How to Train an Irish Terrier

The Irish Terrier, ‘Daredevil’ of the Emerald Isle, is a bold, dashing, and courageous terrier of medium size. Known for his fiery red coat and temperament to match, the Irish Terrier is stouthearted at work and tenderhearted at home. Irish Terriers are the prototype of a long-legged terrier. Standing about 18 inches at the shoulder, they’re sturdy but lithe and graceful. Every body line is eye-catching, and the overall picture is beautifully balanced. The tight red coat is as fiery as the breed’s temperament. ITs are a dog lover’s delight: If your heart doesn’t go pitty-pat at the sight of this Technicolor terrier framed against the vivid greens of the Irish countryside, forget dogs and buy a goldfish.


For hundreds of years the Irish Terrier has been a fixture of rural Ireland—the very model of an all-purpose farm dog. A tenacious ratter, of course, but a dog with this much spirit and cleverness can’t be contained by a single job description. ITs have earned their feed as watchdogs, flock and family guardians, and hunting companions on land and lake. The breed’s type as we know it was set sometime in the 1870s, and ITs joined the AKC in 1885.

Quick Facts

Temperament: bold / dashing / tenderhearted

Height: 18 inches

Weight: 25 to 27 pounds

Life expectancy: 13-15 years

Terrier Group


Irish Terriers are generally healthy dogs, but there are some issues that the breed can be prone to. Hyperkeratosis (hardened, cracked footpads) is rare in North America but may be carried in dogs from European lines. A genetic test has recently been developed for this condition. Cystinuria (resulting in bladder stones) is also uncommon, but there is no genetic test for Irish Terriers. Prospective owners should ask about these two diseases and only work with reputable breeders. As with all breeds, the Irish Terrier’s ears should be checked regularly for signs of infection, and the teeth should be brushed often, using a toothpaste designed for dogs. Regular visits to the vet for checkups and parasite control help to ensure the dog a long, healthy life.

Recommended Health Tests From the National Breed Club:
  • No recommended health tests


The Irish Terrier’s short coat requires regular brushing, stripping, and trimming to keep it in good condition. His dense and wiry broken coat hugs the body and creates a tight, water-resistant jacket. Underneath the stiff outer coat, a dense undercoat of softer, finer hair traps body heat on a cool, damp day. Ideally the outer coat should be hand-stripped rather than clipped. Weekly brushing will help to remove dirt and loose hair and keep the dog looking his best. The nails should be trimmed regularly, as overly long nails can cause the dog discomfort.


The Irish Terrier is lively, playful, and outgoing, possessing abundant energy. Irish Terriers are great athletes and need regular exercise, so a fenced backyard is ideal. Failing this, they require walking’¿always on a leash’¿several times a day to maintain mental and physical fitness. Although willful, the Irish Terrier wants to please his owner and excels as a show and performance dog. Obedience, agility, rally, earthdog, and flyball events provide an outlet for the breed’s energy, natural athleticism, and intelligence.

The Irish Terrier is very smart and willing to please, though he also tends to be strong-willed, independent, and challenging. Early and consistent socialization and basic obedience training help to ensure he will be a well-mannered member of your household who is comfortable with family and friends. Training quickly establishes a bond between you and your Irish that will last a lifetime. Consistent use and reinforcement of early training should be a lifelong process. The Irish Terrier is a smart, quick dog who quickly adapts to new situations. This breed is great with children when raised with them and is deeply loyal to his owner. Pups require firm boundaries so they will grow into respectful adults.



The Irish Terrier should be fed high-quality dog food appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and activity level. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet or the dog’s breeder if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should always be available.