Irish Terrier

Family: terrier
Place of Origin: Ireland
Date of Origin: 1700s
Avg Size of Male: Height: 18 inches, Weight: 27 pounds
Avg Size of Female: Height: 18 inches, Weight: 25 pounds
Original Function: hunting fox, otter, and other vermin
Primary Current Function: vermin hunting
Other name: Irish red terrier

History of the Irish Terrier Breed

Although it’s considered to be possibly the oldest of the terrier breeds, the creation of the Irish terrier is not well documented. In fact, the earliest painting of this breed dates back as far as the 1700s. Perhaps descending from the black and tan terrier or the Irish wolfhound, both found in Ireland and known for their hunting skills, early Irish terriers sported coats in an assortment of colors including gray and brindle or black and tan. The solid red coat only became common in the latter part of the 19 th century. The Irish terrier became very popular in England in the late 1800s, and it was stylish at that time to crop its ears. However, the Irish Terrier Club of England banned this practice in 1889. This eventually helped to abolish ear cropping for all show breeds in England. The popularity of the Irish terrier grew in America by the late 1920s, when this breed ranked 13 th in the country. Regarded as the “raciest” breed among terriers, the Irish terrier showcases longer legs and a longer body than other members of the group, giving them a lithe, athletic yet sturdy appearance. The breed worked as a guard dog and a farm dog for many years in Ireland, and it was used in the trenches during World War I as a messenger dog, which bespeaks of its intelligent, courageous, and adventurous spirit. An uncommon breed, the Irish terrier is rarely seen in show today, and it is a unique, loyal companion and guardian of the home.

Size and Appearance of the Irish Terrier Breed

With a longer graceful outline, the body and legs of this tall terrier exude power, strength, and speed. In fact, the well-proportioned body of the Irish terrier is a lesson in grace, agility, and character. It is strong and sturdy with an absence of clumsiness, and straight, long, and muscular front legs. The Irish terrier features a powerful jaw coupled with a flat skull. The bearded muzzle, long whiskers and bushy eyebrows add to its intense expression. The eyes are small and dark, mirroring its intelligent and fiery spirit. The breed’s ears are folded forward and form a v-shape, and often the hair here is shorter and darker than the rest of the fur. The wiry coat is generally a single color of red, gold, or wheaten. The hair is dense or thick on the outside and usually features a soft lining of fur underneath. The tail, carried erect, is often docked to three-quarters of its original length.

Irish Terrier Temperament

Assertive and bold yet friendly, the Irish terrier is often described as a “daredevil” because of its courageous nature and love of exploring. This breed is always ready and willing to play with children and may often act as a loyal protector. Known for its hot temper, the Irish terrier is frequently aggressive with other dogs and small animals, so it’s important to firmly train from the start. It should be kept on a leash when in public as it enjoys giving chase. While intelligent and considered trainable, this breed is generally strong-willed and independent. The Irish terrier can be a challenge to housetrain and is often reserved with strangers. Training and socialization with people should begin at an early age to help this dog become a fun-loving and loyal companion.

Irish Terrier Recommended Maintenance

The dense wiry coat of the Irish terrier is not prone to shedding. It is easy to maintain by brushing and combing once or twice a week, and shaping the coat approximately twice a year is suggested. Bathing is recommended only when necessary. As with any animal, regularly check the nails, teeth and ears. Adventurous and intelligent, the Irish terrier needs daily exercise. This breed can fare well in an apartment setting if it is not left alone for long periods of time and regular exercise is provided. The Irish terrier may bark incessantly or try to dig its way out of the yard if left alone for too long. Long walks on a leash, the opportunity to run in a fenced-in area, and active games played with its owner are wonderful ways to provide the type of exercise this dog needs. Remember to always keep firm control of the Irish terrier on a leash when walking outdoors to prevent skirmishes with other dogs. The key to a content, healthy Irish terrier is consistent and firm training from the beginning. This terrier lacks the hereditary problems found in many other breeds and is generally very healthy.

Irish Terrier Health

Life span: 12 – 15 years
Major concerns: none
Minor concerns: urolithiasis Irish Terrier
Occasionally seen: none
Suggested tests: none