Irish Terrier Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.
Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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Official Standard of the Irish Terrier Head: Long, but in nice proportion 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 muscular, but not too full in the cheek, and of good punishing length. The foreface 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 balance of the head and is not desirable. The foreface and the skull from occiput to stop should be approximately equal in length. Excessive muscular development of the cheeks, or bony development 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 similar 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. Teeth: Should be strong and even, white and sound; and neither overshot nor undershot. Lips: Should be close and well-fitting, almost black in color . Nose: Must be black. Eyes: Dark brown in color; small, not prominent; full of life, fire and intelligence, showing an intense expression. The light or yellow eye is most objectionable, and is a bad fault. Ears: Small and V-shaped; of moderate thickness; set well on the head, and dropping forward closely toward the outside corner of the eye. The top of the folded ear should be well above the level of the skull. A "dead" ear, hound-like in appearance, must be severely penalized. It is not characteristic of the Irish Terrier. The hair should be much shorter and somewhat darker in color than that on the body. Neck: Should be of fair length and gradually widening toward the shoulders; well and proudly carried, and free from throatiness. Generally there is a slight frill in the hair at each side of the neck, extending almost to the corner of the ear. Shoulders and Chest: Shoulders must be fine, long, and sloping well into the back. The chest should be deep and muscular, but neither full nor wide. Body: The body should be moderately long. The short back is not characteristic of the Irish Terrier, and is extremely objectionable. The back must be strong and straight, and free from an appearance of slackness or "dip" behind the shoulders. The loin should be strong and muscular, and slightly arched, the ribs fairly sprung, deep rather than round, reaching to the level of the elbow. The bitch may be slightly longer than the dog. Hindquarters: Should be strong and muscular; thighs powerful; hocks near the ground; stifles moderately bent. Stern: Should be docked, taking off about one quarter. It should be set on rather high, but not curled. It should be of good strength and substance; of fair length and well covered with harsh, rough hair.
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Feet and Legs: The feet should be strong, tolerably round, and moderately small; toes arched and turned neither out nor in, with dark toenails. The pads should be deep, and must be perfectly sound and free from corns. Cracks alone do not necessarily indicate unsound feet. In fact, all breeds have cracked pads occasionally, from various causes. Legs moderately long, well set from the shoulders, perfectly straight, with plenty of bone and muscle; the elbows working clear of the sides; pasterns short, straight, and hardly noticeable. Both fore and hind legs should move straight forward when traveling; the stifles should not turn outward. "Cowhocks" - that is, the hocks turned in and the feet turned out - are intolerable. The legs should be free from feather and covered with hair of similar texture to that on the body to give proper finish to the dog. Coat: Should be dense and wiry in texture, rich in quality, having a broken appearance, but still lying fairly close to the body, the hairs growing so closely and strongly together that when parted with the fingers the skin is hardly visible; free of softness or silkiness, and not so long as to alter the outline of the body, particularly in the hindquarters. On the sides of the body the coat is never as harsh as on the back and quarters, but it should be plentiful and of good texture. At the base of the stiff outer coat there should be a growth of finer and softer hair, lighter in color, termed the undercoat. Single coats, which are without any undercoat, and wavy coats are undesirable; the curly and the kinky coats are most objectionable. Color: Should be whole-colored: bright red, golden red, red wheaten, or wheaten. A small patch of white on the chest, frequently encountered in all whole-colored breeds, is permissible but not desirable. White on any other part of the body is most objectionable. Puppies sometimes have black hair at birth, which should disappear before they are full grown. Size: The most desirable weight in show condition is 27 pounds for the dog and 25 pounds for the bitch. The height at the shoulder should be approximately 18 inches. These figures serve as a guide to both breeder and judge. In the show ring, however, the informed judge readily identifies the oversized or undersized Irish Terrier by its conformation and general appearance. Weight is not the last word in judgment. It is of the greatest importance to select, insofar as possible, terriers of moderate and generally accepted size, possessing the other various characteristics. General Appearance: The over-all appearance of the Irish Terrier is important. In conformation he must be more than a sum of his parts. He must be all-of-a piece, a balanced vital picture of symmetry, proportion and harmony. Furthermore, he must convey character. This terrier must be active, lithe and wiry in movement, with great animation; sturdy and strong in substance and bone structure, but at the same time free from clumsiness, for speed, power and endurance are most essential. The Irish Terrier must be neither "cobby" nor "cloddy," but should be built on lines of speed with a graceful, racing outline. 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 heedless, reckless pluck about the Irish Terrier which is characteristic, and which, coupled with the headlong dash, blind to all consequences, with which he rushes at his adversary, has earned for the breed the proud
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epithet of "Daredevil." He is of good temper, most affectionate, and absolutely loyal to mankind. Tender and forbearing with those he loves, this rugged, stout-hearted terrier will guard his master, his mistress and children with utter contempt for danger or hurt. His life is one continuous and eager offering of loyal and faithful companionship and devotion. He is ever on guard, and stands between his home and all that threatens.
Approved December 10, 1968
BY BRUCE PETERSON
T he existence for centuries of an Irish sporting Ter- rier is referenced in ancient manuscripts archived in Dublin Museum. One old Irish writer refers to these dogs as the “poor man’s sentinel, the farmers friend, and the gentleman’s favorite.” Dogs were an important part of life in ancient Ireland. The Baerla laws, recorded in the first centuries of the Christian era, included detailed provisions for the control and responsibility of hunting hounds, shepherd’s dogs, earthdogs, vermin killers, and watchdogs. Early Irishmen did not keep accurate breeding records. As a result, the origin of the Irish Terrier is subject to conjecture. The first reference to the breed is an article authored by Richard Ridg- way in the 1878 Edition of Stonehenge’s Dogs of the British Isles . Ridgway, a founder of the first Irish Terrier Club, provided a breed description and stated that the Irish Terrier was a purebred widely known and remembered since the early 1800s. A generally accepted theory traces the origins of the breed to the wire-haired black and tan Terriers that existed in Great Britain more than 300 years ago. Appealing to people of all classes, the black and tan Terrier grew in popularity in the 19th century as a working dog. Efficient ratters, they controlled vermin in buildings, were used to bolt fox and otter, and hunted rabbit for food and for the sport of rabbit coursing. F.M. Jowett, author of The Irish Terrier (1907), wrote: “In the early history of the Irish Terrier as a show dog, it was a very com- mon experience for a bitch to have two or three broken-coated black and tan puppies in nearly every litter.” Jowett points out Bruce Peterson passed away in 2017. We are grateful to be able to share his research into the origins of the Irish Terrier for the benefit of new and long-term fanciers. A version of this article originally appeared in the July 2012 edition of SHOWSIGHT Magazine.
The Irish Terrier, from Stonehenge’s The Dog , Fourth Edition, 1887.
that as late as the early 1900s, an occasional black and tan puppy appeared in well-bred litters. Even today, many Irish Terriers are born with black hairs in their puppy coats. Regardless of origin, the Irish Terrier emerged as a recognized breed in the 1870s. Breeders emphasized working qualities and “gameness” rather than looks. As a result, there was a wide vari- ety of sizes, ranging from under 10 pounds to dogs as big as 40 pounds. Colors included black and tan, gray and brindle, wheaten, and red-wheaten. Separate classes for Irish Terriers were first provided at a Dub- lin dog show in 1873. Classes for Irish Terriers over or less than 9 pounds were offered. In 1879, the first Irish Terrier Club was founded in Dublin and the breed standard was adapted. Irish Ter- rier breeders finally had an ideal to aim at. This ideal appeared the same year in the form of the bitch, “Erin.” William Graham, a prominent Irish Terrier breeder of the era, discovered Erin at a Dublin show. Mr. Graham immediately recognized her quality and bought her even though Erin had no recorded pedigree. Graham pronounced her the best Irish Terrier bitch he had ever seen and his opinion was widely confirmed by the fanciers of the day. Graham eventually sold Erin to J.J. Pim. In an 1891 article, Mr. Pim reflected on Champion Erin: “I think everyone will agree that the mother and star of the breed was found by Mr. Graham in her hamper before being benched at a Dublin Show… beautiful long lean head, cropped, with that game-looking eye and expression peculiar to the breed that we are fast losing; nice neck with perfectly placed shoulders; good legs and feet; wonderfully perfect body, stern and hard dark red coat; not heavy in bone or forelegs, which were not low, but forming a perfect symmetry.” Brimming with type and character, Champion Erin was only defeated once in her show career and retained her quality until her death in 1890.
Ch. Kilvara Magic Master was a strong producer. Grandson of Jerry O’Callaghan’s Ch. Hunter’s Moon and Ch. Kilvara Madrigal. Best of Breed winner at the Irish Terrier Club of America 1948 Specialty Show. Bred by Judith E. Taylor and owned by Martha G. Hall.
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IRISH TERRIER ORIGINS
About the same time that Erin entered the Irish Terrier scene, Howard Waterhouse of Dublin acquired “Killiney Boy.” The dog had several previous owners, including one who left him behind after an estate sale. In The Irish Terrier (1907), author F.M. Jowett describes Killiney Boy as a “rare good, game little Terrier with a hard coat and grand Terrier head, but rather low on the legs.” Kil- liney Boy did some winning in the show ring, but his claim to fame was earned as a sire. Matings of Champion Erin and Killiney Boy, planned by William Graham, produced outstanding offspring. The first lit- ter produced Ch. Playboy, the best show dog of his day, and two other champions. The influence of Erin and Killiney Boy was broadly stamped on the breed with very close breeding among their offspring. As a result, twenty-five years after the first breeding, ninety percent of the Irish Terrier show dogs were descended from the pair. The bitch found in a hamper at a show, and the once-deserted dog, became the mother and father of the breed. Irish Terriers arrived in the United States in 1878. Two years later the first one was shown, James Watson’s “Kathleen.” The fol- lowing year, the Westminster Kennel Club offered Irish Terrier classes for the first time. In 1897, the Irish Terrier Club of America was formed and the original members adapted the breed standard of the Irish Terrier Club of Great Britain and Ireland. Over the past 100 years, Irish Terriers have been influenced more by one individual than any other: Jeremiah J. O’Callaghan. Noted Irish Terrier author George Kidd fondly referred to him as the “Dean of the Irish Terrier fancy.” Jerry bred his first Irish Ter- rier in 1902 and continued a breeding program until his death in 1973. With a keen instinct for breeding the right dogs, his Kilvara bloodlines became highly influential. Jerry outlived his early Irish Terrier breeder rivals, and the new breeders chose to found their kennels with his Kilvara dogs. As a result, a majority of today’s winning dogs trace back to Kilvara stock. Born on September 27, 1886 in County Cork, Ireland, Jer- ry O’Callaghan came to Boston at age 11. In 1902, his uncle, Father O’Gorman, gave him his first Irish Terrier. Later that year, his uncle returned to Ireland and purchased Celtic Badger who became the foundation dog of the Kilvara Kennel. Ch. Celtic Bad- ger provided the blood link between Ireland’s top dogs of the day and the American Kilvara line.
Ch. Mile End Barrister, pictured in a 1903 painting by Maud Earl.
Aroostook Aviator at 9 months, bred and owned by Jeremiah J. O’Callaghan.
O’Callaghan felt that the bitch, Crow Gill Patricia, purchased by Father O’Gorman from F.M. Jowett, also played a key role in the development of the Kilvara strain: “Jowett’s dogs had good coats. Patricia was bred to Celtic Badger and produced Celtic Dream. She was bred to Ch. Thorncroft Sportsman, a great dog but with a poor coat. They produced Kilvara Lily. She was smooth-coated. Meanwhile, I had seen Andrew Albright’s Reprieve, an import from Mile End Kennels. Reprieve had an open coat but he was assertive. I bought him and bred him to Lily to try to give his pup- pies an undercoat. It worked. A bitch from his mating, Aroostook Meg, was bred to Aroostook Historic and this produced Aroostook Aviator, a great sire.” Lewellyn Powers founded Aroostook Kennels in 1912. In 1917, Jerry O’Callaghan joined forces with Powers. All of the dogs other than those of O’Callaghan’s breeding were sold. The frequent show ring success of the Aroostook dogs during this period was curtailed by Jerry’s 22 month of service in the U.S. Army during World War I. While Jerry was in France, hard times forced Powers to sell most of the Aroostook dogs. Upon O’Callaghan’s discharge, the Aroos- took partnership was dissolved and the Kilvara prefix reactivated. He acquired Aroostook Aviator from Powers and began to rebuild. Aroostook Aviator became an outstanding sire and a major player in the intense linebreeding of the Kilvara program. Bred to a wide variety of bitches, even smooth and kinky-coated ones, he almost always seemed to correct their faults. Aroostook Aviator appears in the extended pedigrees of most strictly American-bred Irish Terriers. Most would agree that he has influenced American Irish Terriers more than any other individual dog.
Killiney Boy (sitting) and Peter Bolger. Photograph of 1883 oil painting by R. Waterhouse, a relative of H. Waterhouse who owned the dogs. (Copyrighted by Marg G. Best and may not be reproduced without her permission.)
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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 Although much of 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
340 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , N OVEMBER 2018
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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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 fiber of his body, the Irish Terrier very well qualifies as “one of the most magnificent of God’s crea- tures in the dog world.” Devoted, yet free-spirited, fierce 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 terrific 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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