8 Irish Dog Breeds: Amazing Canine Gems from Ireland

Irish dog breeds

Ireland has given the world a variety of native dog breeds, including terriers, setters, hounds, and spaniels. These breeds were originally bred for various tasks, such as hunting. The American Kennel Club has categorized them into Terrier, Sporting, and Hound groups, as they excel in hunting activities.

These Irish dog breeds have a rich history that dates back to ancient times, with mentions in Irish literature from the 8th century. They were known for fearlessly aiding in battles and hunts. Over the years, they have evolved into skilled farm dogs, hunters, athletes, and loyal protectors.

Irish dog breeds are known for their adaptability and fearlessness, making them ready to face any challenge. This article aims to provide information about these breeds and their origins.

1). Irish Setter

Irish Setter: Irish Dog Breeds

Breed Overview

HEIGHT: 25 to 27 inches
WEIGHT: 60 to 70 pounds
TEMPERAMENT: Affectionate, intelligent, athletic, gentle, sweet-tempered
COAT AND COLOR: Medium length with feathering on ears, chest, legs, and tail; red or copper
LIFE SPAN: 12 to 15 years

Irish Setters are well-known for their loving and energetic nature, which remains consistent as they grow older. They are great family pets, especially suitable for children due to their eagerness to please and learn. These dogs have beautiful, long, flowing, dark red coats that make them stand out.

The Irish setter has been highly regarded as a hunting companion in Ireland since the early 1800s, and it is believed that the Irish red and white setter played a role in their development. Over time, dogs with richer red hues were selectively chosen, resulting in the standardization of solid-red coats.

Irish Setters excel at tracking and retrieving birds, a skill they have maintained throughout the years. They are slightly larger and more intelligent than their red and white counterparts. They are more commonly found in the United States. If you choose to have an Irish Setter, early training and consistency are key due to their independent tendencies.

2). Irish Terrier

Irish Terrier: Irish Dog Breeds

Breed Overview

HEIGHT: 18 to 20 inches
WEIGHT: 25 to 28 pounds
TEMPERAMENT: Intelligent, lively, protective, trainable, dominant, respectful
COAT AND COLOR: Dense, wiry, broken, close-lying topcoat, with a fine and soft undercoat, Solid colors which include bright red, golden red, red wheaten, or wheaten
LIFE SPAN: 13 to 15 years

The Irish terrier is a well-respected terrier breed in Ireland, known for its hunting skills and ability to protect farms. It is believed to be one of the oldest terrier breeds, with depictions dating back to the 1700s and possibly two thousand years ago.

Irish terriers played a crucial role as messengers during World War I, bravely navigating through battlefields to deliver important messages. Although they are now relatively rare, they were the 13th most popular breed in the United States in 1929.

Furthermore, this breed is beloved for its vibrant red coat and friendly nature, particularly towards active children. Irish terriers are known for their entertaining and playful personalities, always ready for adventure. They are highly regarded for their bravery, loyalty, and energy.

3). Kerry Blue Terrier

Kerry Blue Terrier: Irish dog breeds

Breed Overview

HEIGHT: 17 to 19 inches
WEIGHT: 30 to 40 pounds
TEMPERAMENT: Loyal, alert, attentive, bright
COAT AND COLOR: Short, soft and wavy coat with no undercoat; blue-gray in color upon maturing
LIFE SPAN: 12 to 15 years

The Kerry blue terrier, often called the Irish blue terrier, was bred for hunting and herding. It was initially developed by non-nobles in County Kerry, Ireland, who needed help accessing Irish wolfhounds for hunting. They wanted a breed to help them poach the game. The Kerry blue terrier symbolized Irish independence and patriotism due to its sleek appearance.

Interestingly, the dog doesn’t have a blue coat at birth. It is born with black fur, gradually fading into shades of blue-grey. These shades can range from charcoal to a lighter hue.

Moreover, it’s important to note that Kerry Blues may be cautious around strangers and unfamiliar dogs. Therefore, caution is advised when introducing them to social settings such as pubs.

4). Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier: Irish dog breeds

Breed Overview

HEIGHT: 17 to 19 inches
WEIGHT: 30 to 40 pounds
TEMPERAMENT: Friendly, lively, affectionate
COAT AND COLOR: Wavy, silky, medium-length coat in wheaten
LIFE SPAN: 12 to 14 years

The soft-coated wheaten terrier is a famous terrier breed from Ireland known for its soft coat. It has been recognized for over two centuries. This breed was initially used as a farm dog, performing tasks like rodent control and protecting livestock.

It is more commonly kept as a loyal companion in family homes nowadays. The soft-coated wheaten terrier has a fluffy white coat that requires daily brushing and occasional professional grooming. However, they don’t shed much, making them suitable for owners with allergies.

Furthermore, these terriers can thrive in urban and rural environments with enough space to play and exercise. You might even want to join a fan club if you learn more about these friendly and devoted dogs!

5). Glen of Imaal Terrier

Glen of Imaal Terrier: Irish dog breeds

Breed Overview

HEIGHT: 12.5 to 14 inches
WEIGHT: 32 to 40 pounds
TEMPERAMENT: Affectionate, gentle, bold
COAT AND COLOR: Medium-length and wiry in blue brindle or wheaten
LIFE SPAN: 10 to 15 years

The Glen of Imaal Terrier was originally used for hunting badgers in the rocky mountains of County Wicklow, Ireland. They have a milder temperament than other terrier breeds, making them suitable for those who prefer a less high-energy companion.

Moreover, despite being a terrier, Glen terriers are known for their versatility, assisting in pest control and even turning the spit while cooking meat over a fire. Their rough and wiry coat requires regular brushing to prevent matting. Still, they shed minimally, which makes them a good option for individuals with allergies.

Furthermore, Glen terriers are not very vocal. They can adapt to different living environments if protected by secure fences from swimming pools and busy streets. They are not strong swimmers and can easily get distracted by chasing squirrels.

6). Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound: Irish dog breeds

Breed Overview

HEIGHT: At least 30 inches (female), at least 32 inches (male)
WEIGHT: 105 pounds (female), 120 pounds (male)
TEMPERAMENT: Courageous, calm, even-tempered
COAT AND COLOR: Medium-length and wiry in black, blue, brindle, creme, gray, red, silver, white or wheaten
LIFE SPAN: 6 to 8 years

The Irish wolfhound holds the distinction of being the tallest among all dog breeds. The origin of this lineage can be dated back to ancient texts written in 5th-century Ireland. It has a noble history cherished by important figures like King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I of England. The breed almost vanished in the mid-19th century, but thanks to dedicated breeders, it was successfully revived.

Furthermore, these dogs are dignified and need plenty of space to live comfortably. Their calm and intelligent nature makes them perfect companions for older people. However, they do not have a good reputation for guarding

Above all, Irish wolfhounds have an innate desire to give love to their human companions.

7). Red and White Setter

Red and White Setter: Irish dog breeds

Breed Overview

HEIGHT: 22.5 to 26 inches
WEIGHT: 35 to 60 pounds
TEMPERAMENT: Friendly, intelligent, energetic, eager to please
COAT AND COLOR: Medium length with feathering on ears, chest, legs, and tail; red or copper with white
LIFE SPAN: 11 to 15 years

The Irish red and white setter has a rich history in Ireland, dating back to the 1600s. They are skilled at stealthily approaching birds and alerting hunters through a behavior called “setting”.

Furthermore, despite the belief that they preceded the solid-red setters, the latter became more popular, causing a decline in demand for the Irish red and white setter. This decline brought the breed close to extinction. Still, determined breeders in the 1920s dedicated themselves to preserving and reviving the breed. Eventually, their efforts succeeded, leading to the breed’s recognition by the American Kennel Club in 2009.

Related: 11 French Dog Breeds That Will Make You Fall in Love with them

In addition to their athleticism and strength, these dogs are popular for their loving and gentle nature. They enjoy playfulness and are friendly and outgoing. While intelligent and eager to please, Irish Red and White Setters can become easily bored, requiring short and enjoyable training sessions.

8). Irish Water Spaniel

Irish Water Spaniel: Irish dog breeds

Breed Overview

HEIGHT: 21 to 24 inches
WEIGHT: 45 to 68 pounds
TEMPERAMENT: Alert, curious, playful, affectionate, active
COAT AND COLOR: Dense, tight, crisp curls on the body, and short and smooth on the face with a long topknot and ears; solid liver (brown)
LIFE SPAN: 12 to 13 years

Irish Water Spaniels are energetic and courageous dogs known for their quiet nature. They trace their history back to the 1100s. They were developed in the 1830s by crossing South Country Water Spaniels with North Country Water Spaniels. The AKC has recognized them in the United States since 1878, and is one of the first nine registered breeds.

Moreover, these dogs are hypoallergenic and stand out with tightly curled brown coats. They are playful and eager for exciting experiences like other Irish breeds. Providing them with clear expectations and opportunities to showcase their abilities will make them thrive.

Irish Water Spaniels are exceptional swimmers and make great pets due to their enjoyable personality. Like the Irish people, these dogs are friendly and fun-loving and are often described as playful clowns. Regular grooming is important for their curly coat, and living near water is advantageous as they love swimming.


In conclusion, Irish dog breeds are amazing canine gems that have captivated the world with their unique qualities. From the elegant and intelligent Irish Setter to the charming and affectionate Irish Terrier, each breed has distinct characteristics that make it special. Not only do these dogs possess a rich history and cultural significance in Ireland, but they also make wonderful family pets and loyal companions.

Whether you’re looking for a sporting partner, a courageous protector, or a playful friend, there is an Irish breed that will suit your needs.

So, consider adding a new furry member to your family. Why not consider one of these extraordinary Irish dog breeds? They will bring joy, love, and a touch of Irish spirit to your home.


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