(This article, written by Anne Katona, was first published in the AKC Gazette breed column in August, 2003. We are grateful to the author and to the AKC for their permission to publish all the Kerry Blue Terrier Breed Columns on the USKBTC website.)
AKC Gazette Breed Column
How About Those Ears?
The 2003 Westminster Kennel Club extravaganza will forever be remembered as the night one of our own completed the climb to the TOP!! Making the win better (if possible), is the little known fact that for Eng. & Am Ch. Torum’s Scarf Michael (Mick) to win Best In Show, he and his handler, had to make it through the breed judge, Mr. Elliott Weiss, the group judge, Mr. Charles Foley, and the Best In Show judge, Mrs. Edd Bivin – not one of them had ever judged this dog. To the breeders, Mr. & Mrs. Ron Ramsey (England), to owner, Mrs. Marilu Hanson, and of course to the handler, Mr. Bill McFadden and to MICK – Congratulations full of Hollywood hugs and Air kisses.
Over the past couple of years, something that is really bothering the Kerry Blue breeder in me are ear sets. Have you noticed the ear sets presently seen in the show ring? Is the technique of setting ears not being passed to the new breeders, or are there just not as many old timers available or willing to help? Whatever, the new breeders and owners need help.
Be aware, the Kerry ear set is not the same as the Fox Terrier, nor is it the Soft Coated Wheaten or Airedale terrier. The top of the folded ear MUST be slightly above the level of the skull. If not, from a distance, the head (according to how it is groomed) can look like a Sealyham. Remember a low, “dead” ear, hound-like in appearance, is very undesirable and definitely not TYPEY! A high set will lengthen head but cause small ears to fly. The same ear set can make a correct size skull appear too narrow!
Puppy’s ears can vary in size, shape, placement on the head, and in leather thickness (any or all of these can apply to an individual puppy too). These same attributes should be taken into consideration for the length of time to keep the ears pasted. However, there are generalizations that can help the novice at ear pasting. The best teacher – experience!
Some puppy ears need to be pasted at 6 weeks of age, most at 8 weeks and a few at 9 or 10 weeks. Rule of thumb – watch a puppy from 5 weeks of age; how are the ears carried? If an ear begins to “rose” (ear carried folded at right angles to the head) paste ears – immediately! Pasting should take place while the puppy is losing the deciduous teeth and the adult teeth are moving into place. There is no average time length to “set” puppy ears – paste until the ear is correctly set.
When the pasting schedule is completed, the top of the folded ear must be slightly above the level of the skull, the tip of the V-shaped ear is to point to the outside corner of the eye, and the ear is to be carried forward close to the cheeks. Make a funny sound; observe the puppy cock his head – watch for the alert expression — this is correct Kerry Blue expression!!!
The United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club has a good pamphlet on Ear Setting. For help or for the ear setting pamphlet, contact the www.uskbtc.com .