Scratch Dog or Not – Are Kerry Blue Terriers Hypoallergenic?

The good news is; for those wanting to purchase or adopt a Kerry Blue Terrier, the chances of a runny nose, hives, streaming eyes, congestion, and sneezing is greatly reduced with these spirited yet gentle all-purpose dogs.


This affectionate, working dogs, which hail from Ireland, like all terriers, are strong-willed. But, for families wanting an active, outgoing, low-shedding dog, that won't produce a nasty rash, they make a fantastic choice and here's why:

Is It True, Are Kerry Blue Terrier Dogs Hypoallergenic?

The Kerry Blue Terrier can be found in any list of low dander dogs and can generally live happily in homes with sufferers of low to moderate allergies or asthma without triggering a reaction, so, the good news is YES, the Kerry Blue Terrier is classed as one of the hypoallergenic breeds of dog.

What does hypoallergenic actually mean?

This question crops up in nearly all discussions about allergies and is a bone of contention for many, how often have you heard people say there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog? In fact, there is. There is no such thing as an allergy-free dog, but that is not what the word means.

Cosmetics, products, and dogs described as hypoallergenic have a lower chance of causing a reaction, that does not mean that there is no chance at all, allergy symptoms vary, as do reactions to certain breeds, even different dogs within the breed so always be cautious before bringing any dog into your home environment.

3 Reasons Why the Kerry Blue Terrier is a Choice Breed Among Allergy Sufferers

The Kerry Blue has a non-shedding coat, which is why it is one of the breeds most often recommended for allergy sufferers.

Also, like the poodle and Schnauzer, the Kerry Blue Terrier sheds its skin around every 3-4 weeks producing less dander which is one of the main causes of allergies.

Most terriers are tough and quite independent so while they love a cuddle they are not constantly licking and in your face like some of the smaller hypoallergenic breeds, saliva can be a huge trigger of allergic reactions so this is definitely a bonus.

Kerry Blue Terriers and allergies - What should I do?

Although Kerry Blue Terriers are winners for those suffering from allergies, unfortunately, reactions can and do occur. The last thing you want is your canine companion setting off a sneezing fit as this may result in the dog having to be rehomed. To ensure a Kerry Blue Terrier will fit in with your lifestyle and not cause any allergic misery you should.

  • Discuss your situation with your chosen breeder and arrange some visits with the litter, sometimes puppies do not produce the same reaction as adult Kerry Blue Terriers so being in close proximity to the mother may also give a good indication of your tolerance.
  • You could also discuss options with your allergist, even if the dog provokes symptoms these may be controllable with antihistamines.
  • Many dog owners who suffer from mild to moderate allergies find the use of an air purifier and vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA filter helpful in reducing the number of airborne allergens around the home.

5 Ways to Reduce the Risk of an Allergic Reaction from Your Pooch

  • Feed your dog a well-balanced diet, rich in omega fatty acids, this will help stop skin dryness and flaking.
  • Visit a professional groomer regularly to keep your Kerry's coat a reasonable length. The shorter the coat the fewer allergens it can harbor.
  • Wash pet bedding weekly on a hot cycle, at least 60° to keep it allergen-free.
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    Provide a toilet area for your pooch, away from the house, urine contains the KNF-1 protein that causes a reaction, so the quicker you housebreak your puppy and are not near any pee, the better.
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    Use Allerpet® or similar products, Allerpet® was created to remove dander from pets stopping allergens from being released into the air and has been shown to reduce airborne allergens by up to 50%.

All about the Kerry Blue Terrier - Origin of the Breed

The Kerry Blue Terrier or Irish Blue Terrier as it is known in its country of origin is one of 3 closely related, working terriers which include the Irish terrier and the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier. The Kerry as a separate breed appeared later than the Irish and Wheaten, not being mentioned by dog enthusiasts until the latter part of the 19th century.

The Irish wolfhound was not allowed to be owned by the working classes in Ireland so farmers and crofters began breeding terriers as working dogs. These working farm dogs needed to excel at herding, hunting, retrieving, guarding and destroying vermin as well as being part of the family, crosses between various dogs including hounds and perhaps even Spaniels were made to obtain these traits.

The first Kerry Blues to arrive in America were five pets imported in 1918 and the breed soon made an impact in the show ring The Kerry Blue Terrier Club of America was formed in 1925 and held its first specialty show in 1927. In 1936, it merged with the newly formed United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club and became the USKBTC which is still the foremost resource for the breed today.

Kerry Blue Terriers are an all-purpose dog and have been used for retrieving, herding, vermin control sheep and cattle, and in the United Kingdom, they have been used as military guard dogs during World War ll and even as police dogs. Famous owners of the breed include the world champion heavyweight boxer Jack Dempsey, Alfred Hitchcock, and Bill Crosby

General Appearance

There is no mistaking the Kerry Blue, powerful and muscular medium sized dogs, the accepted Kerry Blue Terrier size is between 18-19.5 inches for males and 17-19 inches for females. They usually weigh between 30-40 lbs.

The head is long, well-balanced, and similar to the schnauzer, sports a beard, and eyebrows, which give the Kerry Blue dog a distinctive style. they have small expressive dark eyes and V-shaped ears which fold forward, the tail is of medium length, carried high and straight.

The Kerry Blue Terrier's coat is wavy, soft and dense, it comes in all shades of gray from light blue to a deep almost black, slate gray. Kerry Blue puppies are born black but lighten as they get older.


A typical terrier, the Kerry Blue is highly intelligent, energetic and strong willed. They need firm and consistent training along with early socialization to produce a well-rounded adult. They are good with people and other animals although like all terriers they will not back down from a fight.

As with all terriers they can forget who is in charge and are not recommended for first-time or indulgent owners because they can and will take advantage of a lack of leadership. The Kerry Blue Terrier's temperament is complex, they have a profound sense of justice and can sulk if they think you are being unfair or harsh.

The Kerry Blue will usually get on OK with other dogs and cats too if properly socialized but were bred to hunt an instinct which still remains, so it is best to avoid smaller creatures. They make excellent watchdogs but do not do well left outside, they need lots of exercise and plenty of mental stimulation otherwise you will have problems.

Kerrie's get on great with children and are robust enough to take a bit of rough and tumble, though as with any dog children must be taught how to treat them with respect and never be left unsupervised.

With an active family, the Kerry Blue is energetic, gentle loyal and playful he excels at agility, obedience, herding and makes a great therapy dog. He is adaptable, affectionate, clever, and a fantastic choice for families wanting a medium-sized hypoallergenic dog breed, which will bring a lot of fun into their lives.



The Kerry Blue Terrier is a hardy dog with an average lifespan of around 12-15 years, and doesn't suffer from as many pre-disposed conditions as some breeds, but, like all purebred dogs there are certain health issues associated with the breed which include:

  • Degenerative Myelopathy - This affects Kerry Blues more than other breeds and is a neurological condition that affects the nerves in the hind legs. There is a genetic test to determine if your dog is at risk of developing this condition.
  • Eye Problems - Common in this breed, they include cataracts, dry eye, and entropion.
  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus - This is quite common in a number of breeds and occurs when a small blood vessel in the heart does not close properly. Surgery is required to solve the issue.
  • Von Willebrand's Disease - A blood clotting disorder sometimes found in Kerries.
  • Skin Problems - Kerry Blue Terriers are prone to numerous skin problems and various lumps and bumps below is a guide to the various lumps, tumors and cysts found in dogs.






An infected wound which can be found anywhere on the dog's body.

Firm or fluid filled lump, the dog may show signs of fever.

A vet will drain and clean the wound possibly prescribing antibiotics.


These are a benign growth

These are usually light in color with a cauliflower appearance

A vet may perform a biopsy but these are normally left alone


Benign and mainly found in male KBTs

These are hard hair-like lumps found mainly on the hocks

Usually left alone unless extremely itchy

Allergic Dermatitis

Allergic reaction caused by an irritant

Small lumps or blisters which are incredibly itchy

Antihistamines or steroids


Pressure points

Thick hairless area usually found on elbows or joints

Use softer bedding and try a moisturizer for dog calluses

Basal Cell Tumor

Slow growing cancerous lump

Small nodules filled with fluid, could ulcerate

Surgical removal is necessary

Follicular or Sebaceous Cyst

Common in KBTs, benign

Nodules on skin which may contain thick yellow secretion

Surgical removal can be an option


Malignant tumor

Colored blue to reddish-black

Needs to be surgically removed often requiring amputation

Calcinosis Cutis

Calcium deposits in the skin become hard and Mineralize due to corticosteroids

Hard nodules with crusts that ulcerate

Try natural alternatives to corticosteroids, surgery may be an option

Acral lick Dermatitis

The skin becomes red and inflamed due to self-licking through boredom or stress

Redness, hair-loss small lumps which can become infected

Medicated creams and behavior modification


Fatty benign tumor

Soft lump which can become large

Surgical removal if affecting movement

Mammary Gland Tumor

Seen in un-spayed females can be malignant

irregular shaped lumps under the skin which may drain or ulcerate

A biopsy is required and surgical removal


Benign tumor seen in younger dogs

raised red lump found on head, legs or ears

No treatment necessary though surgery is an option



Single dark lump

Surgical removal

Some of these problems are rare but they can and do occur. Kerry Blue Terriers are also susceptible to allergies caused by both food and irritants. An allergy sufferer is perhaps the best owner for a dog with allergies as they understand the importance of finding the source and reducing or eliminating the problem.

Medications can be prescribed to control the itching and Piriton can also be used for dogs as long as the correct dosage is given, another important factor is diet, switch to a hypoallergenic dog food and discuss options with your vet.


As mentioned above there is a chance your Kerry Blue may suffer from allergies so it is also advisable to a quality dog food which does not include these ingredients:

  • Wheat
  • Yeast
  • Artificial Colors/Preservatives
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  • Corn
  • Fillers
  • Meat/Poultry by products
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Kerry Blue Terriers can be prone to obesity so make sure you take into account the amount of exercise they are getting when feeding and limit snacks. A good diet throughout the different stages of their life will ensure your canine companion lives a long, and healthy life.


Finding A Good Kerry BlueTerrier Breeder

A great place to start in your search when looking for Kerry Blue Terrier puppies for sale is the USKBTC who have a list of resources including breeders They also have news on regional events. Going to one of these will give you an idea if you are tolerant to the breed. It is also a great way of making contacts and getting recommendations of good breeders nearby.

You can also join groups online dedicated to the breed, which will give you information and recommendations for good breeders. Make a shortlist and be sure to visit 2 or 3 before selecting the right one for you.

3 Red Flags to Look Out for When Searching a West Highland White Terrier Breeder

  • Avoid breeders selling Kerry Blue Terrier puppies, that have multiple breeds of dogs. A good breeder may be interested in a couple of breeds, but it is unlikely to be 5 or 6 and this could be an indication of a puppy mill.
  • Don't buy from breeders who have puppies available all year round, reputable breeders have only 1 or maybe 2 litters a year and most have a waiting list.
  • Walk away from a breeder that cannot supply references, the best breeders keep in touch to see how their puppies are doing and they should always be happy for you to check them out.

Adopting a Westie from a Rescue or Shelter

Before buying a Kerry Blue Terrier pup you need to ask yourself:

  • Have I got the patience, time and skill required to train this breed?
  • Am I at home the majority of the time?
  • Can I make my home puppy-proof?
  • Can I afford a professional groomer, every 6-8 weeks?
  • Can I provide plenty of exercise and mental stimulation?
  • Can I afford to pay the money for a pedigree Kerry Blue dog?

If you have answered no to even one of these questions, it might be worth considering a different breed or perhaps adopting an adult dog.

A purebred Kerry Blue will be a rarity for most shelters so it would be better to contact a breed specific rescue. They normally have better knowledge of the dogs in their care and will try to match the right pooch to the right owner. Many are looking for volunteers to foster their rescues a perfect way for you to see if the dog causes a reaction before you go ahead and adopt.

How Much Will a Kerry Blue Terrier Set You Back?

Kerry Blue Terrier cost is not cheap, a quality puppy from a good breeder will set you back anything from $800-$2000 depending on the sex of the dog and how many champions are present in their pedigree, you may also have to be on a waiting list for quite a while, the Kerry Blue is ranked 127th in popularity by the AKC and litters are few and far between.

Adopting, of course, is a much cheaper option; the fees can range from $75-$400 a small price to pay although once again you may have to keep your ear to the ground and wait a while.


It's a Wrap

The hypoallergenic Kerry Blue Terrier is a great choice for people suffering from allergies but they can be a handful and possess all the typical terrier traits such as digging and chasing.

They are busy, people dogs and need lots of exercise, consistent training and plenty of mental stimulation to prevent them becoming bored which can result in behavioral problems. Like most terriers give them an inch and they will take the proverbial mile.

Cheerful, active, loyal and friendly this medium hypoallergenic dog will steal your heart With their stunning looks, cheerful and energetic personality, they are a great addition to an active household where allergies are a problem.

John Devlin

Husband, father and avid dog lover. Currently the proud owner of George a pedigree Golden Retriever that barely leaves my side. However, cute this sounds a little break from the dog hairs every now and then would be nice!

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