The Irish wolfhound can come in many colors and it looks great in all of them. The AKC has certain accepted colors for the Irish wolfhound, which are gray, red, brindle, black, fawn, wheaten and pure white. Occasionally you will see a Irish wolfhound with white markings or spots on the feet or chest. They may also have brindling that will overlay some of the other colors. The most common colors you see in the Irish wolfhound today are gray or wheaten.
Occasionally breeders of the Irish wolfhound will try to sell certain colors as "rare" and ask for a higher price. Don't be fooled by this. First, the color of the Irish wolfhound does not play any role in what kind of a dog they grow up to be. Secondly, there is no such thing as a "rare" color of Irish wolfhound. Some colors such as gray or wheaten are more common, but this does not make the other colors rare, just not as common.
So much of the color of the Irish wolfhound has to do with the genetics of the parents, as most of us know. When the Irish wolfhound was first developed into its own breed, they had come from the Cu, a shaggy-coated dog of unknown color; although many believe they were gray. In the 19th century, in an attempt to revitalize the breed, the blood of the Great Dane and Deerhound was added to the Irish wolfhound. It is with these combinations that we get so many different colors in the Irish wolfhound.
Knowing all about the dominant and recessive genes that are involved in the breeding of dogs allows breeders to get almost any color of Irish wolfhound they want. If they have customers that want to buy certain colors, they have the knowledge of how to get almost the exact colors. This is not 100% foolproof, but most breeders use these methods.
The different shades vary from cream or tan to black with many variations in the middle. Wheatens come in different shades just as the grays can vary from light silver to dark slate. They also come with or without brindling. Some have the white on the top of the tail or legs. The white is acceptable in the AKC, but there cannot be too much white or the dog will be disqualified. At one time, however, there was a variation of Irish wolfhound that was almost all white in color.
There have been Irish wolfhounds that were born blue, a color which is considered impermissible. The breed standard does not disqualify, however. At one time, if any puppies were born blue, they had to be put down because it was erroneously believed that they were sick or could become deaf and blind. After later research, it was determined the blue came from the merle gene in the dogs along with the blue dilute gene.