Irish terriers were originally bred to be fox hunting dogs. Today, however, these dogs are mostly used as companion dogs. They are well suited to families, provided they are trained consistently and at a young age to tame the terrier's natural daredevil and strong willed nature. Though most people do not hunt with their Irish terriers today, some of the natural instincts that this breed carries can be quite beneficial in a family pet. If you properly understand and use these tendencies, you can bring out the best in your Irish terrier.
Irish terriers love the chase and like other hunting breeds, they may thrive on bringing home a catch. They make great dogs for farmers or anyone with a large amount of land or out buildings that may be prone to housing vermin. You can count on an Irish terrier to keep your land or farm pest free and you can be he will thoroughly enjoy the job.
Your Irish terrier's hunting instincts will also make him a great watchdog. Though his size will make him appear not to be much of a physical threat, he will be a persistent barker whenever there is a stranger afoot, and will do his best to defend his territory and his owners. In fact, you may find that your Irish terrier's fearless nature makes him quite foolish as he would be more than willing to take on a large opponent if he felt it was necessary.
Irish terrier owners are wise to understand that the unique traits that make them good hunting dogs also mean that they have special needs. Exercise is critical to the Irish terrier's health and happiness; so don't make the mistake of thinking that you've purchased a lap dog. They don't need a great deal of space for their activities, but they do need an outlet. And, because of their daredevil nature, they should only be allowed to exercise off leash in areas where they are properly confined.
If your Irish terrier isn't getting the exercise or activity he needs to stay mentally and physically challenged, consider participating in luring competitions with him. These challenges simulate fox or other small game hunting, but without any harm to any animals. Such activities allow your Irish terrier to use, and further develop, his sense of smell and his tracking and hunting abilities. Irish terriers thrive on such activities, as they give them the exercise they need along with a purpose in life.
Irish terriers have many assets originally designed to make them effective hunters that can be used in many other capacities. These traits are a large part of what gives the Irish terrier their unique personalities and capabilities, and are one of the reasons they are so well suited for pets and companion dogs as well as still being one of the best small game tracking dogs you'll ever find.