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The Irish Terrier Dog Breed Profile

Jul 3, 2008
The Irish Terrier is a "classic" terrier in every sense of the word. He is believed to be one of the oldest of the Irish Terrier breeds, however there is scarce documentation of this. It is known that when dogs were first shown in Ireland in 1870 there were several terriers of this strain but there were many other colors besides the red that we know of today. It was not until later that the outstanding red color was favored above all else, to the extent that other colors such as brindle and black and tan were eliminated from the bloodlines.

The Irish Terrier is courageous and plucky and has a reputation for being fearless and quite intelligent. During World War I this breed was often used as a messenger dog. The dog has achieved the nickname of "Daredevil" for good reasons, as it is a dog that does not give up when confronted. One of the early descriptions of the breed describes him as "the poor man's sentinel, the farmer's friend and the gentleman's favorite".

The Irish Terrier always is a beautiful deep red color with no other markings. This color is accentuated by the harshness of each individual hair and the color is enhanced by "stripping" the coat rather than shaving any part of it.

Exhibitors in the Conformation Rings take great care to strip the coat regularly but "pet people" often do shave the coat rather than deal with the time consuming job of hand stripping. The Irish Terrier is a racy lean terrier, appearing somewhat long of leg, with fold over ears and a square jaw appearance that is enhanced by the beard and mustache. The tail is customarily docked. The coat should be hard and wiry with a softer undercoat.

The males are around 19 inches at the shoulder and the females should be about 18 inches. The Irish Terrier has well balanced movement and should not be high stepping or choppy in its gait. He is a popular dog in the Conformation ring, although not considered to be as "flashy" as the Fox Terrier or the Kerry Blue. Despite this reputation, in 1994 an Irish Terrier took the Best In Show at the premier terrier show of the world, the Montgomery County Kennel Club Terrier Show.

The Irish Terrier is definitely an individual. He knows that he is the best and will not be unwilling to prove it if confronted by any other dog. When challenged, he will fight to the death. It is essential that his owner be aware of this, he has a very strong terrier instinct and although it is not "aggression" in the usual sense of the word, he is not the sort of dog that automatically gets along with any other dog.

However, one must realize that this is a characteristic which is completely in harmony after all with what a "terrier" is. Otherwise, this breed has no equal as far as being a guardian and companion to his family, with children he is especially affectionate and steadfast in his loyalty and protection. Furthermore, he can and does serve his owners well when it comes to being the rat catcher and general rodent killer on the farm and in the house.
About the Author
For more information on the irish terrier or a complete list of dog breeds visit this Dog Behaviour website.
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