The Irish Wolfhound is the tallest canine and possibly the breed with the biggest heart of all dog breeds. This dog’s size may be imposing, but its giant size is due to how much love and affection this dog breed can provide you and your family!
Irish Wolfhounds are laid-back despite their intimidating name and appearance. They enjoy playtime, and they are peaceful dogs that are highly regarded for being good with children too!
You can count on this guide as your number one source for everything there is to know about these dogs. Read on further to learn more about this dog’s features, personality, history, and more. By the end of the guide, you will not just be a knowledgeable dog owner, you will be the Irish Wolfhound expert!
Irish Wolfhound Characteristics (physical)
The Irish Wolfhound has physical characteristics that enable it to be a powerful and swift dog breed. These dogs are sighthounds, one of the hounds within the dog hound group that relies on sight and speed to chase prey.
This breed shares a similar build to Greyhounds and Whippets, except with a larger coat. The fur on this dog’s face gives them long eyebrows and a mustached appearance. Here is a more in-depth look at the Irish Wolfhound’s physical traits.
- Head: The Irish Wolfhound has a lean head that carries high and is supported by a long, strong neck. Its muzzle is elongated, and the ears are small that hang from the sides. The eyes are different shades of dark brown to golden yellow.
- Body: Also seen with other hounds, this dog has a deep and wide chest. Its broad chest allows its lungs to breathe properly to support its exercise needs. It has an arched loin with a long back.
- Limbs: The front and back legs of this dog are both strong and muscular. Its well-built thighs support its ability to run fast and make quick turns. Its feet are round and large with well-arched toes.
- Tail: Irish Wolfhounds have long furry tails that are moderately thick with a slight curve. The tail should never be docked or too curly.
Irish Wolfhound Dog Breed Size
Although the Irish Wolfhound is not the heaviest, it is the tallest of dog breeds. Its large size was once regarded by hunters who used this dog breed for hunting rabbits, deer, Irish elk, and even wolves!
Male Irish Wolfhounds are at least 30 to 34 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh at least 120 pounds. Females are smaller. They can weigh at least 105 pounds and grow up to 28 inches at the shoulder.
When these dogs stand on their hind legs, they can be up to seven feet tall! This large dog breed is not suited for apartments or homes lacking in room. Even if you have a nice-sized yard to provide the Irish Wolfhound with plenty of space, you will need the appropriate size fence to prevent this dog from jumping over it.
Irish Wolfhound Personality
For a dog breed with such formidable size, Irish Wolfhounds are highly sought after for their kind temperament. These dogs are family dogs and enjoy being surrounded by people.
As puppies mature into adulthood and then become senior dogs, slight changes occur to their personalities. A curious and energetic Irish Wolfhound puppy can become reserved and a little lazy when it is an adult dog.
Some of the personality traits that this dog always has are its loyalty and affection for its family. Here are some more great characteristics of the Irish Wolfhound.
Gentle and Sweet-Tempered
Irish Wolfhounds are the definition of gentle giants. They may be large, but these lovable canines enjoy pleasing their families.
This dog may be a giant, but it is not an aggressive breed at all. This dog’s size may look intimidating, but it is not a great guard dog because it is too friendly. The Irish Wolfhound would rather act playful toward strangers instead of barking excessively to ward them off.
Irish Wolfhounds are easier to train than other dog breeds, thanks to their intelligence. These dogs respond well to commands and training instructions.
Although they can easily get along with other pets with enough exposure, these dogs were used to roaming around by themselves on acres of land to help their guardians hunt. The Irish Wolfhound is an independent thinker who will complete a task to keep their owners happy.
Irish Wolfhound Dog Breed Exercise
All dogs require some exercise requirements based on their energy level. Irish Wolfhounds are no different and, despite their size, are not as active as other dog breeds. This dog is not exactly a couch potato and will require 40 to 60 minutes of exercise daily.
You might take it on a long walk or split up its exercise needs through different activities. Training is also another form of exercise that also doubles as mental stimulation. You can have your Irish Wolfhound partake in the following activities.
- Dog Walking
- Dog Puzzles
- Coursing Events
- Obedience Competitions
- Agility Trials
- Frisbee Catching
One thing to consider is not overloading your dog with too much exercise, especially if it is a senior dog. Irish Wolfhound puppies require time for their bodies to fully mature.
Dog owners should limit the number of walks they take their puppy to not overstress their joints. The Irish Wolfhound puppy can be entertained with a chew toy to help them get through teething.
A lack of exercise can lead to destructive behavior from a dog. An Irish Wolfhound that is not receiving enough exercise becomes bored and more likely to chew up furniture, scratch surfaces, or bark and whine excessively to alleviate its boredom.
Irish Wolfhound Training
Training is another important responsibility in Irish Wolfhound care. Nobody is a fan of a dog that misbehaves at home and cannot properly follow commands in public. Training should never be seen as an inconvenience but instead should be seen as an opportunity to bond closer to your dog.
Irish Wolfhounds are smart dogs and do not have a hard time learning new tricks regardless of age. You should develop a training schedule or start training your dog the moment you bring it home.
These dogs are gentle and sensitive, so they do not respond well to impatient dog owners who scream or resort to physical punishment for failing to perform a training task. People do not like learning under intense pressure, and neither do dogs.
According to research, dogs will respond well to positive reinforcement more efficiently. Instead of scaring your dog when it does something wrong, use body language and a serious tone of voice to teach the dog not to do something again. All dogs love treats, and they are a great resource to motivate your dog during training.
Types of Dog Training
- Housetraining: As puppies, Irish Wolfhounds are consuming a lot of food and, as a result, are using the bathroom. Potty training can help you and your dog comes up with a bathroom break schedule. Your dog can also benefit from having a designated area to rest and sleep on instead of taking up space on a couch.
- Leash Training: The Irish Wolfhound has a natural tendency to go take-off and chase smaller animals. Since they are fast, they can outrun their owners and become lost or involved in accidents. Teach your dog to walk behind you or next to you instead of forcefully trying to pull you forward.
- Socialization: These hounds might be independent dogs, but they are fully capable of sharing a living space with other pets like birds and cats. Exposure to different environments, pets, and people are a great way to boost the Irish Wolfhound’s friendliness. Puppy kindergarten classes or daily walks around different parts of your neighborhood are a great way to provide your dog with socialization.
- Obedience: A dog that can listen to commands will have an easier time getting along with its family than dogs who disobey. Teaching your Irish Wolfhound when to sit, come, or stay will make it easier to take them to dog parks since they can behave and obey commands.
- Dog Sports: Since Irish Wolfhounds are easy to train, they can participate in different dog sports. Some dog parents take pride in their dogs winning competitions for show, rallying, coursing, or even obedience trials.
Irish Wolfhound Dog Breed History
Some dog breeds have been around longer than others. The Irish Wolfhound is one of those dogs with a rich history. This dog has a rich history, thanks to the various written accounts of it.
With so much information, this dog’s historical timeline can be split up into three parts, its early history, its revival period, and present existence.
This dog can trace its origins back to Ireland. Depictions describing a giant wolf-dog of Ireland have been found dating back to the Ancient Romans. Different civilizations described the amazement at the Wolfhound’s ability to chase and assist in the hunt for the huge Irish elk, which stood at six feet at the shoulder.
Irish Wolfhounds were so highly praised that they were presented as gifts to rulers and noble people from different kingdoms around Europe. One poet described the Irish Wolfhound as “a lamb at home, a lion in the chase.”
These dogs were consistently used for hunting down wolves and elk until they drove out those populations out of Ireland. As a result, the number of Irish Wolfhounds began to dwindle.
By the early 19th century, reports that the number of Irish Wolfhounds was so low the once abundant dog breed was now considered rare. In 1863, Captain George Augustus Graham set out to revive and revitalize the breed for the next 20 years.
Graham bred the few Irish Wolfhounds left with the Scottish Deerhound, the Great Dane, and other dog breeds to eventually established the modern Irish Wolfhound. He also oversaw the Irish Wolfhound’s first official breed standards and founded the Irish Wolfhound Club in 1885.
About 50 years after the Irish wolfhound club was founded, the breed was officially recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1925. Two years later, the Irish Wolfhound Club of America was founded.
The first modern-day Irish Wolfhound was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1897. Since then, the dog has grown more popular and has become a loving member of many families. Due to their agility, some dog owners seek Irish Wolfhounds for professional dog sports.
Common Health Problems Found in Irish Wolfhounds
The Irish Wolfhound has a shorter life span than other dogs. These dogs can live up to six to eight years. Reports of this breed reaching ten years is very rare.
Just like people, dogs are susceptible to a whole list of health concerns. Although some of these health issues are random and unavoidable, they can be treated and managed with the help of a veterinarian.
Without years of experience or training in the animal medical profession, diagnosing your Irish Wolfhound’s health problems is not easy. You can do something to help prepare yourself, and that is by becoming informed about the common health concerns these dogs face.
- Sensitivity to Anesthesia: Irish Wolfhounds, like other sighthounds, have shown to be sensitive to anesthesia than other dog breeds. These types of dogs have low body fat, so a regular dose of anesthesia can be fatal. Make sure your pet’s vet is aware of this breed’s sensitivity before starting an operation.
- Liver Shunt: A liver shunt is a condition where there is an issue with how blood passes through the liver. Symptoms can show up in puppies as early as eight to nine weeks. According to medical professionals, your vet might prescribe a special diet to help manage liver shunt.
- Bloat: Large dogs with chest build similar to the Irish Wolfhound are more prone to bloat, which can be fatal but can be treated if a dog is immediately taken to the animal hospital emergency room. Bloat is when a dog has excess air, food, or fluid in its stomach, and it cannot belch or vomit. The stomach twists, which prevents blood flow from the legs to reach the heart.
- Joint and Bone Conditions: Irish Wolfhounds can experience issues with their bones or joints from health conditions passed down genetically. Hip and elbow dysplasia is when a dog’s bones located near the hip and elbow are not formed properly. Irish Wolfhounds can also experience issues where their bodies cannot produce enough cartilage near some of their joints.
How to Care for an Irish Wolfhound
Caring for a dog the size of the Irish Wolfhound is pretty simple but the right resources to pull off. People should not seek an Irish Wolfhound if they are not ready to commit to the responsibility associated with caring for large dog breeds.
Caring for an Irish Wolfhound can be expensive since it requires more of everything. Make sure you have the right resources to provide the basic necessities for this hound.
It is recommended to have the right-sized ceramic food and water bowl for your pet. You would not want your dog eating out of a bowl meant for a small dog like a Chihuahua. Plastic bowls are more likely to build up bacteria, and puppies can easily bite and chew on them.
This hound can handle cold weather but should be kept inside with the rest of the family instead of being kept outside at all times. During warm weather, make sure to keep this dog cool by having enough ventilation and water for it.
Avoid a see-through fence since the sight of a small wildlife running can trigger the Irish Wolfhound’s hunting instincts. Some dog owners microchip their pets to locate them easier in case they end up escaping or running away.
It is recommended to schedule annual or biannual visits to the veterinarian’s office for check-ups. The vet can provide your dog with tests to determine how its overall health is doing.
Nutrition and Feeding for an Irish Wolfhound
When it comes to its appetite, the Irish Wolfhound can be hungry like a wolf! It would be best if you fed this hound four to eight cups of high-quality dry dog food each day.
Split its feeding into two servings instead of keeping its feeding bowl full at all times. Please limit the number of treats you provide it. Obesity in dogs is far too common and can impact the health of your Irish Wolfhound.
One way to avoid bloat is by not letting your Irish Wolfhound exercise at least an hour before and after dinner. A professional veterinary nutritionist can recommend a home-cooked meal or dog food brand that best fits your dog’s eating needs when it is a puppy, adult, or senior dog.
Always seek dog food made with all-natural ingredients. It is better to invest in top-quality dog food instead of seeking cheaper options, leading to unwanted trips to the vet. Here is a list of other foods and ingredients to avoid.
- Artificial Flavors
- Garlic and Onions
If your hound eats any of the above foods, it may experience an upset stomach or vomiting. The Irish Wolfhound can also eat certain kinds of fruits, nuts, and vegetables. You can use frozen banana slices as a treat during the summertime!
Coat Color And Grooming
The Irish Wolfhound has a double coat with a wiry outer coat and soft undercoat. It helps this hound withstand colder weather, and it is easy to maintain. The coat colors can be gray, brindle, red, black, and white.
Grooming is another responsibility in dog care that is sometimes overlooked. It is simple and easy to get through, especially if your dog is well-trained.
It is important to have the right tools for grooming your Irish Wolfhound. Dog nail clippers and dog shampoo are easy to obtain at any pet store.
Please do not use a regular old hairbrush for its double coat. Use an undercoat rake to gently brush the back of its neck down to its tail. With a pin brush, you can remove old hair and spread natural skin oils.
Here are other grooming needs for your Irish Wolfhound.
- Fur Care: You should brush the coat of an Irish Wolfhound at least once or twice a week. You can also schedule hair trimmings twice a year. Bathe your dog monthly to prevent infections from fungi, bacteria, and parasitic bugs.
- Nail Trimming: Overgrown nails are not just painful for people. They can hurt your pet and limit their movement. Trim the nails of your Irish Wolfhound once a month.
- General Hygiene: During your weekly grooming session, clear any dirt or debris from the eyes and ears of your Irish Wolfhound. Please keep your dog’s dental hygiene clean by brushing their teeth or providing them with dental doggy treats.
Children And Other Pets
Irish Wolfhounds have a gentle nature that makes them great companions to children. Your hound can also get along with other pets if it was socialized around them throughout its lifetime.
Older children have an easier time getting along with dogs than younger kids. A younger child may become scared of this dog breed’s enormous size.
Younger children should be taught how to handle and approach dogs properly. Although they are the size of a small pony, kids should not try to ride Irish Wolfhounds. Their joints cannot support the added weight.
These dogs do not have any aggressive bones in their bodies, but it is best not to leave them with small children and other pets unsupervised. Socialization helps deepen the bonds between your dog and other pets.
Irish Wolfhound Dog Rescue Groups
Irish Wolfhound dog rescue groups are made up of dedicated people and volunteers that help these dogs find new homes. Sometimes people can no longer provide the necessary care for their hound and need to give them away.
Dog rescue groups and animal shelters are available almost anywhere. You can locate the rescue groups and shelters in your area with a quick Google search. Once you find an Irish Wolfhound available for adoption, ask questions about its life under the previous owner and the dog’s medical history with proof of vaccinations.
The best resources for finding Irish Wolfhound dog rescue groups are the Irish Wolfhound Club of America and the Irish Wolfhound Foundation. Both groups are the leading organizations when it comes to connecting rescue groups with people.
Both of these groups also provide other resources and helpful information on this dog breed. Another organization that can help find rescue groups is the American Kennel Club (AKC) and popular websites like Petfinder.
Irish Wolfhound Dog Breed Organizations
Everyone loves puppies, and the Irish Wolfhound puppy is among the most adorable. If you would like one to call your own, you should seek out specific dog breed organizations. Before you start your search, you should know what to look for and what to avoid.
Although there are plenty of reputable breeders, stay wary of dog breeders that seem shady or avoid questions about the dog’s health records. One of the best ways to ensure you will be working with a professional breeding group is through the Irish Wolfhound Club of America.
The AKC also recognizes the Irish Wolfhound Club of America. These two organizations offer strict guidelines and codes of conduct with breeders who seek to use their platform for advertising their puppies.
If you locate a breeding organization, make sure they can provide you with some of the following documents or move on and find another breeding organization.
- Canine Health Information Center(CHIC) Certification
- Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) Certification for Elbows and Hips
- OFA Cardiac Evaluation
- Eye clearance from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation
- Proof of Vaccinations
More About the Irish Wolfhound
The Irish Wolfhound has been admired by everyone it came in contact with throughout history. It was once called Cu Foil, which is Gaelic for a wolfhound and is referred to as the great hound of Ireland. These dogs inspired artists, poets, and writers with their amazing physical traits and sweet nature.
Today, these dogs are rarely used for hunting down packs of wolves but instead are the perfect companions to join your family on a movie night at home. With this guide to refer back to, you can ensure that your pup will receive the best care possible. If you want to learn more about dogs, check out HolistaPet!