Terriers are not your usual dogs, and Irish Terriers are not your usual Terriers. The origins of the breed are argued far and wide — some say this is one of the oldest recognizable breeds, while others insist the Irish was created from the old Scotch Terrier (not today's Scottie), the now extinct Black and Tan, the Wire Fox, and maybe even the Irish Wolfhound. In any case, this is one spectacular breed. Loyal, game, intelligent, athletic — it's easy to run out of adjectives when describing them.
Here's a little of what author and famed Collie-man Albert Payson Terhune had to say about the Irish Terrier:
“The Irish Terrier is perhaps the finest dog on earth. … He has a heart three sizes too big for his shaggy body; a heart that is as white & clean as that of a knight-errant. He is no bully, but will flinch not one hundredth of an inch from the fight that is forced upon him, be the odds ever so impossible against him. There is a psychic side of the Irish Terrier, too, found in almost no other dog — a touch of the mysticism of the land of his ancestry.”
If you know the source of that quote, please share it with us. We got it from a poster, and have been trying to track down the origin for years. It's easy to find Terhune's writings about Collies, but this quote has long eluded us.
This is Bailey. She floats when she runs, and she can reverse direction seemingly instantly while running at top speed. Squirrels hoping to see another day give her a wide berth.
When she was a year old we were walking along a hedgerow between the woods and a farmer's field. We suddenly realized she wasn't with us, so we began to retrace our path. It wasn't long before we spied her red tail sticking out of some briars in the hedgerow. She wouldn't come when called, so I waded in to pull her out. I set her down and began to look her over for cuts; that's when I heard her squeak. Rather, I heard a squeak come from her. From her mouth, actually. That's when we saw the two little legs sticking out. Nobody volunteered to retrieve the two little legs, so we never found out what they were part of, because of course Bailey ate it.
This is Barnum, getting ready for a Christmas trip. If you know the story of Irish Terriers, you'll understand when I say that Barnum is the one that wandered away and got left in the land of mortals.
First registered in 1885, only under 200 Irish Terriers were registered by the AKC in 2009. This ranks the Irish 132nd out of the 164 AKC-recognized breeds and varieties. By comparison, the most-registered breed had over 100,000 registrations.