From the beginning...
Having done your research into which breed of dog best suits your lifestyle (exercise,
character, feeding, general health and final size) you have decided that an Irish
terrier is for you. Congratulations! A wonderful choice.
So, what must you do to ensure that you find a healthy, good example of the breed to
Every reputable breeder works to the 'breed standard' - the template accepted by the
Irish Kennel Club as the pattern to which all breeders should aspire and which show
judges use as their guide when assessing Irish Terriers in the show ring.
Serious breeders will always want to improve on the dog(s) they currently own. In doing
so, they will always want to keep the best puppy(ies) from a litter (average size is
5-6), to breed on into the future. After making this selection, the remaining quality
puppies then come onto the market.
As a potential Irish Terrier buyer, you have already scanned the reference books, have
joined your nearest Irish Terrier Club and visited one or two local shows and/or spoken
to local breeders to discuss your favourite subject. Seeing a number of Irish together
at a local show, for example, is an opportunity for you to view Irish in close-up and
decide which particular dog or bitch you like.
A word with the owner/exhibitor will help establish if they have puppies available or
due, and if not, a Breed Club secretary is always a useful source of information.
When buying an Irish Terrier puppy, whether it is to be a prospect for showing, working,
or as a family pet, as an owner you immediately take responsibility for the care of that
puppy until its old age, which may be 16 years.
As a dedicated researcher, if you want a puppy from a particular source, you will have
asked to go on any waiting list. Sadly, puppies don't appear to order and even breeders
can be disappointed, so be prepared to wait.
Excitement builds - first sight of the puppies
Wherever the puppy comes from, see the litter twice, if possible, before buying. The
first visit at about four weeks and the final visit at around 7-8 weeks, before they are
ready to leave the dam.
The breeder will tell you which puppies are available to you, and at your first visit
they should be with their mother. Their eyes will be fully open and they will be on
their feet and just starting to get into mischief. If the stud dog is available, ask to
see him too. If not, ask about him - there may be a photograph.
A word of caution - buyer beware!
At the first visit, check the puppies from which you can choose. A healthy puppy will
be active (unless resting after play), and be interested in what is going on around it.
Look at each one closely. If the eyes are not clear and clean, if the tummies are hugely
distended then do not be afraid to say 'No'.
Local newspapers advertising litters for sale can be a magnet for those looking for a
cheap puppy and there is often a ready market.
Puppies are sometimes sold too young or unhealthy. Because a very small puppy tugs at
the heart strings, months of vets bills may follow. Who would want to return a sickly
puppy when the children have already fallen in love with it?
If you are tempted to answer a newspaper advertisement, ask a dog breeder friend to go
with you for an objective view. Ask to see the mother and the paperwork. If in any
doubt, don't buy. A puppy is not a disposable toy. This is a companion which will love
you unconditionally for all its life and for whom you are totally responsible - come
rain, hail or shine. And remember that it costs as much to feed and care for a poor
Irish Terrier as it does to feed a good one!
Getting ready for the big day
So, you have taken some advice, decided which puppy to have, and are about to take the
baby home. Have you prepared for it?
The breeder will want to know if your garden is escape proof, if your fences are high
enough, how long will your puppy be left alone during the day; how old are your
children; do you have a safe and secure kennel or quiet space for the puppy; if you have
made acquaintance with the vet you intend to use and are you prepared for a few sleepless
For your part, you will have checked the fences (seriously checked the fences - these
are dogs capable of digging serious holes), you will have ensured that your
walls and fences are not climbable or jumpable; your children have been coached in the
art of letting sleeping puppies lie, and not feeding titbits, and using the same words
for the same functions; you will have bought a large crate or bed plus toys; you will
have asked your vet if he will check over the new arrival within the first 24 hours of
having the puppy home and you will have told the family not to give in to any nightime
crying - from the puppy, that is.
A pedigree puppy will have its own pedigree papers and be registered with the Kennel Club
with its own 'proper name' given to it by the breeder. You must transfer the ownership
of the puppy (currently registered with the breeder) into your name. Sign the registration
form you will be given and send it to the Kennel Club with a small fee. They will send
back a new form naming you as the owner. The breeder may give you some of the food the
puppy has been eating in recent weeks, plus a diet sheet as a guide to follow.
If you are collecting your puppy by car, make sure you have an old towel in a suitable
small box or crate to travel the puppy in. Avoid contact with other dogs beyond your
garden gate until the puppy's inoculations are completed.
Keep in touch with the breeder, who can be a source of support should you have any concerns.
The vet - your new friend
The puppy should have been regularly wormed from two weeks of age and its claws trimmed
before it leaves home. Ask about the worming regime - you may need to advise your new
vet about this for his own records.
When you do see your vet for the first time to check the puppy over, he will look at its
eyes, listen to its heart, and give it a general health check before administering its
first inoculation - which may already have been done by the breeder, in which case you
will have been given a record card detailing the vaccines used. Your new vet will need to
see this before giving the puppy its second dose.
As Irish puppies grow up they need hand stripping twice a year;
regular grooming will prevent much hair being shed.
Advice on trimming is available on our trimming page,
link to trimming page
but if you feel it is not something you can do yourself, most local
quality grooming establishments will hand-strip an Irish.
So, you are in it for the long haul. You have your puppy and you are on the way to
regular exercise and fun times with plenty of laughs and making lots of new friends.
Irish terriers are game, affectionate and stubborn as well as comedians. They are
photogenic, they are not good gardeners, they eat anything, they will go anywhere
wherever and whenever you want to go and they will love you to bits. Like a child, they
need support, to be taught good manners and given plenty of healthy food and exercise.
They are usually maintenance-free.
We hope you enjoy every minute of your new arrival.