Top Irish Dog Breeds

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Irish influence is strong in the USA. Approximately 31.5 million Americans have Irish ancestry — more than 30% of the population! Irish immigrants who made the long trip across the Atlantic also brought their adorable doggos with them.

So, why not reconnect with your roots by picking up a pup from the Emerald Isles? According to the Irish Kennel Club, there are 9 recognized Irish dog breeds, including 4 terriers, 3 gundogs, and 2 hounds. We're taking a look at these top Irish dog breeds for pet parents considering a Hibernian hound. 

#1. Irish Wolfhound

Pet parents looking to go big or go home should check out the Irish Wolfhound. Originally bred to hunt wolves in the 15th century, the Irish Wolfhound has the distinction of being the tallest dog breed in the world, as recognized by the American Kennel Club. With their stature and shaggy coat, you're sure to turn a few heads at the local dog park!

#2. Glen of Imaal Terrier

At the opposite end of the Celtic canine size scale is the Glen of Imaal Terrier. These short yet stout doggos only grow to about 14 inches tall but have strong legs and were bred to hunt small prey like rats, foxes, and badgers. They're also thought to be one of the original turnspit dogs. Glen of Imaal Terriers are independent and easily entertained, making them ideal for apartment living.

#3. Kerry Blue Terrier

Kerry Blues are the most visually striking out of the Irish terrier breeds. They have short, curly, woolen coats with a bluish hue, making them stand out from the canine crowd. Despite their appearance, Kerry Blue Terriers aren't fashionable and are uncommon in the US. As a result, your Kerry Blue is sure to be a conversation starter when you're on walkies!

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#4. Irish Water Spaniel

The Irish Water Spaniel is the tallest of the spaniel breeds. They're another beautiful breed, with long curly hair that makes them look like they have a mop-top perm. They're high-energy pups that are the clowns of the Spaniel world, making them ideal for outdoorsy pet parents. They also barely shed and are one of the best hypoallergenic dog breeds.

#5. Irish Red Setter

One of the most common Irish dog breeds is the Red Setter. Red Setters have been popular for centuries, with descriptions of the breed dating back to the 16th century. Instantly recognizable thanks to their long, red coats, Red Setters are friendly and laid-back, making them popular family pets. However, they can be a bit unruly, meaning they might not be the best pets for families with young children.

#6. Kerry Beagle

Kerry Beagles are among the oldest confirmed Irish breeds, with pedigree records dating back to the late 18th century. Despite being called Beagles, Kerry Beagles aren't a true Beagle breed — they belong to the hound family. They're also believed to be the ancestors of American Coonhounds. Kerry Beagles are energetic and have a strong hunting instinct, and require 2 or 3 long walks a day.

#7. Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

The Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is an uncommon dog breed and is considered the oldest terrier breed native to Ireland. Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers are similar in size and appearance to Kerry Blues but have a smoother, silkier coat that comes in several different colors. They're playful, friendly dogs famous for the "Wheaten greetin," jumping up to lick a person's face.

#8. Irish Terrier

The Irish Terriers was one of the most popular dogs in Britain and Ireland at the turn of the 20th century. This classic bearded breed is similar in appearance to Fox Terriers but is longer with red or wheaten fur. They enjoy lots of mental and physical stimulation and are "pawfect" for agility training.

#9. Irish Red and White Setter

Irish Red and White Setter are popular gundogs that are incredibly similar to the Irish Red Setter siblings. The two breeds are similar in appearance (apart from their fur color) and have almost identical temperaments. They were originally bred to hunt gamebirds, meaning they're always up for a game of frisbee.