Many Irish dog breeds have a deep history, dating back to the mountains and farmlands of 18th-century Ireland. Some were bred as hunting companions, working dogs, or even messenger dogs during wartimes.
Today, these pups are still all about exploring their surroundings and staying active with their pet parents. If you’re considering adding an Irish dog breed to your family, here are some of the most popular to choose from.
1. Irish Setter
The Irish Setter is a true family dog that loves people and attention. Their enthusiastic nature makes them great outdoor companions, and they also have an affinity for hunting. The Irish Setter’s silky red coat makes them stand out from other Irish dogs on this list.
2. Irish Red and White Setter
Irish Red and White Setters differ from Irish Setters mostly in appearance. As the name suggests, Irish Red and White Setters have a mostly white coat with red patches on the face and spread out over the body, while Irish setters have a fully red coat. These pups love to exercise and make great pets for active families who do, too.
3. Irish Wolfhound
If you want a giant dog to add to your family, the Irish Wolfhound is the one for you—this huge dog can reach up to 120 pounds and stands at least 30 inches tall.
Irish Wolfhounds got their name because they were bred to actually hunt wolves. But don’t let their history fool you—today’s Irish Wolfhound is a gentle dog who gets along well with kids and other dogs when properly socialized as a puppy.
4. Glen of Imaal Terrier
The Glen of Imaal Terrier is an Irish dog with a history beginning in the Wicklow Mountains during the 1800s. These small but mighty Irish dogs made great hunters, known for their talent in tracking badgers and foxes.
Glen of Imaal Terriers are fairly rare to see today. But when you do see one, you’ll probably notice how curious these smart dogs are about the world around them.
5. Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more loving, playful dog than the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. These pups have high energy most (if not all) of their life, so it’s important they join an active family who will provide their Wheaten with plenty of exercise and playtime.
Activities like flyball, nose work, and agility training are good for Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers—and can be a fun bonding experience for pet parents, too.
If you live an apartment lifestyle, these may not be the best dog for you. Getting your Irish Terrier outdoors where they can hike, sniff, and explore is important to keep them healthy and happy. However, they tend to chase other animals because of their high prey drive, so be sure they stay on a leash, and provide them a fenced-in backyard for them to play in at home.
The largest of all spaniels, these pups are fairly rare to find. There are only 200 of this Irish dog breed registered per year with the American Kennel Club, according to the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America.
8. Kerry Blue Terrier
Kerry Blue Terriers aren’t actually blue, but more of a blue-gray color. First bred as farm dogs in the mountains of Ireland, today Kerry Blue’s are still athletic pups who love to run and traverse the outdoors. These dogs can be unsure of other animals and strangers at first, but with positive reinforcement training and socialization from a young age, they can easily make new friends.