Irish Terrier Puppy Facts

Did you just bring home a new Irish Terrier puppy and want to learn more about the breed?

Maybe you are thinking about buying a puppy and want to know if this is the right breed of dog for you and your family?

No matter what your situation may be, you will find the answers to your questions right here!



Breed History

While this breed is believed to be one of the older of the terriers, not much is known about its origin. There are several theories about the origin of the Irish Terrier but it's impossible to distinguish between the facts and fiction.

One theory holds that the breed, also known as the Irish Red Terrier, was developed by crossing the black and tan terrier to the Irish Wolfhound. While there is great difference in size, both breeds have wiry coat and similar outline and headpiece.

What we know for sure is that it was first recognized and shown as a distinct breed in 1875 at a Glasgow show. By 1880's, the Irish Terrier was the fourth most popular dog breed in England.

While it was bred to hunt small game such as otter and water rats, the Irish Terrier had been also used to hunt big game. It's also an excellent retriever, capable of retrieving from both land and water. These dogs were also heavily used during WWI, mainly as mail carriers.

Courageous, highly adaptable, protective of its family and the livestock, these dogs were highly prized and formed an essential part of the life of Irish families.

Some of the breed's other talents include guarding and watchdog duty, police and military work, and tracking.

The Irish Terrier was recognized as a distinct breed by the AKC in 1885.

Physical Characteristics of Irish Terrier Puppies

This is a medium-size dog with a body that is slightly longer than it is tall.

It has a long, narrow head with a strong jaw, black nose and small, dark brown eyes with bushy eyebrows above. The small V-shaped ears are semi-erect, fold forward and are covered with hair that's shorter and darker than on the rest of the body. The face has a beard and whiskers.

The front legs are straight and muscular. The back legs are strong and muscular, with powerful thighs. The feet are strong, round and on the small side.

The tail is usually docked at birth by about a quarter of its original length but this is not a requirement. In fact, in a lot of European countries docking is prohibited for all breeds.

The outer coat is wiry and has a broken appearance. It's so dense that when parted with fingers, the skin is hardly visible. The hair on the sides is a little softer than on the back and the legs. The coat can be golden or bright red, wheaten or red wheaten. The undercoat is soft and light in color.

    Height Weight
  Male 18 inches 25 - 27 pounds
  Female 18 inches 25 - 27 pounds


Irish Terriers are good-tempered, full of life and loyal dogs. They can also be reckless. This part of their personality contributed to their nickname of "Daredevil".

The Irish Terrier is affectionate and loyal to its family and good with children. It will even tolerate some rough-housing. It's brave and will not hesitate to protect its family if he thinks they are in danger.

This is a dominant breed and will try to dominate other dogs, especially of the same sex. With proper socialization training, it can get along with other dogs but because of its breeding, it can't be trusted with other small animals.

Smart and inquisitive, Irish Terriers are highly trainable. But because they feel they must be in charge, they can also be willful, especially with an inexperienced or meek owner. Another trait that makes them more difficult to train is they are less eager to please people than some other breeds.

To raise an obedient and easy to get along with dog, start training when he is still a puppy. Establish some rules and stick with them. Be gentle but firm and consistent.

Like other terriers, this breed likes to dig (check dog digging for more information about this behavior).

Best Owner / Living Conditions

The Irish Terrier is a very adaptable breed and will do equally well in a suburban and city apartment settings.

It will do best with an active family but because of some aspects of its personality it requires an owner who can establish himself or herself as the leader. This is not a breed for a meek owner.

Some Irish Terrier breeders may interview prospective owners to make sure this is the right breed for them.

Activity and Exercise

This is a very active breed and requires plenty of exercise. Without it, the Irish Terrier will get restless and bored. And we know what happens to bored dogs -- they get into trouble.

It can get plenty of exercise by running and playing off leash. Another way to exercise your pet is to take him for a walk. To protect your pet from escaping or chasing other dogs or small animals, never leave your pet off leash in an unprotected area.

At a minimum, take your pet for several walks every day.


Irish Terrier grooming requirements are similar to those of the Airedale Terrier.  

It has a very dense coat that sheds little to no hair. Brush couple of times per week with a stiff bristle brush to keep the coat clean and remove dead hair.

Hand stripping your pet's hair a couple of times per year instead of clipping it will keep the hard texture of the coat. Hand-stripping is more time consuming than clipping but I feel it leaves the coat better looking and is well worth it.

Just like any other dog, the Irish Terrier requires nail clipping and tooth brushing (visit dog teeth cleaning to learn how to brush your dog's teeth).

Bathe only when absolutely necessary.

Health Concerns

Like all dog breeds, Irish Terriers are susceptible to complications caused by internal and external parasites such as ticks, fleas, and worms.

Other than that, this is a healthy breed that is not predisposed to any major hereditary disorders. Still, buy only from reputable Irish Terrier breeders to reduce the risk of health problems (visit dog breeders to learn how to identify responsible dog breeders).

No matter how small the risk of health problems is, any puppy may get sick or injured. Many health problems will require an immediate attention from your Vet, but there are many others that will not, and you may handle them on your own.

To save time and money, learn how to diagnose and treat dog health problems that don't require your Vet's attention.

Life Expectancy

The average life expectancy for Irish Terrier puppies is between 13 and 15 years.

Did you ever consider adopting your next pet?

If this is the breed you are interested in, and adoption appeals to you, consider contacting your local Irish Terrier rescue. There are thousands of pets waiting for a loving home and, yes, it's possible to adopt a purebred dog.

Puppy Training

Not happy with your pet's behavior? Need help with training your dog for obedience? Then check this dog behavior and obedience training guide.

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