The Irish Terrier can be found all over the world and is documented in ancient manuscripts that can be found in the Dublin Museum. One Irish writer referred to the Irish Terrier as the “poor man’s sentinel, the farmer’s friend, and the gentleman’s favorite”. Even though we know the Irish Terrier originated in Ireland, there were no records keep up to date on their breeding. You can find the passage in the Illustrated Book of the Dog pubished in 1881 by George R. Krehl, “the Irish Terrier is a true and distinct breed to Ireland and no man can trace its origin which is lost in antiquity.”
An early breeder of the Irish Terrier, William Graham, stated, “that the only reason they were not itemized in Noah’s list of the cargo of the Ark was that it was quite unnecessary to take a pair of Irish Terriers aboard. They could swim alongside so well.”
The Irish Terrier is not just a pretty face, he is an obedient dog that has won many agility titles throughout history. The Irish Terrier is known for his versatility. He excels in many dog shows in categories such as obedience, ability, tracking competitions, flyball, and is also known as a wonderful therapy dog. As a therapy dog, the Irish Terrier is great for elderly as well as children. They are the perfect size that are neither too fragile or cause intimidation.
The Irish Terrier stands between 18 and 19 inches tall and weighs around 25 to 27 pounds. This means he will stand about to your knee if you are of average height.
The Irish Terriers double coat is wiry and can withstand all kinds of weather. Colors of the coat can be red, red wheaten, and yellow-red. Small white spots on the chest is accepted, however, any white on the feet or black shading is not acceptable.
He has a flat head that is quite narrow between the ears and does narrow just a bit toward the eyes. The stop is barely noticeable. The jaws are strong, muscular, and the cheeks are not very full. He should have an even bite with strong teeth. The lips fit close and are almost totally black. The nose is always black. The Irish Terrier has small eyes that are not prominent and are dark brown. The eyes show his zest for life, intelligence, and intensity. Some may have light colored or yellow eyes, which is considered a fault.
Ears of the Irish Terrier are small, V-shaped and set well on the head. They do drop a bit toward the outside corner of their eyes. The hair on the ears should be shorter and a bit darker than the rest of the body.
The back of the Irish Terrier is strong, straight, and does not show any sign of a dip. The loin area is strong and muscular with a bit of an arch. The feet are strong and round with small arched toes.
The Irish Terrier is a fun loving and full of life dog, however, this does not mean he is hyperactive. He can be content lying around and resting, but he will be ready to play at the drop of a hat.
They are very good with people and enjoy children. A little bit of rough housing is also tolerated. They do tend to be a bit bossy and will need firm, consistent training. You should never use a newspaper or other type of training that is considered violent.
The Irish Terrier does not get along with other dogs especially ones of the same sex, as he prefers to be dominant. However, if he is trained properly this will not be a problem, without training, he might be the aggressor.
He is very active and enjoys being challenged both mentally and physically. He does tend to be hot headed and courageous at the same time. He is overly protective of his family and will begin a fight with a much larger dog if he is not raised to behave.
Apartment life is fine for the Irish Terrier, as long as he gets plenty of exercise. The Irish Terrier was bred to be an active worker so they do enjoy long walks, however, you must keep a firm grip on the leash, as they also are aggressive toward other dogs.
The double coat is quite easy to care for by just brushing regularly with a stiff bristle brush. The dead hair will need to be removed with a fine-tooth comb. You should only bathe when the dog is really dirty as the oil in his coat helps to protect him against the weather.
The Irish Terrier’s coat will need to be stripped at least twice per year. If your dog is in dog shows the stripping will need done more often.
The hair on the head and legs will need to be molded by a groomer if you plan on placing your Irish Terrier in dog shows. If this molding is not done, the ears tend to stick up, roll back, or hang down.
The Irish Terrier is one breed of dog in which their origin is shrouded with mystery. Many believe it is a direct descendant from the black and tan terrier type dog of the British Isles, thus in the same blood line as the Kerry Blue, the Irish soft haired Wheaten Terriers in Ireland, and the Lakeland and Scottish Terriers from Great Britain.
However, some believe they know the origin which is they originated from Country Cork, Ireland and is considered to be one of the oldest terrier breeds around. The have noted that paintings around the 1700’s depict the Irish Terrier. Those that believe this heritage claim the Irish Terrier was a hunter that could hunt and kill den animals such as water rats and otters. During wartime, the Irish Terrier was used as a messenger dog.
As far back as anyone can tell the Irish Terrier was developed for his or her working attributes. The Irish Terrier of the time was seen more as a vermin killer. The breed was seen in multitudes of colors and size, which did not matter as long as they were hardy. The main colors however, were black-and-tan, grey-and-brindle, wheaten of all shades, and red.
By the 19th century, the Irish Terrier began to show up in dog shows and soon was in their own class separated only by weight class. In 1879, in Dublin the first club was established for the Irish Terrier. This was also the first breed of dog recognized by the English Kennel Club in the terrier group and as a native Irish breed. By the late 19th century, the Irish Terrier had made it to the United States where he became popular very quickly.
In 1896, the Unites States began a club especially for the Irish Terrier. Today, the Irish Terrier is known for being a companion dog, guardian of the family, along with other traits such as hunting, tracking, retrieving, watchdogging, guarding, police work, and military work.