Irish Terrier originated at least 300 years ago on the island from which it takes its name, but other than that, the breed’s origins are unknown. The breed has been used to control vermin, hunt small game, protect the family farm and home, and retrieve both on land and in the water.
The Irish Terrier dog breed is about 18 inches tall and weighs between 25 and 27 pounds. His head is long, eyes are small and dark brown, and ears are dropped and set high on the head. His body is slightly longer than tall at the shoulder. The coat is double, with a soft, fine undercoat and a hard, wiry outer coat. Irish Terriers are red, with the shade of the red varying from wheaten through bright red. The Irish Terrier’s wiry coat needs special grooming. Ideally it should be hand-stripped, so potential owners should discuss coat care with a breeder to make sure they can do what is needed.
An Irish Terrier can be mischievous; however, with enough exercise many problems can be prevented. Irish Terriers are intelligent and have historically been independent workers and hunters; they are very good at thinking for themselves. Early training should be fun and continue into adulthood. Irish Terriers like to learn, and although strong-willed, they do learn well for food rewards.
The Irish Terrier breed is also very protective, sometimes overly so. Early socialization can help the owner control overprotectiveness. This breed does best with an experienced dog owner, preferably someone who understands the working terrier temperament. The Irish Terrier can be great with kids when wellsocialized to them and when the kids treat him with respect. These terriers can be challenging to strange dogs and should not be trusted with smaller pets. The breed has few health concerns.
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The AKC Standard says, “There is a heedless, reckless pluck about the Irish Terrier which…coupled with the headlong dash, blind to all consequences, with which he rushes at his adversary, has earned for the breed the proud epithet of Daredevil.”
One of the boldest and most animated of the terriers, this fearless breed, built on lines of speed with a graceful, racy outline, must often be protected from himself.
Energetic and intense, he romps and plays with vigor and will take as much exercise as you can offer. Leashes and secure fences are compulsory, for he is exceedingly fast and agile, with strong chasing, digging, and jumping instincts.
The Irish Terrier does best with active families, for without exercise and lots of companionship and personal interaction, he will become bored and seek to entertain himself — and his choices usually involve mischief and destructiveness.
His reaction to strangers varies from polite to aloof, and even the polite ones are vigilant watchdogs. Early socialization is important for a stable, controlled temperament.
The Irish Terrier can be exceedingly scrappy with other animals, whether canine or feline, and will make short shrift of rabbits and rodents.
Stubborn and self-assured, he is inclined to test for position in the family pecking order.