Let's talk Irish Terriers

The fiery red coat of the striking-looking Irish Terrier matches their determined temperament. Brave, and sometimes a little reckless, you’ll find all the typical Terrier dog traits in this breed - a penchant for digging, high energy, and giving their all to the task at hand. As long as they get plenty of exercise outside, your Irish Terrier will be calm indoors. They take to family life very well but other dogs will be less welcome. The Irish Terrier is so devoted to their humans, they make for excellent watchdogs!

Official name: Irish Terrier

Other names: Irish Red Terrier

Origins: Ireland

Black and white portrait of an Irish Terrier
 Drooling tendencies  Very low Warm weather?  High
 Shedding level   Suited to apartment living?   Medium
 Physical activity needs Low to Moderate Kid-friendly?
 Very high
 Compatibility with other pets  Very low Can stay alone?  

We advise against leaving pets alone for long stretches. Companionship can prevent emotional distress and destructive behaviour. Speak to your veterinarian for recommendations.

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Illustration of a Irish Terrier
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 Baby age  Birth to 2 months
 Puppy age  2-12 months
 Adult age  1-7 years
 Mature age  7-10 years
 Senior age  From 10 years

Irish Terrier running over a field


Get to know the Irish Terrier

All you need to know about the breed

The graceful Irish Terrier has a wiry red coat that looks great against a backdrop of Irish countryside - but there’s far more to them than their striking appearance. The Irish Terrier likes to be around people and thrives as part of a family that includes children. Early training and socialisation will be necessary for making sure your Irish Terrier is on their best behaviour and like any breed, supervision is always advised.

Irish Terriers don’t like sharing their family with other dogs - they will become uncharacteristically aggressive and do anything to dominate, all the time. Small, furry animals are also out due to the breed’s prey drive. It is therefore important to keep your Terrier on leash when out for walks, as they’ll challenge other canines that cross their path or try to chase after something smaller than them.

Irish Terriers were originally bred as guard dogs and for hunting activities. While they’ve evolved to become devoted family dogs, the Irish Terrier remains curious and alert, which is not for everyone. A confident owner will not be phased by the Irish Terrier’s stubbornness (sorry, we mean independence) and worker bee mentality. This breed requires an active owner who enjoys the great outdoors. Long walks or hikes together, chase running and interactive games will ensure that your Irish Terrier remains a calm and cuddly companion indoors.

Irish Terrier stood looking alert towards the camera


2 facts about Irish Terriers

1. Barking mad

The loyal Irish Terrier will warn their humans of any unknown presence, making them excellent watch dogs. But it seems like they enjoy the sound of their own voice a little too much, so some extra effort will be required to keep the breed’s barking under control. They will always be moderate barkers, even after training and socialisation.

2. A passionate digger

This is a terrier dog, so any opportunity to dig will be welcomed. If you have a garden, make sure it is safely secured with a fence - both top and bottom - and work with your Irish Terrier on establishing safe digging spots - not the vegetable patch and certainly not the neighbour’s garden.


History of the breed

The Irish Terrier is believed to be the oldest terrier breed from Ireland. Up until the 19th century, several coat colours were allowed as the breed standard, including black. But now the breed is best known for their coat of fiery red fur.

The breed played an important role during World War I, acting as messenger dogs between fighting soldiers, and earning their long-lasting reputation as brave canine companions. Outside of their native homeland, the Irish Terrier was just as popular in the UK and US.

Today the Irish Terrier is more rare - surprising given their reputation as a pleasant family dog. The breed currently ranks 123rd out of the 155 breeds recognised by the American Kennel Club. If you’re looking to welcome an Irish Terrier into your home, breeders are rare to find and a waiting list is to be expected. But they will be more than worth the wait!

Black and white portrait of an Irish Terrier


From head to tail

Physical characteristics of Irish Terriers

1. Body

A long body with a broad, muscular chest.

2. Ears

Small, V-shaped ears that fall forward.

3. Coat

A dense coat, wiry to the touch, that lies flat.

Irish Terrier looking into the distance


Things to look out for

From specific breed traits to a general health overview, here are some interesting facts about your Irish Terrier
Irish Terrier caught mid-air bounding over a field


Caring for your Irish Terrier

Grooming, training and exercise tips

When it comes to grooming an Irish Terrier, a weekly brush will keep their coat clean and remove loose hair. Their wiry, dense outer coat should ideally be hand-stripped, as opposed to clipped, which may require professional help. Nails should be trimmed regularly and teeth brushed often for good dental health. The Irish Terrier is a particularly lively breed, with a natural curiosity that should be satisfied. Several daily walks of 30 minutes or one daily hike (always on leash) combined with play sessions will keep your Irish Terrier in peak mental and physical condition. Consistent training is key with an Irish Terrier, at every life phase. On the one hand, they’re intelligent, independent and determined, which may be challenging for certain people. On the other hand, they are devoted to their humans and eager to please. Once your Irish Terrier understands who’s boss (you, by the way) you will have a respectful canine companion that gets on with every family member, no matter their age.


All about Irish Terriers

Incredibly so. Irish Terriers are very affectionate towards their human family but will need a moment to warm up to strangers. They often prefer to be the only pet, and will thrive in a multiple person household, where one person can stay at home to keep them company.

Sadly, yes. As one of the oldest Terrier dog breeds, today the Irish Terrier is less in demand, despite their appealing temperament, and rarely seen in the show ring. So if you have your heart set on this breed, expect a waiting list.



1 - Veterinary Centers of America https://vcahospitals.com/ 

2 - Royal Canin Dog Encyclopaedia. Ed 2010 and 2020

3 - Banfield Pet Hospital https://www.banfield.com/

4 - Royal Canin BHN Product Book

5 - American Kennel Club https://www.akc.org/