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JUDGING THE IRISH TERRIER A DISCUSSION OF SOME IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF THE BREED STANDARD
by RONALD HOH
Y ou walk into the Best in Breed show ring where 20-25 handsome Irish Ter- riers stand before you with carefully groomed coats, beautiful level top lines and erect tails. All of them demonstrate the self-confidence in per- sonalities that the breed demands. They pose majestically when noticing each other and show strong interest and anticipation as the judging occurs. What parameters do you use in deciding the winning dogs and bitches? The Official Standard of the Irish Ter- rier provides judges with a blueprint of an ideal Irish Terrier and additional information in this area may be found elsewhere, including The Irish Ter- rier Club of America 1997 Handbook, Centennial Edition . This article, however, will focus on certain conformation and tempera- ment features that are major elements of the Breed Standard and key compo- nents of breed type—the total of all characteristics by which a dog is rec- ognized as a member of its breed. The areas discussed herein include overall appearance, temperament and expres- sion, size, headpiece and eyes, neck and shoulders and movement. I. OVERALL APPEARANCE The Irish Terrier Breed Standard relating to “Overall Appearance” stress- es the importance of such an element and specifically provides that: “The overall appearance of the Irish Terrier is important. In confor- mation, he must be more than the sum of his parts. He must be all-of-a-piece; a balanced vital picture of symmetry, proportion and harmony; ...convey character; ...be active, lithe and wiry in movement, with great animation; sturdy and strong in substance and bone structure, but at the same time free of clumsiness, for speed, power and endurance are most essential. He must be neither ‘cobby’ nor ‘clod- dy,’ but should be built on lines of speed, with graceful, racing outline.”
COMMENT The Breed Standard in the area of “Overall Appearance” immediately contains one of only two uses in that Standard of the term “important,” and then makes repeated reference to the importance of very similar terms: “bal- ance,” “symmetry,” “harmony,” “grace- ful” and “free from clumsiness.” The general impression must therefore be one of balance and moderation, with symmetrical lines and no exaggerated features. The breed should also be nei- ther cloddy (thick, low set, comparative heavy), nor cobby (Significantly short bodied or compact); but instead should be formed on lines of speed, with a graceful racy outline. As a judge first looks at the Irish in the ring, his/her eye should focus upon those with the best balance and symmetry, whose profiles are upright with heads held relatively high and not severely forward, with deep muscular chests and no noticeable prosternum, arched necks seemingly flowing into well laid back shoulders and strong straight toplines. The tail should be set rather high on the back, generally straight, with plenty of “dog behind the tail.” In marked contrast to the breed stan- dards for many other terrier breeds, the Irish Terrier Standard contains no specific indication of the preferred length of the dog between the withers and the tail set, nor any comparison of that length with the measurement between the withers and the ground. It only states that the “short back is not characteristic of the Irish Terrier and is extremely objectionable,” and indi- cates that the body “should be mod- erately long,” without any indication of what constitutes a “short back” or “moderately long.” Given those definitional absences, how should a judge make a determina- tion of whether the dog or bitch which he/she is examining does or does not have the “extremely objectionable” short back? It would seem that a judge, in making decisions in the above areas,
should return his/her emphasis to the repeated references in the Standard to “balance,” “proportion” and “symme- try,” and not penalize an Irish Terrier for having a “short back,” unless it is clear that such a back renders the dog not in balance, out of proportion, or asymmet- rical. So long as a possible “short back” does not inhibit the dog’s movement or impact any of the above standards, those elements generally should trump any objectionable nature of a perceived “short back.” Similarly, so long as the Irish Ter- rier has the elemental values of balance and related matters set forth above, he should not be judged to be “short backed” if it is nonetheless apparent that he is “built on lines of speed, with a graceful, racing outline,” where “rac- ing” should be defined as strong, pow- erful yet limber, without being too sturdy or heavy. Certainly, Irish Ter- riers should not have the short backs characteristic of Fox Terriers; at the same time, they should not be penal- ized in that area if the other above-cited elements contained in Breed Standard exist, in view of the relative ambiguity of the Standard in this area. Finally in this Overall Appearance area, the Breed Standard calls for an Irish
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Terrier to “be all-of-a-piece,” “balanced,” symmetrical and “sturdy and strong in substance and bone structure,” but at the same time his most essential char- acteristics should be “speed, power and endurance.” This Breed Standard com- bination of balance, strength, power, endurance and speed are indicative of the elements of a well-rounded terrier, who on first appearance should fill your eye and simply demand that you look at him. The Irish Terrier should make his own any ring into which he enters and should clearly show “fire and determi- nation”—elements which the Standard indicates are of “utmost importance.” The Breed Standard for Irish Terri- ers describes “Temperament,” and its importance in the breed, as follows: “Temperament—The temperament of the Irish Terrier reflects his early background; he was family pet, guard dog and hunter. He is good tempered, spirited and game. It is of the utmost importance that the Irish Terrier show fire and animation. There is a heed- less, reckless pluck about the Irish Ter- rier which is characteristic and which, coupled with the headlong dash, blind to all consequences, with which he rushes at his adversary, has earned the breed the proud epithet of ‘Daredevil.’ He is of good temper, most affectionate and absolutely loyal to mankind. Ten- der and forbearing with those he loves, this rugged, stout-hearted terrier will guard his master and children with utter contempt for danger or hurt. His life is one continuous and eager offer- ing of loyal and faithful companion- ship and devotion. He is ever on guard and stands between his home and all that threatens.” COMMENT II. TEMPERAMENT AND EXPRESSION The subject of temperament takes up one of the largest elements of the Breed Standard and is a highly important ele- ment in the judging of the breed. Addi- tionally, that “Temperament” section also contains numerous references to the proper “Expression” of the Irish Ter- rier. Indeed, the Breed Standard states in this area that “It is of the utmost importance that the Irish Terrier show fire and animation.” But how does one measure such “fire and animation,” temperament and expression within the controlled con- fines of the show ring? In addition to the usual ways of such measurement via the judge’s walk down the line of entries and upon the dog’s return in judging from the “down and back,” there are at least three other ways for a judge to make such an assessment. First
and clearly best in pursuit of that goal, a judge should not hesitate in sparring at minimum what he/she views as the competition’s top dogs and top bitches as an aid in determining temperament and expression and thus his/her breed placements. Sparring allows the dogs to show on their own and to react to the other dogs. It allows the Irish to demonstrate “spirit, fire and animation” and his “on guard” nature, while at the same time showing his “good temper” (twice mentioned in this element of the Standard), his “heedless, reckless, pluck,” and his devotion to his master and family. Generally, sparring of Irish Terriers should be conducted separately by the gender of the dog, with the judge call- ing out two or three at a time from each gender, telling the handlers to “let them look at each other.” Dogs in sparring generally should be facing each other and should not be less than three feet away from each other. The judge should also leave room in the ring to allow his/her observa- tion of all of the sparring dogs from all angles. The judge should allow the sparred dogs time to look at each other and to provide the desired reaction. Neither overt aggression nor shyness is the proper reaction during the spar. The Irish Terrier should present a com- manding presence in the ring during the spar and be willing to stand his/ her ground when facing a competitor. The dog should appear comfortable and confident and show the necessary fire and animation in the spar. Sparring is the best way to test tem- perament and proper expression and other stacking, baiting or cajoling can- not best show such elements in the dog. He can only do that on his own and the spar provides him the best opportunity to do so. A second way of measuring Irish Ter- rier temperament is to allow the dogs when initially lined up in the ring to decide which direction they wish to stand vis-a-vis their fellow contenders; i.e., not require them all to face in the same direction. The judge has a better opportunity to see the real dog when the Irish are able to face and watch each other while in the ring. A third way to measure tempera- ment—and in my view the least effec- tive—is for the judge to regularly but occasionally watch the other dogs in line in the ring for short time periods while he/she is judging another dog. Since dogs not being judged at a partic- ular time have the ability at such times to watch and sometimes interact with other dogs in the ring, that action like- wise may help a judge make determina- tions in the area of temperament.
Certain elements contained in the Irish Terrier Breed Standard also address the subject of Expression. The eyes are to be dark brown and not prominent and “full of life, fire and intelligence, showing an intense expression.” The ears are to be moderately thick, small and V-shaped, set well on the head with the top of the folded ear well above the skull level and with the ears dropping forward close to the outside corner of the eye. These elements, as well as the length, depth and breadth of the head discussed further below and the black coloring of the nose, should fully accentuate the fearless, spirited, reck- less nature of the Irish Terrier expres- sion and should be demonstrated to the judge at a first glance. III. SIZE Although the size of the Irish Ter- rier has been debated for many years, the actual language of the Breed Stan- dard in that area is relatively clear. The height at the withers should be about 18 inches and the “most desired” weight is 27 pounds for the dog and 25 pounds for the bitch. Despite the relative clarity of these elements of the Breed Standard, most of the Irish shown today are larg- er. This may be due in part to the Stan- dard’s recognition that the above height and weight figures “serve as a guide to both breeder and judge,” and “weight is not the last word in judgment.” Cer- tainly, so long as the overall appearance of the oversized (or undersized) dog or bitch remains “strong and sturdy,” sets forth a “balanced, vital picture of sym- metry, proportion and harmony,” main- tains a “graceful, racing outline,” and is neither “cobby nor cloddy,” that dog or bitch likely meets the standard, given the “wiggle room” provided by inclu- sion of the above height and weight lan- guage in the Standard. At the same time, however, judges should keep in mind that Irish Terri- ers were never intended to be big dogs. With an ideal height of 18 inches, they are intended to be only 2 ½ inches tall- er at the withers than the Smooth Fox Terrier and Wire Fox Terrier and a full five inches shorter than the male Aire- dale Terrier. The words “most desir- able” and “approximately” contained in the Standard concerning weight and height should be viewed as advisory and it would be improper to penalize an otherwise outstanding Irish Terrier in the ring because he/she was an inch or two or a pound or two above the standard. That said, dogs and bitches now measuring to the standard appear relatively somewhat small and it would be improper for the breed to become universally over-sized. S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , N OVEMBER 2018 • 339
In general, the height and weight elements of the Standard, while not determinative, should be strived for by judges and breeders. Irish Terri- ers should come as close as possible to these height and weight standards. But so long as the other elements of the Standard are met, those advisory Breed Standard elements should not alone be the determinative factors in judges’ decisions. IV. HEAD AND EYES Among the categories it addresses, the Irish Terrier Breed Standard devotes the largest amount of Standard descrip- tion to the breed’s head. The Standard also briefly addresses the Irish Terrier eyes. The Standard provides in those areas as follows: “HEAD—Long, but in nice propor- tion to the rest of the body; the skull flat, rather narrow between the ears and narrowing slightly toward the eyes; free from wrinkle, with the stop hardly noticeable except in profile. The jaws must be strong and muscu- lar, but not too full in the cheek and of good punishing length. The fore- face must not fall away appreciably between or below the eyes; instead, the modeling should be delicate. An exaggerated foreface, or a noticeably short foreface, disturbs the proper bal- ance of the head and is not desirable. The foreface and skull from occiput to stop should be approximately equal in length. Excessive muscular devel- opment of the cheeks or bony devel- opment of the temples, conditions which are described by the fancier as ‘cheeky,’ or ‘strong in head,’ or ‘thick in skull’ are objectionable. The ‘bumpy’ head, in which the skull presents two lumps of bony structure above the eyes, is to be faulted. The hair on the upper and lower jaws should be simi- lar in quality and texture to that on the body and of sufficient length to present an appearance of additional strength and finish to the foreface. Either the profuse, goat-like beard, or the absence of beard, is unsightly and undesirable. “EYES—Dark brown in col- or, small, not prominent; full of life, fire and intelligence, showing an intense expression. The light or yel- low eye is most objectionable and is a bad fault.” COMMENT Althoughmuchof the above language is both self-explanatory and definitive, a few areas in my view require comment. The first concerns the requirement that “the foreface and skull from occiput to stop should be approximately equal in length” between the nose and the stop
under the Standard should be “active, lithe and wiry ....with great animation; ...free from clumsiness, ...built on lines of speed;” not “cobby or cloddy;” with “legs moderately long, well set from the shoulders, perfectly straight; ...both fore and hind legs should move straight forward when traveling” ...with “elbows working clear of the sides.” Under those Standard elements, it is clear that Irish Terrier movement should involve full freedom of action, straight and far-reaching, with a steady even gait involving substantial reach and drive. The breed should cover ground with minimal effort and main- tain a level top line while doing so. When moving at a trot, the legs should be parallel to each other; the front legs should reach at minimum to the level of the front of the dog’s head and the back legs should push out strongly—indica- tions of balanced angulation front and rear. Forelegs and hind legs should be carried straight and parallel. Weaving, bouncing, sidewinding, or stilted and irregular movements are not appropri- ate in the Irish Terrier. CONCLUSION This article has generally not high- lighted the perceived faults of the Irish Terrier breed, in that I believe that we as breeders and judges often spend too little time on the positive qualities of any breed and too much time on per- ceived faults. Breed type should be more important than minor individual faults. That said, the best dog should be the one closest to all of the ele- ments of the Breed Standard, the one who most impresses us when viewed against elements of that Standard and the one who convinces us that he/she is the best based upon his/her actions and bearing. It is hoped that the above discussion of some of the most impor- tant elements of the Irish Terrier Breed Standard will assist judges and breeders in determining and producing the best possible Irish Terrier—whether it be in conformation competition or in breed- ing and raising this wonderful breed. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Ronald Hoh is the Vice President of the Irish Terrier Club of America and a relatively new Terrier judge from Sacramento, California. He is also an active member of several regional Irish Terrier clubs and one all breed club. The views expressed in this Arti- cle are those of the author; they do not necessarily represent the views of the Irish Terrier Club of America.
and the stop and the end of the skull. Too short a foreface produces an inel- egant and unbalanced look and limits the desired “good punishing length” of the jaws; too long a foreface upsets both balance and expression and pro- duces a look that the foreface is too weighty. The foreface likewise should not fall away to any significant degree between or below the eyes and should be delicately modeled. There should be no visible deviation between the cheeks and the foreface. The balance called for in the Standard is also best achieved where a stop is hardly visible, even in profile. The head itself should be bal- anced, like the body. Second concerning the eyes, the eyes make substantial contributions to the Irish Terrier’s expression and should be full of intelligence and fire. The cor- rect eye expression is determined by the size and color of the eye and how it is placed on the head. The eyes must be relatively small and deep-set, must not be too far apart, should be dark brown and must be almond shaped, with dark eyebrows and dark brown skin around the eyes accentuating the desired spir- ited and animated expression. V. NECK AND SHOULDERS The Irish Terrier Standard calls for a neck “...of fair length and gradually widening toward the shoulders,” and for shoulders that are “...fine, long and sloping well into the back.” Under these standards, the Irish Ter- rier shoulders should be fine, long and well laid back and should present to the touch an uninterrupted flow from the ears to the neck through the shoulders, strong and straight in elegant, continu- ous lines that flow into each other all the way to the dog’s tailset. There should be no appearance of slackness behind the shoulders. The connection between the neck and shoulders should pres- ent a clean line between them and the shoulders should be properly laid in at the shoulder muscle convergence. The shoulders should not approach the neck a ninety degree angle, in that this would negatively affect the lithe, graceful rac- ing outline and symmetry called for in the Standard. The elegance of the neck defines the preferred proud carriage of the Irish Terrier head. The neck should be long and run in an arched continuous line blending into the back and shoulders, united in strength and elegance. VI. MOVEMENT The Irish Terrier Breed Standard does not directly address Movement as a separate category. It does, however, make indirect reference to that element in other Standard categories. Movement
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THE IRISH TERRIER THE IDEAL MID-SIZED DOG
by RONALD HOH
W ith a spring in his step, an eternal twinkle in his eye and attitude in every f iber of his body, the Irish Terrier very well qualif ies as “one of the most magnif icent of God’s crea- tures in the dog world.” Devoted, yet free-spirited, f ierce sentries yet gentle with children, Irish Terriers have enrap- tured their owners and breed enthusi- asts for generations. They are energetic, courageous and adventurous dogs who are affectionate, loyal and sweet to their family owners; are bold, inquisitive and intelligent; and make terrif ic and enter- taining companions. They are playful and relatively easy to train; and despite their spirited nature, still want to please their owners. They do well with active children and are curious, bold and ready for action or adventure. Because of their strong protective and watchdog natures, the Irish Ter- rier requires an owner who is dominant, calm and firm; yet gentle in training and approach. Irish Terriers are also full of terrier energy and normally need at least average amounts of exercise. When in public, they should be leashed and gen- erally kept away from small non-canine animals. Additionally, the Irish Terrier has a tendency to explore and to chase such animals as squirrels or mice and thus should be prevented from running o ff -leash in open, unsecured areas. HISTORY Irish legend has it that the Irish Ter- rier was created by leprechauns, but what is known is that the Irish Terrier is one of the oldest of the terrier breeds. Th e breed
“Once you get to know an Irish Terrier well enough to get acquainted with his personality, to recognize the depth of love, to behold his proud almost swaggering carriage, his catlike grace of movement, blinding speed and coordination of muscle and his magnificent courage and heart and to see his unnerving intelligence displayed again and again, you will be convinced that the Irish Terrier is one of the most magnificent of God’s creations in the dog family.” — Long-Legged Irishman, Biography of a Terrier by Byron N. Martin
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is about 2000 years old, but the earliest images of it are found in paintings from the 1700s. Although originally devel- oped in County Cork as one of the ter- rier breed hunting dogs, the breed later evolved largely into a farm dog, whose primary function was to serve as a ratter and guard dog, although they were still used to flush and retrieve game. While prized in Ireland for its courage, hardi- ness, unsurpassed speed and skill as a ratter, the Irish Terrier was also famed for its ability to work in virtually any climate and for its ideal temperament for life in close proximity to people. Irish Terri- ers are referred to in Irish manuscripts as “the poor man’s sentinel, the farmer’s friend and the gentleman’s favorite,” and were originally bred more for their work- ing qualities of pluck and gameness than for their looks. At that time, they were of many types and colors—black and tan, grey and brindle, wheaten and red. Color or size apparently did not matter at that time, so long as they were hardy and game. It was not until 1873, when showing in the Dublin Ireland dog show, that the breed first became popular and that any form of standardization of the breed was deemed necessary. Th e first Irish Ter- rier breed club was established in Dub- lin in 1879 and Irish Terriers were the first members of the terrier group to be recognized by the English Kennel Club as a native Irish breed, shortly before the end of the nineteenth century. By the 1880’s, the Irish Terrier was the fourth most popular breed in Ireland and Eng- land. Th ey became somewhat popular in the United States when brought there for the first time in the late nineteenth century, achieving a popularity rank- ing of thirteenth among 79 then recog- nized AKC breeds in the 1920s. Prior to
World War I, they were taken to all parts of the British Empire. Th e Irish Ter- rier Association, founded in England in 1911, included as Vice Presidents mem- bers of English, German and Indian roy- alty, including the Hapsburgs and Eng- land’s King Edward VII, as well as high ranking military o ffi cers. During World War I, Irish Terriers achieved significant acclaim serving as message carriers between troops on the front lines, largely in France and showed great courage as sentry dogs, messengers, guards and ratters in the terrible condi- tions of trench warfare that existed on the Western Front. Th eir bravery and spirit, as well as great tenacity as shown in that situation, led to the following quote from the Commandant of the Brit- ish War Dog School, where Irish Terriers were trained for their wartime service: “My opinion of this breed is indeed a high one. Th ey are highly sensitive dogs of fi ne mettle and those of us who respect and admire the fi ner qualities of mind will fi nd them amply re fl ected in these Terriers. Th ey are extraordinarily intelligent, faith- ful and honest and a man who has one of them will never lack a true friend.” Famed author Jack London’s books Jerry of the Islands and Michael , Brother of Jerry written in 1915 and 1916—shortly before London’s death—were about Irish Terriers that, according to the bloodlines described in the beginning of the books likely were based on real Irish Terriers. Th e breed has also been featured in art by several known British and American artists, including Maud Earl, Th omas Blinks, Margaret Kir- mse, Morgan Dennis, Ric Chasoudian and current Irish Terrier breeder and exhibitor Ellis West. Th e Walt Disney Company also loosely based the character of “Tramp” in the classic Lady and the Tramp upon an Irish Terrier.
Former Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon King also owned several Irish Terriers—all named Pat—and apparently had seances to “communi- cate” with the first Pat after that dog’s death. Irish Terriers also served as long- time mascots for the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team pro- viding, among other things, halftime entertainment for enthusiastic crowds. Finally in this arts and culture area, the Irish Terrier breed was featured in the 2007 movie Firehouse Dog , in which an Irish Terrier was cast as a canine hero— a designation not surprising given the breed’s wartime heroics. Although the Irish Terrier is not now as popular a breed as it was in the 1920s and 1930s, those of us who are active in breeding and raising Irish Terriers gener- ally prefer it that way, since there is cur- rently little or no danger that the Irish Terrier will be improperly overbred, as can occur in many of the current most popular U.S. breeds. THE BREED’S WIDE-RANGING FUNCTIONS Th e Irish Terrier is in my view one of the few AKC recognized breeds that can still be termed both a work and a show dog. Versatility should be the middle name of the Irish Terrier. Although not primarily an earth dog, there is much to commend the breed in many sport- ing contexts. Formal activities engaged in by Irish Terriers include bird flush- ing, lure coursing, livestock protec- tion, barn hunt, land/water retrieving, therapy work, ferreting/ratting, track- ing and hunting of vermin and den animals, police and military work, 4-H activities, agility, rally, obedience, con- formation and canine good citizenship.
“IT WAS NOT UNTIL 1873, WHEN SHOWING IN THE DUBLIN IRELAND DOG SHOW, THAT THE BREED FIRST BECAME POPULAR...”
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In addition to such more formal activities, Irish Terriers are also more than willing participants in virtually every outdoor activity, including among other things mountain climbing, boating, swimming, sled pulling and skateboarding. The breed will heartily adapt to vir- tually any situation. Not only will Irish Terriers be an enthusiastic, sturdy, toler- ate and forgiving playmate for children, they will guard children and the home with f ierce determination, devotion and dependability, aided by their strong
ability to assess people and situations. They are bold, fearless and courageous dogs who are affectionately referred to as “the daredevils of the dog world” by breed fanciers, due to the reckless f ire of their personalities. Although they are energetic, the Irish Terrier does not need tons of exercise. A good brisk daily walk and a weekly trip to the dog park or similar function will suff ice. Because the breed tends to chase small animals, Irish Ter- riers should generally be kept on a leash
when not inside a secured area and gen- erally should always have a fenced yard or fenced dog run. In the company of people they love and with adequate exercise, they will be calm and content living in either the city or the country. Th e Irish Terrier is playful and will happily spend hours in the yard engag- ing in numerous play functions. After a tough day of play, you can anticipate that your Irish Terrier will snuggle up with you on the couch and expect his tummy to be rubbed until he falls asleep.
“THE IRISH TERRIER IS PLAYFUL AND WILL HAPPILY SPEND HOURS IN THE YARD ENGAGING IN NUMEROUS PLAY FUNCTIONS.”
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“IN CONTRAST PARTICULARLY TO MANY OF THE LARGER BREEDS, IRISH TERRIERS ARE ONE OF THE MOST HEALTHY BREEDS AND THERE ARE NO KNOWN HEALTH CONDITIONS OR PROBLEMS THAT ARE SEEN CONSISTENTLY IN THE BREED.”
IRISH TERRIER BREED FEATURES
needed between the times when the dog is stripped, in order to keep the coat clean. Th e breed should be bathed only infrequently, in order to preserve body oils necessary for the sheen of the coat. Although certain not required, it is recommended that the ears of the Irish Terrier be glued down into the proper place on the head by the breeder or other breed expert for at minimum a six to eight month time period immediately prior to the dog’s first birthday. Such “training” of the puppy ears produces a significantly more aesthetically pleasing look for the remainder of the dog’s life than does the absence of such “training.” Th e normal life expectancy of the Irish Terrier is between twelve and six- teen years. In contrast particularly to many of the larger breeds, Irish Terriers are one of the most healthy breeds and there are no known health conditions or problems that are seen consistently in the breed. Most Irish Terriers do not show signs of allergies toward food. CONCLUSION Irresistible, irrepressible, unforget- table, loving and high spirited, the Irish Terrier is the perfect companion and truly a dog lover’s dog. Th ose of us in the Irish Terrier breed consider ourselves fortunate to regularly interact with dogs in this breed who have hearts warm and
generous, their souls intact and the per- sonalty and fire of their terrier ances- tors. We are indeed highly blessed by the presence in our lives of a breed with such great charm and character. In closing, the writer Albert Payson Terhune, in a short story about an Irish Terrier contained in Terhune’s Real Tales of Real Dogs , wrote a tribute to the Irish Terrier that many in the breed believed to be the finest description of the Irish Terrier in print. I am pleased to be able to share it with you. It reads: “The Irish Terrier is perhaps the f in- est dog on earth. He does not throwaway his priceless devotion and loyalty on every stranger who may chirp to him. But to the death, he is the comrade, protector and exuberant playmate and sympathizing comforter of the human who has won his heart and respect. He is an Irish gentle- man of the deathless old school; a f iery gentleman, from the tips of his braced toes to the rough thatch of his crown. He is more. He has a heart three sizes too big for his shaggy body; a heart that is as white and clean as that of a knight-errant. He is no bully, but will f linch not one-hun- dredth of an inch from the f ight that is forced on him, be the odds ever so impos- sible against him. There is a psychic side of the Irish Terrier, too, found in almost no other dog—a tinge of the mysticism of the land of his ancestry.”
Irish Terriers when full grown stand about 18 to 19 inches at the shoulder and normally weigh 25 to 28 pounds— small enough to be carried for short dis- tances when necessary. Th ey are double coated, with a coarse, wiry topcoat and a softer, fine undercoat. Th ey do not shed. While no dog breed is entirely non-aller- genic, Irish Terriers produce less dander than the vast majority of other breeds and people with low to mild allergies often have little nor no allergic reactions to them. Although the Irish Terrier coat can be clipped, that coat maintenance method is not recommended, since doing so impacts the water resistant element of the breed’s double coat, makes the coat grow softer and can negatively e ff ect the depth of the breed’s natural red color. Instead, the preferred method of groom- ing is called “stripping”—plucking out the dead hair of the outer coat using the forefinger and either the thumb or a dull stripping knife. Such stripping does not hurt the dog. Stripping should be done on a pet coat about three times per year, starting at about six months of age. With practice, it is possible to main- tain the Irish Terrier coat by weekly rak- ing it with a stripping knife. Otherwise, daily brushing and some maintenance is
The views expressed in this Article are those of the author; they do not necessarily represent the views of the Irish Terrier Club of America.
“WE ARE INDEED HIGHLY BLESSED BY THE PRESENCE IN OUR LIVES OF A BREED WITH SUCH GREAT CHARM AND CHARACTER.”
264 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , F EBRUARY 2015
TAKE A LOOK AT THE IRISH TERRIER TYPE
By Hans E. Gruettner Emsmuehle Kennel
et me start with: there is a saying, “To know Paddy is to love him”. Dogdom has many breeds but only one Irish Ter- rier. Here is a dog full of blar- ney, fire and the ability to
charm you out of a house and home. His loyalty only ends, with the breaking of a great heart. Here is a dog that has inspired writers such as Jack London the author of Jerry of the Islands . All dogs possess the ability to listen to your tales of woe, but the Irish Terrier is quite capable of understanding and talk- ing back. Is this too much to ask of a dog? Not of an Irish Terrier, for in this heart beats an old soul. The Type Type is not only the shape of the head or the ear carriage or the colour or shape of the eyes. Type is more. We need to look at the length of neck and back, the structure and colour of coat, the way the head will turn in balance when the dog moves, how the dog shows himself in the show ring and the temperament expecially within the family home and with children. But what is the correct type? Th is is so much more di ffi cult to describe. Tor this it is helpful to look back at the history of the breed. Study old pic- tures and sculptures, look at the origins of the standard, proportioning this to the time it was written bearing in mind the kind of work the breed was bred for at that time. Talking about type, it should always be remembered in the words of the late Mr. Gerry Sweeney (Teltown Kennels, Ireland): “If you lose the type you lose the breed”. For this article the focus will be on the expression of the Irish Terrier, the notorious “D’hurty look”. It is the most important point for correct type.
Far too many Irish have lost nowadays the right look and at their angriest only look mildly angry. Once you have seen the D’hurty look it is never forgotten. It is a trademark of the Irish and should be guarded carefully. When judging and examining Irish Terriers over the world experience has shown how important it is to look for the following essential points in the standard. Th e length of the foreface approximate- ly equals the length from the hardly vis- ible stop to occiput. Any deviation and the head will lose all proportion resembling “Pinocchio”. Th e under jaw must be strong with no sign of weakness. It should have good width otherwise this could create
problems for correct teeth placement. No slackness between the cheeks and foreface. Th e area under the eyes must be well filled. Skull must be falt, contracted or bumpy heads are unacceptable. Th e head should resemble a cigar box. Heads that are too fine and small are definitely wrong. Th e nose must be black as it is written in the standard. Th ere is no other colour. Th e eyes should never be close together as in the Wire Fox Terrier. Th ey should be set moderately apart looking straightfor- ward. Th e triangular shape as found in the Bull Terrier is wrong, the correct form is more between almond shaped and round. Th e colour shold never be dark black as this will not allow for any expression of the 4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& 4 &15&.#&3 t
My first litter was born with the “Ems- muehle” prefix in 1977. Since then I have bred more than 120 Champions in di ff er- ent part of the World. It´s include English Champions, International Champions, World Winner and some Crufts Winners as well. I have been still faithful to the breed and hope that will follow some excellent examples. Together with my wife, I pub- lished in 1998 and 2011, two books about the Irish Terrier. In 2007, the VDH awarded me the Baron von Gingins-Memorial-Medal. Th is is the highest cynology honors, the Association award for outstanding contri- bution to the promotion of the breed. In 1992, I got my judge license for the Terrier breeds. I am approved as an All Breed Judge (Allrounder) from the German Kennel Club (VDH) and the Federation Cynology International (FCI) in 2012. “EVERY THING ABOU T THE IRISH TERRIER IS MODERATE, exaggerated is not acceptable.”
soul of the Irish Terrier. Dark brown with dark pigment is most acceptable but never yellow or light eyes. A further important point is congru- ency of the ears. Incorrect placement of the ears will destroy the whole pic- ture. Of great importance is the ear set which should not be set too hight on the head or too close together. Tehe erect or heavy hound ear is undesirable. By drawing a parallel line over the head of the Irish Terrir from the inner edge of the eye you will come to the place where the inner edge of the ear should be set. The ears are dropping closely forward to the cheek with the tip to the outer edge of the eyes. The top of the folded ear should be well off the level of the skull max. 1.5 cm. The upper edge (the fold) of the ear should not be horizontal and must be slightly dropped to the out- side. The hair must be darker in colour than the rest fo the body and give the contrast and points more effort to the right expression. The beard and eyebrows should be from a good hard structure. The wiry and dense textue is preferable. Not too
long so they make the expression soft. Not too short so the expression looks fragile. Even “moderately” is the secret word in the standard. Everything about the Irish Terrier is moderate, exagger- ated is not acceptable. BIO In the world of show dogs I have been very actively involved since 1972 when I got my very first Irish Terrier.
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TO JUDGE AN IRISH
By Cory Rivera
H ow overwhelming is it, to walk into a breed ring with 20 hand- some Irish Terriers and decide on a win- ning line-up? What parameters do you use in your decision making process? Yes, the breed standard is there for us to interpret, but to judge an IT, you need to have a “feel” for the breed. It means owning a terrier or two, in order to better understand them. Th is statement is basically true for all breeds, but terriers do stand out from the other groups. Tempera- ment is paramount, especially for the Irish, as well too structure, movement, coat, overall appearance and expression. Th ank- fully, there are a few di ff erent approaches in judging an Irish line-up that will help you decide. Most are methods of conduct- ing and controlling the Irish Terriers and their handlers in your ring. If you have not owned an Irish Terrier or any other terrier breed, what do you base your decisions on in the ring to see temperament? According to the Irish Ter- rier Club of America, (ITCA) “it is of the utmost importance that the Irish Terrier show fire and animation.” Temperament is referred to more often than any other feature of the breed. What do you do to see this incredible “temperament”? First is
the way the IT’s are lined up in the ring. It is not necessary they be exactly head to tail in a perfectly straight line. Most Irish like to look at each other and prefer not to be overly handled. Th is allows you to see them acting natural, not a push-button dog. IT’s should be able to watch the other dogs or bitches in the ring, and let them face the direction they want. Th en you can see the real dog. Another method to seeing temperament is sparring; allowing you to see any number of dogs or bitches separate from the line-up and closer together. Th is can help you in making easier eliminations and final deci- sions. Sometimes it is at these moments where a dog might “pull themselves togeth- er” and really make a big impression. Start with dogs then bitches, sometimes if there is a larger number of IT’s, you can mix the two sexes. Direct the handlers where you want them to stand, allowing yourself room to be able to walk around the spar- rers. Clearly instruct the handlers to not get close, as “running up” happens frequently. “Running up” is both dangerous and dis- tracting, as sometimes you might have a novice handler in the ring, who is unsure of how to control their IT if another dog gets too close. Allow the dogs time to look at each other. It might take a few moments, but it is worth the e ff ort. Th e dogs should
maintain control, no fighting. Handlers should not string up their dogs either. Out- bursts do occur, but growling and lip-curl- ing is acceptable. In evaluating an IT line-up, often it is easiest to eliminate the obvious. Most essential, is the over-all appearance, which is “all-of-a-piece, a balanced vital picture of symmetry, proportion and harmony. Furthermore, he must convey character. Th is terrier must be active, lithe and wiry in movement, with great animation. Th e breed should be sturdy and strong in sub- stance and bone structure, but at the same time free from clumsiness, for speed, pow- er and endurance. Th e IT must be neither “cobby nor cloddy” but should be built on lines of speed, with a graceful racing out- line,” by ITCA. So, any obvious undesir- able structural formations should be easily identifiable. Th is can include a low tail set, uneven topline, low joining of the neck into the shoulder and whether it is properly layed-in at the muscle convergence, low ear position, short-back, lacking angulation, etc., as all of these faults are easily identifi- able in looking at the over-all appearance of the Irish Terrier. Th e head of an IT is very important, in the days of the point system (not now in use) the standard granted the Irish head 20 points, the most of any other part of
“WE SHOW OUR DOGS TO GET OPINIONS ON THE VALUE FOR BREEDING. Some breeders only breed the dogs that get their championship and are deemed worthy by the judges.”
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“THE SIZE OF THE IT HAS BEEN A CONSTANT CONTROVERSY. The standard says about 18 inches and 25 to 27 lbs., but now many Irish are far larger.”
the dog. It is long, but balanced, not full in cheek or bumpy over the eyes. Th e ears are set high, and the tips fall to the outside cor- ner of the eye. Th e teeth are not overshot or undershot. Th e eyes are dark brown. Th e beard should present finish to the foreface and a goat-like beard is undesirable. Th is describes the construction of the head, but the important part is the expression. When the Irish is looking at a person or at food or a toy, he is happy and has a kind expres- sion. In the show ring, he will pull himself up and show a characteristic of a true Irish, with all of the “devil-may-care” attitude and expression, which is so necessary and desirable in this breed. Th e body of the Irish is di ff erent than most other terriers. Th ey are not short- backed, like a wire-fox, but have length and a distinct tuck-up at the loin. Th e neck is of fair length, gracefully arched, and blend into the shoulders. Th e shoulders should be layed back, sloping into the back. Th e chest should be deep but not wide or well-sprung and curve upward from the lowest point of the tuck-up. Th e chest should not be lower than the elbows. Th e back must be strong and straight, and free from an appearance of slackness or “dip” behind the shoulders. Th e loin should be strong and muscular and arch slightly as it curves over the thighs and not the back or topline of the dog. Th is muscular curve gives strength to the lon-
ger back. Th e croup should be straight and short, giving the tail an upward set, with plenty of rear extending beyond the tail, (known as the back porch). Th e thighs are strong and muscular, hocks near the ground and moderate bend of stifle. Feet should be moderately small, toes arched and turned, neither out nor in. Th e legs straight and moderately long and more straight forward when moving. Th e stifles should not turn ourtward. “Cowhocks” are intolerable. Th e coat should be dense and wiry in texture, having a broken appearance. At the base of the sti ff outer coat there should be soft hair that is lighter in color. Almost all colors are acceptable, but many dogs are colored unnaturally for the ring. Th e IT coat is banded and is not a singular color. On hair conver- gent lines, as on the neck and rear, there should be variations in color, usually they are lighter in these areas. A patch of white on the chest is permissible. Th e furnish- ings should be dense and wiry, without being so full as to hide the shape of the legs. Th ere should not be excess hair any- where on this breed. If you see an area of an IT that has more or longer hair, exam- ine the structure closely, as this can be a deceptive grooming practice. Th e size of the IT has been a constant controversy. Th e standard says about 18 inches and 25 to 27 lbs., but now many
Irish are far larger. Wickets are no longer in use either, so it is a personal choice to include the element of desired size. So by using these methods, it should assist you in seeing these important ele- ments of the Irish Terrier. Th e judges are the true gate-keepers of the dog society. Judges issue their evaluations of dogs based upon the order of the awards given in a ring. It is a public statement of their opin- ion of the dogs they are judging that day. Th is is why breeders show their dogs, to get opinions for their value of breeding pur- poses. So spend some time with a terrier or two and get to know the real personality of the di ff erent breeds. I hope some of that time can be spent with an Irish.
BIO Cory Rivera has been active in Irish Terriers since 1962. A member of ITCA since 1966. Served as secretary and many years on the Board of
Governors. She has bred or co-bred over 70 champions. Most were shown and groomed by her. Other breeds that she bred and groomed were Kerry Blue Ter- riers, Smooth Fox Terriers, Australian Cattle Dogs and Lowchen, all under the kennel name of Trackways.
“THE COAT SHOULD BE DENSE AND WIRY IN TEXTURE, HAVING A BROKEN APPEARANCE.”
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OH THE GREAT BREED OF IRISH TERRIERS!
By Katherine “Kitty” Warner
h the great breed of Irish Terriers. Every- thing is true of their majestic courage, wick- ed intelligence, curious and clown-like antics
walk, allowing me to hold onto her hair on her back for balance, never moving faster or away from me. She often withstood my sitting on her back and pulling her ears like a pony, when my Mom put her in my playpen. Our Irish Terriers and other ter- rier breeds allowed me to dress them in clothes, attending tea parties with hats and clip-on earrings, (the earrings never lasted more than a couple of seconds before they were hurled into the air from the dogs shaking their ears.) Th ey never growled or bit me, not even a well-deserved warn- ing. Th ey are de fi nitely pack oriented and many Irish can run together, provided the pack is well-established and there is a strong human alpha presence. At home, they want nothing else but to be next to you and the family during any activity. According to the history of Irish, one of the reasons the Irish spread in popu- larity from Ireland to England, Western Europe, Americas and points beyond so quickly was their de fi nite “racy and elegant appearance.” Th e desired bright red color and fearlessness was well-liked and their numbers grew quickly. Th ese attributes led to their involvement in WWI, where they delivered messages in extremely hostile conditions, throughout the trenches of the allied forces. Personally, I have sold my pet Irish Terriers to people all over the world,
where they have and live with amazing people and do incredible things. To name just a few Irish activities; bird fl ushing, mountain climbing, boating, swimming, therapy work, dog training, sled pulling, tricks, skateboarding, lure coursing, 4-H, agility, rally, obedience, strong dog, rat- ting for ratings, etc. Th e downside of the breed is stubborn- ness, obstinacy, food theft and chewing of tissue or paper towels. Also, you might fi nd an occasional Irish who thinks there is not much separating him from human counterparts. For example, my dog Bear (now age 11) decided to leave our tent dur- ing one weekend of camping at a renais- sance faire many years ago. He evidently made friends with both neighbors and after a couple of hours of “partying” he came back to bed with me in the tent. Th e next morning I fi nd out Bear had been eating venison and drinking beer and fi ne brews late into the night. Th is dog has more friends than I do. Th eir ability to assess people and situ- ations allow them to make wonderful body-guards too. It is a breed that either gets to you or does not. Th ere is no wishy- washiness about the owners either. Most have pretty strong personalities, just like their Irish. Having grown up with them, I can’t imagine living with any other breed of dog.
and loyal companionship. Th e Irish we see at dog shows is certainly not the dog we see at home. Outside and in the ring, they show their requisite fi erceness with snarling lips, dagger eyes, and vocalizations that discuss their mom’s and each others’ questionable lineage. As soon as they are done in the ring, the show ends and a di ff erent dog emerges. For Irish Terrier enthusiasts, we know the Irish is great, but what made them great? I believe it is their humble origins. Long before they went to their fi rst dog show in 1873, they were the Irish farm family dog. Th ey were responsible for keep- ing predators away from livestock, killing small and medium rodents, specializing in rats. Th ey can go after a badger and be victorious. Th ey also had yet another big- ger job, and that was glori fi ed babysitter. Th e Irish farm families were usually large in numbers, so the Irish looked after the children too. Th is explains their ability to be extremely tolerant of teasing, badgering and general chaos. I know they are tolerant, as they too were my siblings, nursemaids and babysit- ters. Our girl “Mitch” taught me how to
“THE DESIRED BRIGHT RED COLOR AND FEARLESSNESSWAS WELL-LIKED and their numbers grew quickly.”
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