Top 8 Irish Dog Breeds
Dog Breeds

Top 8 Irish Dog Breeds

If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide on Irish Dog Breeds, look no further! In this guide, we’ll dive into Irish dogs' rich heritage and unique characteristics. From the various Irish Terrier dog breeds to the gentle and loyal Irish Wolfhound, Ireland boasts a diverse array of breeds, some even considered rare according to the American Kennel Club! 

Join us on a journey through the Emerald Isle as we uncover some fascinating history, learn about distinct traits, and fall in love with the endearing personalities that make each Irish dog unique. Whether you’re looking for a friendly companion, a loyal guardian, or just want to learn more about Irish dog breeds, this article is for you. 

Irish Setter

Since the 1800s, the Irish Setter has been a popular hunting dog, bred to locate and retrieve birds for hunters. 

A high-energy dog, the Irish Setter often weighs 60 to 70 pounds and is between 25 to 27 inches tall. Amid that high energy, they are affectionate, intelligent, athletic, and sweet-tempered with gentle attitudes. 

Irish Red and White Setter

As mentioned – related to the standard Irish Setter, the Irish red and white setter was a bird hunter in the 1800s. According to the Spruce Pets, historians believe that the Irish Red and White Setters came first, and the solid red Irish setters became more popular with hunters. Because of the change in popularity, this breed walked almost to the brink of extinction before making a comeback in the 1920s. 

With high energy levels comes a temperament that is friendly, intelligent, and eager to please. They can weigh anywhere from 35 to 60 pounds (making them uncomfortable lap dogs) and grow to a height between 22.5 and 60 inches. 

Irish Water Spaniel

Although somewhat reminiscent of the Hungarian Komondor in their “mop-head” aesthetic, the Irish Water Spaniel has much shorter hair and was bred for hunting purposes rather than to protect sheep.

Their coats are dense, with tight, crisp curls on their body and a long, smooth topknot around their face and ears. Irish Water Spaniels are known to have high energy, weigh between 45 and 68 pounds, and grow 24 inches in height. Despite this active, playful energy, they are also alert, curious, and affectionate. 

Irish Terrier

The Irish Terrier is one of the oldest known terrier breeds, valued for its vermin-hunting skills and farm-guarding abilities. Considered a relatively rare breed by today’s standards, the Irish Terrier’s coat is dense and wiry and doesn’t shed a lot, making it a comfortable choice for those with dog allergies. 

a close up of a dog in a garden
a close up of a dog in a garden

Irish terriers are known to be intelligent, protective, dominant, but respectful, and for these reasons, highly trainable. They typically weigh between 25 and 28 pounds and can grow up to 20 inches high. 

Kerry Blue Terrier

Because the origins of the Kerry Blue Terrier are lost, the United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club developed a theory that Kerry Blues were bred by non-nobles in Ireland to help hunt game (because, as you’ll learn, there were ownership restrictions on the Irish Wolfhound in the 5th century).  

The Kerry Blue Terrier is known for being loyal, attentive, and bright. It has a short, soft, wavy coat that becomes blue-grey as it matures. The Kerry Blue ranges in height from 17 to 19 inches and weighs between 30 and 40 pounds.  

Irish Wolfhound

The Irish Wolfhound is also known to some as the Irish Sheepdog. According to the American Kennel Club, the Irish Wolfhound is the tallest dog in the world, even compared to a Great Dane. Bred from early greyhounds, the Irish Wolfhound was historically owned exclusively by Irish noblemen and kings and used to chase and capture, but not kill, wolves and deer. 

Male Irish Wolfhounds are known to grow up to 32 inches in height, while females grow to 30 inches. Males typically weigh around 120 pounds, while females weigh around 105 pounds. Compared to the other breeds we’ve mentioned thus far, living around 10-15 years, The Irish Wolfhound’s lifespan is generally 6 to 8 years.

They have relatively low energy levels and calm, even-tempered mannerisms.  

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier was initially bred to be a versatile farmhand, eliminating rodents, warning of strangers approaching, and protecting livestock. Unlike the other wiry-haired terriers we’ve met so far, the Wheaten’s coat is soft and silky. Despite its coat difference, it does not shed excessively, making it another safe choice for allergy sufferers. 

The Wheaten Terrier typically weighs between 30 and 40 pounds and grows to be 17 to 19 inches in height. It is generally friendly, affectionate, and lively, with a medium to high level of energy.

Glen of Imaal Terrier

Originally bred to hunt badgers in Ireland, the Glen of Imaal Terriers are known to be far less feisty than their counterparts. Similar to the standard Irish Terrier, it has a wiry coat that is less prone to shedding and, therefore, a better choice for those with pet allergies. 

While a Glen of Imaal Terrier may weigh up to 40 pounds, it typically only grows to 14 inches in height. It often has a gentle, affectionate, and sometimes bold temperament with a moderate energy level. 


Now that you’ve learned about these breeds of Irish dogs, do you have a favorite? As we conclude this exploration, it’s obvious that these gorgeous dogs are more than just pets; they’re cherished companions deeply ingrained in Ireland’s rich history. Do you know that if you want to know whether or not your dog has some Irish blood in them, you can use a dog DNA test for this purpose?

From their storied past to their enduring presence in our homes today, Irish dog breeds continue to steal hearts with their charm, loyalty, and unique personalities. Whether you fancy the spirited energy of the Irish Terrier, the regal, impressive stature of the Irish Wolfhound, or the playful nature of the Irish Setter, one thing is clear: these breeds embody the spirit and heritage of Ireland in every wag of their tail.

Frequently Asked Questions 

What dog breeds are Irish?

There are nine dog breeds native to Ireland: the Irish Wolfhound, Kerry Beagles, Irish Water Spaniel, Irish Setter and Irish Red and White Setter, Irish Terrier, Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier, Irish Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier, and Kerry Blue Terrier.

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