St. Patrick’s Day is here, and amidst the celebrations, leprechauns, and four-leaf clovers, there are several dog breeds whose lines are of Irish descent.
Though we love all dogs here at Fidose of Reality, our Cocker Spaniel Puppy Relations (PR) Manager, Dexter, is official an O’Cocker Spaniel for the day. In the canine world, some of the more recognizable Irish dog breeds include the Irish Setter and the Irish Water Spaniel, both of which share in rich American Kennel Club history. They were among the original nine breeds recognized by AKC at its inception in 1884.
Here are eight breeds whose dog roots are richly steeped in Irish lineage. See how many of these dog breeds you know. May the luck of the Irish bestow itself upon the doorstep of you and your dog on this lucky day and always!
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier: A truly Irish breed, the “Wheaten” has a special connection to St. Patrick’s Day, having first appeared in the show ring at the Irish Kennel Club Championship on March 17, 1937. In examining this breed’s coat, it is soft, silky, and has a gentle wave with a warm wheaten color. They are pleasant to people and extremely alert in their surroundings. For more information visit the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America at: www.scwtca.org
Irish Setter: I fondly remember Cleo, the Irish Setter who lived next door to my family growing up. The true color of the Irish Setter’s coat is deep mahogany and not “red.” The AKC says this breed takes about three years to reach maturity, so be prepared for an active and energetic dog if you bring an Irish Setter into your family. With their rollicking personalities, Irish Setters require a good amount of exercise to satisfy their breed instincts, as they are tough and tireless field retrievers. For more information visit the Irish Setter Club of America at: www.irishsetterclub.org
Irish Terrier: Some might be familiar with the breed, as he was featured in the 2007 movie “Firehouse Dog.” Irish Terrier were amongst those dogs used to transport messages between troops on the front lines in World War I. They are loyal, brave, and form a deep bond with their owner(s). According to the AKC, Irish Terriers served as longtime mascots for the Notre Dame Football team, providing halftime entertainment for adoring crowds. For more information visit the Irish Terrier Club of America at: www.itca.info
Kerry Blue Terrier: This writer is most familiar with the Kerry Blue Terrier, Mick, who took the Best in Show title at the Westminster Kennel Club show in 2003. Known for his superior working and hunting skills, the Kerry Blue is used for hunting small game and birds, and for retrieving from land as well as water. He is a working and hunting dog and yet his terrier root make him an unsurpassed watch dog and herder of flock. For more information visit the United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club at: www.uskbtc.com
Irish Water Spaniel: Some of the nicknames assigned to this regal breed include “Shannon Spaniel,” the “Whip-Tail Spaniel,” and the “Rat-Tail Spaniel.” He has a top knot of long, loose curls and a body covered with a dense, crisply curled liver colored coat, contrasted by a smooth face and a smooth “rat” tail. As his name implies, he is a natural water dog. The breed is devoted to their family and yet cautious with strangers. He is agile and active in both water and in the field. For more information visit the Irish Water Spaniel Club of America at: clubs.akc.org/iwsc/
Irish Wolfhound : This stately breed is all power combined with a keen eyesight and sharp swiftness, placing him in the ‘sight’ hound category (vs. scent hound, like a bloodhound). He is the tallest of all AKC recognized breeds. According to the AKC, while Irish literature refers to this ancient breed in many ways, including “Big Dogs of Ireland,” Irish Wolfhounds were documented in Rome in the year 391 A.D., where they were presented to the Roman Counsel as gifts, which “all Rome viewed with wonder.” As in early times, Irish Wolfhounds possess an extraordinary social temperament, as well as the intelligence to separate friend, family and foe. For more information visit the Irish Wolfhound Club of America at: www.iwclubofamerica.org
Glen of Imaal Terrier: The breed gets his name from a valley in the Wicklow Mountains, a region in Ireland. He is longer than he is tall and sports a double coat of medium length. This working terrier is agile, possesses great strength, is a dog who when working, is active, agile, silent and intent upon its game. For more information visit the Glen of Imaal Terrier Club of America at: www.glens.org
Irish Red & White Setter: It is said this breed emerged at the end of the 17th Century in Ireland, and is red and white in color, as opposed to the solid red Irish Setter. This loyal, loving breed is best suited for an active person/family, as he was bred as a versatile hunting dog. He Irish Red and White Setter was originally one to provide food for the table, of both the fur and feather variety. For more information visit the Irish Red & White Setter Association at:https://www.akc.org/breeds/irish_red_white_setter/index.cfm
P.S. Did you know that you can rescue a purebred dog? According to the official AKC website,“ Every AKC breed has a dedicated group of fanciers who do rescue for that breed through a national network of volunteers. If you don’t have the resources and energy for a puppy but think you could handle an adult dog, look into purebred rescue groups.”
For more information regarding these or any of AKC’s breeds, visit www.akc.org.
What are you doing to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with your dog?