The Irish Terrier, once known as the Irish Red Terrier to distinguish him from other terrier breeds, is the oldest of the native breeds in a purebred form; he was first shown in Ireland in 1875 although there was considerable variation in size and type and was the first of the Irish terriers to be recognised the Kennel Club.
The Irish Terrier was developed with outcrossings to the old English Black and Tan Terrier to introduce some refinement and he is of lighter and racier build than the Kerry. He is always in shades of red and has less coat than the other long-legged terriers, and though preparation is a great skill the Irish doesn't present as a scissored dog in the way of, say the Wire Fox Terrier or Airedale. He is described in the Breed Standard as "active, lively and wiry appearance" and there is an understated presentation to complement this.
As a housedog he is extremely affectionate and loving to his owners, his eyes are soft and endearing; however, with other dogs he loses any kind of softness and will fling himself into a fight with a totally reckless attitude. They have acquired the epithet of "the Daredevils" because of their total disregard for the consequences of their actions. So, they are not too good with other dogs and need to be kept supervised. This recklessness can have other consequences; an Irish Terrier we knew flew at a dog he could see across a street and in his eagerness to reach his new enemy forgot that he was on a raised pavement and the road was six feet below. The result was two broken front legs, but I don't believe he learned anything from the episode.
Irish Terriers love people and will be totally reliable with them, but their fiery temper with other dogs should always be borne in mind. Similar in height to the Kerry, at 19" they are a much lighted dog and don't have the same substance and size. Reasonably easy to keep in terms of coat, he only needs clipping three or four times a year to look smart, and because his presentation is understated you will have an Irish Terrier who is recognisably one.
To read the Irish Terrier Breed Standard click here.
Irish Terrier Breed Clubs
- IRISH TERRIER ASSOC Miss A Bradley 017332 05386
- IRISH TERRIER CLUB OF SCOTLAND Mr J Stewart 01563 521257
- NORTH OF ENGLAND IRISH TERRIER CLUB Mr P Livesey 01200 24167
- SOUTHERN IRISH TERRIER SOCIETY Mrs J W A Looker 01264 850255
- ULSTER IRISH TERRIER CLUB Mrs M Croot 01846 676444
Irish Terrier Rescue and Rehoming
Contact a Breed Club. They should be able to give you information about Irish Terriers requiring homes and procedures for re-homing; if you are in the unfortunate position of having to re-home your own dog, please go through breed rescue. They will not be judgmental and are best able to find the right permanent home for him.
Irish Terrier Breeders
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