Breeds 101

Irish Terrier


This sprightly breed was developed in the district around Cork, in southern Ireland; The Irish Terrier’s origins are uncertain, clues have led some to believe that the old Black-and-Tan Terrier and the Wheaten terrier may have contributed to this long-legged Irish breed.

Black and tan, grey, and brindle were once common colors, but the solid red became standard in the late 1800’s. The breed is uncommon today.

A bold, courageous and intelligent breed, the Irish Terrier was used as a messenger and sentinel during World War I; Although now mainly a companion dog, in Ireland the Irish Terrier’s hunting abilities are sometimes still put to good use.

In the United States, its skills as a water dog and vermin killer have been preserved through field trials and lure coursing.

With its striding action and racy lines, this is perhaps the most elegant of terriers; It is a good family playmate, but can be over-boisterous with other dogs, and should be kept on a lead unless obedience trained.


Medium: 18 to 20 inches; 25 to 27 pounds.


Shades of red or wheaten


Playful, independent, loyal, assertive; protective with family; usually good with children; reserved with strangers; aggressive with other animals.

Energy level:

High outdoors, but calm indoors.

Best owner:

Active owner in a suburban or rural home.


Daily mental and physical exercise (hiking, hunting); leash; fenced yard; early and obedience training; combing twice a week and shaping twice a year.

Life expectancy:

12 to 15 years.