One of the oldest terriers, the Irish Terrier is likely descended from the Black and Tan Terrier as well as other, larger terrier breeds. Some even believe there is a tinge of Irish Wolfhound blood in the breed. Like other terriers, the Irish Terrier was bred to hunt otter, fox, rats and other pests. And, being the leggiest of the terriers, the Irish was quite adept at chasing these animals down and dispatching them. The Irish Terrier was first shown in Glasgow in 1875; Killney Boy and Erin, as the two show terriers were called, would eventually be bred and produce a line that would include many champions.
By the 1880s the Irish Terrier was the fourth most popular breed in England, and that popularity quickly spread to America. The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1885, and the Irish Terrier Club of America was founded in 1896. The dog was put to work as a messenger and watch dog during World War I, and proved itself with valor. The Irish Terrier’s popularity held out until about 1930, and then suddenly and inexplicably vanished. Today, the Irish Terrier is only rarely seen in the ring or the home. Nevertheless, it remains a fearless and steadfast companion, whose come-what-may attitude has earned it a loyal following.