St. Patrick’s Day: Irish Pet Breeds

Mar 16, 2019

 As we celebrate the Patron Saint of Ireland on the 17th of March, it is a fitting time to celebrate all things Irish.

Did you know there are dogs and cats whose roots are traced to Ireland? For some it’s clear from the name while others are a little less obvious. While this is not an exhaustive list, we want to share some of the most fascinating breeds of the Emerald Isle:

🍀 Irish Setters 🍀

Irish Setters are not nearly as commonly seen as they were some years ago. These beautiful red dogs are celebrated as bird dogs and faithful companions.

🍀 Irish Terriers 🍀

Irish Terriers are one of the oldest dog breeds from Ireland. In the past they have been recognized as the mascot of University of Notre Dame (until replaced by the Leprechaun in the 1960s) and were featured in two Jack London novels (though not Call of the Wild).

🍀 Irish Wolfhounds 🍀

Irish Wolfhounds are recognized as gentle giants. While they were once used for hunting wolves they are now known for their laid-back ways and massive size with males often standing at 3 feet tall at the shoulder and weighing as much as an adult man.

🍀 Wheaten Terriers 🍀

Soft coated Wheaten Terriers are a well-known breed seen in many homes in the United States. They are known to have a lovely coat, as the name suggests, and give the lovely “wheaten greetin” when greeting visitors with kisses.

🍀 Kerry Blue Terriers 🍀

Kerry Blue Terriers bear mentioning as the author likes the name. While they are from the mountains of Kerry, Ireland, the origin; as far as what dog breeds it is derived from, has been debated.

🍀 Glen of Imaal Terriers 🍀

Glen of Imaal Terriers are the subject of much folklore. While they work as terriers who “go to ground”, it is debatable if they are formerly “turnspit” dogs. A “turnspit” dog would literally turn the spit of cooking meat over a fire, it sounds like quite a job but it’s unclear if that is merely folklore.

🍀 Manx Cats 🍀

There are also cats with Irish roots. Namely the Manx cat as well as the Cymric cat. Both of these cat types have very short to entirely absent tails as a mutation to the usual cat body structure. The Cymric cat is the long haired variety of the Manx.


Whatever pets you celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day with, may the luck of the Irish be with you in spending quality time together.


Written by:

Dr. Kerry Muhovich


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