Is an Irish Terrier Right For You?

This is a question that only you can answer, but we think we can help.

Irish Terrier Basics:

  • They are red, but can also be red wheaten or plain wheaten. The way they are groomed can also affect the color.
  • They stand about 18-20 inches at the shoulder. A pet Irish may be larger or smaller than the standard for the breed.
  • The coat is coarse and double jacketed to guard against bad weather and brambles.
  • Irish are sometimes tolerated by persons with allergies to animal dander.
  • Irish are intelligent, athletic, personable, loving, sensitive, and attentive. They are also feisty, can be "same sex" aggressive, independent, curious to a fault, courageous, and avid hunters of things like opossum, squirrels, cats, rabbits, woodchucks, and of course – rats and mice. An Irish Terrier's hunting expertise is not a major selling point BUT it is a factor persons new to the breed must consider. These attributes are what make the Irish a very big dog in a relatively small body.

So, to consider if this is the right breed for you, your family, and your circumstance let us discuss life with an Irish Terrier.

Do you have the time?

Living with an Irish Terrier involves spending time with it. Your Irish will want to be with you and will not be happy observing household activities from a distance. This dog doesn’t need to be the life of the party, but it does expect to be invited!  Irish are very attuned to their people and want to be with them.

Irish Terriers are energetic dogs and require regular exercise. Irish always enjoy walks and jogging, but this should be done on a leash. Walks are nice but running and playing in areas where all avenues of escape are blocked is just as important. So time in exercise and companionship will figure heavily in your investment.

Irish Terriers benefit from the socialization and education afforded by puppy training and obedience classes. Harsh training is neither required nor recommended. Remember that Irish Terriers are quick learners but very independent. You will need to find just the right mix of firmness and gentleness. Training is yet another opportunity to bond with your Irish, but takes your time and commitment.

Grooming is another activity which will require your time. Regular brushing to maintain the coat, together with nail trimming and brushing teeth will help ensure a healthy and happy Irish Terrier. Hand stripping a few times a year will maintain the quality of the coat.

Can you stand it?

Irish Terriers are smart and have independent minds. Sometimes they may choose an activity you won’t like! They love to shred paper, steal from counters, upset hampers, bark at passers by, and they never think they are in the way. Irish love to share your life be it gardening, walking, driving, reading, or watching TV. When you have an Irish Terrier you have a true companion.

The Irish Terrier can be dog aggressive, especially with dogs of the same sex. They sometimes think they are in charge, which can get them into trouble. However, Irish Terriers are not mean and are perfectly manageable in sensible hands. Underneath it all, this is a sensitive breed that really wants to please you.

Children and ITs?

Legend has it that the Irish Terrier was a gift from the Little People to the human little people. An Irish Terrier loves being with children and joining in their play. It is attentive and protective but children must be taught to respect their Irish and be kind to it. Very small children should never be left unattended with any breed of dog!

If the Irish precedes children in the family, you need to make sure that you can accommodate both. Irish Terriers are very sensitive and need to be made a part of whatever is happening in the life around them.


People may be attracted to the Irish Terrier because they heard that it is hypoallergenic. No dog is “shed-free” although the wiry Irish coat does seem to shed less than most. For this reason some allergy prone people can coexist with an Irish. However, even with careful grooming, sensitivities can be triggered. If you suffer from allergies, be sure to visit breeders and be with Irish Terriers several times before making the final decision.  

Do you mind a lot of questions?

Irish Terrier breeders are generally pretty protective of their dogs. They ask a lot of questions and they want to know all about you. This may seem intrusive, but it is necessary to ensure that puppies go to households that have a good understanding of the breed so that the puppy will be loved and appreciated.

Expenses can I expect?

Healthy, sound puppies are most likely to be found from breeders dedicated to maintaining the true type and temperament of the breed and welfare of their dogs. Irish Terriers generally live for 12 to 15 years. Aside from the price of acquiring an Irish, there can be expenses for vaccinations, heartworm-flea-tick protection, quality food, a pet sitter (if you can’t be home for long periods during the day), a fence, toys, a crate for housebreaking and resting in... to name a few.

Is an Irish Terrier right for you?

If you still think an Irish is right for you, you should continue your research. You will find that this is a very special breed. It is a dog that returns love, respect, and devotion 10 times over. To know an Irish is a wonderful opportunity but to live with one is a constant source of joy.

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Phil | Reply 06.05.2017 17:44

It may seem strange but that although I've been a companion to 4 ITs this is the first time I've seen your page. I fully endorse your descriptions.

Jon & Lis | Reply 14.04.2011 01:35

Excellent comments, we have just shared our home with 2 IT male brothers and they are a total hit with all of our family and friends.

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Latest comments

25.03 | 17:32

We have had 2 Irish Terriers and are now looking for our third.
Do you expect any litters in the next 6 months and if so can we register our interest.

27.10 | 21:35

Our much loved IT died a month ago aged 15 we would be interested in having another say 6 months old or more bitch.

19.09 | 11:08

Hi There.

We have been interested in the Irish terrier for some time. We’r now looking to get one to join our family, When is your next planned litter? Thanks

30.12 | 13:55

We are very interested in having a Irish Terrier looking to have a puppy from end of Feb18. We would like to know the date of your next open day. Sarah & Tim.

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