Irish setter close up on brown background - dogs of Ireland

Eire of the Dog – a celebration of Irish breeds

In keeping with St Patricks day (17th March), we bring you a tribute the Irish breeds (of dogs) native to Eire’s green land.

How many Irish breeds are there?

This is a tricky one to answer, as some say there are 8, some say there are 9 native Irish Breeds of dogs. We’re going with 9 that are recognised by the Irish Kennel Club.

Irish Setter

These energetic dogs have a great sense of smell, which is why their original working function was to assist bird hunters. They are named ‘setters’ due to their ability to set themselves low on the ground. As well as being beauties with full, mahogany coats, they are also intelligent.

Irish setters are easy to train and make good family pets. However, they do need a lot of exercise – around two hours walking a day!

Here below is what the heading image should have shown, if it weren’t for the narrow window scope of the template!

Irish Setter – close up

Irish Water Spaniel

They look like large, tall poodles, and are often mistaken for them. A long history with water (as their name suggests), means they are great swimmers. Retrieving from water was their original working role, and they have webbed toes to assist them when in the water.

While water Spaniels are generally quiet, they also have a reputation for liking a bit of fun.

Here’s a glimpse of a Water Spaniel in agile-action.

Agility Irish water spaniel 8324” by marcia-oc is marked with CC BY-NC 2.0.

Irish Terrier

One the oldest Irish breeds, and nicknamed ‘The daredevil’, the Irish Terrier is often thought be a brave and sporty sort. With reddish coats, dogs of this breed tend to be lithe and enjoy both training and physical exercise.

Irish Terrier in a Meadow” by timku is marked with CC BY-NC 2.0.

Irish Wolfhound

Dogs of this large breed have a reputation for being able to distinguish friend from foe, and family from intruder. A fully-grown Irish Wolfhound is rather tall, and could appear intimidating to some. However, it is quite elegant, and generally possesses a gentle and calm temperament.

See below – the pride of St Patrick’s.

Irish Wolfhound” by John Flinchbaugh is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Kerry Blue

As the name suggest, this highly distinctive dog comes from country Kerry in the South-West of Ireland. Kerry Blues were originally game hunt retrievers.

They are friendly and usually keen to play, but you can’t leave them alone for too long.. A Kerry Blue will want to be a bona-fide member of the family at all times.

As you can see below, these dogs are fluffy, and have tufts fit for Crufts.

KERRY BLUE TERRIER, SE UCH Edbrios Don Giovanni” by Svenska Mässan is marked with CC BY 2.0

Kerry Beagle

Another Kerry native, this Irish Beagle looks very different from THE Beagle that we know, and in fact bears no relation to it. It actually closely resembles a hound. However, It does have the scenting capabilities of a traditional Beagle. This is down to its original role as a hunt worker, during which it would sniff around for birds and hares.

Kerry Beagles tend to be good around children, and as pack animals, other dogs, as well. Unless you are in Ireland however, it’s unlikely you’ll see one, let alone own one, as they are rather uncommon.

If you do have one as a member of your family, you’ll need to exercise them regularly, as they like exercise.

Kerry Beagle - dogs of Ireland
Mark Hosny CC BY-SA 3.0

The Irish Red and White Setter

This ancestor to the Irish Setter was almost extinct by the early 20th Century, until a resurgence in the 1940s. Like the Kerry Beagle, though, it’s pretty rare today outside of Ireland,.

Dogs of this ‘field dog breed are intelligent and usually have large amounts of both stamina and hunting instinct. They are also quite eye-catching, don’t you think?

Irish Red and White Setter” by timricketts62 is marked with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

Glen of Imaal Terrier

Bold and independent, the Glen of Imaal Terrier was also originally part of a hunting squad, but frequently overshadowed by the Irish Setter. Like many terriers, this Country Wicklow native has a strong prey-drive and likes to kill vermin. Around people, they are soft and calm.

Glen of Imaal Terriers have packets of personality, which make up for their cute and diminutive appearance.

Telma The Dog” by naniantero is marked with CC BY-NC 2.0.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

Last but not least, this Irish Terrier has a particular connection to St Patrick’s day. On 17th March 1937, it first appeared in a show ring – at the Irish Kennel Club championship. The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is so named due to the colour and texture of its coat.

Animals of this breed are generally very alert and also friendly around people. Just how cool is this guy below?

Soft Coated Wheaten” by BecauseUAreHere is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

So, there we are – nine Irish breeds, full of personality – just like the Irish people themselves.

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