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Irish Terrier Mobile

Irish Terrier

The medium-sized, elegant Irish Terrier has a wire coat that comes in red, red/wheaten or yellow/red shades. The Irish Terrier is an affectionate dog that loves attention and can be a bit strong-willed at times. But they make lovely, playful companions that get along great with kids.

  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Need to be aware of potential health issues
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Medium dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Chatty and vocal dog
  • Barks and alerts to visitors/anything unusual
  • Might not like other dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left alone with training

Key Facts

Life Span: 13-15 years
Weight: 11-12kg
Height: Males are 48cm tall and females 46cm
Colours: Red, red/wheaten or yellow/red
Size: Medium
Kennel Club group: Terrier


Family-friendly:  5/5
Exercise needs:  4/5
Easy to train:  1/5
Tolerates being alone:  2/5
Likes other pets:  1/5
Energy level:  5/5
Grooming needs:  3/5
Shedding:  4/5
Irish Terrier in the woods


Despite their nickname - the ‘Red Devil’ - the Irish Terrier is a good-tempered, fun and devoted companion who are affectionate and highly bonded to their owners. They can however also be reckless and mischievous, are totally fearless, and have a reputation for being feisty with other dogs on occasion and may not be safe with cats or small furries.

Irish Terrier with tongue out

History and Origins

Country of Origin: Ireland

The Irish Terrier is the oldest of the four Irish terrier breeds and was used as a watchdog and for pest control in the Cork area. They would happily take on everything from rats to badgers. They appealed to all walks of life and were kept by both commoners and nobility. Once known as the Irish Red Terrier, to avoid confusion between other Irish terrier breeds, this dog was also known as the Red Devil and was used as a messenger dog in the First World War where their bravery and tenacity became legendary. The breed’s exact origins are not known, but probably developed from the old black and tan terrier crossed with other local dogs.

Health and Common Concerns

Irish Terrier dogs are generally robust, healthy dogs. They do have a recognised hereditary condition called hyperkeratosis, where the footpads crack, however careful breeding means that this is now rare.

Exercise Needs

Irish Terriers need at least an hour of dog exercise each day - along with plenty of games with their owner and enrichment toys (which should ideally include a chance to dig and some scent work). This is a breed that needs to be able to explore the sights and scents of the countryside but as they may not always be good with unknown dogs, it is good to have access to open, dog-free areas where they can be let off the lead.

Space Requirements

The Irish Terrier is a dog who can live in a small home and garden as long as they have access to good rural or open areas for exercise.

Nutrition and Feeding

The Irish Terrier needs to have a balanced diet including all the main nutrient groups and a constant supply of fresh water. It's also important to conduct regular body condition scores to ensure you keep your dog in ideal shape and remember to feed him at least twice daily and in accordance with the feeding guidelines of his particular food.

Grooming Irish Terriers

The harsh, wiry topcoat of the Irish Terrier is straight and lies flat, and there is a softer, finer undercoat. A brush through a couple of times a week will be needed, and the coat will also need to be handstripped (where the dead hair is plucked out) two or three times a year.

Training Irish Terriers

When it comes to dog training, the Irish Terrier is a clever dog who enjoys working with their owners and can be trained to quite a high standard - as long as they can be kept motivated and enthused using positive, reward-based methods. Dog socialisation should be early and ongoing to overcome any argumentativeness with other dogs, and a good recall should be prioritised. Neither of these should entirely be relied upon in the great outdoors however!

Best Family Dog Breeds

Like many terrier dog breeds, the Irish Terrier can lack patience with children - especially if overhandled or grabbed. They can however make good family dog where there are older, dog-aware children.

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children, all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with each other and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

did you know?

Did You Know?

The bravery and tenacity of the Irish Terrier is legendary - and hunters in Africa were known to take Irish Terriers out lion hunting with them!

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