Saint Patrick's Day, or the Feast of Saint Patrick, is a cultural and religious celebration held on 17 March, the traditional death date of Saint Patrick, the foremost patron saint of Ireland. To celebrate, we wanted to highlight some of the nine dog breeds that are native to the Emerald Isle. From miniature to massive, these dogs all have a character that is unique to their breed, and uniquely Irish!
In the 18th century, the Irish Setter, sometimes known as the Irish Red Setter, was originally bred from the Irish Red and White setter to be a working dog that would help their owner to hunt game. The Irish Setter appears to have been developed in Ireland in the 18th century, probably the result of combining English Setters, spaniels, pointers, and Gordon Setters. Traditionally, Irish Setters were all varying levels of red and white, before The Irish Earl of Enniskillen started the fad for solid red dogs. By 1812, he would have no other kind in his kennels. The Irish Setter's popularity soared in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, thanks to the books and film featuring an Irish Setter named Big Red, as well as the Irish Setter named King Timahoe living at the White House during the Nixon administration.
Image via akc.org
Irish Water Spaniel
The exact origin of this breed is often debated, and is shrouded in a fair amount of mystery. The Irish Water Spaniel appeared in Ireland in the 1830s, mainly from the kennels of a man named Justin McCarthy. He never revealed the secrets of the origins of the breed, though many people believe the breed originated from Poodle-type breeds of France and Portuguese Water Dogs. The first show classes for the breed were at a show in Birmingham in 1862 and entered in the first Westminster Kennel Club show in 1877. They are the tallest member of the Spaniel family, with males measuring at 24 inches tall at the shoulder.
The Irish Terrier dog breed was once described as the “poor man’s sentinel, the farmer’s friend, and the gentleman’s favourite.” The Irish Terrier breed is considered one of the oldest Terrier breeds, with it's ancestors now extinct. The Irish Setter became a recognised breed in 1875 at a dog show in Glasgow, Scotland. During the 1880s, the Irish Setter was the fourth most popular dog breed in Britain. They were also at the centre of a controversy in 1889 when the Irish Terrier Club required that all dogs born after a certain date had un-cropped ears. Ear cropping was a common practise that entailed Irish Setters, amongst other breeds, having a portion of their ears chopped off. This eventually lead to the banning of ear cropping in any breed in the UK. In World War I, Irish Terriers were commonly used as messenger dogs and sentinels, receiving many awards for bravery and loyalty.
We hope you enjoyed learning more about these 3 fantastic Irish dog breeds. Do you own any of these breeds? Let us know! Happy St Patrick's Day 💚