Happy Saint Patrick’s Day: 8 Irish Dog Breeds That Shamrock!
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day! As 17th March marks a day to celebrate everything Irish, we’ve rounded up the wonderful dog breeds that originate on the Emerald Isle. There’s no denying it, these dogs shamrock!
So, let’s raise a glass (or a dog beer) and say “sláinte” as we honour our Irish friends (the furbulous, four-legged kind).
Irish Red Setter
Irish Red Setters are best known for their long, luxuriously silky red or chestnut coloured coats that range from light red to a deep mahogany. In fact, their name in Gaelic is ‘Madra Rua’, which translates to ‘red dog’, pretty fitting, right?
Not just lovely to look at, these glamorous dogs have lovely natures too and they’re known to thrive off affection, when they’re not playing around that is! Irish Setters like to play the clown and they have a great sense of mischief.
As they were originally bred as gundogs, their natural instinct is to prey on small animals such as birds and they’re not too fond on felines either. Saying this, these pooches love human company and they make wonderful family dogs due to their calm nature, agility and obedience.
Fun Fact: The Walt Disney adventure film ‘Big Red’ made this breed even more popular.
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Irish Red and White Setter
The Irish Red and White Setter is the charming, yet lesser-known relative of the Irish Setter, yet they actually originated in Ireland many years before them. Despite arriving in Ireland first, Irish Red and White Setters nearly went extinct during WWI and it took decades for them to prosper again.
These natural-born hunters were originally bred to catch fowl and would use their incredible noses to lock in their prey’s scent, then slowly approach them with stealth-like patience. Because of their fur-nomenal hunting skill, obedience and stamina, the Irish and Red Setter is a popular hunting companion.
High in energy and spirit, IR&WS are true sporting dogs that are full of beans! If you’re the outdoorsy, active type then this will hold you in good stead as these pooches need regular exercise.
Fun Fact: They were first shown at the Westminster Kennel Club show, in 1877!
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Glen of Imaal Terrier
A native to Ireland, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is named after one of their county’s most remote settings. A terrier by name, this breed actually tends to be less excitable and quieter than than its boisterous relatives, but make no bones about it, they’re still spirited and playful pooches!
Small and sturdy, these doggos have strong work ethics and while they’re usually of a calm, polite nature, they can be wary of other dogs and have a high prey drive (small animals, beware).
Once very popular, sadly, Glens have fallen in number to the point that they now find themselves on the Kennel Club’s list of vulnerable breeds (paw things). So, if you want one of these little doggies then you’ll need to be put on a long waiting list.
Fun Fact: These pooches are descendants of Irish Wolfhounds.
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A true gentle giant, the Irish Wolfhound is both the tallest as well as one of the oldest dog breeds in the world! Despite their towering size, these dogs have twinkling eyes (below their shaggy eyebrows) and a sweet expression to match their gentle nature.
Originally bred to serve as war dogs and hunting dogs, Irish Wolfhounds are no stranger to hard graft. Nowadays these pooches are lovers rather than fighters and they get along with just about everyone, from children to cats (so long as they’re not put off by their looming stance).
While Irish Wolfhounds aren’t high-energy dogs, their big size means they need a hefty amount of exercise to help keep them in shape, otherwise they’d be quite happy to be a couch potato.
Fun Fact: There’s a reason Irish Wolfhounds are known as an ancient breed; their earliest written record dates back to 391 A.D, in a letter from a Roman consul, thanking his brother for his gift of “Irish dogs”.
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The Irish Terrier is often referred to as a ‘daredevil’, due to their courage, boldness and recklessness. With their fiery red coat, it’s fitting that this dog has a fiery, intense nature about them too. Leads and strong fences are compulsory as this terrier is always ready to dig, jump, run or chase!
As you can imagine, these athletic dogs need regular exercise and they do best with loving, active families. Without regular exercise, this terrier may find themselves creating their own fun by digging up your garden…
Lively yet lovely, it’s believed that Irish Terriers have a special ability to read their owner’s minds and they’ll often reflect their moods (so it’s best to keep any arguments away from them)!
Fun Fact: Irish Terriers were used as messenger dogs in WWI.
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Irish Water Spaniel
These long-legged pooches are one of the tallest spaniel breeds! With webbed feet and a water-repellent coat, they’re well-equipped to the water and love to swim. As such, they were originally used to retrieve waterfowl and other game in marsh-land terrain.
Alert, intelligent and inquisitive, the Irish Water Spaniel has a reputation of being the class clown of the spaniel family and they can often behave in pretty amusing ways!
These pooches adore the humans in the life, and they’re devoted to making them happy. Because of this, they can form very strong bonds with their families and don’t enjoy being left alone too long. They’re best suited to active families who can lavish them with plenty of walks, play, and affection.
Fun Fact: These dogs are often used as detectors for the police due to their sensational scenting abilities!
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Kerry Blue Terrier
Hailing from County Kerry, Ireland, these pooches were originally bred as farm dogs and would hunt, retrieve and herd to help the farmers. The first thing you’ll notice about these dogs is their distinctive appearance, mainly their Astrakhan-type coats and heavily coated muzzles - which looks a bit like a long curly beard!
As a member of the terrier family, these dogs are a pretty lively and outgoing bunch and their stubborn nature can make them fairly difficult to train, so it’s important to socialise and train them from a young age to help them develop into well-rounded dogs.
Alongside their stereotypical terrier traits, the Kerry Blue is playful, comical and likely to make you laugh! They also love being with their owners and they make good watchdogs in order to protect them (but won’t attack unless provoked).
Fun Fact: Despite their name, all Kerry Blue Terriers are born with black coats, but it changes as they grow, becoming anything from light blue-grey to deep slate.
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Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
Active and intelligent, the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier was originally bred to hunt down vermin and guard farms, usually in harsh weather and rough terrain – as such, these pooches are pretty sturdy and can be stubborn.
These pooches are typically less scrappy than their terrier cousins, however, they’re still bundles of energy and like to get up to mischief! Saying this, they’re pretty easy-going as terriers go and they’re affectionate with just about everyone they meet.
Fun Fact: A Wheaten Terrier called Krista made it in the top twenty best diving dogs in the Country. She jumped over ten feet into the water!
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