Irish eyes are always smiling when it comes to dogs. There are nine breeds of dogs that are native to the country of Ireland. They include the Irish Wolfhound, the Kerry Beagle, the Irish Water Spaniel, the Irish Setter, and the Irish Red & White Setter, as well as four types of terriers – the Irish Terrier, the Glen of Imaal Terrier, the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, and the Kerry Blue Terrier. How did one country get so lucky?
Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish Water Spaniel is one of the oldest spaniel breeds, dating back at least 1000 years. They are also the largest dog in the Spaniel group. It’s believed that the breed is related to the Poodle and other curly-coated continental retrieving breeds. The Irish Water Spaniel sheds very little which can make them a good choice for people who are allergic to dogs.
Irish Red Setter
Irish Setters are renowned for their good looks and enthusiastically happy personality. They make excellent pets for an active family but they do need plenty of daily exercise. Many people consider the Irish Setter one of the most beautiful of all dogs because of their glistening mahogany coat.
Irish Red & White Setter
Irish Red and White Setters are the older of the two setter breeds native to Ireland. In the 19th century the solid red dogs became all the rage and the Red & White dogs nearly died out. It was only through the patient and dedicated work of breeders in the 20th century that the Irish Red and White Setter was saved from extinction.
The Irish Terrier is one of the oldest terrier breeds. It’s thought to have descended from the old black and tan terriers of Britain. It’s also one of the raciest-looking of the terrier breeds.
The Irish Wolfhound is an ancient breed that was used to hunt wolves in Ireland at least 2000 years ago. They are famous in Irish mythology. Though they look fierce they are really very sweet, gentle dogs and make great companions.
Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier
The Glen of Imaal Terrier is also known as the Wicklow Terrier in some places. Along with their terrier duties, such as hunting rat, fox, and badger underground, the Glen of Imaal Terrier is peculiar for a job it once performed. They were said to have been kept as “turnspit” dogs, peddling the spit by the fire in the kitchen to cook the meat.
Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier was bred to be an all-purpose farm dog, good for herding, guarding livestock, and killing vermin on the farm. Today they are energetic and playful and make a good family pet. Their coat sheds little but they do need regular brushing.
Kerry Blue Terrier
The Kerry Blue Terrier has been kept to control rats, rabbits, badgers, and other vermin. The breed has also been used to herd cattle and sheep, and even worked as a guard dog. Like the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, the Kerry Blue sheds very little but their coat needs regular maintenance.
The Kerry Beagle is one of the oldest Irish hound breeds, perhaps dating back to the 16th century. It is the only remaining scent hound breed native to Ireland. The Kerry Beagle has been fully recognized by the Irish Kennel Club as a native Irish breed with championship status.