POPSUGAR Celebrity

Erin Go Dog: Irish Breeds of Canines, Horses, and Other Animal Friends

Mar 15 2012 - 4:00am

While it's not a huge country, we can thank Ireland for significant contributions to world culture: St. Patrick's Day, Guinness, U2, and Liam Neeson, just to name a few! But the Emerald Isle has also made an impact in the world of domesticated animals, boasting 20 native breeds of dogs, horses, cattle, sheep, and goats. Think you know your Irish critters? Click through to see them all!

Source [1], Flickr User Spencers Brook Farm [2], Galway Sheep Breeders Association [3], and Source [4]

Bilberry Goat

Derived from a herd that populated a tiny isle called Bilberry Rock, Bilberry goats are near the brink of extinction. As of 2008, only 42 goats have existed in the primary herd, but conservation efforts like the Bilberry Goat Heritage Trust aim to foster population growth.

Source: Bilberry Goat Heritage Trust [5]

Connemara Pony

Connemaras are very popular as show ponies. With a diverse history, these little horses find their roots in Viking horses, the native Irish hobby horse, and even Spanish Andalusians.

Source [6]

Dexter Cattle

The smallest breed of European cattle, Dexter cattle are usually black, although a dark red or dun color sometimes appears.

Source: Flickr User Spencers Brook Farm [7]

Galway Sheep

Who can imagine the green Irish countryside without puffy white sheep? Galway sheep are possibly Ireland's only native sheep, and while their numbers dwindled in the 1990s, conservation efforts have led to positive population growth.

Source: Galway Sheep Breeders Association [8]

Glen of Imaal Terrier

Originating in the Glen of Imaal valley in Wicklow, Ireland, this breed is one of the rarest in the US: only about 1,000 are registered here.

Source [9]

Irish Draught Horse

The product of draft horses and lighter saddle horses, the Irish Draught Horse is capable of not only pulling carts and heavy loads but also hunting and competitive riding sports.

Source: Elite Irish Horses [10]

Irish Moiled Cattle

A polled breed of cattle (without horns), the Irish Moiled is red and white but can land anywhere on the spectrum of those two colors: mostly one or the other, or an even mix of both. They can thrive even in the poorest pastures.

Source [11]

Irish Setter

As early as 1845, setters in Ireland were considered predominantly red in color, but it wasn't until 1886 that the Irish Red Setter Club in Dublin established breed standards specifying the dog's lovely hue.

Source [12]

Irish Red-and-White Setter

Officially recognized by the AKC in 2009, the Irish red-and-white setter is related to the red Irish setter though it's thought to be an older breed. Nearly extinct by the end of the 19th century, the breed survived thanks to revival efforts beginning in the 1920s.

Source [13]

Irish Sport Horse

Also known as the Irish Hunter, the Irish Sport Horse is a popular competition riding mount. The horse is derived from the sturdy Irish Draught Horse and the swift Thoroughbred.

Source [14]

Irish Terrier

One of the oldest terrier breeds, the Irish terrier is a descendant of the black-and-tan terriers of England and Ireland but today is known for its wiry red coat (more common than its wheaten or golden counterparts).

Source [15]

Irish Water Spaniel

Though its exact origins are obscure, the Irish water spaniel can trace its existence in Ireland back 1,000 years with written records referring to a dog with a "long, rough, curled hair and a tail somewhat bare and naked [16]."

Source: Getty [17]

Irish Wolfhound

References to "wolf dogs" in Ireland date back as far as 7000 BC, in more recent times these long-legged canines were used during both wartime and wolf-hunting. Historically, only people of noble birth could own an Irish wolfhound.

Source [18]

Kerry Beagle

Though not officially recognized by the AKC, the Kerry beagle is one of the oldest hound breeds in Ireland, a descendant of a dog known as "the old southern hound."

Source [19]

Kerry Blue Terrier

The first dog registered with the Irish Kennel Club, the Kerry blue terrier is thought to have been developed by peasants as a response to the nobility preserving Irish wolfhounds as their own.

Source [20]

Kerry Bog Pony

Originally bred for hauling peat from the bogs, Kerry Bog Ponies are tough and sturdy despite being smaller than their Connemara cousins.

Source: Flickr User Jim Linwood [21]

Kerry Cattle

Like the Dexter, Kerry cattle are entirely black with short horns. County Kerry, Ireland, creamery Murphys Ice Cream [22] uses milk from Kerrys in an effort to preserve and promote the breed.

Source: Flickr User mozzercork [23]

Old Irish Goat

There is evidence that the Old Irish Goat dates back to Neolithic farmers and the last Ice Age, and these goats know the Irish terrain better than their human neighbors, living on the highest peaks and craggiest rocks.

Source: Mulranny Visitor's Website [24]

Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier

Though it shares a common ancestry with the Kerry blue and Irish terriers, the soft-coated wheaten terrier has — as its name implies — a soft, silky coat as opposed to the wiry fur of its cousins.

Source [25]

White Park Cattle

As its name suggests, White Park cattle are generally white and boast long, upward-curving horns.

Source [26]

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