Irish Terrier

© 2024 CTC Productions Pty Limited. All rights reserved. The material presented on this website, may not be reproduced or distributed, in whole or in part, without the prior written permission of CTC Productions.

Breed: Irish Terrier
Temperament: fun-loving, impulsive
Lifespan: 13-15 years
Recommended for: families, singles
Maintenance: medium


Irish Terriers are whiskery ginger-coloured dogs, taller than Fox Terriers, standing 46-48cm (18-19") and weighing around 12kg (27lb).


Owners describe them as active, agile, curious, protective, and, colloquially, real daredevils. They are affectionate with their owners, probably too boisterous for pre-schoolers, fun-loving and won’t back off in a fight.

Health and breeding

Entropion, a condition where the eyelid rolls onto the eyeball and irritates the surface with hairs, is seen in the breed and can only be remedied with surgery. There are usually 5-6 pups per litter, and occasionally a caesarean is needed. Otherwise a hardy breed.


There are effectively two types of coat seen in Australia, a relatively smooth coat with facial whiskers which is of American origin, and a hairier, more whiskery coat which is UK-influenced. Pet owners often clip the dog’s coat for a smoother appearance, a look which exhibitors achieve by stripping (plucking) outer hairs by hand. The coat sheds twice a year and requires extra attention then, in addition to a 10-minute weekly brush.


Most terrier breeds can be a challenge, and breeders say an Irish Terrier will probably be too boisterous for small children. A firm, consistent training program is important. Some texts claim their natural exuberance may be too much for children or the elderly.

Space, exercise and the ideal owner

A fit, energetic individual or an active family would suit these dogs down to the ground, as they are full of life and bounce, and they’ll thrive with a regular walk or a good play in the backyard with the kids each day. A securely-fenced yard is vital, and they are not recommended for a flat or home without a yard.

Housepet potential

Irish Terriers need to spend time with their family and being a small to medium size, neat and unlikely to shed lots of hair, they are good indoor dogs. If chronically bored they can become problem barkers. They are not recommended for situations where they will be left alone for long periods of time, as they will find ways of entertainment: digging, chewing and other destructive behaviours!


The Irish Terrier was traditionally the small family dog used to keep down rats and other vermin while guarding the property and warning of strangers. It’s said they were among the breeds used during World War I as messenger dogs. In Australia today they are primarily companion dogs, although most owners learn their old hunting instincts aren’t far below the surface!

National contacts

To find up-to-date contacts for breeders, contact the following organisations.
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)

Dogs NSW
Email: [email protected]
Phone: 1300 728 022 (NSW only) or (02) 9834 3022
Fax: (02) 9834 3872

Dogs Victoria
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (03) 9788 2500
Fax: (03) 9788 2599

Dogs ACT
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (02) 6241 4404 – Fax: (02) 6241 1129.

Dogs West
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (08) 9455 1188
Fax: (08) 9455 1190

Dogs SA
Phone: (08) 8349 4797

Canine Control Council of Queensland
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (07) 3252 2661
Fax: (07) 3252 3864

Tasmanian Canine Association
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (03) 6272 9443
Fax: (03) 6273 0844

Dogs NT
Email: [email protected]
Phone: (08) 8984 3570
Fax: (08) 8984 3409
The Australian National Kennel Council (ANKC)