a breed of dog originally bred in Ireland in the county of Kerry to control “vermin” including rats, rabbits, badgers, foxes, otters and hares, over time the Kerry became a general working dog used for a variety of jobs including herding cattle and sheep, and as a guard dog. Today the Kerry has spread around the world as a companion and working dog.
This is an individual breed in so many ways. They are an all-purpose farm dog with their unique coat colour and texture yet maintaining a multi working and family pet background. Their coat is born black and must show signs of change by 18mths of age (this dominate dilution gene is a key part of the breed and not all change colour). Colour may vary on age and maturity any shade of blue with or without black points. The colour of the breed can change as the dog matures. All shades of blue are correct. The texture is an important one; Soft, Plentiful and Wavy. The soft texture and the non-shedding coat of the Kerry Blue is plentiful to protect the dog from its Irish climate and has a uniquely wavy pattern. This is what makes this breed so different. Hallmarks of every breed must be honoured and respected.
Basic grooming for this breed is simple. Different ages affect the breeds colour and texture. Generally by the time we start showing them we have just started to see a small amount of colour change. As a dilution gene is responsible for the change in colour it’s possible to see a little “rust” reddish tones to the coat. This is normal to any fading gene.
I suggest Plush Puppy Herbal Whitening Shampoo (1 part shampoo to 5 parts water) for the overall general bathing. The toning qualities help to neutralise the warm/red tones and naturally highlight the blue. This can be also mixed with Plush Puppy All Purpose Shampoo (1:5). The natural henna extract in Plush Puppy All Purpose Shampoo emphasises the natural sheen and shine of this soft coat. Thus also highlighting the colour by allowing the blue to shine and producing a light reflective gloss to the coat. As any hairdresser will tell you, it’s impossible to make a darker colour lighter without using a bleach of some kind. The best we can do is to highlight and make sure what reflective qualities we have are best to the eye.
Plush Puppy Body Building Shampoo can be used also and like the Plush Puppy All Purpose Shampoocan be mixed with Plush Puppy Herbal Whitening Shampoo. I use the same breakdown (1 part shampoo to 5 warm water). This is great for those developing coats and I like to use on the legs as I feel I get a better finish when scissoring.
Conditioning the coat is important. This coat has to be soft and silky. Using Plush Puppy Silk Protein Conditioner at (1:10). I thoroughly cover the dog and try to wait 2-5mins for this moisturising to work. For dogs with a dry or damaged coat, don’t be scared to add some Plush Puppy Coat Rescue. This is not a conditioner but a treatment. The unique make up is to strengthen the hair cuticle and restore the natural texture. This can be done with the conditioner or as a separate treatment.
Faces and beards. A very important step. A Kerry’s face is a hairy one. Dirt, dust and muck loves being in that fluffy face. Plush Puppy Let’s Face It is a Shampoo especially developed for this. It contains natural extracts that are non-irritant to eyes with soothing properties. It’s a special foam that cleanses and cleans yet helps to prevent and sooth irritations.
After bathing, I lightly mist the dog with Plush Puppy OMG. I use at (1:40). This light mist allows the water to be dispersed quickly and leaves a beautiful finish and that desired soft silky texture.
Drying of a Kerry, it is important to keep the traditional and correct wavy that is classic to the breed. This is not a poodle, it must be wavy on its body. I like to lightly use a force dryer to remove the excess water. I never allow to body coat to be fully dried and hence fluffed out. I prefer to use a warm hand dryer and a large toothed comb and gently dry the coat allowing the breeds’ wavy coat to be maintained. Legs and face, I personally dry and use a soft slicker brush and then finish with a comb. This allows the coat to be totally tangle and knot free and letting you have a well finished coat to scissor. Degrees of finish and drying are up to the individual, however you must always allow the coat to be correct. SOFT, SILKY and WAVY!!
After you have now bathed and dried your dog the art of scissoring is up to you. Enough length to show the wavy and natural shape of the breed and keep that classic terrier shape and silhouette. Some are masters, some of us are mere mortals. Practice and then practice some more!
Show days a light mist of Plush Puppy OMG will refresh the coat and allow the coat to bounce back to its glory. If you need a little lift in some areas (hocks and legs) then a light mist and brush with Plush Puppy Volumising Spray will help greatly.
There are no magic tricks to preparing this wonderful breed. Just some very clever products that make your life and the finish you can achieve easier and with a better result.
Be respectful of what the breeds history and coat is to be. Be understanding of the purpose of the coat and use what tools are available for you to present your breed to its best!