The Kerry Blue Terrier was mistakenly thought to be from the County Kerry in Ireland, when in fact it originates from the town of Tipperary. It was in the mountains of the County Kerry where this breed was first observed, hence its name. The legend of its origin is a colorful one. The story begins with a blue dog swimming to the shore from a shipwreck. It was said that this dog has a coat so irresistible that all of the female Wheaten Terriers in Kerry mated with it. As a result, the Kerry Blue was born.
As the years passed, the Kerry Blue became a working dog like other terrier breeds. The jobs it performed included herding cattle, herding sheep and functioning as a guard dog. Most often it was used to control animals that were nuisances to agricultural society, such as rats, rabbits, foxes, otters and badgers.
In its home country, this breed is often referred to as the Irish Blue Terrier. There is a strong connotation between this dog and Irish nationalism. Michael Collins, a nationalist leader, owned a Kerry Blue Terrier named Convict 225. Collins went so far as to try to name the breed as the national dog of Ireland.