Dog Health & More
The Irish Terrier dog breed was once described as the "poor man's sentinel, the farmer's friend, and the gentleman's favorite." Rugged and stouthearted, he has the advantages of a convenient size, versatile abilities as a companion, watchdog, and vermin dispatcher, and high trainability.
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The Irish Terrier's motto is "No fear." Nicknamed "Daredevil," this medium-size, agile dog has a tight, wiry red coat and a snootful of courage. He's animated and loyal, always on guard, and willing to take on anything that comes his way and threatens his people and home.
With that tough terrier attitude, however, comes a need for training and socialization from an early age. Irish Terriers are extremely intelligent and learn easily, but any training must work around their independent, willful spirit. If you can make the dog think that training is his idea, you'll get a happy worker who meets or exceeds any goals you may have set for him. That's balanced by a reckless spirit that can be blind to consequences, so it can be necessary to protect him from his sometimes intemperate desire to guard his loved ones.
Irish Terriers are wonderful watchdogs, barking to warn their owners of anything new. Some dogs will become excessive barkers if their behavior isn't controlled from the start. Thanking the dog for the alert and then distracting him with another command or game is a good way to make sure your dog learns to control his barking.
Irish Terriers are excellent people dogs when they receive early socialization, and this helps make them wonderful family companions. They're best suited to families where someone is home during the day. They aren't overly active indoors and are happy to relax with their people, but they need exercise in the form of walks and occasional romps in a securely fenced area. The Irish Terrier has excellent hunting skills and a strong desire to seek out and destroy vermin, so a fenced yard and leashed walks are necessary for his safety. He'll chase rapidly moving objects without paying attention to where the chase is leading him.
Irish Terriers adore children and are great playmates, especially when raised with them. Make sure very young children are supervised at all times to prevent injury to both the dog and the child.
Irish Terriers can learn to get along with cats if they're raised with them from puppyhood, but they may not be trustworthy around smaller pets, especially pets from the rodent family such as mice, rats, hamsters, and gerbils. Their terrier instinct to hunt this type of animal may be too strong to overcome.
This breed does not do well with other dogs. Irish Terriers can be aggressive toward dogs of the same sex, and they don't back down from a challenge. They will fight to the point of serious injury to themselves or the other dog. Being fearless, they'll take on dogs much larger than themselves without thought for the consequences. Make sure your dog is on leash and you have control when around other dogs at any time.
With his speed, endurance, and grace the Irish Terrier is an excellent competitor who loves the challenge of the agility ring. He can do well in the sports of obedience and rally, and his soft mouth and love of water make him a capable hunting dog who can retrieve game birds on land or from water. Irish Terriers are also excellent show dogs.
If you're looking for a versatile, active, spunky dog who will watch over your family for many years, the Irish Terrier could be the breed for you. He's not one of the more well-known breeds, so finding a breeder with puppies can be difficult. Expect to spend some time on a waiting list and to pay a higher price than you might for a more popular breed. The expense is well worth it, though, admirers say. If you find the right dog, the Irish Terrier can be the most wonderful companion your family will ever have.