Photos with thanks to: "Lucy Murdoch, Daluce Kennels, New Zealand"
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History The Irish Terrier, also called the Irish Red Terrier, is a hunting dog developed in County Cork, Ireland. It is believed to be the oldest of the terriers, dating back at least two thousand years, although it wasn’t recognized as a formal breed until the 1870s. It was originally bred for its working and sporting abilities, but as it gained popularity in Ireland it came to be favored as a show dog and family companion as well.
The Irish Terrier is an adept watchdog, an excellent sportsman and a loyal companion to its master. Because of its versatility, it didn’t take long for the breed to become known outside its home country. By 1880 it was among the most popular breeds in England, and the following year the first show was held in the United States. The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885.
Appearance The Irish Terrier has a rough, wiry outer coat covering a soft wooly undercoat. Its neck is somewhat long and muscular, and its head slim and held high. A short beard grows under the muzzle and long whiskers are visible on the face. Its small dark eyes are a bit obscured by a pair of bushy eyebrows. The ears are folded forward in a V-shaped flap and have a thinner coat than the rest of the body.
Colours The coat comes in wheaten, red wheaten, bright red, or golden red. There may be a white patch on the chest, but not on any other part. Puppies are sometimes born with black hair, but this usually lightens with age.
Temperament Decades of serving as an all-around dog has given the Irish Terrier a well-balanced, even temperament and remarkable courage. Irish Terriers can adjust to any situation and get along with all types of people. They are, however, particularly affectionate with children and fiercely devoted to their home families. They are very protective; it is not uncommon for an Irish Terrier to stand between an intruder and his master, and attack at the first sign of danger.
Weight The Irish Terrier is a medium-sized breed, standing around 18 inches at the withers and weighing between 25 and 27 pounds.
Problems Irish Terriers are a very healthy breed; their bodies are well-proportioned and they have no physical traits that put them at risk. Hyperkeratosis, or excessively thick skin, was present in some bloodlines in the 60’s but has been mostly isolated. The biggest concern for owners is usually just the occasional parasite, and a few preventable behavioral problems.
Living Conditions Irish Terriers can get used to apartment life, but they much prefer the outdoors. They are moderately active indoors, so owners should make sure they have enough space to stretch, play and get around. Apartment dwellers should take them out regularly so they can satisfy their instinct to hunt. These dogs can adapt to any weather and can be allowed to sleep outdoors, although they’d much rather stay with the family.
Requirements This breed is made for hard work, and it’s important to keep them active and busy. At the very least, they need one or two brisk walks a day. They should also be allowed to run off the leash occasionally, preferably in a safe, well-fenced area as they can easily wander off. Playing and training can also help them stay in shape.
Training Requirements Irish Terriers are trainable, but being an intelligent breed, they require a firm but patient hand. Housebreaking and socialization are necessary, especially if there are other pets in the house. As with most other breeds, training should start in the first few months before the dog’s independent nature fully kicks in.
Life Expectancy The Irish Terrier is fairly long-lived; a healthy dog can live 12 to 15 years.
Grooming Irish Terriers don’t require much maintenance besides a quick daily brushing. During shedding season, loose hairs can get tangled in the coat and should be removed regularly with a fine-toothed comb. Baths can be given only as needed.
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More Irish Terrier Information: Check out our Irish Terrier Clubs and links to more informative websites dedicated to the breed.
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4 Irish Terrier Puppies
Irish Terrier Pup
Photo with thanks to"Lucy Murdoch, Daluce Kennels, New Zealand"