9 Irish Dog Breeds (With Beautiful Pictures)

irish dog breeds

Ireland has a rich history which has lent itself to the development of some of our favorite furry friends. But how many Irish dog breeds do you know? Of course, there’s the stunning Irish Setter (one of our faves) but there are so many more beautiful, cheeky, and charming Irish dogs for you to choose from too.

Before adopting any pup into your family, it’s important to know they’d be a good match. Some of the dogs on this list are large and need lots of exercise. Others can be demanding for first-time owners. Whatever you’re looking for, you’re sure to find it on this list of Irish pups.

9 Irish Dog Breeds That You’ll Love

#1 Irish Setter

irish setter

OK, so seeing as we already gave you that spoiler, let’s start off with this amazing red dog. These gundogs are fast, alert, and dedicated to working closely with their owner. In fact, they’re called ‘Setters’ because they were bred to ‘set’ down on their belly once they found potential prey, usually birds.

As well as being huntsman’s best friend, these beautiful redheads are also wonderful pets. Irish Setters are very playful and get on well with kids. As you can imagine from a playful hunting breed, they need lots of daily exercise and mental stimulation.

They’ll love playing with kids and other pups but socialization and good training early on is a must.

#2 Kerry Blue Terrier

kerry blue terrier

The origins of the Kerry Blue Terrier are somewhat vague. In fact, legend goes that Leprechauns had something to do with it… What we do know, however, is that they’ve been a loved farming dog for centuries. They’re a versatile Irish dog breed and one of the largest Terriers accepted by the American Kennel Club.

Kerry Blue Terriers are beloved family companions as well as working dogs. Not only are they fiercely loyal, alert, and loving towards their family members, but they’re also incredibly beautiful. This breed comes in a range of blue tones – right the way from dark slate to light blue.

They also have an adorable, fluffy, and incredibly soft coat that’s hard to keep your paws off!

Even though they’re loyal, they are still Terriers which means they need lots of fun and regular training. Try giving them exciting and healthy treats such as zucchini or shrimp to entice them.

#3 Irish Terrier

irish terrier

The Irish Terrier is a stunning red pup that’s full of personality. They’re mischievous, playful, a little stubborn, and very loving. In fact, if you’re a Terrier lover, they’re the perfect mix.

They’re athletic dogs that have sturdy and well-balanced bodies that are covered in a tight, silky, and bright red coat. Even though quite short, their coat still needs regular brushing, stripping, and trimming to keep it looking sleek and in good condition.

These spunky pups require lots of exercise and mental stimulation. If they don’t get enough, they can easily get bored and create their own entertainment. Irish Terriers benefit from having a fenced-in yard that they can play in and blow off some steam.

Because they’re Terriers, they may like digging and hunting. An interactive snuffle mat can be a great way for them to hone their skills without digging up the yard.

#4 Irish Wolfhound

irish wolfhound

As one of the largest dog breeds around, the Irish Wolfhound is actually a pretty calm dog. They were bred centuries ago to hunt large game including wolves. They were really popular guard and hunting dogs during the middle ages, in fact, they pop up quite a lot in series such as Game of Thrones and Last Kingdom.

Most of us think these dogs can only be gray but, actually, the American Kennel Club accepts them in a range of colors – quite literally from black to white. They’re double-coated dogs which helps to keep them dry and warm in the Irish winter (and summer) but this does mean that they shed moderately throughout the year.

Giving them a good brush once a week will keep most of it under control.

Irish Wolfhounds are good with kids but you will need to take care around smaller animals as these pups are known for having a preydrive. Early socialization is very important, as it is with all dogs, but especially one of this size.

#5 Irish Water Spaniel

irish water spaniel

The Irish Water Spaniel is the tallest of the Spaniels listed with the American Kennel Club. They can be 21-24 inches tall which puts them on the border between medium and large.

These amazing dogs are excellent waterfowl retrievers (they even have webbed feet). Their bodies are covered in tight curls which keep them warm and dry whilst out in the fields and ponds retrieving.

Irish Water Spaniels are easily recognized thanks to their red coats, topknot hairstyle, and long ‘rat-like’ tails. They’re very energetic dogs that were bred to spend large parts of the day running around outdoors.

So, your Irish Water Spaniel will need lots of daily exercise. You could try getting them a dog ball launcher – they’ll love running after them and it will save your arm from doing all the work!

#6 Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

soft coated wheaten terrier

The Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is a beautiful pup and one of the most popular Irish dog breeds. These sturdy, boxy Terriers are 100% extrovert. They love playing, making new friends, and running around the dog park.

One thing that really sets these wonderful dogs apart is their stunning, wheaten coats. Not only are they an amazing golden color but the texture is also super silky. They’re low shedding but do require quite a lot of grooming to keep their coats mat-free and smooth.

Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers have a high prey drive (like most Terriers) and medium energy levels. A squeaky toy can be an excellent way to keep them entertained and burn some energy. Care should be taken if you have smaller animals in the home as they may try to chase after them.

#7 Glen of Imaal Terrier

glen of imaal terrier

The Glen of Imaal Terrier is one of the lesser-known dog breeds from the Emerald Isle but it’s a real cutie. These pups are sturdy, a little rough around the edges, and made for hard work. They’re also really sociable, affectionate, and happy-go-lucky.

Compared to other Terrier breeds (such as the Patterdale Terrier) these dogs are a bit calmer and don’t need as much entertainment and exercise. They do still need a good walk a day and toys to play with.

They’re very smart dogs and learn quickly. These Terriers are also adaptable and do well in training but, like most Terriers, they can be stubborn. It’s best to keep training fun and diverse with lots of healthy treats such as chunks of cucumber. They really are one of the cutest of all the Irish breeds.

#8 Irish Red and White Setter

irish red and white setter

The Irish Red and White Setter is a wonderful, athletic, and very friendly dog from Ireland. They’re also stunning. These pups were originally bred to hunt birds – and boy, are they good at it. They’re very loyal and intelligent which makes them a hunter’s best friend.

As the name would suggest, these pups are primarily white and have red patches. They need weekly brushing and special attention should be given to the longer hair on their underbelly and tail. They only need to be washed when they roll in something stinky (which, as a hunting dog, can be quite often).

They’re very active dogs and need lots of regular exercise to keep them mentally and physically fit. A fenced-in backyard is a good option for these pups, as is a GPS dog collar. It helps you feel secure when out on a hike or hunt that your pup is safe and you know where they are.

#9 Kerry Beagle

kerry beagle

Despite their name, these dogs are actually hounds rather than beagles. They’re also the first of these Irish breeds that the American Kennel Club does not accept. They’re fierce hunters and excellent companions for active individuals and families.

It’s thought that they were one of the original dogs used in the breeding of American Coonhounds – and you can definitely see a resemblance!

As well as an amazing hunter, these pups are also very good watchdogs. They’re alert and can be pretty vocal if they want to make you aware of something. When they don’t have a job to do, they’re also amazing family pets that love to have fun with the people they adore the most.


There are so many amazing Irish dog breeds of all colors, groups, sizes, and personalities. They’re all cute and would make the perfect new addition to the right family. But don’t forget, it’s really important to thoroughly research any breed before you adopt them. They need to fit in with your doggie experience and lifestyle.