Form Follows Function on the Farm
The modern Irish Terrier primarily serves as a loyal family companion, but has a rich heritage as a hard-working farm dog. Affectionate to family members, reserved with strangers and challenging to enemies, this strong-willed breed was highly valued by rural Irish families. Bred to control vermin, Irish Terriers were the watchful guardians of farm and family, and also served as hunting companions, capable on land and in the water. Our breed standard was developed to provide a blueprint for a working Irish Terrier, well equipped to perform many tasks.
If you were building a working Irish Terrier from scratch, you would start with good temperament. You need a confident dog that can work independently – one with the courage to drive off intruders, but also gentle with children.
Next you would add a functional headpiece. Since your dog will be dispatching vermin, the head needs to be long to accommodate a jaw of good punishing length. The eyes need to be protected with proper bone above and below. The eyes will appear small because they are set moderately deep into the skull. Ears, set well above the level of the skull, will stay out of harm’s way from nipping vermin.
In order for your Irish Terrier to work the farm all day, speed, power and endurance are most essential. Along with well-laid back shoulders and strong muscular hindquarters, a long rib cage and shorter loin serve a working Irish Terrier well. The long rib cage protects the vital organs and a shorter loin efficiently transmits the drive of the rear quarters along the spine. The very slightly arched loin keeps the spine from bouncing when the dog moves and the topline remains level.
For protection from the elements, an Irish Terrier needs a dense and wiry broken coat that hugs the body and creates a tight water-resistant jacket. After a walk in light rain, a good-coated dog just needs a couple of good shakes to dry off. Underneath the stiff outer coat, a dense undercoat of softer, finer hair traps body heat on a cool, damp day. A dog with a wiry broken coat can work in thick brush, and if he gets muddy, no problem. Dried mud on a good-coated dog knocks off easily with a quick brushing.
Put all the pieces together and you have a balanced vital picture of symmetry, proportion and harmony. Neither cobby nor cloddy, the Irish Terrier is built on lines of speed, with a graceful racing outline. He’s a dog ready to work the farm. –Bruce L. Petersen, email@example.com.
Thank You Bruce