By Macy Gen Veterinary AssistantMacy Gen Last updated: 18th October 2022

Irish Terrier


Macy Gen Veterinary Assistant Macy Gen
Last updated: 18th October 2022

A terrier type breed originating in Ireland, the Irish Terrier is a dog of medium size with a compact, sturdily built and active nature. Some of its prominent characteristic features include a rectangular, well-proportioned body, longish head, small, brown eyes, V-shaped, well-set ears, and a moderately long tail curved to its back.

Irish Terrier Pictures

Quick Information

Other namesIrish Red Terrier
CoatDouble coat: Dense, wiry outer coat; a soft undercoat
Breed typePurebred
Average lifespan 13 to 15 years
Size (How big do they get)Medium
Height Approximately 18 inches
Weight Male: 27 pounds; Female: 25 pounds
Litter size4 -6 puppies
Behavioral traitsLoyal, energetic, affectionate, bold, curious, loving
Good with childrenYes
Barking tendencyModerate
Shedding (Do they shed)Minimal
Competitive Registration Qualification/ InformationFCI, ANKC, AKC, NZKC, UKC, CKC, KC (UK)

Irish Terrier Puppies Video


They have dwelt in their place of origin, Ireland, for many hundred years as an efficient farm dog, whose main purpose was to kill vermin. More than their appearance, these canines were bred for their working skills and strong prey drive. Besides being a farmer’s trusted companion, it was also a protective watchdog and a great hunter. Not much has been known about the history behind its origination, though the black and tan terrier is said to be its forefather from which many other breeds like the Kerry Blue Terrier, Scottish Terrier, Lakeland Terrier, and the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier also developed.

Its popularity increased only in the second half of the 19th century when this breed appeared at a dog show held in Glasgow by the name Irish Terrier for the first time. Initially, it came in all colors including black and tan, brindle, gray, wheaten, and red. However, in the long run, red stands out as the only accepted color. They were employed as sentinel and messenger dogs during the First World War and post it their popularity persisted. Among the several kennel clubs, the AKC is one of the prominent organizations recognizing them.

Temperament and Personality

The Irish Terrier is a good tempered, loyal and affectionate breed, with a strong disposition. Though they are inclined towards their members of the family, these dogs are known to have a special inclination towards a particular member of a family, possibly their master.

Because of their watchdog genes, they are aversive to strangers and would bark at the sight of an intruder.

The Irish Terrier is independent and has a mind of their own, often being engaged in activities that might not be pleasing to you like digging your laundry basket or messing your kitchen.

They are good with kids, though supervision is needed when they are interacting with the little ones as these dogs could be of a boisterous nature. These canines can be quite aggressive while interacting with dogs or other animals because of their territorial and dominating nature, particularly if not brought up with them.

The Irish Terrier has a highly adjusting and adaptable nature, being able to cope in urban as well as rural households as well as any climatic conditions.



They are active dogs with high exercise needs, requiring to be worked out on a regular basis. Take them out on a long walk and also make sure you give them sufficient playtime in a fenced yard. Participation in events like obedience, earth dog, flyball, rally, and agility would also be a good way in channelizing their energy positively.


The Irish Terrier has a double coat that needs to be brushed every week using a slicker brush for removing the dirt as well as loose hair. Trimming its nails, brushing its teeth as well as cleaning its eyes and ears are the other grooming needs that you need to undertake to ensure proper hygiene for your dog.

Health Problems

Though a healthy dog, they might be prone to two genetic conditions namely hyperkeratosis (corny pads coupled with severe pain), and cystinuria (autosomal recessive condition leading to kidney stones). Other conditions that they are known to suffer from are muscular dystrophy, hypothyroidism, progressive retinal atrophy, and cataracts.


Being strong-willed and independent it might be a bit of a task to train the Irish Terrier if the master is not firm and tactful.

  • Socialization training given to the Irish Terrier puppies would help them in pacifying their behavior when it comes to strangers. It is essential to make them acquainted with a whole lot situation as well as people so that they gradually learn to eliminate the bad from the good and are not wary of every unknown person they see. The same should also be done to improve their equation with other dogs. Take your Irish Terrier to a dog park as often as possible or ask your friends to bring along their pets home. In this way, they would gradually learn to get adjusted and coexist peacefully with other canines.
  • Give them obedience training and teach them to follow commands particularly from the time they are puppies. They would gradually learn to listen to you and perhaps stop doing something undesirable like chasing or barking the moment they hear a “No” or “Stop” from you.


Good quality dry dog food is what they need to be in the best of their health. While adding a homemade diet to your dog’s kibble make sure you do it in measured amounts.

Interesting Facts

  • William Lyon Mackenzie King former prime minister of Canada owned many Irish Terriers all by the name of Pat.
  • They have featured in several books and film some of them being Michael, Brother of Jerry and Jerry of the Islands by Jack London (book), and the Firehouse dog (2007 film).

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