Category Archives: Ireland

The Dog Breeds of Ireland

By Linda Cole

I love digging into the history of dog breeds and where they originated. Our relationship with canines began centuries ago, and understanding the needs of our ancestors tells us we haven’t really changed all that much in terms of how we use specific breeds to do certain jobs. Many of today’s breeds began in Asia and other areas of the world. Ireland can also lay claim to dog breeds that originated on the Emerald Isle.

Irish Setter

This beautiful chestnut red dog is a breed most people associate with Ireland. In the early years, the dog had shorter legs and a red/white coat. The solid red color didn’t begin to show up until the 1800s and soon became the color signifying a well bred, quality dog with excellent hunting ability. Popular throughout England and Ireland in the 1700s, the breed was likely developed by mixing the Irish Water Spaniel, Irish Terrier, English Setter, Spaniel, Pointer and Gordon Setter.

The sporting dog was originally bred to crouch low next to a bird to “set” his game and wait for a hunter to walk up and toss a net over the dog and bird. After firearms improved, the Irish Setter became a complete hunting dog that could point, retrieve and hunt game birds in different types of terrain. The dog has an exceptional nose and can quickly find game hiding in the brush. He’s an affectionate, smart and energetic family pet.

Irish Terrier

During WWI, the Irish Terrier was used to run messages and as a sentinel to warn soldiers of any surprise attacks. This dog is thought to be one of the oldest terrier breeds and could possibly be around two thousand years old. No one knows which breeds were used to produce the Irish Terrier, but they originated in Country Cork, Ireland in the 1700s where they were used as a retriever and to hunt otter, water rats, fox and other vermin. At one time during the early 1900s, the Irish Terrier was very popular in the U.S., but for some reason, their popularity died out and they are now rare. This dog has a long body and long legs. He is a loyal, brave, inquisitive, adventurous, playful, energetic and kid friendly dog.

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