TODAY IS National Puppy Day-- finally, a day where we can all celebrate our love of dogs!
Ireland is a country full of animal lovers, from those who volunteer at rescues to the thousands who adopt once-abandoned pups to give them a new life, to the hundreds of thousands who treat all animals with kindness.
Today, 23 March, is National Puppy Day, and to celebrate we're going to look at Ireland's gorgeous native breeds.
Everyone knows of the Irish Wolfhound, but there are nine native dogs of Ireland in total, each one as beautiful as the last.
The Irish Wolfhound
Arguably the most famous native Irish breed, the Irish Wolfhound is a historic sighthound breed once used by the old Irish people to hunt wolves. Known for its huge size, on average 32 inches in height, Wolfhounds inspired poetry and myths.
Today's Irish Wolfhound is not the same as the one which provided protection from wolves a thousand years ago- that breed is believed to have gone extinct, but was recreated by breeders in the 19th century.
The Irish Red Setter
A favourite for families in Ireland due to their docile and loyal nature, the Irish Red Setter is also one of Ireland's most famous dog breeds. It is also the iconic logo of Ireland's national bus service Bus Éireann.
The Irish Water Spaniel
The unique-looking, medium sized Irish Water Spaniel are great companions for those with an active lifestyle, but their boundless energy and 'stubborn streak' mean they might not be suitable for novice owners!
The Irish Terrier
Recognised as one of the world's oldest terrier breeds, the Irish Terrier was once one of the most popular breeds in Ireland and Britain in the 1800's. Its ability to withstand any weather thanks to its harsh red coat makes the Irish Terrier one of Ireland's hardiest breeds.
The Irish Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier
The Irish Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier is believed to have been around for more than 200 years, but was only officially recognised by the Irish Kennel Club until 1937. It is named for its soft and silky coat, which, while beautiful, requires a lot of grooming-- something to keep in mind if you're thinking of adopting one of these beauties.
The Irish Red and White Setter
Lesser known than the iconic Irish Red Setter, the Irish Red and White Setter is actually believed to have come first-- it was through extensive breeding that resulted in the solid red colour being developed.
In fact, the Red Setter became so popular that the Irish Red and White Setters came close to extinction, before they were revived thanks to efforts in the 1920s.
The Irish Glen of Imaal Terrier
The Glen of Imaal Terrier, also known as the Wicklow Terrier, have an interesting history-- they are believed to have began during the reign of Britain's Queen Elizabeth I, who hired French mercenaries to put down a rebellion in Ireland in the 1500s. The French brought their low-slung hounds, who bred with Irish terriers, resulting in the Glen of Imaal Terrier.
The Kerry Blue Terrier
These intelligent and hard-working dogs were first established in County Kerry, where they became extremely popular as ratters and for their ability to herd sheep and cattle.
The Kerry Beagle
The Kerry Beagle, despite the name, is not to be confused with the average Beagle-- the two have very little in common.
The Kerry Beagle are medium-sized hound dogs which have a strong hunting instinct and require a large amount of exercise thanks to their boundless energy.Despite this, the hounds make good family pets as they are patient with children and get along well with other dogs.