Irish Terrier

  • Overview

    Irish Terriers are of a rather uniform size. They stand between 1 foot, 6 inches tall and 1 foot, 8 inches tall and weigh between 25 and 27 pounds. The Irish Terrier is a feisty little terrier. Plan to spend plenty of time with this spunky dog, never letting him out of your sight long enough to get into mischief or stir up a rumble with a larger dog. Their functional coats and tenacious personalities make them an amiable, rough-and-tumble family companion.

    View Grooming Diagram for irish terrier
  • Personality

    Irish Terriers are little daredevils. They're always animated and in search of a new challenge. They are eager and willing to protect their territory and defend their owners with a sharp bark. They should always be spirited in pursuit of game, which means that they aren't the best dogs to let off their leashes. They will run, chase and sniff in pursuit of small vermin at an indefatigable rate. Irish Terriers demand attention, and if they feel they are being neglected, they can be temperamental. Still, they are affectionate and sensitive toward those they trust. Once they've been taught to respect their owner's authority, they are hard-working and responsive.

    Irish Terriers are friendly with new people, but they can be snappy and territorial with strange animals. They are smart dogs who learn quickly, but they can be stubborn, so convincing them that your motives are the same as their motives will be job number one when you're training your Irish Terrier. They are intelligent and cunning, which means at times, training can be a challenge, especially if they try to outsmart you.

  • Coat Care

    Irish Terriers have red coats, either in shades of wheaten red, golden red, or a lighter wheaten-blonde color. They have a typically rugged, working terrier profile created by a crisp, short wiry coat with bushy eyebrows and beards. The stiff outer coat covers a fine, softer under coat which is so dense that it's difficult to see the Irish Terrier's skin. The coat has a broken appearance and lies flat on the body. It should not be overly harsh, especially not along the body or face. They have small v-shaped ears and sturdy bodies covered in tight curls. They shed so little that they are considered non-shedding.

Irish Terrier
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Brush your Irish Terrier about two or three times a week with a firm bristle brush to keep the coat healthy and help it retain its texture. If Irish Terriers are left natural, their coats will stay scruffy and rugged looking, but you'll need to brush them almost daily.

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With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.

The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but wire-coated dogs can be done with greater frequency, often within a four-to-six week range. The coat should end up fresh smelling, shiny, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry. The coat should be fresh smelling, with no loose or shedding hair.

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Hair Clipping

If you plan to show your Irish Terrier, you will have to hand-strip the coat several times a year to maintain its hard texture and lustrous color. Companion dogs can be clipped every four to six months, but the coat will lose its hard, wiry texture eventually and become slightly softer to the touch.

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Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

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Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Wire coated dogs have sensitive ears covered in hair that  need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. West Highland Terriers and other small terriers with white coats are prone to developing tear stains around the eyes, so clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.

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Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.