Top 10 Irish Dog Breeds

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson
We’re celebrating the Emerald Isle with our favorite Irish dog breeds!

Some people celebrate St. Patty’s day by raising a pint of Guinness, others by raising a toast of Irish Crème and others by raising, well, an Irish Setter! Yes, in honor of everybody’s favorite day to wear green and don their “Kiss Me I’m Irish” button, we’re sharing our Top 10 Irish dog breeds. No fears, these Celtic canines are fully acclimatized to North American culture and will settle right in to your household! (Photo credit: JStaley401/

Irish Wolfhound: Perhaps not the best choice for apartment dwellers, the Irish Wolfhound is the tallest of any dog breed, standing up to 7’ on their hind legs! Rumored to have been brought to Ireland back in 7000 BC, this big boy was bred to hunt wolves but today is considered an easygoing animal that often creates a strong bond with his family and with other pets in the home.

Irish Setter: This sweet-natured dog loves to be included in anything “family” and thrives in inter-active relationships. With roots that date back to the 18th century, this ravishing red head was bred in Ireland to be a hunter, so while he is great with families and kids he needs a little socializing when it comes to other family pets. An ideal biking, hiking or walking companion.

Irish Red and White Setter: Setters were originally Red and White with the solid Red coats not arriving on the scene until 1850. In the 1920s, an effort to revive this by-then, almost extinct breed brought this noble pet back to the households of families throughout the world. Similar to the Irish Setter in temperament, they have tremendous energy levels, thrive on activity and make a great companion or family pet.

Irish Water Spaniel: His quizzical nature gives this boy a reputation for being the clown of the spaniel family. Dense curls and very little shedding means he is a great pick for owners with allergies and his interactive, team spirit means he trains easily and is excellent with children and other pets. A highly intelligent breed, this dog is native to Ireland and dates back over 1000 years!

Irish Terrier: This sturdy little guy’s “compact” stature makes him ideally suited for either rural or city life and while he is high energy, he shouldn’t be construed as hyperactive. With a decidedly developed sense of loyalty and fondness for children, he is a great family pet that originally was bred to be a working dog – specifically a vermin hunter in 1800’s Dublin!

Irish Toy Collie: This versatile little breed weighs in at less than 20 pounds and is perfect for pet parents seeking a small dog that will provide enduring companionship. For those with a penchant for the Collie breed, this mini version is equally robust, exceptionally intelligent and sweet natured having come from a combination of breeds that include the Shetland Sheepdog and related herding breeds. (Photo credit:

Wheaten Terrier: For over 200 years this terrier was bred in Ireland as an all-purpose farm dog to watch, herd and guard sheep. Today’s Wheaten is an energetic, playful and headstrong animal who will often jump up to lick a person’s face, commonly referred to as the “Wheaten greetin”. They are extremely friendly and loving pets who are protective of their families and a great dog for kids. (Photo credit: Photo credit: Eric Isselee/Shutterstock)

Kerry Beagle: Considered a pack hound dog versus a beagle, this boy has a strong hunting instinct yet makes a great pet as he plays well with both children and other dogs. The breed dates back to the 16th century Ireland and legend has it they were on Noah’s ark when it came to rest at Tipperary. The hounds leapt off in pursuit of a fox and the rest, as they say, is history. (Photo credit: mark hosny/Wikimedia)

Glen of Imaal Terrier: Known as “Glens”, these terriers date back to Elizabeth I and were originally bred to eradicate vermin, to herd animals and for family companionship – talk about a full day! They are energetic and tenacious but tend to be more even-tempered and easy-going than most terriers. Fearless and loyal, they are great with kids but can be a little aggressive with other animals, so watch him around the cat! (Photo credit: Kindall/Wikimedia)

Boston Terrier: While not officially from the Emerald Isle, this little guy is our honorary Irish Ambassador given he hails from the home of the Boston Celtics, the largest population of Irish immigrants in the U.S. and one heck of a St. Patrick’s Day parade! Feisty and stubborn, he is considered a happy-go-lucky dog with a friendly, eager to please personality. But while he gets along with kids and pets alike, similar to the “fighting Irish”, he can display aggressive behavior toward other pets and strangers unless properly socialized. Frugal with his barks, this boy is a perfect choice for apartment dwellers. (Photo credit: Kropewnicki/

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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