Ireland is most often credited with giving us a fun holiday to really let loose and be "Irish for a day." Although green beer and corned beef and cabbage are great, Ireland also gifted us with something equally as awesome; 9 adorable dog breeds! The variety of dog breeds introduced by Ireland includes two Hounds, three Gundogs, and four Terriers.
Originally derived from the Irish Red and White Setter, mixed with an unknown solid red-colored dog breed, the Irish Red Setter was developed to be a game hunting dog. Known for being hardy, intelligent, and possessing great work ethic and stamina, the Irish Red Setter has evolved since the 1800's to the strong breed it is today, spanning many regions throughout the world.
Hailing from the rugged terrain of the Glen of Imaal, this resilient breed was often overlooked throughout the years. Although this breed is older, gentlemen sportsmen didn't show the breed any recognition until the middle of the 1900s. Continually proving that big things come in small packages, the Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier has continually evolved through generations into the sturdy little spitfire we know today!
The first and often lesser-known of the Irish Setters, the Red and White Setter, was put on the map back in the 1700s. This was long before selective breeding resulted in the development of the more popular Red Setter. Favoritism of the Red Setter resulted in the near extinction of the Red and White Setter until efforts were made to revive the breed in the 1920s. Now reestablished, the Red and White Setter successfully competes in field trials against rival pointing breeds.
Most likely the oldest of the four Irish Terrier breeds, the Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier's origin is somewhat of a mystery. Believed to be the result of breeding experiments over 200 years ago, the Wheaten Terrier's obscure history hasn't stopped it from growing in popularity and becoming well known throughout the world.
Before it's iconic red-colored coat was truly solidified in the 2000s, Irish Terriers were also seen with black, tan, and even brindle coats. While they gained popularity in the dog show circuit, the Irish Terrier's reputation really skyrocketed during WWI. They were used as messenger dogs in trench warfare, which made them highly regarded for their intelligence and fearlessness.
There is no real ancestral evidence in relation to the Irish Water Spaniel, so it's exact origins remain unknown. First recorded in Ireland in the 1600s, the Irish Water Spaniel is equipped with a waterproof coat and was often used to hunt waterfowl. Their distinguishing feature is their "rat tail", which remains unique to the breed.
This very unique and very large breed became established in Ireland in the first century A.D. and is considered a staple in medieval Celtic culture. They were predominately used to safeguard farmer's flocks from wolves, and farmers kept 24 on hand to watch over their flocks. Dwindling numbers of wolves also dropped the number of Irish Wolfhounds almost to the point of extinction in the 1700s. It wasn't until a surge of Irish nationalism in the 1900s that brought upon the revival of this iconic breed.
The origins of the Kerry Beagle can be traced back to the very first Celtic settlements in Ireland. Known for being an extremely efficient hunting dog, the Kerry Beagle was often used to hunt stag, despite its small stature. The name "Beagle" is said to be derived from the Irish word "beag", meaning small. This is appropriate considering Beagles are small in comparison to other hounds.
Like other Irish Terrier breeds, the Kerry Blue Terrier comes from humble beginnings as a rat catcher and basic farm dog. However, it gained popularity in the early 1900s and boasted four clubs promoting the breed interests. Known for its soft blue coat, the Kerry Terrier gained worldwide popularity as an excellent working and companion dog.
Want your dog to be Irish for a day? Check out these yummy DIY Saint Patrick's Day Dog Treats that Lucky is sure to love!