What to Consider Before Adopting an Irish Terrier

Updated on: Sep 10, 2021
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What to Consider Before Adopting an Irish Terrier

Few dogs have a look as unique and distinguishable as that of the Irish terrier. These fascinating dogs from the Ember Isle can make fantastic family pets but they do need a bit of training from an experienced hand. So, to figure out of the Irish terrier is the right dog for you, here are the 30 questions to ask before getting an Irish terrier.

1. Are Irish terriers good pets?

No – they are excellent pets, not just good ones. Irish terriers are incredibly loyal, loving, and gentle with their family members, big and small. They are both fun to play with and lovely to cuddle with. Plus, they can work with any size family too.

2. Is the Irish terrier a smart dog?

This terrier breed is impressively smart and can be taught to do various tricks or work tasks. You can also expect this dog to figure things on its own around the house.

3. Are Irish terriers easy to train?

Despite their great intelligence, Irish terriers can be challenging to train. That is largely due to their independent streak and willful spirit. They do like to please their human pack members but, especially when they get overly enthusiastic they can be quite stubborn. Extensive obedience training is, therefore, a must with this breed.

4. Can an Irish terrier be left alone?

Irish terriers don’t really suffer from separation anxiety which is excellent news for people who work away from home. Separation anxiety is very typical for highly intelligent and affectionate dogs and the Irish terrier does fit those descriptions. However, this breed’s independent temperament makes it mostly “immune” to separation anxiety. This also makes this terrier a good guard dog despite its average size.

5. Are Irish terriers social and friendly?

Irish terriers fall in the middle of most sociability statistics. They are not overly friendly with everyone but they are not too reserved either. This means that with good socialization they can easily be taught to like your friends, guests, and even strangers. On the other hand, if they don’t get such socialization, their protective instincts will easily take over – this can make the Irish terrier either an excellent guard dog or a bad family pet.

6. Are Irish terriers good with kids?

Irish terriers are a fantastic breed for children of all sizes and ages. Their affectionate and protective personality makes them the perfect “momma hen” while their medium size means there’s little risk of knocks and other incidents.

7. Do Irish terriers get along with other dogs?

This is one of the worst breeds when it comes to getting along with other canines. They can be especially aggressive toward dogs of the same sex and they never back down from a challenge. If you want to look after two or more dogs at home you’re going to have to raise them together, socialize them properly, train them expertly, and always keep an eye on them.

Even if your terrier is your only dog you’ll want to always keep it on a leash when visiting the dog park. Suffice it to say that playdates with random other dogs will almost always be a No-No.

8. Can an Irish terrier live with a cat?

All terrier breeds are bad with cats and the same applies to Irish terriers. Theoretically, if the dog is raised together with the cat and is socialized and trained properly, there may be no problem. But, overall, there’s just too much risk of the terrier’s prey drive kicking in at any moment.

9. Do Irish terriers like to cuddle?

This breed is very affectionate and will always be happy to cuddle with you on the couch or on your feet.

10. How big do Irish terriers get?

Adult Irish terriers grow up to 18 inches at the shoulder (46 cm) and they weigh about 25 to 27 pounds (11-12 kg).

11. How long do Irish terriers live?

The average expected lifespan of these dogs is 13-15 years. They can live even longer than that with the right care.

12. At what age are Irish terriers fully grown?

These dogs will typically reach maximum height around their 11th month. Their optimal weight will also be around that time but they can keep “filling up” for a while longer.

13. Is the Irish terrier healthy?

This is an overall healthy breed, especially when you get your pup from a reputable breeder and with a health certificate. The few issues to watch out for include bacterial and viral infections (preventable with vaccines), Hyperkeratosis or “Corny Feet”, and eye problems such as cataracts or Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA).

14. How much exercise does an Irish terrier need?

**These dogs are highly energetic **but their medium size means that about an hour of intensive outdoor exercise per day should be enough to keep them healthy. This should be divided into two walks to and in the dog park and there should be at least some indoor or yard playtime.

15. Do Irish terriers need a yard?

An Irish terrier can certainly benefit from a yard but a large enough indoor space can also suffice. If you do have a yard, make sure that it’s fenced well enough – Irish terriers are great escape artists.

16. Can you look after an Irish terrier in an apartment?

Irish terriers are the “right” size for apartment life and they can feel good in an apartment if they still get enough outdoor exercise. You’ll need to teach them not to bark too much, however, or they’ll drive your neighbors (and you) crazy.

17. Are Irish terriers destructive?

Irish terriers shouldn’t be destructive provided that they get enough exercise. If you leave them home alone for too long, however, they can and will start taking it out on your furniture.

18. Are Irish terriers rare?

Because of their stubborn and assertive nature, Irish terriers are not the most common family pet and rank 120/196 in AKC’s breed popularity ranking. Their breeders also aren’t as common as Labrador or German Shepherd breeders but you should be able to find at least one nearby.

19. Do Irish terriers like to swim?

While not a “water dog” breed, Irish terriers do love to swim, especially when they get used to it early on in their life.

20. What type of coat do Irish terriers have?

Irish terriers have double-layered coats with the top being wiry and a medium length. Most owners trim their terriers’ coats for easier brushing and a better look.

21. What colors can Irish terriers come in?

The standard colors of the Irish terrier breed include red, wheaten, and red wheaten. They can start having grey hairs too when they get older.

22. Can an Irish terrier be black?

Irish terrier puppies can have black hairs but those will typically go away as they grow. While terriers used to be black centuries ago, today that’s not a part of the standard breed colors.

23. Is the Irish terrier hypoallergenic?

Some would say that they are but there are no actual hypoallergenic dogs. What makes Irish terriers better for people with allergies is simply the fact that they shed less and release less dandruff than other breeds. So, yes – they are better for folks with mild allergies.

24. Do Irish terriers shed a lot?

Not really. Especially with good grooming and regular brushing, your terrier’s shedding should be kept at a minimum.

25. Should you shave an Irish terrier?

Full shaves are ill-advised as this terrier needs its double coat for thermal isolation. However, a nice short trim is fine and can help reduce shedding and matting.

26. Do you need to take your Irish terrier to a professional groomer?

You don’t “need” to but it can be nice to go to a professional groomer from time to time.

27. How often should you wash an Irish terrier?

The rule of thumb is that wire-haired dogs should be given a bath once every 4-6 weeks which is more frequent than other coat types. And Irish terriers are wire-haired so one bath a month should keep their coats in an excellent condition.

28. Are Irish terriers’ tails docked?

In the US, Irish terriers’ tails typically get docked by 1/4 when they are just 3-days-old. Their dew claws are also removed and their ears get “trained” to stand upright. In most European countries, tail docking is illegal.

29. Do Irish terriers bark a lot?

Irish terriers can learn to bark quite a bit which might be annoying. If you don’t want a barker at home you may need to do some no-bark training.

30. How much is an Irish terrier puppy?

The average price of a purebred Irish terrier is between $1,500 and $2,500. You can find more affordable pups at puppy mills/pet stores but you can also expect a lot of health problems and a bad upbringing with those pups.

As you can see, while Irish terriers definitely present a couple of challenges but they are well worth the trouble. Typically recommended for more experienced or at least knowledgeable owners, Irish terriers are fantastic pets when they go through the appropriate obedience training and socialization.

Incredibly loyal and loving toward their families, Irish terriers are also playful and very fun to be around. They can either make excellent guard dogs too or they can be trained to be amicable toward strangers.

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