The Irish Wolfhound

Quick Facts

- Fine for novice dog owners
- Good with children
- Good with other animals
- Giant in size
- Medium exercise needs
- Medium shedding
- Medium guard dog capabilities
- Medium ease of training

The exact origins of the Irish Wolfhound are long lost in the mists of time. They are ancient dogs who predate Christianity. During Medieval times, they were owned by Kings and Nobles and used as war dogs, guard dogs and hunting companions. As hunting dogs, they were used to hunt wolves and Irish elk. Between the last of the elk and wolves dying out in Ireland and the high demand for them worldwide, the breed almost disappeared in their home country. Thankfully, Oliver Cromwell saved the breed by banning the exporting of them. Today, Irish Wolfhounds are mostly seen as companion dogs. However, they are still occasionally employed on ranches and farm to keep coyote and other predators away.

Irish Wolfhounds are far more confident and calm than the average Sighthound. Despite their giant size, they are gentle enough that they are fine for the novice dog owner. They are laid back dogs, relatively easy to train. Training needs to be patient and positive. Irish Wolfhounds are not dogs that jump at every command, owners need to be patient and give them time to respond. They tend to bore easily and do not respond well to repetition. Being heavy handed or aggressive will only make them skittish and harder to train.

Irish Wolfhounds are very sweet affectionate dogs. They are sociable with strangers and due to their good nature really cannot be counted as a great guard dog. However, their size alone will keep most ill intended away. Irish Wolfhounds are loyal courageous dogs that will defend their people if the need arises.

Irish Wolfhounds are very patient dogs who fit well into a household with children and other animals. However, due to their giant size they could hurt a small child or a small animal by accident. Some Wolfhounds, especially those from working lines, can be aggressive with wolf or coyote crosses. They are quiet dogs, not given to unnecessary barking. They are comfort loving and can be quite the couch hog is given the chance.

Irish Wolfhounds are big eaters and can be expensive to feed. As they are such tall dogs, owners need to be wary about leaving tempting food out on the kitchen counter or table. A delicious smelling roast or turkey may be too hard to resist. Irish Wolfhounds have long strong tails that can clear a coffee table in a single swipe.

Their exercise needs are easier meant than many would think. They do well with about an hour of exercise daily and some unrestrained running a couple of times a week. Irish Wolfhounds are excellent walking and hiking companions, and many naturally take to walking perfectly on lead, with little or no training. When young, care should be taken to not over exercise them as it can hurt their developing joints. Short walks and unrestrained runs on grass are best. Most Irish Wolfhounds enjoy the sport of Lure coursing.

Appearance and Grooming:
With their rough coats, shaggy brow, dark eyes and long legged athletic bodies, Irish Wolfhounds are majestic looking dogs. Most measure 28-35 inches at their withers and weigh between 90-150 pounds. A few, normally those from working lines, can reach 40-42 inches and weigh around 200 pounds. Their coat comes in black, white, brindle, fawn or red. They should be brushed twice a week.

Irish Wolfhounds are a relatively healthy breed. They are only prone to hip dysplasia, bone tumors/cancer and bloat. Perspective owners should only buy from breeders that sell pups from OFA certified parents. This does not guarantee the dog will not develop hip dysplasia, but it lowers the risk significantly. To prevent bloat, it is best to feed several small meals daily instead of one large one. They also should not be given exercise or water within an hour or two of feeding. They are slow to mature and should not gain weight too quickly as a youngster as it can hurt developing bones. Like all Sighthounds, they are sensitive to drugs and should not be given medication unless absolutely necessary. Due to their giant size, they sadly have a short lifespan of only 6-10 years.


Located in: Sighthounds