6 Things You Didn’t Know About the Irish Terrier

irish terrier hero

The Irish Terrier, naturally, is known for his wavy, red coat. These dogs have many talents, including being great friends. Here are some things you didn't know about the Irish Terrier:

1. It's One of the Oldest Terrier Breeds

The origins of the Irish Terrier are murky, but we do know that it is one of the oldest terrier breeds. The first time an Irish Terrier was shown as a recognized breed was in 1875, at a competition in Glasgow, Scotland. But these dogs existed long before they were officially recognized.

2. They Were Bred to Catch Rats

The Irish Terrier was originally bred to control rats and other pests on farms in Ireland. Irish Terriers have also been used as water dogs, and as hunting dogs.

3. He's the Only All-Red Terrier

The Irish Terrier is the only terrier that has an all-red coat. The solid red coat did not become standard for the breed until the end of the 19th century, when breeders were determined to make Irish Terriers look more uniform. Before that, Irish Terriers were many different colors, including black, tan and gray.

4. They Served as War Dogs

Not only can they be hunting dogs, Irish Terriers can be military dogs, as well. In World War I, Irish Terriers served as messengers and sentinels for the British military. Lt. Col. E.H. Richardson of the British War Dog School wrote, "I can say with decided emphasis that the Irish Terriers of the service more than did their part. Many a soldier is alive today through the effort of one of these very terriers."

5. They Starred in Two Jack London Novels

Everyone is familiar with Jack London's famous novel, "The Call of the Wild," about a St. Bernard-Scotch shepherd mix named Buck. But London also wrote two less famous novels about Irish Terriers. The first is called "Jerry of the Islands," and the second (a sequel to the first) is called "Michael, Brother of Jerry." In the books, Jerry and Michael live on tropical islands and must navigate the dangers of working for slave masters.

6. One Irish Terrier Was a Movie Star

The 2007 movie "Firehouse Dog" is about an Irish Terrier that lives a celebrity life with tons of fame, then gets separated from his family and ends up living in a fire station. We typically think of Dalmatians as firehouse dogs, but the Irish Terrier in this film proves he has what it takes to be a true hero.

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