Irish Terrier – Full Breed Profile

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Irish Terriers are soft toward people and wary when it comes to other dogs. Read on to learn more about this red-coated dog.
Dog Breed Group:
Terrier Dogs
18 to 20 inches tall at the shoulder
25 to 27 pounds
Life Span:
12 to 16 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The Irish Terrier is a dog of a moderately long body, with 18 inches and up to 27 pounds.

Females are slightly lighter compared to males and can weigh up to 25 pounds. Life expectancy for this breed is between 13 and 15 years.

If you want your Irish Terrier to reach his senior years, you should provide high-quality food, regular veterinarian check-up, and a healthy environment. This breed will thrive in a happy and nurturing environment.

This courageous terrier of medium size is known for his fiery red coat and equally flammable temperament. Irish Terriers are the prototype of a long-legged terrier.

Irish Terrier is indeed an eye-catching breed, with a properly balanced body. Originally from Ireland, this small terrier is considered to be one of the oldest terrier breeds.

Irish Terrier is a compact dog suitable for both city and rural life. Thanks to his harsh red coat, this breed is protected from all kinds of weather. Still, make sure that you don’t expose your Irish Terrier to extremely low and warm temperatures.

They are great with people and they have a strong sense of loyalty, which is why they must have an experienced and responsible leader.

In the best-case scenario, owners of this breed should have experience with terriers to get the most out of this breed. If this is you then this breed is for you.

Quick Facts

Real name: Irish Terrier
Other names: Irish Red Terrier
Origin: Ireland
Breed type: Terrier Dogs
Weight: 25 to 27 pounds
Height: 18 to 20 inches tall at the shoulder
Lifespan: 12 to 16 years
Litter Size: 4 – 6 puppies
Color: Black and tan, gray and bridle, red, red wheaten, wheaten
Coat: A double coat: the outer coat is short, dense and harse, while the undercoat is of softer texture

Irish Terrier History

Irish Terrier is a dog of unusual appearance – thanks to his beard, who originated in Ireland, hence the names.

This terrier is one of the oldest when it comes to Terrier dogs as his ancestors are completely extinct.

Originally, they served as messenger and sentinel dogs during World War I and as hunting dogs. Other than this is little known when it comes to this breed.

Their precise origin is unknown. Dog fanciers and historians believe that these dogs have descended from the black and tan terrier-type dogs of Britain and Ireland, as Kerry Blue did.

Others claim that this breed is lined with the Irish Wolfhound. Purposeful breeding of Irish Terrier began in the 19th century, while the first breed club was founded in Dublin in 1879.

Did you know that the Irish Terriers were the first to be recognized as a native Irish Breed by the English Kennel Club?

In the 19th century, the very first Irish Terrier was taken to the States, where they have become an instant hit.

Irish Terrier Physical Appearance

The Irish Terrier is commonly a red dog of sturdy body. Their outline is more rectangular which makes them different when compared to other terriers. They are ae longer than Fox Terriers are.

As for the size, they usually weigh around 25 pounds and have a height between 18 to 20 inches.

Females are slightly smaller in size and may have more elegant posture. As for the color, they come in a variety of colors, including golden red, wheaten, and red wheaten.

A really small patch of white is allowed on the chest. As they get older, grey patches may appear here and there.

Their coat is double, with the outer coat being straight and wiry. Also, their coat should be trimmed, and it’s mostly done by professionals.

Dog groomer may be pricey, but it will be worth it, especially in the long run. The inner coat is the same color as the outer coat and will shed. Eyes are always dark and have that famous ‘fiery’ expression.

Irish Terrier Personality

Terriers are not for everyone. These dogs are packed with energy, passionate diggers, and fast to bark on anything that moves.

If you want a calm dog, or you are based in buildings with many floors and apartments, create your decision to get this dog.

You might want to search for a breed that isn’t prone to barking and has a calmer mind.

Terriers are known for being a bit stubborn, and always trying to get things their way. Simply said, these dogs are strong-willed dogs who aren’t recommended for first time dog owners.

Irish Terriers are active dogs who are great in dog sports such as agility or obedience.

Irish Terriers are active and full of life, but they are far from being hyperactive. That being said, expect a long cuddling session after active outdoor hours.

Irish Terriers are great with people. In fact, they will follow you around 24/7 to make sure that you are safe and entertained.

These active terriers tend to be dominant when it comes to other dogs. If your home is a multi-dog house make sure that you introduce them slowly, and perfectly from a puppyhood.

Irish Terriers are children lovers and they will tolerate rough-housing to a certain level.

Make sure that your children know how to behave around dogs, and not to disturb them when they are eating, sleeping, resting, or just chilling inside their crib.

Dogs and children should never be left alone without supervision, no matter how well they get along.

Children should never pull a dog’s ears or tail, and dogs should follow house dog rules.

Irish Terrier Training

As active dogs, Irish Terriers will love training sessions. They will see them as a duty, a work to be done. After all, dogs were bred to perform a specific task and they will do anything to fulfill that need. This is why training is so important, and why repeating tricks is so beneficial.

Dogs thrive when there is a job to be done. You don’t have to spend hours outside letting your Irish Terrier dig, you can provide puzzle toys for his mental stimulation and physical activity, and he will be happy with it.

Dogs love positive reinforcement, and your Irish Terrier should be trained only via positive training methods. And treats. There should be a lot of treats.

Dogs love to know that they did a great job and treat is a great way to communicate that.

Irish Terriers are very intelligent dogs who learn fast. However, they will try to get things their way, so have patience.

Provide training sessions that are consistent, fun, short, and engaging. Early socialization is something that will help you have a well-behaved canine, so use that time wisely.

As soon as your veterinarian gives you a green light, you can take your Irish Setter to the dog park and let him meet other dogs.

A vaccination schedule is important and you should do your best to stay to the recommended schedule.

Irish Terrier Exercise

Irish Terriers are active dogs, but they need only moderate exercise. A simple activity plan that includes three to four walks on a leash of 30 minutes daily, should keep him satisfied physically.

A good run inside the dog park can not harm. Never let your dog run freely outside the fenced area. This isn’t a running breed, but we should enjoy a good run with other dogs.

If you are searching for a jogging dog check this article.

Irish Terrier Grooming

The Irish Terrier comes with dense and wiry hair. To keep this hair in the order it’s mandatory to provide a regular brushing.

Brushing sessions should be used to connect with your dog better while checking his skin for any sign of fleas or skin infection.

Use a bristle brush to keep the dog’s coat clean and healthy. You must strip coat by hand. Be careful, this shouldn’t be done daily, but only a few times per year.

If you are not sure how to do it, let your veterinarian show you or a professional groomer. All in all, this breed sheds a little.

People with allergies may tolerate them. If you have strong allergies first spend a few hours with this breed before you get an Irish Terrier for your family.

Monthly nail trimming or grinding is mandatory, next to ear cleaning, and weekly eyes and gums checked.

Learn which foods are great for a dog’s teeth and which human foods may cause strong health issues in your dog.

Irish Terrier Health

If you deal with responsible dog breeders only, you should get a healthy Irish Terrier.

Responsible and reputable breeders will present you with medical documentation on the puppies and inform you about any possible health issues in the future. Overall, this breed isn’t known for any major health issues.

You may provide the best care in the world, and you may still expect to see some health issues along the way. This doesn’t mean that your dog will experience any of the following issues, but only that you should be well-informed about these conditions. When armed with the knowledge you can prevent these issues.

Here are the most common health problems in Irish Terriers:

  • Hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Von Willebrand’s disease
  • Thrombopathia
  • Eye allergies

Last But Not Least…

Once you get a dog you are directly responsible for his weight.

No matter what, you should always keep your dog’s weight in balance. This means that you know how much to feed your Irish Setter, how often how many times oper day.

Knowing how to read a pet food label is a plus. This way you will know how to find the best possible food for your Irish Setter.

Obesity in dogs is on the rise across the States and you don’t want your Irish Terrier to be part of this growing trend.

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