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Ruff, Ruff: A Look at The Dogs of Ireland

For dog lovers, Irish breeds may seem like a large group of canines. According to the Irish Kennel Club, there are nine breeds native to Ireland. Here, we take a brief look at five of the most well known.

Irish Red Setter

Chances are you’ve heard of the Irish Setter, but did you know there are actually two different types? Red Setters, as you would expect, have a solid red coat; while their counterpart, Red and White Irish Setters have a two-tone coat. The red version is thought to have evolved from breeding of the red and white dogs. Both breeds are native to Ireland. They enjoy large spaces where they can roam free and run. They also require consistent grooming to keep their longhaired coats in prime shape.

Irish Wolfhound

Gentle giants may be the term that most accurately describes this Irish breed. At a height of approximately 3 feet and weighing in at well over 100 pounds (sometimes closer to 200 pounds!), these hounds were once guard dogs of estates and were said to specialize in hunting down wolves. However they were only aggressive when action was required; otherwise they were loving friends. Today, their kind and calm spirits make them faithful companions.

Irish Water Spaniel

Many people recognize the Irish Water Spaniel by its fluffy, tightly curled coat and long tail, which the American Kennel Club’s website refers to as a “tapering ‘rat tail.’” They are known to be hardworking dogs, and also a breed that can be tolerated by those who suffer from allergies due to the nature of their short, low-maintenance coats. This happy, fun-loving dog is also an excellent swimmer, making him an enjoyable companion on the shore.

Kerry Blue Terrier

One of the only Irish dog breeds that doesn’t have “Irish” in its title, this terrier has a—you guessed it—bluish-tinted coat. The large terrier (males can weigh up to 40 pounds and be 19 inches tall) is said to be both smart and friendly. Originally a farm dwelling dog, this terrier is now a popular choice for families who live in cities as well. What’s more their slate blue coat is not only beautiful, it’s also soft to the touch.

Irish Terrier

Finally, the Irish Terrier is one of the most popular of all the Irish breeds. The long-legged dog is known to dash and flit across any landscape. His spry body keeps him chasing after toys as well as small rodents or game in country settings. Plus, his bold personality is full of energy and always ready to play with a beloved owner. These terriers are also noted to have a long life expectancy, living up to 15 years. Other Irish terrier breeds include the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier and the Glen of Imaal Terrier.

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