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Did you know there are nine native Irish dog breeds?

They’re pictured in all their glory in a new book.
Dec 19th 2015, 9:30 PM 66,784 58


IRELAND COULD HAVE one of the longest traditions of formal dog breeding in the world, but most people aren’t aware of the wide-range of native breeds.

Brehon Law in the fifth century included rules surrounding dog ownership, breeding, and welfare.

Although some breeds have died out over the years, nine still remain and are detailed in a new book.

Native Irish Dogs beautifully illustrates Ireland’s native dogs (as the title suggests), giving snippets of information on each breed.

It’s written by Shane McCoy with photography by Colin White.

It doesn’t get bogged down in the characteristics that would make a perfect example of each, but instead focuses on their history and use and targets a general audience.

This ranges from how the Irish Red and White Setter which would have almost certainly died out in the 1900s without the efforts of Co Down priest Noble Huston, or that the ancestors of the Irish Water Spaniel likely came from Persia.

McCoy said the idea for the book originally came from waiting to pull together pictures of “really cute Irish dogs in very Irish places”.

McCoy said people are often surprised to discover that we have more breeds native to Ireland than the Wolfhound and Kerry Blue.

“Relative to the size of the country, we have a huge amount,” McCoy explained. He added that the Irish Kennel Club is currently attempting to attain heritage status for the breeds so they can ensure their protection, and that they do not fall victim to changes in popularity.

Here’s a quick rundown of the different breeds.

The ISPCA issued its annual warning not to give pets such as dogs for Christmas present, so it’s probably better to just settle for a book like this instead. Animal welfare groups advise that if you are considering buying a particular breed, make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder, and consider adopting from a rescue shelter. 

Irish Wolfhound


Kerry Beagle


Irish Water Spaniel

Irish Water Spaniel

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Irish Red Setter


Irish Red & White Setter


Irish Terrier


Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier


Irish Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier


Kerry Blue Terrier


All images by Colin White. Native Irish Dogs is published by Currach Press and priced at €19.99.

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