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Irish Terrier the Daredevil

Updated on January 10, 2016

A dog of courage

The Irish terrier is a very courageous dog. Because it is such a dog of courage it became known as the daredevil. It got this reputation as a sentinel in World War I and in World War II. That courage also suited this dog for carrying messages on the battlefield. The Encyclopedia of Dogs by Claudia Long and Britt Stader states that the dog retains a bold and courageous spirit and is “…considered one of the best guard dogs in the world.” For many years the breed worked as guard dog, a farm dog in Ireland.

Although the exact origins of the breed are not known it apparently is not indigenous to Ireland. It is known that it is one of the oldest Terrier breeds and it was used in Ireland as a ratter and to hunt and retrieve game. It was first exhibited in England in 1870 and achieved popularity in Britain and later in North America. Possibly due to Boston’s large number of Irish immigrants it became popular in Boston. According to the American Kennel Club (AKC) the breed had a variety of colors in its early stages of development. However, by the 19th Century the solid red color became a “fixture” of the breed.

Documentation of the Irish terrier history is somewhat sketchy and “…the earliest painting of this breed dates back as far as the 1700s,” according to the website. They speculate that it might have descended from the black and tan terrier or the Irish wolfhound, both of which have been in Ireland and both are known for hunting skills. In the late 1800s the breed became very popular in England. It was stylish at the time to crop their ears. That practice was banned by the Irish terrier Club of England in1889, according to the website. This had the influence to eliminate the practice with other breeds.


The 1873 Dublin Dog show was the first to have separate class for the Irish Terriers. By the 1880s it was the fourth most popular breed in Ireland and Britain. It was introduced to the United States in the late 19th century. The Irish terrier became the 13th ranking breed in American popularity in the 1920s.

Among terriers, the Irish terrier is considered the “raciest” breed with its longer legs and longer body than of dogs in the group. These characteristics give it a ‘lithe, athletic yet sturdy appearance,” according to Irish-terrier. Info.

Appearance and qualities

The Irish terrier is built like a Fox terrier with racier lines than other terriers. Has a longer body. AKC specifies:

· Beautiful red coat

· Alert expression

· Trim outline

· Be of authentic terrier type and temperament site adds:

· The body and legs show power, strength and speed

· Assertive and bold bushy eyebrows


· Often a loyal protector of children

· Often aggressive with other dogs and small animals

· Strong willed and independent

· Intelligent

· Often reserved with strangers

· Sometimes “challenge to housebreak”

· Exercise daily. Can live in an apartment if it gets adequate exercise and not left alone too much.

· Life span of 12 to 15 years


The breed has a wiry and dense coat which does not shed a lot. Should be brushed and combed about once or twice a week. . It is not recommended to bath the dog too often, but only when necessary.


Wikipedia article on the Irish terrier

AKC Meet the Breeds®

Encyclopedia of Dogs by Claudia long & Britt Stader

Irish Terrier Club of America website

Copyright 2012 Don Hoglund


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    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 3 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      torrilyn, I also like dogs in general and some breeds in particular. .thanks for the vote.

    • torrilynn profile image

      torrilynn 3 years ago

      I absolutely love dogs. My dog was a German Shepherd that was full of life until she sadly passed away about a year ago. I love to learn about new dogs and there personalities. Voted up. Best of wishes.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      sweetie1, thanks for reading about the Irish Terrier and leaving a comment.

    • sweetie1 profile image

      sweetie1 5 years ago from India

      This breed is not very popular in India nor I had heard much about it before. My Mom never allows any pets in the house so we never had a pet but my best friend had a German Shepard and i really liked to play with her.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Angelo, these dogs are about 18" for the male and 27 lbs. To me that is a small dog.. That would be the male.Thanks for commenting

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      midget, thanks for reading and commenting. I've never owned a terrier but this one caught my eye.

    • Angelo52 profile image

      Angelo52 5 years ago from Central Florida

      Good article about a nice looking dog. How big do they grow? Would you consider them a large breed, a medium breed or a small breed?

      Voted up +

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 5 years ago from Singapore

      Terriers are great companions and very affectionate. I own a Westie, not an Irish terrier, but find their temperaments very similar. Thanks for sharing, and I share too.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Lipnancy, Thanks for visiting and commenting. There are a number of breed that I like, but this one does impress me.

    • Lipnancy profile image

      Nancy Yager 5 years ago from Hamburg, New York

      If I could own a dog, I would seriously consider a Terrier. Many of my friends raise them and they are just wonderful dogs.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Dexter. I was not familiar with this breed but as I read about it I began to like it. It has changed my mind about terriers. Thanks for commenting.

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States

      The Irish Terrier in your top photo actually looks like some people I know! Great information, but what strikes me is this dog doesn't shed a lot. Great looking "daredevil."

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Peggy, I am learning things myself. I agree about the housebreaking. However, we have gotten our dogs past that stage and haven't faced that problem in many years. Thanks for commenting,voting and sharing.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Hi Don,

      We are becoming quite informed about different dog breeds because of your hubs. I found this one about the Irish Terrier very interesting. The thing that would probably hold me back about wanting one is the difficulty in housebreaking them. The little shedding part and infrequent bathing plus their intelligence all sounds good. Votes up and sharing. Thanks!

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      drjb, thank you for commenting. I was not familiar with the Irish terrier and was not really fond of terriers, but I became attracted to this breed the more I found out about them.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 5 years ago from south Florida

      Although I have never owned an Irish Terrier, I do know they are very independent and intelligent as you pointed out, Don. Thank you for this interesting tribute to the breed.