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Irish Terrier


Life span: 13-15 Years

Height: 17 – 19 inches

Weight: 24 – 28 lbs.

As the name suggests, the Irish Terrier was developed in Ireland and it is regarded as one of the oldest breeds of terrier. The medium-sized Irish Terrier is renowned for its balanced disposition and graceful gait. It has a short, red and wheaten coat of hair which helps it to stand out against foliage. Often called a “daredevil”, the Terrier has an attitude that borders on reckless, however, they adjust well to home life.

This smart breed is often known as “Daredevil” due to its brave nature, accompanied by plenty of mischief. It gets along well with children but not with other pets, and is extremely wary of strangers given its need to protect its family.

Physical Characteristics

Their ears are short and fold down without completely falling, their tail is also short and stands upright with a slight curve. Their eyes are brown with a black nose. Its double coat is made up of a wiry and dense overcoat with thick hairs that is rough to the touch, and a soft undercoat. Coat colors can be red, brown, or cream colored, with red being the most popular.


It is believed this breed is the oldest of all Terriers, but its ancestry is not well known. Recordings of them go as far back as the 17th century, with paintings resembling these dogs. It is though they originated in Ireland, and many theories claim its ancestors might include the Irish Wolfhound, the Black and Tan Terrier, or even the Scottish Terrier. Before the 19th century, their coats were gray and brown, or black and brown, but later changed to its now known red. Many believe it was the red coat that earned them the “Daredevil” nickname, although it was most likely it was due to their braveness. In Ireland, their purpose was mainly acting as a guard dog, for farm work and to hunt vermin, and when World War I began they were used as messengers and sentinels. However, it was not until the late 1800s, in England, that their popularity grew, where it also became popular to crop their ears, and in 1875 they began being recognized. In 1885 the American Kennel Club recognized the breed, and in 1889 ear cropping for this breed became illegal, eventually leading for it to become illegal for all show breeds.


This smart dog is loving and loyal towards its family. It gets along well with children, and is extremely protective of them. However, it does not get along well with other pets, since it will not back down if confronted, often leading towards it being aggressive with other animals. It will bark if it senses anyone within its territory in order to protect its family. This breed needs firm training and plenty of socialization to soften its view towards strangers. Due to its mischievous nature, it is ideal to keep it occupied with exercise, attention, and play sessions to prevent destructive behavior.  


This breed is generally healthy. However, they may suffer from:

  • Hip dysplasia, a hereditary disease in which there is an abnormal formation in the hip socket, that may eventually cause painful arthritis. It may also be affected by the environment they reside in.
  • Hypothyroidism, a disease that affects the thyroid gland, its symptoms are ear infections, skin infections, hair loss, lethargy, and depression.
  • Thrombopathia, a blood platelet disorder that affects blood clotting.
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease, which is a blood disease that affects the clotting process, its symptoms can be nosebleeds, prolonged bleeding from surgery, occasional blood in stools, etc.


This breed needs to be regularly groomed, which includes stripping, trimming, and brushing its coat once a week. Its nails should be trimmed regularly, as well as its teeth brushed and ears checked for any dirt to prevent infections. They need plenty of daily exercise, preferably in the form of long walks, and a fenced area where they can play freely. Training can be quite tricky, since even though they are highly intelligent and willing to please, they can be stubborn due to their independence. Positive reinforcement works best with this breed. Early socialization is a must for this breed.



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