Irish Terrier Breed Information and Buying advice

Irish Terrier

Are You Looking to Buy or Adopt a Irish Terrier?

Quick Irish Terrier Facts

Average Size of Adult
Small (2/5)
Puppy Puppy Puppy Puppy Puppy
Grooming Requirement
Medium (2/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Medium (2/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Average Life Span
12-14 years (5/8)
Exercise Requirements
High (3/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Low (1/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Low (1/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Child friendly
Yes (1/2)
High (3/3)
Puppy Puppy Puppy
Breed Group
Terrier (4/8)
Yes (1/2)

Breed purity is an important consideration for anyone considering the purchase of a new puppy, and rightly so. In this regard, the Irish Terrier is a beautiful example of a kind, gentle terrier breed that’s remained pure for centuries. Purity is also important in character, and once again Irish Terrier puppies have a pure, fun-loving attitude that makes them an all-around great choice of puppy, even for first-time owners. The lively appearance and loyal temperament of Irish Terriers are enough reason to purchase one as a puppy, but this may prove difficult due to their low numbers and the high demand for Irish Terrier puppies. A century ago, they consistently ranked in the top five most popular breeds in their native Ireland and in Britain, but today they are on the Kennel Club’s vulnerable breed list due to low registrations. Nevertheless, they are currently fashionable for many great reasons and their numbers are expected to rise once again.  

Why Irish Terriers are Great

Some highlights of Irish Terriers:

  1. Family-friendly: this breed is ideal for families, including those with small children.

  2. First-time owners: Irish Terriers are a great puppy choice for first-time owners.

  3. Watchdog: this breed is nearly always alert and would make an excellent watchdog.

  4. Rarity: owning an Irish Terrier in the UK is something to be proud of, but it’s also nice knowing that your Irish Terrier will receive plenty of attention due to their low numbers.

  5. Loyal: Irish Terriers are loyal and affectionate companions, especially when raised as puppies into adulthood.


Things to Consider when Looking at Irish Terriers for Sale

Some downsides to the Irish Terrier:

  1. Rarity: although efforts are being made to increase the supply of Irish Terrier puppies to meet a growing demand, they remain a rare breed that may command higher prices on account of its rarity.

  2. Obedience: as an independent breed, Irish Terriers may disobey from time to time and do as they please.

  3. Boredom: few breeds tolerate loneliness for extended periods of time, but Irish Terriers can be quick to engage in destructive behaviour when bored.

  4. Barking: this breed barks more than average and may compulsively bark.


History of the Irish Terrier

Of the four terrier breeds found in Ireland, the Irish Terrier (big T) may be the oldest. Terriers of all kinds were - and still are - useful for catching vermin on homesteads and in barns. Irish farmers also used them to watch and guard livestock due to their adaptability and superb characteristics as a working dog. The exact origins of the Irish Terrier are shrouded in mystery, as is the case with many other terrier breeds from Ireland and Britain. One theory postulates that Irish Wolfhounds were mixed with native black and tan terriers to produce the Irish Terrier. Regardless, this breed is undeniably old. Colour choice did not seem to be a concern until the 19th century. Before 1880, Irish Terriers were primarily bred on their aptitude for work. Black and tan colours, common to many terrier ancestors in Britain and Continental Europe, began to be bred out in favour of the rich red coat that defines the breed’s most popular colour choice to this day. By the 20th century, all Irish Terriers were red. As an attestation of this breed’s courage and fearlessness, Irish Terriers were commonly used in the First World War as courier dogs on the front lines of the chaos found in the trenches. These loyal dogs were sent into a zone of immense danger as messengers with no guarantee of safe return. Their valour and dedication ought not to be forgotten.  


As with many terrier breeds, Irish Terriers appear active and lively. They have an energetic and alert stance that exudes power and endurance. They are slightly larger than many other breeds of terrier and stand taller than most. Irish Terriers are instantly recognisable due to the colour of their wiry coats. A whole-coloured coat of dark red fur or a lighter yellow-red is sure to stand out. This breed often has a slight beard and forward-pointing ears that flap downwards.  

How big is the Irish Terrier?

Irish Terriers are medium/large-sized dogs. Males grow on average to 46-48 cm in height, whilst females can grow up to 46 cm high.  

How heavy is an Irish Terrier?

Fully-grown adult male Irish Terriers weigh between 11-15 kg on average, whilst females weigh between 11-12 kg.  

What colour is the Irish Terrier?

Irish Terriers have the following commonly-accepted coat colours:

  • Red

  • Red-wheaten

  • Yellow-red

  Some white can sometimes be found on the chest and is typical.  


Few dog breeds have as strong a personality as Irish Terriers. While they are amongst the best breeds to have around children, they are also often independent and may show signs of disobedience. They are always gentle, but sometimes prefer to do their own thing. One strong characteristic that is noticeable about Irish Terriers is their fearlessness, which often comes across as recklessness. They are courageous pets as much as they are loving and affectionate companions in the home. As an intelligent breed, Irish Terriers should be well-trained as puppies to encourage proper behaviour. They have a tendency to dig as well as to destroy furniture and carpets if they ever feel neglected. It’s better to handle this from a young age with adequate socialisation and to never neglect an Irish Terrier.  

Do Irish Terriers make good guard dogs?

Irish Terriers make superb watchdogs thanks to their powerful sense of smell and their keen ability to detect suspicious activity and to alert their owner. They may also make excellent guard dogs due to their unfortunate use in fighting in the past as well as their outstanding courage.  

Do Irish Terriers bark a lot?

This breed tends to bark more than most other breeds. Excessive barking may become a problem, particularly if corrective action was not taken as a puppy.  

Are Irish Terriers easy to train?

Irish Terriers are not too difficult to train. As puppies, they can learn to associate actions and commands rather quickly. At times, however, they may show their independent side and disobey commands or behave stubbornly.  

Are Irish Terriers playful?

This breed loves to play, particularly with children. They can sometimes take play a little too far and end up digging lawns and flowerbeds, so they should be supervised whilst playing.  

Are Irish Terriers good with children?

Few dog breeds are as suitable for children as Irish Terriers, even more so for Irish Terrier puppies. They are gentle and caring with children of all ages, but maintain supervision to ensure that they don’t become too boisterous.  

Are Irish Terriers good with other pets?

This breed does not tend to get along well with other dogs. Male Irish Terriers may show aggression towards other males and thus should be kept away. They may get along well with cats, but they will most likely not get along with smaller pets such as rodents.  

Can I leave an Irish Terrier alone?

Although Irish Terriers can tolerate extended periods of isolation due to their strong independent streak, they are much more prone to destructive behaviour when they become bored.  

Do Irish Terriers like water?

Many Irish Terriers love to swim, but each puppy should be introduced to water on their own terms. They don’t like being on boats.  


How long do Irish Terriers live? 

Generally, Irish Terriers are expected to live anywhere from 13-15 years.  

How much exercise does an Irish Terrier need?

This breed requires plenty of exercise. Up to an hour a day of physical and mental stimulation will keep an Irish Terrier healthy and fit while staving off boredom.  

What are Irish Terriers’ common health issues?

Irish Terriers are generally a healthy breed and don’t suffer from many hereditary health issues. They may have a higher chance of developing the following health problems:

  • Hypothyroidism;

  • Cataracts.



How much space do I need for an Irish Terrier? 

Irish Terriers are adaptable and can live comfortably in apartments or in homes. For those living in apartments, ensure that outdoor exercise and play is provided routinely.  

What should I feed my Irish Terrier?

This breed requires 1 to 1.5 cups of high-quality dog food per day, divided into two meals. Puppies’ diets should be adjusted to account for weight gain, exercise levels, and appetite.  

How much grooming do Irish Terriers need?

Irish Terriers require an average amount of grooming. Brush their fur at least once a week and ensure that their ears and eyes are routinely checked to avoid infections.  

Do Irish Terriers shed?

Luckily, Irish Terriers shed nearly no fur and thus the amount of cleaning required is minimal, especially as puppies.  

Average Costs

How much does it cost to keep an Irish Terrier?

As a rough guide in pricing:  Cost to buy: roughly £500-700 for a well-bred Irish Terrier puppy Other costs (Vet, Food etc): £60-90 per month  

Specific Buying Guide

You can read our general buying guide here, with the most important thing being going to view your Irish Terrier puppy, seeing it with its mother, and checking the quality of the breeder.  More specifically, here is some Irish Terrier puppy buying advice:

  1. This breed is on the Kennel Club’s vulnerable native breed list. Don’t fall for scams from online sellers or ‘puppy mills’ trying to sell you unethically bred Irish Terriers.

  2. If colour choice is an option, choose darker red-coloured Irish Terriers over lighter wheat-coloured ones. Red is a more pure, natural breed colour.


Other Reading, Adopting Irish Terrier Puppies and Rescue Organisations

A big thank you to the following sources who helped to shape this article: Kennel Club of Great Britain: Federation Cynologique Internationale: Dogell: