This breed originated in southern Ireland about 2,000 years ago. The oldest documentation of it is in paintings from the 1700s. By 1875, it started appearing in dog shows and was soon being shown all over Ireland. Its popularity couldn't go unnoticed and by the 1800s, it became one of the most popular dog breeds in all of England.
In England in the 1800s, cropping the ears of pure breed dogs was considered as something good and natural; it made the dog look sharp. However, in 1889, the Irish Terrier Club of England started a big debate about the cropping of this breed's ears. They eventually got a law stating that cropping the ears of any breed of dog exhibited was illegal in England.
This breed was and has been used for many purposes that include hunting, tracking, retrieving, and as a ratter, watchdog, and police dog.
By the end of the 19th Century, breeders were trying to breed out several colours which included brindle and black & tan. The end goal being to only have "red coated" Irish Terriers by the 20th Century. At the same time, a movement that was established to prevent terriers from having their ears "cropped" was recognised by the Kennel Club and a ban was set in place. As such, no Irish Terrier puppies born after the end of December 1889 could have their ears cropped.
Interesting facts about the breed
- Is the Irish Terrier a vulnerable breed? Yes, the breed is on the Kennel Club's native vulnerable breed list although their numbers are slowly rising every year
- Irish Terriers were used as messengers during World War I
- Well-bred Irish Terriers can command a lot of money because breed numbers are low
Irish Terriers are longer in the leg than most terriers which gives them a very elegant appearance. They boast having a wiry coat and charmingly alert expression. Their heads are long being flat and rather narrow between the ears although narrower still towards a dog's eyes. Their stop can only be seen when looking at their profile. Their jaws are strong with their forefaces being nicely chiseled. Lips are tight and black in colour and their noses are black too.
With a high-strung spirit that is eager to please, this breed can be easily trained. It is a brave dog that is loyal to its owners. It is great with kids and is an excellent watchdog.