First shown in 1875 at a Glasgow dog show, the Irish Terrier rose to considerable popularity, being registered as the fourth most popular dog in England in the 1880s. Primarily bred for the purpose of hunting den animals including water rats and otters, the Irish Terrier established a concrete reputation for itself as an accomplished and willing hunter, ridding food stores and farmsteads of vermin. Thought to boast an ancient lineage that dates back over 2,000 years, the Irish Terrier was first recognised by the American Kennel Club in 1885. Bred for its working qualities and gameness rather than its appearance, the Irish Terrier was widely enlisted during WWI as a sentinel and messenger dog, tracking back and forth through shellfire to reach its recipient.
Often likened in appearance and structure to the Airedale Terrier, the Irish Terrier is distinctive and functional, characterised by a medium build, a bearded muzzle, high-set tail, triangular 'drop' ears and a wiry outer coat in common colour variations of black, tan and grizzle. Despite being an illegal practice in most countries across Europe, the process of tail 'docking' is often undertaken with this breed, although such is not a breed standard. Traditionally employed in hunting fox, otter, badger, weasel and rats, the Irish Terrier retains its natural instincts, inclined to chase smaller animals unless trained not to. Often nicknamed the 'daredevil,' the Irish is believed to be one of the oldest of the Terrier family.
Compatible with children and other domestic animals, the Irish Terrier is a great breed choice for families or a dedicated sole owner. Inherently energetic and fun-loving, the Irish requires regular exercise and mental enrichment. Highly intelligent and responsive, the breed can be trained to a good degree. On average a healthy Irish Terrier will weigh 11-12 kg depending on its gender, with a life expectancy of 12-15 years when shown the appropriate care. It is not uncommon for an Irish to outlive this expectancy.
Selectively bred for its hardy capabilities, the Irish Terrier is typically healthy and long-lived. As with most other breeds the Irish is prone to certain afflictions, including optical disorders, dermatitis and hip dysplasia. No serious breed-specific or genetic diseases are documented for the breed.