Ireland has produced some of the most well-known and beloved dog breeds, and also some that are quite obscure, except to those canine connoisseurs that know of every breed of dog. Most of the Irish dog breeds are either working dogs or gun dogs.
Irish Setter: One of the most well-known dog breeds, the Irish Setter has a striking red, flowing, coat, and athletic built. It is a highly affectionate breed of dog, and makes a superb family pet; however, thanks to its hunting heritage, it requires a lot of exercise. It was developed as a hunting dog, and its amazing stamina, and willingness to please makes it a formidable hunting partner.
Irish Red & White Setter: Not as prominently known as the Irish Setter, the Irish Red & White Setter is the older of the two breeds, and is has a physique very similar to that of its fully red cousin. As the name suggests its coat is white with large red spots. It was developed as a hunting dog, and still accompanies hunters in the field, and competes in field trials successfully.
Irish Wolfhound: The largest of the Irish dog breeds, the Irish Wolfhound has an imposing presence; however, it has a very mild temperament and can make a great family pet, as long as it gets plenty of exercise. One of the oldest dog breeds, like many other large breeds of dog, the Irish Wolfhound has a relatively short life-span (generally under 10 years of age).
Irish Water Spaniel: The first reference of the breed appeared in the 1,600s. There is no clean evidence of its origins, but is likely a transplant from Persia, through Spain. Two distinctive characteristics of the Irish Water Spaniel are its curly coat, and its hairless (rat like) tail. It is a highly intelligent breed, with great stamina that is not only a great water dog, but can make a fantastic family pet; however, it can be reserved with strangers.
Irish Terrier: A medium-sized dog, the Irish Terrier has a wiry short coat, and is the oldest of Irish terrier breeds. The Irish Terrier is an affectionate and even tempered dog, and highly affectionate towards its family. Similar to other terriers, it is high energy and highly tenacious, but with proper training makes a great family pet.
Kerry Blue Terrier: The striking posture of the Kerry Blue makes it stand out among other terriers, and its curly blue coat adds to the visual impact. Little is known about the origins of the breed; however, it is agreed that the Kerry Blue has been in Ireland for hundreds of years. It can be a good family pet with proper training. Its curly coat does require grooming on a regular basis (ideally daily), so it may not be the choice for those who like to be less involved with their pet.
Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier: This terrier is a hard working dog, and love to be active. In the home the Glen of Imaal Terrier is gentle, and docile and can make a wonderful family pet. It is highly affectionate, and calm in the home, but given a reason it is always ready to give chase.