With their devilish, energetic behavior, robust health and a compact size that easily adapts to rural and city environments, Irish terriers have found a place in many homes around the world.
Although considered one of the oldest terrier dog breeds, the origins of the Irish terrier remain a bit of a mystery.
The earliest known images of the Irish terrier appear in paintings dating back to the 1700's, although many believe the Irish terrier's origins go back as far as two thousand years.
While the exact breeds from which the Irish terrier descended are relatively unknown, some cite the black and tan terrier-type breeds from England as a possibility.
The first Irish terrier was "discovered" in County Cork, Ireland, where it was trained to hunt otters, water rats and serve as a war time messenger.
In 1885, the American Kennel Association recognized the breed and a United States' breed club was founded soon after in 1896.
Overall, the Irish terrier is considered a terrific family companion — good natured with children (especially active ones), and is entertaining and playful — Irish Terriers are always ready for a spirited adventure and are known to be courageous, loyal and energetic.
The "energetic" aspect is what potential families should be aware of before adopting an Irish terrier. They respond well to a dominant, authoritative leader in the family and owners should be prepared to train these dogs with a good deal of patience.
One cited common challenge with Irish terriers is their same-sex aggression with other dogs. Early socialization with other dogs is the key to curbing this behavior.
The Irish terrier has a medium sized, compact build, and typically weighs an average of 30 pounds. This is a very manageable size for those who don't want a dog on the too-small size nor one considered a large breed.
The Irish terrier coat varies from golden red to red wheaten or wheaten, which is described as a pale yellow or beige color, like the color of wheat. The coat itself is straight and wiry in texture, and feels almost coarse to the touch, although this is what protects the Irish terrier from all kinds of weather.
Irish terrier is considered a terrific family companion — good natured with children, and is entertaining and playful — always ready for a spirited adventure and known to be courageous, loyal and energetic.
The Irish terrier is considered a generally very healthy breed, with few hereditary-related conditions. The following conditions have been linked to the Irish terrier:
- Cataracts: an opacity of the lens of the eye. May cause blindness if not treated surgically.
- Hyporthyroidism: low production of thyroid hormone that results in hair loss, weight gain, infertility and other chronic metabolic conditions.
- Microphthalmia: a disabling genetic condition that occurs when a dog's eyeballs are smaller than normal, severely restricting its vision.
- Persistent Pupillary Membranes: a defect that begins before the dog is born, in which small strands of abnormal tissue develop within the eye chamber, partially obscuring vision.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy: an adult-onset condition which gradual degeneration of the retina leading to blindness.