The Irish Terrier was most likely descended from the ancient Terrier of Great Britain. The black and tan, rough coated animal was developed in Ireland into the animal known as the Irish Terrier today. The qualities the breed developed were durability, skill as a ratter and a temperament suited for human company. The trademark solid red color of this breed became a fixture late in the nineteenth century. Previous to that, the breed came in colors such as gray, brindle and black/tan.
The exact lineage of the breed is in dispute. Some say the Irish Terrier resulted from the crossing of the aforementioned black and tan terrier with the Irish Wolfhound. This theory has some credence due to the based on a resemblance to the Irish Wolfhound’s wiry coat, racing physique and head shape.
This dog has long had a role in Irish families, even before the breed was officially recognized. Small, red, rough-coated terriers often served a household as a guard dog and exterminator of vermin. This courage and ferocity was paired with the ability to live side-by-side in peace with livestock and family members. Those traits are still very much alive in the breed today.