9 Adorable Irish Dog Breeds: Native Breeds Of Ireland

Did you know that records from 2020 indicate that there are only eight Irish dog breeds registered under the American Kennel Club?

Really, there aren’t many of them in existence, so that’s quite fair. 

Ireland isn’t a place to breed so many dogs, but the few native breeds are known to do better than just sit around like a couch potato.

They have had their histories as hunters, and even battle dogs.

Currently, they’ve made good companion pooch in the homes and farms as well as great watchdogs. These dogs are always prepared for whatever comes next.

In this compilation, we’ll be reviewing these large and small Irish dog breeds, alongside some facts and information about them.

The Irish Dog Breeds You Should Know

01. Irish Wolfhound

Big Irish Wolfhound Dog standing on Dry Grass

Weight: 105 pounds (male), 120 pounds (female)
Height: Approximately 32 inches (male), 30 inches (female)
Coat Colors: Black, pale, off-white, brindle, white, russet, silver, red
Temperament: Even-tempered, friendly, patient, eager, dignified, thoughtful
Lifespan: 6 to 8 years

Compared to many other breeds, the Irish Wolfhound dog breed is relatively old, owing to its existence since before the 15th century.

This big Irish dog has been utilized as a watchdog and a speed hunter with the ability to catch even the likes of wolves.

They have a tough coat with long legs that have made them appear as one of the tallest dog breeds in existence. 

The breed has a calm disposition with an affectionate family-oriented attitude.

They get patient and can get along well with just about anyone that doesn’t seem intimidated by their size.

Their watchdog ability is backed up by how large they are, making it easy to scare off strangers. 

02. Irish Terrier

Irish Terrier Dog Standing on Walkway Looking Aside

Weight: 25 to 27 pounds (male), 24 to 26 pounds (female)
Height: 17 to 18 inches (male), 16 to 18 inches (female)
Coat Colors: All shades of red
Temperament: Agile, committed, companionable, independent, vigilant
Lifespan: 13 to 15 years

Aside from England, Ireland has been the residence of most terrier dogs, one of which is the Irish terrier.

If the presence of this small Irish dog breed does not give you that pit-a-pat feeling, then you may want to look out for a pet fish rather than a dog.

They are people-oriented and overly affectionate towards their owners and to kids. 

Although the breed is not one to exhibit an enthusiastic personality like other dogs that may want to please their owners always.

However, they are dedicated to training and exercises and may require much time caring for them. You can count on this breed to be a good guard dog around their territory.

03. Kerry Blue Terrier

Cute Kerry Blue Terrier Dog Standing on Grass at Dog Park

Weight: 33 to 40 pounds
Height: 18 to 20 inches (male), 17 to 19 inches (female)
Coat Colors: Jet, pale, black and pale, silver, grey, blue and silver, grey and blue
Temperament: Determined, committed, vigilant, peaceful, affectionate
Lifespan: 12 to 15 years

This is a working breed traditionally utilized to limit rats, hares, rabbits, and the rest. They were also used over time as livestock guardian dogs.

Presently, they make great companion dogs with usefulness in other areas that they have been groomed to excel in.

They have a peaceful and devoted attitude towards their owners and can be kind to kids as well.

This gentle nature is limited when it comes to other dogs as their mean attitude knows no bounds with them and other animals.

The breed possesses a long and strong set of legs that aid its high energy level.

You may need to frequently exercise them and socialization must commence at an early stage.

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04. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

Two Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Dogs Sitting Outside Looking Aside

Weight: 35 to 40 pounds (male), 30 to 35 pounds (female)
Height: 18 to 19 inches (male), 17 to 18 inches (female)
Coat Colors: Wheaten
Temperament: Intelligent, agile, devoted, loyal, cheerful, determined
Lifespan: 12 to 14 years

The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is a large fluffy dog breed that is also hypoallergenic, making them suitable for people that are prone to allergic reactions.

However, due to the high level of energy they possess, you may need to get them exercised regularly to remain fit and happy.

The breed is smart but can be adamant, which implies that you may need to be patient with them during training.

A tough pattern of training may likely result in an aggressive or fearful response from them.

Early socialization is also necessary to help limit their high prey instinct.

05. Irish Setter

Red Irish Setter Dog Standing at Park

Weight: Approximately 70 pounds (male), 60 pounds (female)
Height: Approximately 27 inches (male), 25 inches (female)
Coat Colors: Red, chestnut, russet
Temperament: Loving, athletic, agile, dominant, cheerful
Lifespan: 12 to 15 years

The Irish Setter dog breed has a history that links them to being game hunters.

They are affectionate dogs that can get along well with family and other dogs. Their intense lively and playful nature makes them a good choice to have around kids.

Nonetheless, it is necessary to watch such associations to avoid mishaps.

The breed has performed wonderfully as a human companion pet with no aggressive tendencies towards humans recorded.

Your dog wouldn’t need early socialization to get along well with visitors that come around the home.

They possess a medium to long fluffy coat that may call for extra grooming time.

Their high energy level is also something that may require them to get frequent workout sessions. 

06. Glen of Imaal Terrier

Glen of Imaal Terrier Pup Standing on Green Grass

Weight: 35 to 40 pounds (male), 32 to 35 pounds (female)
Height: 12 to 14 inches
Coat Colors: Pale brindle, beige
Temperament: Devoted, loyal, agile, peaceful, bold
Lifespan: 10 to 15 years

Glen, as nicknamed, is a terrier breed traditionally utilized as a herding dog for farm animals, and a home companion pup.

They were also employed to limit rats, foxes, and other small animals. The breed is tough with its large head and small legs.

They are often known to give out powerful barks like that of a big-sized dog, which helps them better during their guard dog activities that they excel so well at.

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a lively dog that may require a tough hand due to its propensity to exhibit stubbornness.

With this firmness, their smart self can easily assimilate any form of training.

It is important to socialize this breed with other pets early, else their strong prey instinct may set in. 

07. Irish Water Spaniel

Irish Water Spaniel Standing on Grass

Weight: 55 to 68 pounds (male), 45 to 58 pounds (female)
Height: 22 to 24 inches (male), 21 to 23 inches (female)
Coat Colors: Liver
Temperament: Smart, curious, agile, cautious
Lifespan: 12 to 13 years

The Irish Water Spaniel has a tough and curled-up coat that is less likely to shed and cause an allergic reaction to sensitive people.

They are top-notch playful dogs that do not limit their cheerfulness to the puppy stage.

The AKC recognizes them as the tallest amongst all the spaniel dogs. 

This Water Spaniel breed adapts well to various changes that can occur in its environment.

Also, as a loyal and devoted breed, you wouldn’t need an intense pattern of training as they are always enthusiastic, making it easy for them to learn new things.

08. Irish Red and White Setter

Irish Red and White Setter Dog Walking

Weight: 42 to 60 pounds (make), 35 to 50 pounds (female)
Height: 24 to 26 inches (male), 22 to 24 inches (female)
Coat Colors: Red and white
Temperament: Athletic, cheerful, loyal, affectionate
Lifespan: 11 to 15 years

Although a breed with recognition in many of the major kennel clubs in the world, they are still regarded as a susceptible breed.

Although they are considered a separate breed from their Irish Setter cousin, the Irish Red and White Setter almost got wiped out around the 19th century.

They have been utilized in different countries as gun dogs to hunt birds like guinea fowl, quail, Gunnison grouse, etc.

The Red and White Setter makes a great family dog due to its loyalty and high affection. Their outstanding level of intelligence makes training an easy task.

However, as a lover of dogs as such, you may want to be informed about their high energy level, which makes them perfect in homes with active owners.

09. Kerry Beagle

Kerry Beagle Pup Standing at Dog Park Looking Aside

Weight: 60 pounds
Height: 22 to 24 inches
Coat Colors: Black and tan, white and tan
Temperament: Smart, sociable, friendly, loyal, gentle
Lifespan: 10 to 14 years

The breed which ranks as the only surviving scenthound native to Ireland has no link with the Beagle dog breed as its name implies.

Rather, the name “Beagle” translates to an Irish word that means “small”.

Kerry Beagles are medium Irish dogs with the ability to hunt the likes of hares and foxes as they have been used to.

Their scenthound instinct isn’t so intense, hence they work better in packs.

They also make great family companion dogs that can get along with kids and other canines. The breed is agile and may require lots of daily exercise to keep it fit and happy.


That’s a wrap on the few native dog breeds of Ireland. There may not be so much variety to choose from, but the personality of these breeds is more than enough to make you love them.

If you’re intending to get any purebred Irish dog breeds, it is necessary to acquire them from a reputable breeder.

Not all of these breeds are well known around the world, hence it’s easy to fall prey to poor breeders or fraudsters.

Finally, you may want to take into consideration the need to always adhere to the daily requirement of your pooch.

These requirements may be in terms of exercise, training, socialization, grooming, and even feeding. You wouldn’t want to stick to just what is documented about them.

Properly training your puppy will undoubtedly improve their personality better than you may think.

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Authored By

Ben Pierce

Ben Pierce is a canine behavioral and nutritional specialist, professional dog trainer, and the CEO of Puplore. A former military working dog handler, Ben founded Puplore to provide owners with breed-specific information and to act as a go-to guide to health, nutrition, care, and to help them find the confidence they need to step up to the plate and become the best pup parents they can possibly be. A firm believer in treating all animals with kindness and compassion, and that positive discipline is paramount in achieving a harmonious canine-human relationship, Ben’s former and present careers have enabled him to become a leading light in his chosen profession and business.

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