Top o’ the mornin’ to the Irish dog breeds on St. Patrick’s Day. A variety of stunning breeds hail from the Emerald Isle. Many of the Irish breeds have breed-specific genetic conditions that Embark tests for among the 210+ genetic health conditions on the full panel. Let’s take a jaunt across the pond to meet some of our favorites, from the most popular setter to the rarest of the four Irish terriers.
The most recognizable Irish breed is the Irish Setter. This breed hails from the green hills of Ireland and was first known as an aristocratic bird dog. This breed, and its progenitor the Irish Red and White Setter sprung up from a cross of several breeds, perhaps the Irish Water Spaniel (another Irish breed to celebrate!) and Pointer, among others. By the early 1800s the breed had obtained its stunning deep mahogany or rich chestnut red color. This color is determined by Red Intensity Pigment variants. This concentration of red pigment or pheomelanin in a dog’s coat can produce colors from a light cream to deep red. Read about Embark’s recent discovery of the red intensity pigment variants.
Embark tests the Irish Setter for: Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency Type I, CLAD I (ITGB2, Setter Variant); Progressive Retinal Atrophy, rcd1 (PDE6B Exon 21, Irish Setter Variant); Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis 8, NCL 8 (CLN8 Exon 2, English Setter Variant); Von Willebrand Disease Type I, Type I vWD (VWF); and Degenerative Myelopathy (SOD1A).
Glen of Imaal
The Glen of Imaal is a feisty ratter developed in County Wicklow, Ireland. The breed’s name comes from a small glen, or valley, nestled in the Wicklow Mountains. In the 14th century, some Flemish soldiers were given land by Elizabeth I for subduing Irish rebels. They brought their low profiled French hounds which began to be bred to the native terriers. By 1934 the breed was recognized by the Irish Kennel Club. This low-to-the-ground terrier had one of the most interesting jobs in all of dogdom, that of a “turnspit” dog. The Glens were used on a rotisserie-style cooking machine which they propelled over an open flame.
Embark tests the Glen for Degenerative Myelopathy (SOD1A). With fewer than 1,000 Glens in the world, they are the most rare of the four Irish terriers joining the Irish Terrier, Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier, and our next breed the Kerry Blue Terrier.
Kerry Blue Terrier
While the origins of the Kerry Blue Terrier are lost in myth, this breed can do it all from cow and sheep herding to stalker of vermin as well as a hunter of small land and water game. Kerry Blue Terriers are born black, but then their coat color begins to change into the recognizable blue-gray of adulthood. The first Kerry Blue Terrier to appear in a dog show happened in Limerick in 1887. The Kennel Club in England first recognized the breed in 1922, the same year the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club, and made its debut at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York City. It wasn’t until 1938 that the United States Kerry BlueTerrier Club was established.
Embark tests the Kerry Blue Terrier for: Progressive Neuronal Abiotrophy, Canine Multiple System Degeneration, CMSD (SERAC1 Exon 15, Kerry Blue Terrier Variant); von Willebrand Disease Type 1, Type 1 vWD, (VWF); and Degenerative Myelopathy (SOD1A).
Once a regular part of feudal life in the Middle Ages, the Irish Wolfhound almost became extinct in the 19th Century. But thanks to dedicated preservation breeders, the Irish Wolfhound thrives today around the world. Originally, this majestic breed was bred to hunt by sight, this galloping breed also hunts by chasing its quarry. During the reign of Julius Caesar, these giants were used as dogs of war in the Roman army. This is one of the tallest breeds known, where adult males can be as tall as 35 inches at their withers, and weigh up to 180 pounds.
Embark tests the Irish Wolfhound for: Degenerative Myelopathy (SOD1A).
To keep these native Irish dog breeds genetically sound, Embark for Breeders has a dog DNA Kit for preservation breeders that is just right for your breeding program.