irish terrier

region Ireland
cut About 45cm
weight 12.25 kg in the male, 11.4 kg in the female
hair  Must be dense and "wire" in texture
dress Solid colour, red, wheaten red or yellow red
head Long, free from wrinkles. Skull flat and rather narrow between the ears. Stop barely visible, except in profile
eyes Dark in color, small, not prominent and full of life, fire and intelligence. Yellow or clear eye is a serious defect
ear Small, "V" shaped, of moderate thickness, set well on the head and falling forward against the cheeks
behaviour He has a good character and he is affectionate with people, but if he is attacked he has the courage of a lion and will fight until the end.
federation FCI nomenclature group 3 section 1 no 139
Gathered in the third group by the International Cynological Federation, terrier dogs have a common denominator: the function of digging up pests that have taken refuge in their underground shelters. Noticed with astonishment by the Romans invading Brittany in 55 BC, these "little dogs who know how to follow their prey into their lairs" will only be baptized "terrars" later. They will coexist for a long time with the griffins under the name of agasses (or agassins). It was the doctor of the Queen of England Elizabeth I, Doctor Keyes, who, in his "De Canibus Britannicus Liber" published in 1570, grouped them together and described them first: "there is a kind of dog, which we call terriers, because they creep underground to harass and bite badgers and foxes; and they tear them to pieces with their teeth, deep underground, or after pulling them into the light. These underground fights against formidable adversaries imposed particular physical and moral qualities on the terriers which give the group its relative homogeneity. Physically, the basic type of the terrier is mediocre, of rather small size, possessing a short coat. The tail is docked (the ears once were), but left long enough to grab the dog and pull it out of the burrow. Of course, this initial type evolved and the races constituting the group acquired very differentiable morphologies. There is, however, a series of increasing format (Lakeland, Fox, Welsh, Irish, Kerry Blue, Airedale), resulting from the patient selection of British breeders, which retains both the morphological type and the temperament of the "cabin curs" (corniauds huts) of yesteryear. Among these, the Irish Terrier is average and, close to its roots, perfectly illustrates the characters of the group. Guardian of the farm, exterminator of vermin, he was selected to work for his physical characteristics and his temperament, a mixture of temerity in the face of the enemy and gentleness towards those close to him. This rustic dog, eager to work and fight, saw his physical type fixed at the beginning of the 19th century, and if the standards of the breed have sometimes been bitterly discussed, the integrity of this very particular character has never been questioned.
The Irish Terrier or Irish Terrier is a breed of terrier originating from Ireland. From a rustic and utilitarian type, the breed was stabilized and then selected on aesthetic criteria. The Irish peasantry, pragmatic users of the breed, gave way to the English dog lovers of the early 20th century, and the Irish Terrier gradually detached itself from its origins. Symbolically, the abolition of the cropping of ears, of which the Irish Terrier was the first beneficiary, marks this transition from utility dog ​​to pleasure dog. Very early in the history of the Irish Terrier, the breed split into two geographic blocks: the United Kingdom and North America. Following Irish immigration, the breed, to settle in the United States and Canada, resorted to massive imports which deprived the cradle of the breed of its best subjects. After the prosperous years of the early 20th century, the breed and the associations that frame it went through a long period of disaffection. The Irish Terrier has however assets which can seduce. It is an excellent companion dog, original, of medium size, robust and relatively easy to maintain. However, its susceptibility towards its congeners can be a handicap in an urban environment. Today the breed remains geographically split. The low European numbers, their average quality, and the isolation of the subjects in the United Kingdom could be the cause of a drift in the physical type of the Irish Terrier. The North American group, larger, more faithful to the standard and selected in a more stimulating competitive environment, seems more likely to support the future of the breed. Before 1800 there were no genetically separate breeds of terriers. With strong regional differences, any utility dog ​​of good size, with a taste for hunting and wrestling, as well as a good grip on the jaw could, if he knew how to burrow and dig up vermin, pass for a burrow. No one cared about aesthetics then, and if all the dogs in the same county had any common traits, it must be attributed to pre-selection based on the performance of a few local well-known individuals. Population movements limited to the region and the essentially domestic function of the burrows did not favor comparisons5. Most likely, the truth lies between the two theories (allogeneic and autochthonous). There have been lines of native dogs in Ireland (Soft Coated Wheaten, Kerry Blue and Irish), all mediocre dogs with no blood supply from Continental Bassets. The real hunters maintained strains and the peasants appreciated the multiple qualities of these useful dogs. It was only later that the exchanges between provinces, the movements of individuals and the first confrontations between the different lineages led to comparisons and crossbreeding, sometimes risky, sometimes involving English races6. It is this situation that the first amateurs who were interested in the breed discovered: a great disparity within which lineages spared by crossbreeding and lineages strongly mixed with Scottish, Welsh and Black and Tan blood rubbed shoulders; local competitions where the utilitarian aspect of the dog took precedence and where its users imposed their judgments on the pioneers of a cynophilia of pleasure. But these passionate aesthetes were soon to organize themselves to achieve their goals: to produce Irish Terriers in conformity with the image they had of them and to eliminate from the competition the Irish farmers who used the breed. In the year 1874 appeared in the Live Stock Journal a list of the points of recognition of the breed and, in July 1875, the portrait of two dogs belonging to Doctor Mark, supposed to be Irish Terriers. But their belonging to the breed seems to raise some questions among early fanciers. Of these, Shaw7 comments: "This drawing should be kept as the epitome of what the head of the Irish Terrier should not be. act of the famous Kate: let's look at the head and face of this dog. If the mark of the Scottish is not imprinted on it, then I don't understand anything. Look at those long hairs on the forehead, shared by a parting in the middle, and again those long hairs on the muzzle and jaw, and if that doesn't indicate a Scottish cross, and in high doses, I don't know anything more about the points that define an Irish Terrier". These two dogs are then considered, despite their obvious faults (for Shaw), as pure Irish Terriers, and even as representative examples of the breed. In fact, the problem which the first amateurs will meet will be the following one: to define the Irish Terrier against the other races in the process of recognition, or already recognized and to do this, to eliminate the characters being able to recall those. The Irish Terrier is still only an outline which will mainly acquire its morphological characteristics in opposition to the other terriers8. Also, when Ridgeway, in the same Livestock Journal, explains "The Irish Terriers are still unequal. It remains to find, in Ireland, a line of terriers having received no foreign blood9", one can wonder which dog he has on your mind. At the same time, users of the breed, peasants and hunters, continue to practice this mixture of blood, gradually defining the character of the breed. “Now, and although he was the Irish national terrier, it is clear that the breed has remained in the same hands for too long”. These are of course the hands of the Irish peasantry. "They breed without standards and, keeping the dogs for work, if they think a cross with the neighbour's Mick would suit their business, then they don't care about pedigree, thus polluting the breed with foreign blood. , and especially of Scottish". In the 1870s, the first classes of Irish Terriers began to show up at Irish dog shows. There, amateur aesthetes and rough users of the breed disagree on what an Irish should be. For reasons that seem obvious to us, only the recriminations of the former have reached us. But the judgments seem to prove that it was indeed the latter who won their case, and the Irish character lets us imagine at the cost of what tussles. Shaw is indignant, for example, of the disappointments of Sport, to M Jamison, according to him the ideal of the Irish Terrier. "It must be pointed out that this [Sport] dog has competed so often only to be outclassed each time by mutts who shouldn't even have been allowed to compete against him." And he describes Stinger to us as follows, winner of the Lisburn competition in May 1875: "Long back, short legs, gray-blue coat, tawny legs, white feet, panard and all filled with Scottish blood". Prize-winning in spite of everything, Stinger must have possessed solid qualities of hunter, ratter, brawler which, in the minds of the users of the race then in the majority, largely compensated for these glaring aesthetic defects. It is likely that, in current competitions, a selection was made on the basis of selection points established by Ridgeway, under pressure from aesthetes. The members of the peasantry who had been attracted by the competition were gradually pushed aside by the very organization of the exhibitions and by the constraints they imposed9. In Dublin, in March 1876, the winner, Boxer, was hired "breeder, owner and origins unknown" indignant Shaw, while noting bitterly that this is "a typically Irish trait". At the same competition, Shaugraun was presented with the following citation: "Raised by a member of Limerick's famous Night's Watch. Her pedigree is too long to write down, but interested persons may apply for rank, where it is very likely that it will be given to them. And Shaw, scandalized, to note that an Irish breeder may prove unable to trace the origins of his dog. While in 1875, Sport, the ideal type of the Irish Terrier according to Shaw, still had to struggle to assert its appearance against robust farm dogs, from 1879 onwards competitions only brought together specimens approaching its type. . Between the Dublin exhibition (March 1875) and that of Newtonards (1878), things changed a lot. At the premiere, a review tells us, "long legs, short legs, short hair, rough hair, small heads and long snouts, everyone was there." During the second, the eye "traveling through the ranks, no longer had reason to be offended, the majority of the bastards having disappeared2". 1879 saw the birth of the Irish Terrier Club and the appearance of the ancestors of the current breed: Killiney Boy and Erin. The purists have indeed found, in the south of Dublin, in the county of Wicklow and in Ballymena, in the county of Antrim, strains preserved from the crosses which they needed to regenerate the race3. But the type of dog considered then as the paragon of the Irish Terrier is still very far from the one we know today and dogs like Killiney Boy or Erin would not be allowed to compete at present, the purity of their origins remaining subject on bail. Anyway these two dogs were at the time the models of the Irish Terrier, and documents allow us to see what aspect the breed presented at this time. Erin was born in Ballymena and, discovered by William Graham at an exhibition in Dublin, was purchased, although her origins are unknown. She was then the best show female dog and "the born example of what an Irish Terrier should be". Known as Vic, she was described as "overflowing with qualities, with a long head, a calm and alert expression, a hard red coat, an excellent line and a high set tail". Killiney Boy, on the other hand, had some show successes, but he remains above all in the annals as an excellent stallion. Of Wesh ancestry through her mother - a black and tan terrier named Jess - her coat was heavily marked with black, including a wide black stripe down the spine. Its muzzle was pointed, its neck thick and short, and its ears cropped, as was customary at the time. Only a few dogs with particularly small ears escaped wringing, intended to avoid injuries and their interminable healing, a recurring problem in this dog naturally prone to fighting. The tail was also cut very short, for the same reasons. The influence of these two dogs (Erin and Killiney Boy) was so great in establishing the modern Irish Terrier that the Belfast Rufus pedigree, published in 1906, contains, over eight generations, twenty-eight times the name of Killiney Boy and twenty-five times that of Erin10. Their first descendants, Playboy, Gerald, Pagan II, Poppy, Peggy and Pretty Lass would all become famous on display. Planned by Graham, the crossings of these first generations resulted in a line called "line of Breda". Some of its members still exhibited the dark marks of their Welsh ancestors, as evidenced by this description: "He was perfect. Son of Pagan II, he had black-rimmed eyes, a coal-black muzzle, but also characteristic shits of that time, the darkest of ears, a feature that has now disappeared and which, it is said, must never reappear. As we can see, the color of the coat was not immediately the rallying point of the defenders of the Irish Terrier. Having still much to do to stabilize the general silhouette of the dog, they belatedly considered that the coat could also intervene as an element of selection. Until the 1880s, the most varied colors were accepted. Grey-blue for Stinger, winner of the 1970s and even white for the winner of the Belfast show, Slasher, in July 1875, presented as "a white Irish Terrier, a magnificent hunting dog on land and in water3" . Among the descendants of Killiney Boy and Erin, Poppy and her line will consistently express that warm red color which, dear to the hearts of Irish people, will quickly become a point of discussion between breeders, until the uniform red coat is adopted. , its color ranging "from the color of corn to that of a hot Irish brick from the oven8". From then on, the dark marks, impossible to hide, were quickly eliminated. The great Irish Terrier of the Breda line was, in the following generations, Ch. Brickbat, show dog and stallion in great demand who, too, participates in many current pedigrees. Breda Mixer, Breda Muddler perpetuated the qualities of the line both in exhibition and as breeders until the beginning of the 20th century. It was therefore between 1875 and 1880 that fanciers determined approximately the type of dog they wanted to see exhibited, according to essentially aesthetic criteria. Considering the line of the dog (absence of bassetism), the nature of its coat (short and stiff) and, lastly, the uniformity of the coat (variants of red), they define a still rustic and variable physical type, close of its rural and utilitarian origins (wringing, docked tail). Voluntarily or not, they have also selected a character, a psychology, which will become an asset for the breed, to the point of appearing at the top of the standard. Between the dog with the pointed face, the stocky body and the cropped ears which frequented the exhibitions of the end of the XIXth century and the current representatives of the breed, a patient evolution will have been necessary, with a milestone: the vote of the law against the ear cup. The anti-cropping law To understand the movement that gave rise to this ban, it is useful to place oneself in the perspective of a time when ear cropping, a traditional practice serving less and less of its utilitarian purpose, could rightly, to pass for barbarian. "This barbaric custom is one that we would gladly see fall into disuse. Nature has done nothing in vain. Of the different constituent parts of the body, some have a purpose of utility, others serve as ornament. .It is only out of bad taste that one could think that mutilations added to the beauty although no advantage resulted from it". This was already expressed in his Treatise on Dog Diseases, Delaboe-Blaine11. Unable to fight against this practice, the author confines himself to providing advice on how to proceed and on the errors to avoid. "Young dogs should not have their ears cropped until they are four to five weeks old. The sooner they grow back again, and amputation can only be directed when the ears are well developed. C It is a barbaric practice to pull them out by holding the puppy by the ears and twirling it around. The operation is never so successful as when performed with scissors, which must be large and strong. When a dog has his ears cut off, part of his tail is also amputated. Amateurs usually cut it off with their teeth, but it would be desirable for these people to have a greater dose of knowledge and humanity. We can see how the brutal mores of beginner cynophilia could offend the sensibilities of gentlemen who entered this hobby with souls of aesthetes. From the year 1880, the problem of ear cutting was addressed during the general meeting of the created Club. It will only be resolved in 1889 and three major stages will mark the evolution of mentalities and the good will of the Kennel Club on this point. First stage, the exhibition of Crystal Palace, in London, April 2, 1880. A prize is awarded to the best Irish Terrier puppy with intact ears. But it is still only an accessit intended to calm the claims of some sensitive souls. The second step was taken when the Club took the following decision in 1887: "No prize, reward or cup can be awarded to an Irish Terrier born after the month of July of this year, if his ears are cut off" . Last step, finally, in 1889: on the initiative of Dr. Barnett, it was decided that "any puppy born after December 31, 1889 must have its ears intact, otherwise it will not be allowed to compete10,4". In the space of ten years, the little rustic terrier and hunter of vermin, coming out of an Irish farmyard, will have drawn attention to the cruelty of ancestral practices based on criteria of utility. By enacting the anti-cropping law, canine enthusiasts confirm a rupture. that which will henceforth separate the rustic races from their origins and from their former masters; that which separates the utility dog ​​from the pleasure dog. The question of weight and size This point has always been much debated (it still is), and here too it seems that the Irish Terrier is gradually defining itself in opposition to competing breeds. In his group of English Wirehaired Terriers, in an ascending format range from Fox to Airedale. The Irish Terrier slipped into where there was still a place. The 1888 standard measurements are the same as the current standard for height (18 inches, 45 cm) and weight (male 27 lbs. 12.2 kg; female 25 lbs., 11.3 kg). However, it is most often a question of pious wishes and, at all times, these limits have been exceeded. From the 1870s to the end of the 1890s, the differences in size and weight were so great that a little refrain ran through the canine world, targeting the Irish Terrier: "It's a wonderful dog they are breeding now: small as a flea or large as a cow" (it's a fantastic dog that we breed today, as small as a flea, or as big as a cow). It must be said that the dogs presented at exhibitions then varied in weight from 9 to 40 pounds (4 to 18 kg)12. In 1887, the Irish Terrier Club registered the following breed standard weights: 24 pounds for a dog, 22 pounds for a female dog (respectively 10.8 kg and 9.9 kg). But this decision did not bury the debate and dogs greatly exceeding these weights continued to compete, and often to win. And the controversy continues between the supporters of strict measurements and the proponents of a more flexible policy. The first sought above all to limit the measurements to keep the Irish Terrier its place in the scale of sizes between the Fox and the Airedale. The latter thought that these limits were only indicative and that it was a pity to disqualify, for a few centimeters, or for a pound, a promising element, while a mediocre, but standard animal, would be encouraged. This interpretation survives in the actual text of the Irish standard in force today, as we will see below. In 1922, the Irish Terrier Association passed a resolution that "no dog over 27 pounds, and no female dog over 25 pounds, shall be permitted to enter competitions. Owners are requested to carry a certificate signed by a veterinarian and attesting to the weight of the dog". A request is even made to the Kennel Club to obtain scales on the show rings3. The Irish Terrier Club, meanwhile, will opt for a more flexible solution, keeping the same weight limits. but rather as an indication than as an eliminatory character. The recent history of the Irish Terrier merges with that of its breeders. Through the evolution of breeding structures, the ups and downs of the breed emerge. Through the conflicts that agitate the world of amateurs, significant differences are revealed as to the revolution of the breed.
The Irish Terrier, a dog of all utility from the emergence of the breed, has kept, thanks to the vigilance of its defenders, all its potentialities intact, and it is only necessary to replace it in the conditions required to see it express fully its multiple capacities. Hunting Renowned for its ability to dislodge burrowers in their burrows, the Irish Terrier is a spontaneous hunter of vermin. When he hunts for his own account, he rarely gives a chance to the game he dislodges. A first-rate ratter, he is also a formidable forager, dislodging rabbits and hares without taking into account the thickness of the thickets where they can take refuge. As a couple, the Irish Terrier works methodically, sharing the task: one of them forages the bush, while the other watches for the exit of the game. Used for a variety of game animals, the Irish Terrier was best known for its work with foxes and badgers, housing and harassing them at the burrow with a unanimously appreciated aggressiveness. "It is common to go to the fox without having a terrier dog with you. Simply, when we have housed one, we have an Irish terrier look for the nearest farm, and if it is a real Irish, that whether trained or not, it will do the job expected of it perfectly. This testimony emphasizes the spontaneity of the talents of the breed, for unearthing, if not for tracking. If his nose does not equal that of a Braque or a Pointer, the Irish Terrier takes his place with the hare and the rabbit, and seeks and brings back the game like an honest Retriever. But its natural tendency to damage game, although it can be easily thwarted, does not make it the favorite of hunters9. At duck work, he proves to be efficient, a very good retriever, a good swimmer, not afraid of water, and provided with an undercoat thick enough to be protective10. These qualities as a water dog have also made him employed to hunt otters and raccoons in North America. But its current use in the field remains anecdotal, and it is above all as a companion dog that the Irish terrier is recognized today. Companion dog The loyalty of the Irish terrier has always been emphasized in the standard as one of the dominant traits of his character. Guardian of the Irish farms, he had to live next to a large number of kids and tolerate mischief, despite a combative temperament, and take part in children's games without risk of outbursts of temper. It is also to counterbalance his reputation as irascible (vis-à-vis his congeners) that the standard insists on his good dispositions towards the human species. It is indeed in the presence of other dogs that the Irish Terrier expresses his side "daredevil" (daredevil). Some breed advocates try to downplay this aspect of the Irish terrier, claiming that he "doesn't look for a fight more than other terriers, he just enjoys it more." This subtle distinction in no way solves the problem, which arises with each confrontation with an unknown congener. The Irish Terrier then lives up to his reputation, attacking, as the standard puts it, "head first, without regard for the consequences". If the two dogs are of the same sex, the fight is the rule, and most often, without preliminaries. The jaws of the Irish Terrier, combined with the surprise of a cold attack, most often play in his favor. But if he has the bottom during the fight, he does not break, and bears the consequences of his temerity, sometimes until death. This character trait can certainly be considered negative, if we consider the living conditions of the dog in an urban environment. The density of the canine population, the small number of areas where the animals can be walked without a leash, the frequent interactions, so many parameters that presage countless algarades. A century of selection has not diminished the bite of the Irish terrier. In fact, this trait features in all standards, is encouraged by breeders, and considered by judges when presenting dogs. The "sparring" behavior is one of the attitudes that express the drive, liveliness and fire of the Irish terrier. The dominant subjects of a litter are quickly spotted, and if their physical type is promising, nothing will be done to discourage them in their aggressive behavior. Aesthetically promising subjects, but showing submissive attitudes, are removed from dominant subjects and encouraged to show more drive. Leaving a young dog (or a female dog), in a litter where he (or she) will be harassed, can only compromise his chances in exhibition, even if his aesthetics would be perfect. Apart from breeders and handlers who favor the vindictive nature of the Irish Terrier, owners are not the last to take pride in it. However, in the United States, where the breed has been in the hands of female breeders for a decade, male fanciers complain of a low temperament18. This may be a clue as to the possibility of socializing the Irish terrier, until today selected to reflect the traditional masculine values ​​of Celtic culture. In fact, for an amateur not wishing to exhibit, it is possible to reduce the susceptibility of the dog vis-à-vis its congeners. But the policy of breeding and the judgment in exhibition being rather the opposite, it is necessary to expect, during the acquisition of an Irish terrier, problems of cohabitation which can, in urban environment, constitute a handicap. . In breeding, the problem does not arise as acutely. the hierarchy in the kennel being established little by little, and more by ritualized confrontations. But newcomers should be introduced with caution. Encounters between Irish terriers of the opposite sex are generally non-aggressive. The projections do not present any particular difficulties. Obedience Training The Irish Terrier, unlike other breeds, has no predisposition to obedience. However, in the United States, it is commonly presented in competition, and, if done well, can aspire to the first places. The natural tendency of the Irish Terrier is to work around the difficulty or solve the problem in his own way. Easily distracted, he gets bored if the work is not presented in an attractive way. He can then stumble and become teasing. Finally, if he works in a group, interference with other dogs is to be expected. These defects are compensated by certain qualities: desire to please, keen intelligence, interest in fun tasks. Proper training can bring the Irish Terrier to competition in the front rows. Greenbriar Fiddler, to Mrs. Griffith. won in 1959 the Utility Dog Tracking, after having obtained all the distinctions awarded by the American Kennel Club in obedience. Turfbreeze Barrister, to Mr. Powers, was awarded, in 1961, a score of 199 and a half points (out of a possible total of 200) in a single competition. An average score of 196.167 over three competitions was achieved by another Irish Terrier, Gloccomara Gallan, at Mr.Childers. Many other Irish Terriers have passed the degrees awarded by the American Kennel Club (Utility Dog, Companion Dog, Tracking Dog), including obedience and tracking tests18. In the opinion of the professionals, the Irish Terrier approaches the tests "a little in his own way. He does not pay much attention to the way he sits, he changes his pace and sometimes deviates. But the spectators love to watch him, and he is the happiest working dog you will see in obedience.