Essays and Such

Irish Cultural Society

of San Antonio Texas


Promoting Awareness of Irish Culture

by Janes Fitzsimon
Ancestry of Five Recognized Dog Breeds


Ireland holds the ancestry of five dog breeds recognized by the 
American Kennel Club.  Many of these breeds are among the oldest 
known.  Dublin was the center of the dog show world for most of 
the 1800's when many breed clubs were becoming well-established.  
The most popular breeds shown there would go on to English and 
Scottish shows, later to America.  The New World proved to be a 
catalyst, many breeds gaining national acceptance and widespread 
popularity both as family pets and sporting dogs.

THE IRISH WOLFHOUND - Hunting elk with your master, a noble 
king of Erin, you rurun with ease through the thick and ancient 
forest of beech and hickory so common two thousand years ago.  
You are the tallest of all cainine breeds - the Irish Wolfhound, 
Due to its adoration of the ancient Irish kings and queens, the 
breed is frequently mentioned in poems and stories.  Only kings, 
poets and noblemen were allowed to own the breed, which was 
frequently given as gifts. Oliver Cromwell was forced to prohibit 
their export from the British Isles because the hounds were 
becoming rare and were needed to hunt wolves that were common in 
England at the time.
The Irish Wolfhound has a breed standard of standing 32 inches at 
the shoulder.  Add 8 to 10 more inches for the massive head and 
you have a dog that gives a commanding presence.  At 105 to 
120 lbs., the wolfhound weighs more than many ICSSA members!

THE IRISH WATER SPANIEL - Another very old breed, the Water 
Spaniel is a descendant of Portuguese water dogs and spaniel root 
stock that came over to Ireland via the Iberian peninsula when 
natives of that country made raids to Ireland.  Its lineage dates 
back, to as far as the 7th century. At one time, they were the 
most popular of spaniels, but now the Labrador Retreiver and 
Golden Labradors have taken over.
The 'breed has great swimming abilities which make it a valuable 
gun dog, able to work in various terrains to retrieve game.  Its 
trademark is a short rattail which acts as a rudder while swimming.

THE IRISH SETTER - The solid, deep red of the Irish Setter 
is a fairly new variation of the breed which started off as a red 
and white dog up until the 19th century.  They are a descendant 
of old Irish spaniel breeds -mixed with the Gordon, English, Water 
and Springer Spaniel as well as the pointer.
The Irish Setter is treasured worldwide by sportsmen who enjoy 
strenuous hunting and have the stamina to follow its relentless 
pace.  Previously,  its beauty as a show dog was overvalued at 
the expense of its importance as a hunting dog.  Today, the 
balance has been redressed among enthusiasts who recognize its 
dual role as a field and showdog.

THE KERRY BLUE TERRIER - The "blue" is the breeders 
vernacular for gray.  Born black, the adult dog's fur ends up a 
dark blue.  For 150 years, the breed was predominately found in 
the mountains of Lake Killarney in Countv Kerry, used to hunt 
small game and birds and to herd sheep and cattle.
The Kerry Blue is extremely intelligent.and tractable.  For a 
terrier they are large, 33--40 lbs and require very strict 
grooming standards for the show ring.

THE IRISH TERRIER - there is some debate over their exact 
history' but it is thought to be derived from the Scotisli Terrier, 
possibly Black and Tin Terrier, and the Irish Wolfhound, They were 
originally used to hunt woodchuck, rats and badgers among the 
hedgerows.  They became a familiar site at the "potato pit", guarding 
the onetime Irish staple diet against a marauding family pig.
The dense, wiry coat is yellow to a red or wheaten color with the 
usual white patch on the chest, The Irish Terrier normilly weighs 
in about 18 lbs.

James Fitzsimon
Reader's Digest Book of Dogs, 
Encarta Encyclopedia, 
Book of All Terriers 
This article is dedicated to "PJ" and "Mamadog"- Loving canine 
companions who recently left this earth but never our hearts.