AKC Dog Breeds: Irish Terrier

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Terrier Group
Height: 14-18 inches   Weight: 22-29 pounds  Color: bright red, golden red, red wheaten

The Irish Terrier has a long and honorable history and it is one of the most beloved breeds. The Irish Terrier originally came from Country Cork, Ireland. There is some agreement that it is one of the oldest terrier breeds. It has been suggested that this breed is two thousand years old. There are paintings of the breed that date back to the 1700's. The breed has been well loved by authors and kings alike. The breed has been used as a hunter and rodent killer. At times this brave breed was used a wartime messengers. The Irish Terrier became very popular in England during the late 1800's. In 1896 the United States' breed club was started. While the breed is still used for hunting purposes by some owners it is now mainly a companion dog. Today the breed is well loved and kept in many countries from the US to Australia. The breed was registered with the AKC in 1885.

General Appearance
This medium-sized, well-proportioned terrier looks very similar to the Wirehaired Fox Terrier, though somewhat longer and taller. He has a flat skull, long whiskers and bearded muzzle with powerful jaws. The stop is only really noticeable in profile. The nose is black. The ears are v-shaped and fold forward. The hair on the ears is shorter and often darker than on the rest of the dog. Bushy eyebrows top the small, dark, fiery eyes. The front legs are long, straight and muscular. The tail is docked 3/4 of its original length and carried erect. The rough looking wiry outer jacket is lined with a softer undercoat. The Irish Terrier is solid colored and may be red, golden, or wheaten.

The Irish Terrier is a dog that is very loyal and friendly, yet also very determined and territorial. These dogs have spirit, courage, and plenty of energy, making them ideal as watchdogs, companions, and family pets. This is a dog with great agility, and his boundless energy means that he does need a lot of exercise, which means that he will fare best with more active owners. These dogs thrive on physical stimulation and plenty of attention, and neglect will often lead to boredom and destructive behavior. The Irish Terrier loves to jump, dig, chase, and in many cases bark, so if you are looking for a quiet, calm dog then this is probably not the breed for you. He loves playing games of fetch.  The Irish Terrier is a very territorial dog, and can be very wary with strangers. This does make him an effective watchdog, and he will be protective of and loyal to his family. When it comes to other pets, the Irish Terrier can be both dominant and aggressive - any pet that tries to stand up to the Irish Terrier will have the bear the wrath of this breed. Strange animals will usually be challenged by the Irish Terrier, and owners should be warned that smaller animals such as rodents and rabbits may not live to see another day if they get in the way of these dogs. On the other hand, the Irish Terrier tends to get along well with children providing they are gentle and considerate. It is important to ensure that your Irish Terrier is socialized from an early age in order to promote a more stable temperament. The Irish Terrier is quite intelligent but may be willful and difficult to housebreak. The crate training method is recommended.  He can be very stubborn and over-confident, which can make training difficult and makes him better suited to those with some experience of dog ownership.


For the most part, the Irish Terrier is easy to groom. When groomed properly, the Irish Terrier coat will protect the animal from rain and cold. The Irish Terrier does not shed when the coat is groomed properly. The Irish Terrier requires regular brushing with a stiff bristle brush to minimize shedding and remove dead hair. The Irish Terrier has a wiry coat and it needs to be stripped once or twice a year. Bathing should only be done when absolutely necessary using a mild shampoo to preserve the integrity of the coat.

Health Problems and Life Expectancy

The Irish Terrier is a relatively healthy breed although some are prone to hypothyroid conditions. For this breed, eye and breathing ailments are rare. The life expectancy of the Irish Terrier is around 13-16 years.

Activity Level

This breed is highly active and needs regular exercise. They thrive on family play sessions, securely leashed walks, and romping and running in a safely enclosed space. The Irish Terrier does not do well if left alone indoors or outdoors for an extended period of time. Without adequate stimulation and attention they become lonely, bored, and will become destructive. The Irish Terrier will do okay in an apartment dwelling provided they are given sufficient exercise.


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Irish Terrier profile on dog encyclopedia
Irish Terrier dog featured in dog encyclopedia