The Irish Terrier dog breed is one of the oldest members of the Terrier Group. Compact in size, and playful in nature, these active dogs make great companions for active people in both cities and the countryside. These dogs are fearless and spunky, always ready to face any challenge. They make excellent guardians of their family and may even help keep your home and property free of vermin.
The Irish Terrier dog breed traces its lineage to the Black and tan Terriers. But other Terrier breeds too might have contributed to the characteristic appearance of this breed, and among them, probably a wheaten colored one with a racier body structure. The Irish Wolfhound dog may also have been involved. The exact ancestry cannot be established due to lack of proper records.
Irish Terriers came in many different coat colors and brindle patterns prior to the fixing of breed standards towards the latter part of the 19th century. They were introduced into the United States within a few years of their being shown for the first time as a separate breed in 1873. They became one of the most popular dogs in both England and Ireland in the 1880s. Their popularity touched the Zenith in the 1920s in the U.S., but they are not as popular today.
The Irish Terrier dog breed typically measures under 20 inches at the withers and weighs 25 to 27 pounds. They have a rectangular body that is longer than their height. It gives them a racier look compared to Fox Terriers. The long muzzle has a beard, and the ears half folded to the front. Their ears were originally cropped, but that practice has been discontinued since 1889. However, their tail is still docked to 2/3 of its natural length in most countries where it is not illegal.
The Irish Terriers have a dense double coat that offers them all-weather protection. The outer coat is rough and wiry and is often trimmed to make maintenance easier. The color of the coat is different shades of red or fawn. Some dogs may have some white on their chest. Puppies born with black hair usually lose them as they mature.
Irish Terriers are bold dogs with an independent nature. These dogs are playful and loving towards their family, but are known to be aggressive towards other pets; hence early socialization is particularly important with this breed. They tend to dominate other dogs and are known to pick up fights with them.
These active dogs are well mannered inside the house as long as they are given sufficient physical exertion. They may get bored and frustrated otherwise, and may indulge in destructive activities.
Irish Setters are suitable for families with active lifestyles. These dogs are loyal to their family members and are good with children. They like mentally stimulating games and learning tricks.
Irish Setters are known to be very stubborn, but they can be trained to be obedient to a dominant pack leader who earns their respect. Only positive reinforcements work with this breed. Consistent and firm handling is absolutely essential. Their extreme reserve with strangers makes them excellent guard dogs.
Grooming and exercise
The harsh, wiry coat of the Irish Terrier dog breed requires regular grooming to maintain it in good condition. Thorough brushing 2 to 3 times a week may be sufficient. In addition to that, the coat needs to be hand-stripped once or twice a year. The dogs should be given baths only when absolutely necessary, as frequent washing will destroy the wiry texture of the coat and reduce its weather-resistant property. The ears of young dogs should be trained to fold forwards, which is a typical feature of this breed.
Physical exertion should be an integral part of this dog’s daily routine. They should be taken out for brisk walks or long jogs every day. They would greatly enjoy some off-leash time in a large, secure yard. These dogs can live outdoors as their dense coat affords ample protection from the elements. However, they are better off spending the nights indoors with their family.
Common health issues of Irish Terrier dog breed
The Irish terrier dog breed enjoys excellent health; they are not known to have any breed related disorders. They are generally free of most of the common canine health issues too. Hypothyroidism and cataracts are occasionally seen in this breed. A painful condition called hyperkeratosis which causes corny pads used to affect these dogs, but most dogs of today are selectively bred to be free of this problem. The average life expectancy of the Irish Terrier dog breed is 13 to 14 years, but many dogs may live for 15 years or more.