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Home > Dogs > Dog Breeds > Irish Terrier Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More

Irish Terrier Dog Breed Guide: Info, Pictures, Care & More

irish terrier standing on the grass

The Irish Terrier is a medium-sized purebred dog that is sturdy and strong yet graceful in its movements. It usually has a bright red coat and a signature beard hanging from the chin.

Breed Overview


18 inches


24 – 26 pounds


13 – 14 years


Red, wheaten, red wheaten

Suitable for

Rural and urban environments, all-weather, families


Intelligent, lively, protective

If you like these dogs as much as we do and would like to learn more about them before purchasing one, keep reading while we discuss temperament, grooming, exercise requirements, costs, and more to help you make an informed decision.

Irish Terrier Characteristics

High-energy dogs will need a lot of mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy, while low-energy dogs require minimal physical activity. It’s important when choosing a dog to make sure their energy levels match your lifestyle or vice versa.
Easy-to-train dogs are more skilled at learning prompts and actions quickly with minimal training. Dogs that are harder to train will require a bit more patience and practice.
Some dog breeds are prone to certain genetic health problems, and some more than others. This doesn’t mean that every dog will have these issues, but they have an increased risk, so it’s important to understand and prepare for any additional needs they may require.
Some breeds, due to their size or their breeds potential genetic health issues, have shorter lifespans than others. Proper exercise, nutrition, and hygiene also play an important role in the lifespan of your pet.
Some dog breeds are more social than others, both towards humans and other dogs. More social dogs have a tendency to run up to strangers for pets and scratches, while less social dogs shy away and are more cautious, even potentially aggressive. No matter the breed, it’s important to socialize your dog and expose them to lots of different situations.


Irish Terrier Puppies

irish terrier puppy sitting
Image Credit: ANNA TITOVA, Shutterstock

This lively pup will fair well in rural or urban environments.

Some breeders run extensive testing on their dogs to create healthier puppies, but they will also be more expensive. High demand can also create long waiting lists that can drive up the cost. Many breeders also offer pet class dogs and more expensive competition class dogs intended for dog shows. Finally, if you want to breed your Irish Terrier, you will need to purchase breeding rights. Otherwise, you will usually need to get the dog spayed or neutered to fulfill your contract.

Your new dog will will require a string of vaccinations. Some, like rabies, will need boosters every few years.

Temperament & Intelligence of the Irish Terrier

The Irish Terrier is an affectionate dog that enjoys being part of the family. It’s alert and protective, making a great watchdog, whether you are in a small home or live on a large farmhouse. It’s a moderate barker that is unlikely to bother the neighbors, and you can help get it used to strangers and pets with plenty of socialization as a puppy.

Irish Terriers are smart dogs, but they can also be quite stubborn, and their attention will often be on other things, so they can be challenging to train. However, these dogs can learn complex tasks with plenty of patience and will usually follow your commands quickly when they are focused.

irish terrier
Image Credit: Pixabay

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The Irish Terrier is a great family pet. It gets along well with children and has a high tolerance for rough play. It will even seek out the children and clown around to get their attention if it feels left out. It also enjoys following around the older family members and being a part of the activities as well. I like to be a part of the group. In fact, it will usually find its way to the center of the action and can often get under your feet. However, it’s extremely affectionate and will often lounge around with you at the end of the day.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Unfortunately, like most terriers, the Irish Terrier has a strong prey drive that will be difficult to overcome. It will be risky to have this dog around cats, toy dog breeds, lizards, birds, or rodents, even with plenty of early socialization. It will also chase animals in the yard like squirrels and rabbits, and it will seem as if it doesn’t hear you while the chase is going on. It can also be territorial, arguing with larger dogs, and in some cases, it can turn into aggressive behavior. You can usually curb this behavior with plenty of early socialization so your Irish Terrier can get used to being around other pets.


Things to Know When Owning an Irish Terrier:

irish terrier sitting
Image Credit: Elina Leonova, Shutterstock

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Your Irish Terrier is an extremely active dog that will depend on a diet high in protein to provide the fuel. High-quality protein will also provide the building blocks for strong muscle, so choosing a brand with real meat like chicken, lamb, beef, or turkey as the first ingredient is essential. We also recommend choosing a brand that contains omega-3 fatty acids, either through fish oil or fortification. These important fats can help reduce swelling caused by arthritis and injury, and they will nourish the skin and help create a softer and shinier coat.

Exercise 🐕

The Irish Terrier is an extremely active dog that will require you to set aside at least an hour a day to help it get the exercise it needs to stay healthy and happy. These dogs love walking and running, so long hikes or jogs are ideal. It will also enjoy chasing ballas and retrieving Frisbees. If you are strong enough, tug of war and play wrestling can be perfect for helping the dog burn off energy quickly.

Irish Terrier
Image By: Audrius Vizbaras, Pixabay

Training 🎾

Training the Irish Terrier can be challenging because it often loses focus and begins chasing after something it sees in the yard. Holding short training sessions at the same time each day can help get your pet into a routine. A routine will help your dog stay more focused, and it’s more likely to learn. We recommend holding your training sessions immediately after exercise when the dog has expelled most of its energy and is ready to focus. Using plenty of positive reinforcement in the form of treats and praise is the best way to keep your pet coming back. Patience is critical as it can take even the smartest dogs several weeks to learn a new trick and commit it to memory.

Grooming ✂️

The Irish Terrier will require frequent brushing to keep its coat in the best shape. You may also need to strip it and trim it, but many people hire a professional for help after the shedding season in spring and fall to keep their pet looking its best. Besides regular brushing, you will need to manually brush your pet’s teeth as frequently as possible to help slow the progression of dental disease. It’s rare with these dogs because they’re so active, but if you hear the nails clicking on the floor as your dog walks, it’s time to trim them.

Irish Terrier
Image By: congerdesign, Pixabay

Health and Conditions 🏥

Minor Conditions
  • Obesity
Serious Conditions
  • Cystinuria

Obesity is a condition that affects many dog breeds, and some experts suggest that more than 45% of dogs in the United States over the age of 4 are at least slightly overweight. Obesity can cause several life-threatening health problems for your pet, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, and more. The best way to prevent your dog from becoming obese is by closely following the portioning recommendations on your dog food. The next most important step is to make sure your dog gets that hour of exercise each day without exception to make sure your pet burns off the extra food.

Cystinuria is a condition that affects many dog breeds, including the Irish Terrier. It’s a condition where the kidneys fail to reabsorb the amino acids, resulting in crystals and possibly stones in the urine, which can block the urethra. This disease is seen more often in males than females though scientists don’t believe it’s sex-linked.

Male vs Female

The male Irish Terrier tends to be slightly heavier than the female, but they are both usually the same height. You can also expect the male to be more stable in temperament while the female will often take solitary trips around your home to gather her thoughts. Besides these minor things, there are very few differences between the sexes.


3 Little-Known Facts About the Irish Terrier

1. The Irish Terrier was employed as a messenger during World War I.

2. Originally, you could get the Irish Terrier in many other colors, including black and tan and gray and bridle.

3. The Irish Terrier is one of the oldest terrier breeds and the only one with an all-red coat.

Irish terrier
Image By: Rita_Kochmarjova, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

The Irish Terrier would make a great pet for any family but is better suited to one with a large yard and an owner with experience training terriers. It has a beautiful red coat that contrasts nicely against the green grass, and these dogs are friendly toward children and adults alike. It enjoys being part of family activities and will often clown around to get your attention so you will play. It makes a great watchdog and doesn’t bark excessively.

We hope you have enjoyed reading over this guide and found the answers you needed. If we have convinced you to get one of these dogs for your home, please share this guide to the Irish Terrier on Facebook and Twitter.

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Featured Image Credit: Radomir Rezny, Shutterstock

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