Irish Terrier

Type: Terrier

Height: 18 - 19 inches.

Weight: 25 - 27 lbs.

Life Span: 13 - 16 years.

Litter Size: 4 - 6 puppies.

Country of Origin: Ireland

Activity: Indoors – Medium. Outdoors – High.

Watch-dog: Very High.

Guard-dog: High. Although small, these little terriers are fighters.


Description: The Irish Terrier, or Irish Red Terrier, is sturdy, strong in substance and bone structure, and free from clumsiness. Speed, power, endurance are essential to this breed. They are neither cobby, nor cloddy, and should be built on lines of speed with a graceful, racing outline. They are small to medium sized dogs, once ranging greatly in size and appearance, but now a consistent square looking, bushy-bearded breed. They have short, small drop ears, and fiery brown eyes. They have ruffling in their fur on their legs and a small beard. They come in red to wheaten red colors. Irish Terriers make excellent companions whether they are playmates, hikers, watchdogs or just footwarmers. Despite their size, their guarding abilities are high. They are fierce to other dogs and threatening beings, and were once used for fighting, giving them the spirit they have today. They have been described to have “heedless, reckless pluck”, which contributed to their nickname of “Daredevil”. Irish Terriers, fierce as they are to mice, are affectionate and good tempered with people. Loyal to every member of the family, these Daredevils are a top-notch terrier known for their fighting spirit. Irish Terrier

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Other Names: Irish Red Terrier, Daredevil

Colors: Whole-colored and preferably red, red wheaten, golden red or yellow-red. A small amount of white on the chest is acceptable; white on feet or any black shading are highly undesirable.

Coat: Harsh, wiry and broken. They do have a soft undercoat, however. The outer coat is medium – short in length, often giving them whiskers and a beard.

Temperament: Irish Terriers are determined, friendly and unafraid of a fight. They should be kept away from other strange dogs, as they are tenacious fighters and do not like to back down. Although they have guard dog capabilities, they are good with children. It has been said that “A growing lad could wish no finer friend to grow up with; mischief overlooked by the one will certainly be exploited by the other!” Needless to say, Irish Terriers can be mischievous, and need firm, consistent and tactful training. They have a lot of energy outside. They are affectionate and good-tempered with family, and have a “heedless, reckless pluck”. They are courageous, loyal and very protective of their own.

With Children: Yes. They love to play with children.

With Pets: Yes, but only if trained. Irish Terriers will not stand for other pets dominating them, and will fiercely fight other strange dogs.

Special Skills: Hunting dog, watchdog, guard dog and family pet.

Care and Training: Regular brushing and combing will keep the coat of the Irish Terrier in top notch condition. The more they are groomed, the more beautiful the coat will be. Hand strip the coat twice a year. This will maintain the texture and color of their coat. Bathe only when necessary. Check ears, teeth and nails regularly for infection. Exercise should consist of games with human contact, long walks on a leash and free run in a fenced yard. Irish Terriers respond well to training, but require firm handling with consistent, tactful training. They tend to get into trouble if not trained.

Learning Rate: High. Obedience – Low. Problem Solving – High.

Special Needs: Fenced yard, grooming, leash, moderate exercise, training and socialization.

Living Environment: An apartment is adequate if sufficient exercise is given. Irish Terriers should not be left alone for long periods of time as they may bark incessantly or try to dig their way out of the yard. An owner of an Irish Terrier needs to be a confident leader who is willing to train this active breed who is both obstinate and sensitive.

Health Issues: Kidney or bladder stones, corns on the feet, and hereditary urinary problems.

History: Irish Terriers are possibly the oldest of the terrier breeds to have come from Ireland. Not much has been documented of their past. We do know, however, that they were used as a working farm dog and guard dog in Ireland for centuries. Their history is only revealed in a few writings of old Irish literature. The first Irish legal code of medieval times referred to this breed as the “dog of the dungheap”, referring to their pillaging of mice living in manure piles in the farmlands of Ireland. Later, dog expert Stonehenge (J.H. Walsh) was recorded to adamantly deny that the Irish Terrier was related to the “old Scotch Terrier” of Scotland. The first official record of the breed was recorded in 1875. These few writings provided a backdrop of where the breed has come from. The rest of the breed’s history before that is lost in time. From appearance, the Irish Terrier appears closely related to the Airedale Terrier, as well as the smaller Wire Fox Terrier. It is thought that the Black and Tan Terrier of the time added to the mix of the breed and helped create the Irish Terrier we have today. During World War I, the Irish Terrier was used as a messenger dog in the trenches and acquired a reputation for being fearless and intelligent. This breed gained recognition from the Irish Kennel Club in the 19th century, and was Ireland’s first terrier to receive recognition as well.

First Registered by the AKC: 1885

AKC Group: Terrier Group

Class: Terrier

Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 3), KC (GB), UKC