The Irish terrier is a breed of dog from Ireland, it is considered to be one of the oldest terrier breeds, the Dublin dog show in 1873 was the first to have a separate class for Irish terriers, by 1880 the Irish terrier was the fourth most popular dog in Great Britain and Ireland.
The origins of the Irish terrier are not known, it is believed to have descended from black and tan terrier type dogs of Britain and Ireland like the Kerry Blue and Soft haired Wheaten in Ireland or the Welsh, Lakeland and Scottish terriers of Great Britain. There is also a possibility that it shares a bloodline with the Irish Wolfhound.
Originally the Irish terrier was bred, not for their looks but for their working qualities, with the Irish terrier being an instinctive vermin killer, they are active dogs and they enjoy regular mental and physical challenges. They have a highly developed sense of loyalty and it is important they have a strong owner, who they will have a natural respect for. The Irish terrier is a good house dog, suited to life in both rural and inner city environments, they have an excellent temperament and are good with children, but they do need plenty of exercise.
Breed standards describe the Irish terrier as racy and rectangular, an Irish terrier should appear powerful without being sturdy or heavy. The outline of the Irish terrier differs to that of others, their body is proportionately longer than other terriers, but with no lack of substance, and it as deep distinctive chest. The tail should start high up, but it shouldn’t stick straight up or curl over the back on either side of the body, its ears are small and folded forward just above skull level they are normally slightly darker than the rest of its coat.
The Irish terrier as a double coat, the outer coat is straight and wiry, usually golden red or wheaten in colour, the inner coat is also red, but smoother than the outer coat. The slightly longer hair on the front legs should form even pillars, while the back legs should have shorter hair, but not too close to the skin, the chin is accentuated with a small beard. The eyes are usually brown topped with well groomed eyebrows, the head as a whole should have good pigmentation.
A healthy female Irish terrier should weigh between 11 and 13 kg, while a male can weigh anything between 11 and 15 kg, and they usually stand between 48 to 53 cm at the withers. There are not really any hereditary diseases linked to the Irish terrier, although catteracts are quite common.