Amplification of the Breed Standard by Countess Stauffenburberg

Dago vd Frankenlerche

Breeder Countess Stauffenburberg

50 years ago

Head. The head is the eye catcher of the dog and must suit it in every respect. The proportions of the head must be in correct ratio to the dog’s build. A head that is too long is just as disturbing as a head that is too short. The head itself must be balanced like the body.


The proportion, length, breadth and depth of the head, the ear placement, size and the way they are held, the eye, size, colour and how they are placed, the nose, teeth, beard, coat quality and colour, define the expression and thus the type of the complete dog.


The Irish Terrier Expression is pure and simply the breed’s characteristic, in the last analysis a beautifully formed Irish Terrier lacking this typical and correct expression is just a good terrier, not an Irish Terrier. A terrier indeed but one that could be ranged with many other terrier breeds. Therefore the greatest attention must be paid to the Irish Terrier expression which demonstrates the integral character of the breed. The true Irish Terrier expression fully accentuates his arrogant, fearless, spirited, ever happy, rollicking enterprising nature. That must be seen in him at the first glance.


The Head must be long and narrow in cheek. From the ears to the teeth an unbroken scarcely visible narrowing shape, well filled under the eye, where no visible deviation between cheek and foreface shall appear.


The stop is not visible from above and hardly visible in profile. The entire length of head of a standard sized Irish Terrier amounts to 8 – 10 inches.


The Skull must be flat, without bumps over the eyes or arch between the ears. The hair on the skull is short, hard and smooth. The powerful, muscular jaws fit him for use as a guard or hunting dog. It must however, not appear coarse or inelegant because of heavy bone structure or muscular development. A weak jaw is a fault.


The Foreface (from the eye to the nose) shall correspond with the length of the skull (from the eyes to the back of the head) must not be more that 1 cm. shorter than the skull. Too short a foreface looks clumsy and inelegant; too long a foreface upsets the balance and expression. It looks too weighty. Both destroy the type.


The Beard must be thick and hard and only long enough to reinforce the lines of the head and to give the foreface added strength. Lack of beard destroys utterly the characteristic feature of an Irish Terrier. Often one finds with very hard coated dogs very little or even no beard; it often goes together with sparse or no leg furnishings. Such dogs, especially if it is short haired, appears as a smooth coated terrier. It has lost the type and expression of the Irish Terrier. The same goes for the Irish with the soft, open floating beard, that most of the time is light in colour and scanty, often combined with soft or silky body hair and also soft, colourless hair on the upper body or legs. Too much black on the head on an adult Irish Terrier is most undesirable.


The Eyes must have that certain something that characterizes the impudent, challenging, intelligent expression of the Irish Terrier. The correct eye expression is defined by the size and colour of the eye and how it is placed and shaped. Small and deep-set, they must not be too far apart and must be almond shaped, almost triangular. They are full of fire and intelligence. I prefer the very dark brown eye, -compared to the dark hazel in the standard- to the black as more expression is permitted through the various nuances of brown that are possible. Light, amber, fuller protruding eyes are a bad fault. Strong, but not too long eyebrows accentuate the desired Dare-Devil expression. The skin round the eyes is dark brown. A strong black rim lead the eye a false gloomy expression.


Also the Ears of the Irish Terrier are distinctly characteristic. Though their breed type peculiarity is hanging, placement and carriage, as much as by their usage, they have an enormous significance for the expression They are set high on the top of the head, held off the skull by the muscle and fall forwards with the tips on the edge of the skull, about the outer corner of the eye. They stand rather close together, and by that emphasize the narrowness of the head. They are small, fine V shaped and come to a definite point. The hair on the ears should be short and thick like velvet, without fringes and rather darker than the rest of the coat. With very light coloured dogs this contrast is most attractive and striking.


The Irish Terrier conducts a lively conversation by the use of its ears. They vary in their carriage, from joy to sadness, boredom and embarrassment to great anxiety and therefore are very efficacious in expression.


Dead, deeply set, folded too high lofty carried ears or motionless ears are not only a fault, but they spoil type and expression.


The Teeth must be powerful, strong and white. A full number (42) and a scissor bite. Over or undershot teeth are a serious fault. The Nose is black. Lack of pigment is a fault. The Lips close tightly together and range from brown to black. Slack lips (flews) are a fault.


The elegant Neck determines the proud carriage of the head and contributes the decisive factor to the complete nobility of the breed. It must be long and run in a slightly arched fine continuous line blending into the back and shoulders. In it, strength and elegance are united. A short thick fleshy (with dewlap) neck, running into the back at an angle is very detracting.


The Front (chest) seen from in front is narrow, powerful and perfectly straight. It must on no account be too narrow or too wide. The forehand stand in straight continuation to the shoulders. It must not be turned out at the elbows. The legs are absolutely straight from the top to the foot and are covered with thick coarse hair (furnishings) that is thick enough to emphasize the pillar shape.


The Shoulder is long, well-muscled and yet flat. It runs sloping into the back at a good angulation. The elbows are tucked in. Also when seen from the side the legs are perfectly straight down to the feet. Weak ankles which lead to a deviation of the straight line towards the front are a fault.


The Feet are strong and round, toes well arched. The pads are likewise strong, elastic, healthy without fissures, cat-footed with black nails. Excrescences on or deep fissures in the pads are a serious inherited fault. Equally, open, spreading or flat feet are a great fault. In movement the legs move right from the shoulders straight forwards without turning the elbows out, crossing (knitting) and without throwing them sideways. Slack or loaded shoulders or sticking out elbows are a fault.


The Body is of a moderate length (racy). Whosoever praises the short back of an Irish doesn’t know the breed.


The Chest is deep and muscular, with long moderately arched flat ribs. The deepest point is around the height of the elbows. The underline runs in an elegant curve upwards towards the flanks.


The Back is strong, straight and firm. It runs into the tail without falling away. The contours run from the ears over the neck across the back in elegant continuous lines that flow into each other right on to the root of the tail.


Faults. Too long or too short a back, arched carp back, dipping backs, croup falling away, back lines that fall away (GSD), too little or lack of chest depth, barrel shape.


The Structure must be substantial, muscular and firm, and thus accentuate a noble outline. Obesity, cloddy appearance or weediness, spoil the impression.


The Hindquarters are powerful, very muscular and well angulated in order to ensure the greatest possible drive from behind. Powerful thighs with moderately bent knee joint, well angled, deep ankle joints as well as moderately proportioned short metatarsals, strong bond muscles demonstrate his power and speed. Moreover they enable the dog when standing, to cover a lot of ground. The hind feet are somewhat smaller than the front feet. The movement of the hindquarters is always quite straight, free and far reaching. Steep, poorly angulated or weak hindquarters, narrow hocks (cow hocks) close feet (barrel shaped) or hindquarters tucked under when standing are faults.


The Movement of the Irish Terrier is lively, evenly flowing and far reaching. It is the movement of a disciplined, active, vital dog. Mincing, weaving, hackneying or overstretching as much as stilted and irregular movements are faults.


Placing, carriage and length of the Tail are powerful factors in the correctly balancedappearance of the whole dog. The mood of the dog can be recognised from its carriage. It is about ¼ docked. It must be placed high and carried vertical to the back. The desired tail is straight. A slight inclination to the front shows the fearless Irish Terrier spirit. A slight curve gives a pleasing appearance. The tail is powerful and covered with moderately short wiry hair. A crooked, sickle, as well as a low set tail is a fault. A tail that when roused is bent over is undesirable. It is less of an evil than a dropping a whip like tail.


The correct Coat of an Irish Terrier is often not given its full value or assessed enough because this breed has many variations of coat and only a few experts now really know what the ideal hair should be.


Broken Coat.  Normal terrier hairs have pointed tips. If one passes the hand over such a coat,in spite of its being hardand wiry it feels smooth with no resistance. Hair that is broken on the other hand, lack pointed tips. It is though broken off with a smooth, cut surface. If one strokes a broken haired dog, the ends of the hair can be distinctly felt. They convey the stroking hand quite a different feel, one can say the coat rustles. Other than the Irish Terrier the broken coat is only met within the Scottie and the Wire Fox.


The correct coat is very thick and wiry, clinging to the body. When the coat is “ripe” or fully grown, (not to be confused with blown), this is called “in full bloom”. Because of its double growth it appears uneven and given the appearance of a wave or broken surface. It is strong, gleaming, water and dirt resistant coat that fits the dog for every kind of activity and protects him from external influences. The correct Irish Terrier coat looks, -so to say, uncared for- as cared for and shining as the coat of breeds that are groomed daily. The hair is smooth, straight and slightly waved and very hard. Soft, curly, silky, bristly or woolly hair is incorrect. A hereditary fault is so called ‘pick out coat’, whose roots are not firm. It falls into regular bunches and the newly grown short hair is as easily picked out as blown hair. There is no undercoat at all. A dog with such a coat appears dishevelled and uncared for. The condition of the coat is largely a question of trimming and feeding. In the hands of a specialist a moderately coated Irish Terrier can have a really good coat, whilst a better coated dog through irregular trimming and poor feeding, leave much to be desired.


The most significant point of the Colour in Irish Terriers, is the evenness of it. Colour plays an important part for the devotee, according to his own particular taste, since Irish Terriers range from light blond to dark red. For showing and breeding however, the eye should be directed mainly to the evenness of the colour. Colour varies from light, even wheaten gold to deepest mahogany red. The preferred colours are bright red (fox red) red wheaten (stag red) and red gold (hamster colour). Each single hair is bi-coloured. The lowest part is light whilst the tips are darker and determine the actual colour. Thus the Irish Terrier has the most shining and clearest colour when the coat is newly grown to a suitable length, and becomes bi-coloured – colour on colour – when it has reached its full length.

A small white chest patch shouldn’t worry anyone. Many of the famous champions carried their little white stars from victory to victory. If the white spreads across the chest or appears on the feet, that is a fault, likewise black shading on the face, on the top of the head, on the cheeks or other places on the body.


The size has been debated and argued over from time past up to today. The standard nevertheless, has remained constant. Breeders, of large dogs, like breeders of small dogs, have sought to draw the eye of the judge and the eye of the admirer to the overall balance. Actually this is really not a too underrated very significant factor. A completely unbalanced oversized Irish Terrier, just like one that is too small can be a fine and eye catching dog. But this is throwing the ideal Irish Terrier out of the window. Judges, as well as breeders, must be clear about this, about what damage is being inflicted on the breed, because of frequently expressed views by left or right extremists, (over or undersized), damage very difficult to correct. Oversized dogs lead inevitably to the Airedale type, or worse still, the Greyhound, undersized dogs to the Fox Terrier type, Lakeland or Welsh. In the first extreme the dog becomes too large cloddy and heavy, more massive than they should be. Or it becomes too long legged and light fine limbs, spindly with weak bones and long back. The other extreme leads to a miniature example, on the whole too light, fine limbed, weedy and weak and often short backed. Also the typical Irish Terrier movement is lost and becomes that of other breeds. The standard height of 18 inches should be strived for. Every true first class Irish Terrier should come as close as possible to the height standard to be the best well balanced. Males may be a little over, bitches a little under.


In this explanation of the Standard all the plus points, but also many minor points have been made clear. There doesn’t exist a dog without a weakness. In the long run we are dealing with living, bred creatures and not a mechanical conveyer belt model from a stencil. The best dog is the one who most impresses the one closest to the standard and the one who by his actions and bearing convinces us he is the best.



Countess Stauffenburberg