The Bottom 10%

In the early 20th century, Irish terriers became popular with Irish nationalism, and one didn’t have to have a big house or land to keep an Irish terrier.

Irish Terriers went on to be the first of the Terrier Group to be recognized by England’s Kennel Club of England as a native Irish breed just before the end of the 19th century. The first showing of an Irish Terrier was in Glasgow in 1875, and by the 1880s, they were the fourth most popular breed in Ireland and Britain. The first Irish Terriers “stormed the beaches” in the U.S. in the late 19th century, and it didn’t take long for the breed to gather admirers.

Unbelievably – and sadly – the Irish Terrier is now on the brink of trouble. With only 384 registrations in 2018, it is a breed “under watch” as a vulnerable breed by England’s Kennel Club.  Why?

According to the Kennel Club, many native British breeds of dog are at risk because people either don’t know they exist or because they not fashionable (grrrrr!)  The six most popular breeds in the UK – the Labrador Retriever, French Bulldog, Cocker Spaniel, Pug and English Springer Spaniel and Bulldog account for more registrations between them than the remaining 214 breeds of dogs.

In Ireland, a lot has changed regarding dog ownership and dogs have gone from having a job such as hunting or retrieving to providing companionship. “Now native breeds only comprise of about 10% of the pedigree dog population,” according to David Blake Knox, author of The Curious History of Irish Dogs.

Image: “Paper Boy” by Michael Steddum
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7 thoughts on “The Bottom 10%”

  1. Another huge reason is cost most cant afford to buy a 2000 thousand dollar dog. I got lucky and got my IT for 700 but even that is out of reach for many.

  2. Another major reason is that you have to “convince” breeders you can own an IT. I am on my fifth, who is now 14, and I dread having to convince yet another breeder that I know how to take care of an IT.

    • After five Irish Terriers, Ruthann, and this one living to a good age, we can’t imagine that a breeder would take convincing, but you make a good point!

  3. How about the issue of the “adopt don’t shop” mantra that is shaming and bullying good owners into adopting mixed breeds and illegal imports from out of the country in order to avoid being chastised by Facebook friends and others? People want to be kind and so are being bullied into adopting because supporting purebred dog breeders just isn’t politically correct. No one what to be shamed for exerting their freedom of choice. We need a new slogan to support those of us who do buy or purebred dogs from breeders!

    • Spot on, Carol.

      We actually do have a slogan: Shop before you adopt. “Shopping” in this context implies looking around, doing one’s homework, and settling upon the right choice for ourselves, whether it’s a mixed breed from a shelter, or acquiring a purebred dog from a heritage breeder.

    • I agree that people overreact when they see you’ve purchased a purebred dog. I’ve adopted many but one of our current dogs is a Jack Russell from at breeder in Ohio. When we posted his picture on Facebook we did get comments about not adopting, but we have a pound Pit Bull mix that we adopted a few years ago so that appeased them. Not that we should have had to appease anyone. Right now I’m looking for an IT because I want a good farm dog (our Jack is not the best vermin dog…go figure), and a good house dog. I’ve also just lost my husband and have lots of extra time on my hands.

      • Kathleen, we’re so sorry about the loss of your husband, and for it to have happened during these dicey times, that’s a crusher. Again, our condolences. If we’re reading your abbreviation correction, by “IT” you mean an Irish Terrier?

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