Two of them are among the American Kennel Club’s original breeds. Another assisted troops during World War I. And another is the tallest breed of them all.
As we celebrate all things Irish this weekend, it’s also a good time to honor the eight AKC breeds that hail from Ireland: the Glen of Imaal Terrier, the Irish Red and White Setter, the Irish Setter, the Irish Terrier, the Irish Water Spaniel, the Irish Wolfhound, the Kerry Blue Terrier and the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier.
“These wonderful breeds truly represent the rich culture of Ireland, and they’re gaining popularity here in the U.S.,” said AKC spokesperson Lisa Peterson. “The Irish Setter and Irish Water Spaniel also hold a special place in AKC history, having been among the original nine breeds recognized by AKC in 1884.”
Click through the list to learn more about these Irish breeds. By the way, two of these breeds are participants in two Kansas City parades this weekend. S’Wheat Rescues will have Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers and “Wheatable” mixes in the Snake Saturday Parade. Later in the day, the Irish Setter Club of Greater Kansas City will walk in the Brookside St. Patrick’s Warm-Up Parade.
Irish Red and White Setter
The Irish Red and White Setter is still fairly new to the AKC family, joining the registry in 2009. This friendly breed has a great deal of energy, so regular exercise is necessary. Irish Red and White Setters are best suited for active families. Their coats need minimal trimming and brushing.
AKC parent club: Irish Red and White Setter Association of America
Glen of Imaal Terrier
The Glen of Imaal Terrier is a muscular breed with short legs. In Ireland, Glens were once used to paddle turnspits – canine-propelled rotisseries. These quiet, active dogs have a strong prey drive and love to chase things. They can also be stubborn. The coat does require grooming.
AKC parent club: Glen of Imaal Terrier Club of America
The Irish Setter is a graceful, beautiful clown. The breed first appeared in Ireland during the 19th century and was among the original breeds that the AKC recognized when the registry was formed in 1884. Irish Setters have a lot of energy and require regular grooming and exercise. As hunting dogs, they exhibit a tireless spirit in the field.
AKC parent club: Irish Setter Club of America
The Irish Terrier has been in Ireland for centuries. Irish Terriers were originally bred to kill rats on Irish farms. During World War I, they transported messages between troops on the front lines. This loyal, adaptable breed was featured in the 2007 movie “Firehouse Dog.” They are great family companions, and they love children.
AKC parent club: Irish Terrier Club of America
Irish Water Spaniel
The Irish Water Spaniel is the tallest of the spaniel family and also considered to be the clown of the spaniels. Like the Irish Setter, the Irish Water Spaniel is one of the AKC’s original breeds. Irish Water Spaniels are superior hunting dogs. They are energetic, highly intelligent, eager to please and don’t bark excessively. The water-repellant double coat requires weekly brushing.
AKC parent club: Irish Water Spaniel Club of America
The Irish Wolfhound, the tallest AKC breed, is best suited for families who can offer a lot of fenced space due to this breed’s enormous size and desire to run. While good with children, they can easily knock down little ones during play. These gentle sight hounds have a harsh coat that needs regular brushing. Sadly, their average lifespan is only 6 to 8 years.
AKC parent club: Irish Wolfhound Club of America
Kerry Blue Terrier
The Kerry Blue Terrier is a native of County Kerry in southwest Ireland. Kerry Blues were originally bred for hunting birds and small game. They love their families, but they can be quite energetic and strong-willed well past puppyhood. Aggression toward dogs is common, particularly dogs of the same sex. The coat needs regular trimming and brushing.
AKC parent club: United States Kerry Blue Terrier Club
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier
The Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier is a cheerful, medium-sized breed, with a soft, wheat-colored coat. It is also the AKC’s most popular Irish breed. The Wheaten first appeared in a show ring at the Irish Kennel Club Championship on – appropriately enough – St. Patrick’s Day, 1937. Wheatens shed very little and love exercise.
AKC parent club: Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America
Rescue group in the Kansas City area: S’Wheat Rescues