There are some very well-known Irish do breeds, but there are few that are not so well-known too and which are simply stunning looking canines. Most of them were originally bred as working and hunting dogs, but they also make wonderful family pets due to their very kind and loyal natures.
These lovely looking and elegant dogs are very similar to Red Setters with the one difference being that they are a bit stockier and not quite as lean as their red cousins. They boast wonderful two tone coats with the same feathering as the Red Setter. However, these striking looking dogs are among the most vulnerable native dogs in the UK with very few being registered and even less puppies born every year.
The breed came about at the end of the 19th century at which time the majority of Setters were red, but a few pups were born with two colours and some were even born completely white. This eventually led to the breed being accepted as Red and White, although their numbers then started to decline to such an extent, they almost vanished from the planet.
Luckily, devoted Irish breeders kept these magnificent and elegant dogs from vanishing entirely and today the numbers have increased. The Irish Red and White Setter is highly valued as a working and hunting dog being particular good at hunting game like willow grouse, sand grouse, quail and guinea fowl.
Much like their Red Setter cousins, they boast very kind and loyal natures which is why they have become popular family pets. However, because they enjoy working so much, they do a lot better if they spend lots of time in the great outdoors and not so well if they are kept cooped up for long periods of time.
The Kerry Beagle is yet another Irish breed that almost vanished from the planet although these lovely dogs are among the oldest Irish hounds. It's thought the breed is descended from the Celtic Hound which is a dog that was immortalised in 17th century artwork and which is also often referred to as “The Old Southern Hound”.
The very oldest pedigree for these delightful dogs goes back to 1794 and they were originally bred as scent hounds. They are extremely active, high energy dogs and are definitely not a good choice for first time dog owners. They do have a tendency to chase after anything that moves due to their high drive hunting instinct which means it's never a very good idea to let them run off their leads.
However, they boast wonderfully kind natures and are known to be very good around children which is why they make good family pets as well as hunting and working dogs.
Occasionally referred to as an Irish Blue Terrier, these lovely dogs were originally bred to hunt smaller prey and foxes. They were also valued for their herding skills and in particular for rounding up cattle and sheep. The breed originates from the Kerry Mountains, hence their name and first appeared on the scene in the 19th century.
The breed won at Crufts in 2000, but has remained pretty much unknown to the rest of the world outside of the British Isles. With this said, these lovely looking dogs have a lot going for them, they have gorgeously soft and wavy coats with the bonus being they don't tend to shed that much.
When it comes to temperament, the Kerry Blue Terrier is a high energy character, but a very loyal one and they are extremely good around children. The only thing is they can be a bit of a problem with other dogs and they do have a stubborn streak in them which means they are not the best choice for first-time dog owners.
When they are born, puppies have completely black coats but this gradually changes to a blue/grey up until they reach two years old. They were the very first breed to be registered with the Irish Kennel Club.
Often referred to as the “poor man's wolfhound” over in Ireland, the Wheaten Terrier is a lovely looking dog that boasts a very kind nature. They are also considered to have low shedding coats which makes them a great choice for dog lovers who may suffer from allergies.
They were first bred as all-purpose farm dogs back in the 1800s and are still highly valued as working dogs although these days the Wheaten Terrier is also a very popular choice as a family pet because they are so good around children.
These lovely dogs are known for being extra clever which means they are very easy to train with the bonus being they love to please, but they need to be kept busy because of their terrier traits and if left to their own devices for long periods of time, boredom sets in which could lead to all sorts of behavioural problems.