Quotation by Albert Payson Terhune

Irish Terrier picture

Breed History

The above quotation about the Irish Terrier, was made by Albert Payson Terhune (1872-1942), a renowned Rough Collie breeder and noted author of many absorbing dog books and magazine articles, such as in the AKC Gazette.
The Irish Terrier has the distinction of being the only all-red terrier. As its name suggests, it originated in Ireland, but how the breed was created is a matter of conjecture. Dog historians are not sure, but there seems to be some thought that the Irish and Welsh Terriers both descended from the ancient, and now extinct, Black and Tan Terriers which had been known in Britain since the 17 th century. Indeed, in early litters of Irish Terriers, black and tan puppies often occurred. It was first shown as a recognized breed, in either Glasgow or in Dublin 1875. The location is obscure. There were classes for dogs over and under nine pounds. The entry was fifty, of all colors and sizes, with, and without cropped ears. Such a mixture caused anxiety amongst fanciers, and soon after, a breed standard was written, which, for the most part, remains unchanged today.
Height:  Approximately 18 in. (46 cm) at the shoulder.
Weight of Dog:  27 lb. (12.3 kg) - Show condition.
Weight of Bitch:  25 lb. (11.4 kg) - Show condition.
Playfulness:  Very playful.
With other dogs:  Not good - a question of jealousy.
Protection:  Very good.
Watchdog: Excellent.
Life Expectancy: 12 - 15 years.

History continued

In 1889, the Irish Terrier club banned the cropping of ears, a courageous move which led to the banning of all cropped ears, for any breed shown in the United Kingdom. Four years after that first show, two prominent names were frequently appearing in the pedigrees of many champion Irish, “Ch. Erin” and “Killney Boy”. Today, fanciers consider these two Irish as being the foundation pair of the breed.
In the First World War, Irish Terriers distinguished themselves serving as messengers and sentinels with determination and disregard of danger. The Commandant of the British War Dog School, Lt. Col. E. H. Richardson, recorded, “Many a soldier is alive today through the efforts of one of these Terriers . . . . They are extraordinarily intelligent, faithful and honest, and a man who has one of them as a companion will never lack a true friend.”
The public was quick to take a liking to this breed and it soon became the 4 th most popular terrier breed in Britain. This was not to last however, and ever since about 1920, the popularity of the breed has fallen off. Today, it is a rarity to see Irish Terriers at any dog shows, in Britain or North America, other than at terrier specialty shows.


In the USA, the Westminster Kennel Club held its first class for the breed in 1881. The Irish Terrier Club of America, ITCA, was founded in 1896. The club today is strong and vibrant and the highlight event is the annual specialty show, held each year, in early October, hosted by the Montgomery County Kennel Club, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania (just outside of Philadelphia, PA. This show is the largest terrier specialty show in North America, and has become known as the “Montgomery Weekend” with 3 previous days of All Breeds, finishing with the Sunday specialty.

General Features

As a multi purpose dog, the breed excels. They were sometimes called the “Irish Sporting Dog”, and for good reason. They are not gun shy, and may be trained to retrieve game birds from water, aided in no small part, by their webbed feet, soft mouth for said birds, and remarkable intelligence. In addition, this medium sized breed is unsurpassed as a friendly, affectionate, playful companion dog, adoring children and willing to protect those it loves, with loyal, undaunted courage. The breed is highly trainable, by means of positive motivation and short, fun-filled sessions, and it can excel in obedience trials to the highest levels and agility and other events. It is a hardy breed and does well in hot or cold climates, whether urban or rural settings. Daily exercise, in the form of a walk on leash, or run in a safe fenced area is essential as it has a dynamic mind and body. Although its wire, impermeable coat sheds water and dirt effectively, it still needs combing once or twice a week plus scissoring and clipping for pets, and stripping for show dogs, several times a year. Stripping is to be preferred to maintain the coat appearance and texture, as clipping will soften it and lighten the color. An Irish Terrier puppy might need some ear training as it begins to get its adult teeth. Patience is needed if you are searching for an Irish Terrier puppy as they are quite rare, but the national clubs usually know who is expecting litters, and can suggest some contacts. There is a clickable section worth reading called, Owning an Irish Terrier.


This excerpt is based on the official breed standard (see above). He was first and foremost, the family pet, guard dog, and hunter. He is a lively dog, but not hyper-active. He is very courageous, spirited and game, coupled with the headlong dash, blind to all consequences, with which he rushes at his adversary, has earned for the breed the proud epithet of "Daredevil." He is good tempered, very affectionate, and totally loyal to his family. He is ever ready for loyal and faithful companionship and devotion. He guards his family and stands between his home and all that threatens

Health Issues

The Irish Terrier breed is a very healthy one, with no major concerns. A minor concern is urinary stones which are infrequent, but can be serious and needing Veterinary care.
- By David Carscadden