Irish Terrier: A Complete Guide

Irish Terrier romping in the autumn leaves

Irish Terrier Overview

The Irish terrier breed was once one of the most popular dog breeds in Europe. We know this breed for its wonderful temperament. Irish Terrier puppies have great attitudes and are playful and friendly. Besides maintaining an affectionate, fun-loving personality, these dogs are also great watchdogs. Although they aren’t as popular nowadays, many love this breed for their silly personalities. 

If you’re looking to adopt an Irish terrier puppy, ensure you can take care of them before committing to a dog. The Irish terrier breed needs a lot of attention and isn’t great for apartment living or being alone often. This dog breed also doesn’t get along well with other dogs, but you can train them to get along with other pets if you’re devoted to teaching them. This article will help you discover if the Irish terrier breed is the right fit for you. 

group of Irish Terriers in a park


The Irish terrier breed has a rich history, even though they aren’t very popular dogs. They’re a part of the terrier dog breed group. This breed is one of the oldest terrier breeds, which emerged in 1875 as the Irish terrier. The breed eventually became very popular in Great Britain, and many people adopted them. They became a fad, many people owned Irish terrier puppies, and many cropped their dog’s ears. Because of this, Great Britain banned dog-ear cropping in their country, and this breed inadvertently helped many other breeds who had their ears cropped regularly. 

After the dog came to the U.S. in 1881, the American Kennel Club recognized the Irish terrier breed in 1885. Eventually, a breed group got together and founded the American Club of the Irish Terrier in 1896. This heroic breed would work as a messenger dog during WWI. Even though people loved and trusted them, the breed began fading from popularity. Today, the Irish terrier breed ranks in popularity 123rd out of 155 breeds by the American Kennel Club. 


One of the many reasons people love the Irish terrier was for their compact size. This breed would weigh between 25 to 27 pounds and would stand between 18 to 20 inches tall. Even though they’re a terrier breed, they aren’t as small as some other breeds and have a decent size. Their temperament makes them goofballs, but they can play a little rough too.


Many dog breeds get particular traits associated with their breed. The Irish terrier dog breed got the nickname “no fear” and “daredevil dog” to represent their courageousness. Irish Terrier puppies are very animated and will bounce around all day long if they have the energy. Many terrier puppies are loyal, and the Irish terrier is no different. This breed bonds closely with its family and is ready to guard its family members at all costs. We know this breed for taking care of any threat or risk that comes near him or his people. 

Besides being the most loving pet, these dogs are also somewhat stubborn. They don’t have a terrible reputation for training, but they have a very tough attitude and might not want to listen to new owners at first. However, they can be excessive barkers, and owners should train their dogs as quickly as possible to avoid this habit. 

If you live in a small home and devote yourself to giving these dogs their regular activity, they may thrive in that circumstance. This breed gets very relaxed at home when receiving the right amount of exercise, and they’re more likely to chase things outdoors than lie on the couch next to you. This breed is also great for children, especially when raised together. Overall, the Irish terrier is a wonderful companion and family pet.

Irish Terrier puppy's face up close


The Irish terrier did a lot of work in their time, and they aided people in wartime and worked for families in Great Britain. This breed is highly intelligent, and with the right incentive, you can train them to do almost anything. But because of their tougher attitudes, they may put up a brief resistance when training them.

The best thing you can do is give these dogs a high incentive to follow training lessons. This means you need high-quality dog treats, toys your dog really loves, or lots of attention ready to give after and during every training session. It’s best to focus on keeping a positive and quick learning environment when training this breed. Train them up to three times a day, but never let the session exceed 20 minutes. 


The Irish terrier has a special fur type. These dogs have a dense and wiry hair type that grows super closely together. This makes it increasingly difficult to see their skin since they have such a dense hair coat. Their double coat comes in a lot of different shades as well. This dog can be bright red, golden red, red wheaten, or wheaten, which is a pale yellow or fawn color. Occasionally, an Irish terrier puppy will be born with black hair that the dog then grows out. 

These dogs are little shedders, and sometimes people call them hypoallergenic. This breed might have hypoallergenic qualities, but no breed can be truly hypoallergenic since allergies can incite by dog skin dander, saliva, or urine. So if you’re looking to get an Irish terrier dog, make sure you spend plenty of time with them if you have allergies, or else you might accidentally end up allergic to your dog. 

Irish Terrier inside a tent, looking out

Irish Terrier Health Overview 

The Irish terrier is a mostly healthy dog breed that has an average life expectancy of twelve to sixteen years. Most dogs in this breed live their entire lives experiencing no serious health conditions, and some only experience minor health issues. The Irish terrier has some minor concerns that pet parents should still know, just in case their pup deals with any of these issues. These dogs may struggle with joint issues and blood disorders, but you can treat them at home with a few simple remedies.

Aside from some minor physical issues, all dogs will experience mental health conditions at some point. Stress and anxiety are natural reactions to a dog’s external environment. An alert breed like the Irish terrier is going to deal with these things eventually, but if owners are aware of what to look for and how to help their dog, they can minimize the symptoms their pet faces.

Common Psychological Health Conditions


No matter what breed, most dogs will experience stress in their lives simply because it’s a response many dogs have to unknown things. You must socialize your dog so they don’t exhibit stress symptoms when they are around new people, places, or animals. A dog can also get really stressed out when they hear loud and unknown noises, like sirens, fireworks, or thunderstorms. It can be very easy to help your Irish terrier puppy overcome these health issues. You must treat them based on what causes their stress and its intensity.

Typically, a dog’s symptoms show how severe a condition is. If your Irish terrier barks, whines, or drools while they’re stressed, they’re not facing the most intense issue. Some animals will also pace, run around, or hide behind their owners. More significant signs of stress are if your dog hides under things or shakes. Owners can easily help their dogs overcome these issues by providing them with calming supplements. Owners can give their dogs treats specifically to help stressed-out animals, provide their pets with a safe pace, or give them dog CBD. 


Anxiety is very similar to stress, and most dogs will experience it at one point or another. Anxiety stems from fear in dogs, and they become anxious if they’re reminded of past traumas or fear of where their owners are going. The most common cause of anxiety is separation anxiety, which stems from a dog’s loyalty and affection, and their fear of their owners leaving. Many shelter animals will also struggle with anxiety as they have experienced more traumatic moments. If a dog has gone through abuse, neglect, homelessness, or abandonment, they’re likely to have anxiety whenever something reminds them of their past.

The best way to help dogs with anxiety is by providing them with a safe space and a way to calm down. Some owners invest in counterconditioning, a costly, time-consuming training program that isn’t for everyone. More commonly used methods are providing your dog with a safe space, giving them calming treats, or dog CBD to help their nerves. 

Happy Irish Terrier jumping in the water

Calming Dog Ad

Calming Dog Products

There are tons of products dog owners can purchase to help their Irish terrier from facing stress and anxiety. The most common methods are to provide a safe space. A safe space for a dog is a small area or room dedicated to your pet. This area should be away from foot traffic and lots of noise. Sometimes, to get calm, a dog needs to separate from other people, so we shouldn’t bother them in their safe space.

Pet parents then stock their pet’s safe space with items to make them feel calm. This can include a soft dog bed, a dog cage, and some blankets. A lot of owners like to give their dogs fresh water, Zen Chews, and other calming supplements. Some pet owners also add aromatherapy or music therapy. Pet owners can do whatever they want with their dog’s safe space as long as it helps keep their dog calm. 

Common Physical Health Conditions

Hip Dysplasia

Some health conditions are very common among most dog breeds, and hip dysplasia is one of those conditions. Hip dysplasia affects many dog breeds, including the Irish terrier. Many dogs are born with hip dysplasia or acquire it while they’re growing, although the symptoms of the condition rarely appear until much later in life. When dealing with hip dysplasia, dogs often develop muscle mass in their shoulders as they overcompensate for their weight in front of their body, causing their hindquarters to shrink in muscle mass. Some dogs will develop a weird run, and many might play less. Often, dogs with hip dysplasia might become less active and will get grumpy when people touch their hips. 

It’s incredibly important to ensure your Irish terrier still gets enough exercise when suffering from hip dysplasia. This condition can cause their joints to lock up, but if they don’t get enough exercise, they will lock up so much that it’s hard for them to walk, eat or go to the bathroom. Too much activity can cause their joints to swell, causing more pain. So it’s important to provide the right amount of activity and give your dog somewhere soft to rest after they’re done. Your Irish doodle can also benefit from joint supplements to help decrease inflammation and increase lubrication in the joint. You can also give your puppy canine CBD, which has pain management and anti-inflammatory properties. 

Elbow Dysplasia

Another common joint issue in canines is elbow dysplasia. The Irish Terrier breed has a higher tendency to suffer from joint issues in their life, and much like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia might not affect your pet until they’re much older. When dogs have elbow dysplasia, their joint is misaligned, and the elbow is made of three bones that must come together perfectly to avoid harming a dog. Many dogs suffer from elbow dysplasia but have many symptoms and usually only minor conditions. 

When an Irish Terrier puppy suffers from elbow dysplasia, it’ll develop pain-related symptoms in its joint. Some dogs might limp or try to run with only three legs before quickly using their other leg again. Many dogs use stairs less and jump less. Some dogs might cry, whine, or bark when someone touches their sore elbow joint. Most cases of elbow dysplasia cause dogs inflammation and pain, so pet owners can purchase anti-inflammatory and pain-aiding first aid tools to help their dog. This could include joint supplements, joint treats, or canine CBD.

Irish terrier playing fetch with ball

Von Willebrands Disease

Some conditions are much more common than others, but von Willebrand’s disease is not a widely common health condition. This condition occurs in many dog breeds, including the Irish Terrier. This breed is predisposed to inherit this disease, which makes it difficult for their blood to clot. Animals with von Willebrand’s disease often show no symptoms or signs of the condition. When dogs are diagnosed with this condition, it’s almost always when a vet is giving them a sterilization process like neutering or spaying. Pet owners don’t have to do much to help their dogs since their pets won’t experience any symptoms. Lowering any risk your dog has of cutting or scraping himself is important. Usually, this means pets with von Willebrand’s disease are encouraged not to play with other dogs or on concrete. These things can lead to small scratches that take a long time to close up. Preventing any accidents is the best way to care for an Irish Terrier with von Willebrand’s disease. 

Oral Health

Canine dental health is incredibly important and one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of a dog’s health. When dogs eat and drink, they gather food and debris in their mouths and teeth, which leads to bacteria, plaque, and tartar in their mouth. This can lead to bacteria going into their system, and in the worst cases, it can cause respiratory or heart disease. If you don’t care for your dog’s oral health, tartar can become a dental disease, and in the worst case, it can rot your dog’s teeth. A lot of animals in the US suffer from the first stage of dental disease when their gums are swollen and bleed easily. 

The best way to help an Irish Terrier avoid oral health issues is to give them multiple weekly brushing sessions. Pet owners should brush their Irish Terrier puppy’s teeth three times a week but once a week minimum. You can only ever use dog-safe oral health products, or else you risk injuring and poisoning your pet with human products. If you can’t give your dog enough brushing sessions in a week or want to give them the best oral health possible, you can provide dental chews. Many canine brands make treats and chew designed to help your pet’s oral health needs, and they’re great to give your dog in between brushing sessions. 

  1. Dental Chewz Dog Treats
  2. Tartar Shield Soft Rawhide Chews

Irish Terrier Breed’s Needs


The Irish Terrier dog breed needs 20 to 30 minutes of exercise daily. If you can let them, they love roaming in yards. So if you have access to a safe, fenced-in play area, these dogs would be crazy happy. Even though they need activity, the Irish Terrier breed isn’t huge on running. If you want to go jogging with these dogs, train them first.

Many pet owners forget dogs need mental and physical activity every day. A dog needs mental stimulation to avoid developing bad habits, disobedience, or poor mental health. Without proper mental stimulation, your dog may also ignore any commands you give them. You can give them regular mental stimulation by training them daily. These training sessions are excellent for mental exercise, but enrichment activities can provide your dog with physical and mental exercise. 


When taking care of a dog, you must pay close attention to its diet. The Irish Terrier breed needs 1 to 11/2 cups of dry dog food daily. Like other dogs, their treats shouldn’t make up 10% or more of their daily calorie needs. If you’re concerned about your dog’s nutrition, you can always ask your vet to make more specific directions on how to best care for your dog. A dog’s dietary needs can change with age, weight, sex, breed, height, and activity levels. Checking in with your vet every now and again is the best way to ensure you’re giving your dog a proper amount of food. 

Irish Terrier standing in a green meadow


The Irish Terrier has a special wire coat that needs careful care to stay clean and healthy. These wire fur coats need to be brushed weekly to care for them. It’s important only to use a natural bristle brush to take care of wire hair and keep it healthy. You also want to hand strip your pet’s fur multiple times a year if you want them to keep their signature textured hair. If you don’t plan on showing your dog, and they’re just companion pets, it’s much easier to clip your dog’s coat and accept that their fur will get less hard and turn a darker color. These coats may be easier to care for in general, though, so some owners prefer them. 

Top Product Picks for the Irish Terrier Breed

If you’ve read this article and decided it’s time to bring your Irish Terrier puppy home, you might be super excited. Dogs get excited when they are taken care of, but when you first move a dog to your home, they will likely have tons of anxiety. There will be a short period when your dog adjusts to their new home, but there are things you should have prepared to help them adjust and be ready for your pet’s needs.

Before even bringing your dog home, you should have a dog collar, leash, and harness. Only get the harness if you know your dog’s size or measurements. If you have to guess, wait until you actually get your pet or make sure your purchase is returnable. When bringing your pet home for the first time, you want them to feel comfortable. Other things that can help you achieve this are preparing a dish full of dog food and a bowl of water for your pet to see that they have something to eat and drink. You should also provide a cage and dog bed, so they see they have a place to lay that’s just theirs. The cage is comforting to many animals and owners since owners can carefully crate their dogs before leaving them home alone for the first few times. 

Other items you might find useful are doggy waste bags, portable food dishes, food storage containers, or a doggy seat belt. You could buy many items, but what works best for you depends on your pet and your lifestyle.

After your dog is home, make sure to give them space and let them explore on their own for a little bit. Allow these dogs to come to you on their own. If you want to, you can even give them a treat when they come to you, and they’ll probably go to you more often. Your new Irish Terrier puppy will warm up to you quickly when given patience and love. 

Other Resources

  1. Irish Terrier Breed AKC
  2. Irish Terrier Club of America
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