to Pet Health Network or

Answers from vets about your dog:

The Irish Terrier

Posted March 12, 2014 in Dog Breeds

Among the oldest of the terrier breeds is the little, red-headed Irish Terrier. In the late 19th century this dog made his first appearance at a dog show in Glasgow. He’s more than a show dog though, during World War I Irish Terriers were used as messengers and lookouts. 

The breed’s popularity skyrocketed in the 1800s and by 1880 he was the fourth most popular breed in England. After coming to the United States he became even more cherished for his tenderness towards children -- making him a great family dog. 

The Irish Terrier was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885.

Dog playing in fieldSizing up

  • Weight: 25 to 27 lbs.
  • Height: 18 inches
  • Coat: Double, short and weather-resistant, topcoat is harsh, wiry, and straight. Coat is dense
  • Color: Golden red, wheaten, or red wheaten
  • Life expectancy: 12 to 16 years

What’s the Irish Terrier like?
The Irish Terrier has an award winning personality. He’s intelligent, playful, loyal, and loving. He enjoys being around children and can even tolerate the occasionally rambunctious toddlers. He is a very active dog and needs plenty of exercise. He would love to go on walks or jogs with you, play a game of fetch, or even to go hunting.

Don’t let his cute little face fool you, sometimes he can be downright mischievous. He might  trying and steal your food, dig in the yard, or rip apart toilet paper. The Irish Terrier has a mind of his own but you can help control bad behavior by training early and often. Be stern yet positive and never harsh. Always give rewards and praises when he’s done something right.

The Irish Terrier is extremely easy to groom. His wiry coat will need to be combed through once or twice a week to be kept it in good condition.

The Irish Terrier is generally a healthy breed but not without health concerns:

Muscular dystrophy

  • There have been rare cases of muscular dystrophy. It occurs in the absence of a protein needed for the muscles to function properly. It is a heredity condition, so you’ll want to get all your new pups tested.


Progressive retinal atrophy


  • A condition that can occur as early as 4 months of age. It is when the pads on the feet became hard, thickened, and cracked. It can be very painful.

Takeaway Points

  • The Irish Terrier would be a

Share This Article

Tori has more than 2 years of experience in the pet health industry and is junior editor of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.