Forget Leprechauns! This Tiny Pup Takes the Top Spot as Ireland’s Favorite Dog

For one day each year, Ireland gets its turn in the pop culture spotlight. March 17th is known to many as St. Patrick’s Day, but few know the origins of the holiday or what it’s meant to symbolize. Instead–it’s become more of a party! This can be fun, but it’s also the ideal time to learn more about the Emerald Isle and what makes it so special…including the people and pets that call it home. 

Ireland's Favorite Dog

In honor of the upcoming day of celebration, the researchers at Rover dove in to discover which of the nine Irish dog breeds are the most popular. To do this, they dug into their database of millions of pets to see how these breeds are trending in real time. Some of these breeds are common knowledge among casual canine fans, while others may be new to you. They range in size from small to giant, but they’re all sure to put a smile on your face this St. Patrick’s Day.

The Irish Kennel Club currently recognizes nine dog breeds as Irish natives, and here they are, ranked from most to least popular.

1. Glen of Imaal Terrier

Ireland's Favorite Dog

Although not many folks have heard of this Irish dog breed, it’s actually an old breed that was simply not recognized for a long time. They hail from the Glen of Imaal in a remote area of eastern Ireland, where they were developed over the 16th and 17th centuries to help farmers with day-to-day tasks. While they primarily hunted badgers, they also became known as ‘turnspit dogs’ when they became popular helpers in the kitchen. 

These dwarf dogs require regular brushing to keep their double-coated, wiry fur clean and tangle-free. They don’t shed much, however, and rarely grow larger than 40 pounds. With their strong and sturdy nature, they make a great all-around dog for a variety of homes and families. 

2. Irish Red and White Setter

Ireland's Favorite Dog
Source: @frontrowedoodles.studs

Although often grouped together with their cousins, Irish Setters, Irish Red and White Setters are actually a separate breed. This is the older of the two breeds, with origins tracing as far back as the 17th century. In the middle of the 19th century, however, red puppies began appearing in these litters, and over time, this genetic variation became more and more common. At one point in time, Irish Red and White Setters were virtually gone!

Fortunately, the breed was re-established by the mid-20th century. It’s still not as common as its all-red cousin, but it is more popular in Ireland. 

3. Irish Setter

Ireland's Favorite Dog
Source: @jules_gingerstateofmind

Like their red and white counterparts, Irish Setters are lean, graceful, and loving. They are known for being well-rounded family dogs, with plenty of energy for playing and exercise and plenty of patience for little kids. Though they were bred as gun dogs back in Ireland, they will be happy doing almost anything with someone they love. If you’re looking for an easygoing and happy four-legged friend, this could be the breed for you. 

4. Irish Terrier

Ireland's Favorite Dog
Source: @ilona__knaup

This small dog breed is the oldest of the Irish Terrier breeds and perhaps the most fearless. They became popular in World War I when they were used as messenger dogs–even on the battlefield, though today, they make excellent family pets. Irish Terriers are known to he stubborn daredevils, though they have no shortage of love and sweetness for those they love. It’s the best of both worlds! 

5. Irish Water Spaniel

Ireland's Favorite Dog
Source: @iwsamerica

Like other water dogs, the Irish Water Spaniel has a thick, curly coat that repels water and grime. They are natural swimmers, but they also need plenty of physical and mental stimulation to keep them feeling their best. These loving and energetic companions have the potential to live in a number of different homes, but the best kind will keep them entertained and happy. 

6. Irish Wolfhound

Ireland's Favorite Dog
Source: @trevor_thewolfhound

Although most would guess that the majestic Great Dane would take the cake for the tallest dog breed in the world, it’s actually the Irish Wolfhound. These mysterious dogs are absolutely huge and are not for everyone. They require lots of training on obedience and leash manners, but these gentle giants will gladly comply. They are known for their low-key, friendly natures, as well as for their massive size. 

7. Kerry Beagle

Ireland's Favorite Dog
Source: @canis_doggydaycare

The Kerry Beagle is the second oldest Irish breed, following the Irish Wolfhound. It is thought to be a descendant of what’s simply known as “the old southern hound” and carries along many of the hound characteristics. They are thought to have been stag hunters in ancient Ireland, though today, they are only seen hunting rabbits. The easiest way to put it is that they’re hunting dogs through and through!

8. Kerry Blue Terrier

Ireland's Favorite Dog
Source: @annarella_szabo

This breed has a particularly fascinating origin story, even if it cannot be proven. It’s thought that a group of Spanish Armada ships crashed on the coast of Ireland in 1588, one of them with a dog as its only survivor. This underdog then bred with many of the Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers on the island, creating a new line of blue-gray colored dogs with an impressive intelligence and tenacity. 

These small dogs were hunters–like many terriers–though they became jacks-of-all-trade when they started transitioning to more rural lifestyles. In this sense, they have quite a lot in common with the Glen of Imaal Terrier! 

9. Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

Ireland's Favorite Dog
Source: @fastestdoginbrooklyn

As mentioned above, Kerry Blue Terriers came to be when an unnamed canine shipwreck survivor began to breed with local Wheaten Terriers. These nonshedding dogs are extremely affectionate with loved ones, though they can also be high-energy and tangled. Fortunately, grooming your Wheaten can help keep their tangles at bay between appointments! Whether you brush their hair for just long enough or you let them relax to the comforting sensation, Wheatens will be more than happy to have your attention. 

These nine Irish dog breeds may be pretty cute, but they also have a deep history surrounding them. It’s important to take the time to learn about different dog breeds and what they offer to new families, whether you’re considering adopting or just browsing in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.

Related Articles:

Top Rated Dog Treats Every Dog Will Love

Jerky - Made in USA

Good Dog Chews

Fresh Baked Daily Gourmet Treats