Irish Terrier

If you’ve been looking for a fearless and loyal redhead, well the Irish Terrier may be the dog for you. The “Daredevil” as some people call them, is one of four native Ireland breeds. In fact, they may be the original native terrier from Ireland.

While their fame grew in the 19th century as adequate ratters, today, this feisty redhead has all the tools to be a great companion too!

So what did Farmers of Ireland see in this breed? Moreover, is this the right breed for your family?

Here is what you need to know about the Irish Terrier.

History

It is said that Irish countrymen are astute farmers and outdoors people. So it would make sense that those very same farmers would have a dog suitable to do work around the farm. Whether that be guarding livestock, herding livestock, or in this case, driving out the infestation of rats. Although there is little to no evidence, many believe that the Irish Terrier is among the oldest terrier breeds around. Certainly, the breed made its presence in the early to mid 1800’s, but some maintain the Daredevil may have been around in the 1700’s.

Thanks to their will to work hard, their intelligence and stamina, The Irish Terrier was a dependable ratter for centuries in Ireland. However, like other breeds, there seems to be a log jam with regards to recording historic proof and evidence.

What we do know is that the first Irish Terrier club took place in 1879 in Dublin. The 1870’s or late 19th century seems to be the jumping point for the I.T. And many held the breed in high regards, so much, that the Irish Terrier club was able to persuade the Kennel Club of England to put a halt on ear cropping. This would lead to a complete ban on cropping for all breeds shortly after. 

The 1880’s is when the breed began appearing the United States. And even though the Irish Terrier would get recognition with the American Kennel Club in 1885, the breed was well established by then. 

During those years, however, the breed was different in size and coat color. Brindle, as well as black and tan was common among an Irish Terrier in the 19th century. Breeders had the ambition to bred those coat traits out. 

Unlike other breeds, the World Wars would actually help keep the breed in the spotlight. In fact, Britain Lieutenant Colonel, Edwin Richardson, had nothing but high praise for the Irish Terrier. Following the war in the 1920’s, Richardson wrote a book about his experience overseeing sentinel dogs. The responsibility of the I.T. was to deliver messages trench to trench. Just as the breed’s responsibility was to guard and protect. However, they were too friendly, according to Richardson, but he did say that the Irish Terrier had a good keen sense of duty. In other words, you could count on the little guys to achieve expectations.

Since the war, things have been quiet with the breed. This may be in part of the war or other breeds stealing the thunder from the Irish Terrier. You could argue that there isn’t the same demand for a true ratter as there once was. 

Today, they are true companion dogs with true grit and fierce devotion to their people. According to the American Kennel Club, the I.T. is the 115th most popular breed today.

Size

The Irish Terrier is a medium energy bred and on the smaller side of the medium group. The American Kennel Club allows for males and females to stand at 18 inches.

The ideal weight for a female Irish Terrier is 25 pounds, while a male should weigh 27 pounds.

Personality and Temperament

Real, fake or imaginary, they can all be the Irish Terrier’s friend. At least, that’s what the famous colonel Edwin Richardson once said. The breed is also good with kids, which will likely be their new playmate. Expect this little guy to be a nuisance in a good way at times. Most of it is done to get your attention. Again, strangers may find a dog that is more friendly than some would initially believe. That said, this is a fearless and protective dog, that isn’t afraid to stand up to someone trying to hurt their people.

The Daredevil does respond well to training. This is a patient breed. If they have a task that requires their patience such as waiting for vermin to pounce on, they will do so. This is to please  their owner and that is something they take seriously. 

Lively and outgoing, the Daredevil isn’t afraid to get out and run. This is a breed that would appreciate a purpose an important task to do. In return, they will give you one hundred percent, stamina and courage.

When the day of work is done, all they want is affection at home. This is a loyal family dog. Devout to their owners, the I.T. loves to establish a close bond with their master. Other dogs may not be appropriate for this breed. 

Health

Irish Terriers appear to be a relatively healthy breed, that if all goes right, should see an average of 13 to 15 years life expectancy. So when you purchase an I.T. from a breeder, you should always make sure that the breed has  solid reputation. This breeder should be able to provide you the proper documentation and health clearances. On top of that, scheduling routine veterinarian visits will go a long way in preventative health.

For dogs between the ages of five and seven years old, one of the most common forms of cancer or tumors is Hemangiosarcoma. Hemangiosarcoma has been found to appear in this breed. This is a tumor of the blood vessels. It’s aggressive in nature and hard to treat or diagnose. This is signifies the importance of maintaining a cooperative relationship with your veterinarian.

Additionally, a condition affecting a dog’s kidney tubules, Canine Cystinuria, can be seen in the Irish Terrier. This is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder, and occurs when an amino acid, “cystine” enters a dog’s urine and at times results in crystals or stones. This can excruciating for a dog especially during urination. Infection and inflammation is likely.

Hyperkeratosis is another condition this breed suffers from. This is due to an over production of the protein, Keratin. Hyperkeratosis is when a dog’s paw or nose thickens and hardens due to the protein over producing. Others may call this condition, Corns.

A survey from the Irish Terrier Club of America, where veterinarian, Beth Devlin, who found a higher than expected amount of case involving Cataracts and Hyperthyroidism.

Hyperthyroidism, which is a lack of hormonal production of the thyroid glands affects plenty of breeds and apparently it does the I.T. as well. This can result in lethargy, hair loss, and other lingering problems down the road.

Cataracts, which is the cloudiness of the crystalline lens isn’t as dire if it doesn’t lead to complete blindness. However, a lot of dogs can still have a healthy and normal life even blind. Night blindness may occur first and then a gradual step into complete blindness over time.

Aside from those complications, as you can see, the breed checks out well with other issues such as Patellar Luxation, Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, and Progressive Retinal Atrophy. Always make sure you are current with your Irish Terrier’s shots and vaccinations.

Care

This is a breed that cherishes a special bond with their owner. Having said that, you shouldn’t leave this breed alone for long periods of time. This can invite destructive behavior and traits. When dogs suffer from anxiety and boredom, they tend to act it out on their master’s furniture and house. Although many I.T. enthusiasts don’t recommend dogs around this breed, you’ll certainly want to ensure you can provide them adequate amounts of attention. Giving them a purpose or a job will also keep this breed happy.

An Irish Terrier will run off if you allow them the opportunity. They may be loyal, but they do like to explore as well. You’ll want plenty of space and a fence to keep them from running away. This probably isn’t the best fit for an apartment. They should do fine with warm and cold states.

A novice owner may have a harder time with this breed over others. You’ll need to be consistent and firm. You want to let the Irish Terrier know you’re the boss. Early socialization and training is a must with this breed. Obedience, agility, rally, earth dog and flyball are all activities the I.T. can excel doing.

Brush their teeth regularly, check ears routinely, and make it a habit to check the padding on their paws. Remember, this dog does have a proclivity to suffer from Hyperkeratosis.

Feeding

Just as any dog, feeding your Irish Terrier will require a high quality formula or kibble. However, how much your dog eats depends on their activity rate, their metabolism and age. Spaying and neutering your I.T. can also impact the volume of feeding. For the most part, a lot of breeders for this breed suggest mixing it up with the I.T. Apparently, they get sick of eating the same kibble regularly.

Whatever you choose, you should be fine with a meat first ingredient. You can also mix in wet food or raw meat. Some owners have said their Daredevil eats vermin and mice. This would make sense considering their history. Chicken, turkey, beef and fish should do the trick with this pony. 

The most common recommendation appears to be 1 to 1.5 cups of top quality dry food per day. Two at the most. You should break the meal up into two meals a day. This helps reduce the chances of Bloat and perhaps obesity.

As always, you should provide your Irish Terrier with fresh drinking water.

Coat

These seasonal shedders will require regular grooming. Their coats aren’t all too hard to tend for. The Irish Terrier has a near scruffy appearance to their broken coat. The coat is dense and wiry, while lying close to their body. They do have a fine and soft undercoat.

The American Kennel Club approves of these three coat colors: red, red wheaten and wheaten.

Fun Irish Terrier Facts

  • Nobody really knows the true ancestry of this breed. However, the speculation is the black and tan terrier and the Irish Wolfhound.
  • Obeying commands fifty percent of the time, according to the Intelligence of Dogs, a study by Stanley Coren, the I.T. is the 102d most intelligent dog on the list.
  • The breed’s club gets credit for ending the barbaric ritual of ear cropping.
  • The Irish Terrier is on the Kennel Club’s “at watch” list with only 362 registrations.
  • Who says the redhead can’t get a role in Hollywood? In 2007, it took a team of four Irish Terriers to star in the American family film, Firehouse Dog.

Closing Words

Ireland has given us some incredible terrier breeds let alone dogs like the Irish Setter and Irish Wolfhound. And the Daredevil itself is no exception.

As messenger dogs, the Irish Terrier’s accomplishments describes a dependable and persistent dog, that truly explains today why they are such a loyal and trustworthy breed.

What else would you expect from a brave and fiery redhead from Ireland?