The Irish Terrier
The breed's origin is not known. It is believed to have descended
from the black and tan terrier-type dogs of the British Isles, just
like the Kerry Blue and Irish Soft-haired Wheaten Terriers in Ireland
or the Welsh, Lakeland and Scottish Terriers in Great Britain.
Jowett writes in The Irish Terrier, 'Our Dogs' Publishing Co. Ltd.,
Manchester, England 1947 - 7th Edition: They are described by an old
Irish writer as being the poor man's sentinel, the farmer's friend,
and the gentleman's favourite...These dogs were originally bred not
so much for their looks as for their working qualities and gameness,
the Irish Terrier being by instinct a thorough vermin killer. They
were formerly of all types and of all colours - black-and-tan, grey-and-brindle,
wheaten of all shades, and red being the predominant colours. Colour
or size evidently did not matter if they were hardy and game."
selection process of the breed began only in the latter 19th century.
They were shown now and then, sometimes in one class, sometimes in
separate classes for dogs under and over 9 pounds.
breed club was set up in Dublin in 1879. Irish Terriers were the first
members of the terrier group to be recognized by the English Kennel
Club as a native Irish Breed - this happened just before the end of
the 19th century. The first Irish Terriers were taken to the US in
late 19th century and quickly became somewhat popular.
the breed has never been very "fashionable", there used
to be big influential kennels in Ireland, the Great Britain and US
up to the 1960s. Nowadays there is ambitious breeding in many continents,
including North America, (Northern) Europe and Australia.
Terrier is coloured golden red, red wheaten, or wheaten. Dark red
is often mistaken as the only correct colour, possibly because wheaten
coats are often of worse quality. As with many other solid-coloured
breeds, a small patch of white is allowed on the chest. No white should
appear elsewhere. As an Irish Terrier grows older, grey hair may appear
here and there.
part of the double coat should be straight and wiry in texture, never
soft, silky, curly, wavy, or woolly as might be expected in the Kerry
Blue Terrier. The coat should lie flat against the skin, and, though
having some length, should never be so long as to hide the true shape
of the dog. There are longer hairs on the legs, but never so much
as a Wire Fox Terrier or Schnauzer.
part of the coat, called the under-wool or undercoat, should also
be red. The under-wool may be hard for the inexperienced eye to see.
Coat should be quite dense and so that "when parted with the
fingers the skin is hardly visible".
trimmed Irish Terrier should have some "furnishings" on
legs and head. The slightly longer hair on the front legs should form
even pillars, while the rear legs should only have some longer hair
and not be trimmed too close to the skin. The chin is accentuated
with a small beard. The beard should not be as profuse as that of
should be dark brown and quite small with a "fiery" expression.
The eyes are topped with well-groomed eyebrows. The whole head should
have good pigmentation.
Terrier is full of life, but not hyperactive. It should be able to
relax inside the house and be roused to full activity level quickly.
Terriers are good with people. Most Irish Terriers love children and
tolerate rough-housing to a certain extent. Most breed devotees would
not recommend an Irish Terrier as the first dog. They should know
who is the boss, and have natural respect for him/her. Irish Terriers
respond best to firm, consistent training from a relaxed, authoritative
person. Violence should never be used - it is always best to outwit
Terriers are often dominant with other dogs, particularly same-sex
aggression is a common problem. Poorly socialized individuals will
start fights with minimal,if any, provocation. Thus, early socialization
is a necessity. Most can have strong guarding instincts and when these
instincts are controlled, make excellent alarming watchdogs. Most
Irish Terriers need a reason for barking, and will not yap continuously.
Terriers are intelligent and learn new things easily. They can learn
complex tasks with relative ease, when they have the motivation to
do so. In motivating tidbits and toys work equally well. Training
will not be as easy as with other dog breeds that have stronger willingness
to please people. When seeking a trainer, one should look for a person
who has experience with terriers.
Terrier is an active dog, and loves to be challenged mentally and
physically. Most Irish Terriers are companions and show dogs. There
are however more and more people joining organised dog sports with
their ITs. Obedience training to a certain level is fairly easy, though
the precision and long-lasting drive needed in the higher levels may
be hard to achieve. Many Irish Terriers excel in agility, even though
it may be hard to balance the speed, independence and precision needed
in the higher levels. To date there is one Agility Champion in the
US, and a handful of Finnish and Swedish Irish terriers compete at
the most difficult classes.
Terriers have a good nose and can learn to track either animal blood
or human scent. Many Irish Terriers enjoy Lure Coursing, although
they are not eligible for competition like sight hounds are. In Finland
one Irish Terrier is a qualified Rescue Dog specializing at Sea Rescue.
Breed Clubs and Societies
This breed of dog is a 'Vulnerable Native Breed'.
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