Irish Terrier Guide

Terrier Dog Breeds

The Irish terrier has a graceful, racy outline, with a moderately long body. It should not have the short back characteristic of so many of the long legged terriers. It is sturdy and strong in substance, but it is also active and lithe in movement. This is an all-round terrier that must combine speed, endurance, agility and power to perform a great variety of jobs. Its broken coat is dense and wiry, never so long as to obscure the body shape. Its expression, like its nature, is intense.

Called the daredevil of dogdom, the Irish terrier is brash, bold, assertive, playful, inquisitive, independent, strong-willed and ever ready for action and adventure. It is usually aggressive toward other dogs and small animals and tends to be reserved with strangers. It likes to chase and run and hunt and explore; it needs daily physical and mental exercise in a safe area. Given sufficient exercise, it is surprisingly well-mannered and dignified indoors. It is a loyal and entertaining companion.

AKC RANKING 113

FAMILY terrier

AREA OF ORIGIN Ireland

DATE OF ORIGIN 1700s

ORIGINAL FUNCTION hunting fox, otter, and other vermin

TODAY'S FUNCTION vermin hunting

AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: 18 Weight: 27

AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: 18 Weight: 25

OTHER NAME Irish red terrier

Energy level Medium energy

Exercise needs Medium

Playfullness Very playful

Affection level Somewhat affectionate

Friendliness toward other dogs Shy

Friendliness toward other pets Shy

Friendliness toward strangers Shy

Ease of training Easy to train

Watchdog ability High

Protection ability Very protective

Grooming needs High maintenance

Cold tolerance Medium tolerance

Heat tolerance Medium tolerance

This is a dog with an active mind and body. It needs daily entertainment and exercise. It makes a good walking and jogging companion, as well as hiking or hunting partner. Its needs can also be met with a rigorous play session. Its wire coat needs combing one or two times weekly, plus scissoring and shaping (clipping for pets and stripping for show dogs) two to four times yearly. Some training of the ears is necessary to ensure proper adult shape.
• Major concerns: none
• Minor concerns: urolithiasis
• Occasionally seen: none
• Suggested tests: none
• Life span: 12 – 15 years
The quintessential long-legged terrier, the Irish terrier is also one of the oldest terrier breeds. Its creation is not documented, but it may have descended from the old black and tan terrier and a larger but racier solid wheaten-colored terrier, both of which were found in Ireland and used for hunting fox, otter and vermin. Its similarity to the Irish wolfhound has led to conjecture that it may have descended at least in part from that breed. The Irish terrier is the raciest member of the terrier group, with a longer body and longer legs than the other terriers. Early Irish terriers came in a variety of colors, including black and tan, gray and brindle; only near the end of the 19th century did the solid red color become a fixture of the breed. The first Irish terrier was shown in 1875. By the 1880s, the breed was the fourth-most popular in England. At that time, it was fashionable to crop the ears of many terriers, but in 1889 the Irish Terrier Club of England banned ear cropping in the breed. The ruling was to have far-reaching implications for all dogs because it instigated the debate about ear cropping and eventually led to the abolition of cropped ears in all breeds shown in England. The breed also became quite popular in America, ranking 13th of all breeds in the late 1920s. It was a dominant force in the show rings of the day. In World War I, the breed proved its mettle by serving as a messenger and sentinel. With such an auspicious beginning, the Irish terrier seemed certain to remain one of the most popular terriers, but it didn't. Today the Irish is one of the rarer terriers, an uncommon sight in either the show ring or home.