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Irish Terrier

(Irish Red Terrier)
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Irish Terrier

Form and Function

The Irish Terrier has a graceful, racy outline, with a moderately long body.  Sturdy and strong in substance, the Irish Terrier is also active and lithe in movement. This is an all-round terrier that combines speed, endurance, agility, and power to perform a great variety of jobs. Its broken coat is dense and wiry, and never so long as to obscure the body shape. This dog’s expression, like its nature, is intense.


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Breed Traits

Energy Level

3 out of 5

Exercise Requirements

3 out of 5


5 out of 5

Affection Level

2 out of 5

Friendliness To Dogs

1 out of 5

Friendliness To Other Pets

1 out of 5

Friendliness To Strangers

2 out of 5


4 out of 5

Ease of Training

1 out of 5

Grooming Requirements

4 out of 5

Heat Sensitivity

3 out of 5


5 out of 5

Breed Attributes




25-27 lb





Area of Origin


Date of Origin


Other Names

Irish Red Terrier


The quintessential long-legged terrier, the Irish Terrier is also one of the oldest terrier breeds. Its creation is not documented, but the breed may have descended from the old Black and Tan Terrier and a larger but racier solid wheaten-colored terrier, both of which were found in Ireland and used for hunting fox, otter, and other small animals. Similarity to the Irish Wolfhound has led to conjecture that the Irish Terrier may have descended at least in part from that breed. The Irish Terrier has a longer body and longer legs than the other terrier breeds. Early Irish Terriers came in a variety of colors, including black and tan, gray, and brindle. Only near the end of the nineteenth century did the solid red color become a fixture of the breed. The first Irish Terrier was shown in 1875. By the 1880s, the breed was the fourth most popular in England. At that time, it was fashionable to crop the ears of many terriers, but in 1889 the Irish Terrier Club of England banned ear cropping in the breed. The ruling was to have far-reaching implications for all dogs because it instigated the debate about ear cropping and eventually led to the abolition of cropped ears in all breeds shown in England. The breed also became quite popular in America, ranking thirteenth of all breeds in the late 1920s. It was a dominant force in the show rings of the day. In World War I, the breed proved its mettle by serving as a messenger and sentinel. With such an auspicious beginning, the Irish Terrier seemed certain to remain one of the most popular terriers, but it didn’t. Today the Irish is one of the rarer terriers, an uncommon sight in either the show ring or home.


Called the daredevil of Dogdom, the Irish Terrier is brash, bold, assertive, playful, inquisitive, independent, and strong-willed. This breed is ever ready for action and adventure. The Irish Terrier can be aggressive toward other dogs and small animals and tends to be reserved with strangers. This breed likes to chase, run, and explore, and needs daily physical and mental exercise in a safe area. Given sufficient exercise, The Irish Terrier is surprisingly well-mannered and dignified indoors–a loyal and entertaining companion.


This is a dog with an active mind and body. The Irish Terrier needs daily entertainment and exercise as a walking, jogging, and hiking companion. These needs can also be met with a rigorous play session. The wire coat needs combing one or two times weekly, plus scissoring, shaping, and clipping two to four times yearly. Clipping softens the coat and dulls the color.


  • Major concerns: none
  • Minor concerns: urinary stones
  • Occasionally seen: cataract, hypothyroidism
  • Suggested tests: none
  • Life span: 12–15 years


Note: While the characteristics mentioned here may frequently represent this breed, dogs are individuals whose personalities and appearances will vary. Please consult the adoption organization for details on a specific pet.

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