The colors of the Irish Wolfhound may vary from grey, wheaten, brindle, red, black, pure white, brown, or fawn, although grey is the most common color.
33-36 inches (85-90 cm)
31-32 inches (75-80 cm)
The Irish Wolfhound is a dog that can be kept indoors or outdoors, but is best kept indoors with the family, although apartment life would not allow much room for this large dog. If they are kept indoors too much, they are inactive which isn't good for them. They thrive very well in a large yard where they can run free. Due to their desire to chase smaller animals they don't know, they should always be kept in a fenced yard. They do enjoy being indoors with their family members as much as they can.
The Irish Wolfhound is a huge, muscular breed of dog that is bred to hunt. The Irish Wolfhound gets its name from its purpose, which was wolf hunting. This dog is one of the tallest breeds in the world. They are known for being like a huge gentle giant. They can reach the size of a small pony and when on their hind legs can reach 7 feet tall. They move a very swift pace and are known for having excellent eyesight.
The Irish Wolfhound has a big arrow-shaped head with a long muscular arched neck and pointed muzzle. They have a body shaped similar to a greyhound only larger. The tail hangs down with a curve. They walk with a look of elegance and grace. The paws are round and big with arched toes and curved nails. The ears are laid back against the head unless they are excited in which case they hold them up part-way. They come in a variety of colors, although grey is the most common.
The Irish Wolfhound is a friendly and loving dog towards everyone. They are rather clumsy and are slow to mature often not reaching adult size until they are at least 2 years old. They do grow fast and need good quality dog food so their bones can grow healthy as fast as the rest of them are growing. A very unfortunate fact about the Irish Wolfhound is that they don't have a real long life span like many other large dogs.
The Irish Wolfhound has a medium length rough shaggy coat that needs regular brushing. He is an average shedder.
The history of the Irish Wolfhound began as early as the 1st century when the Celtics bred these dogs as war dogs and to guard their homes and protect their livestock. There were some reports of them being used for dog fights although this is surprising considering how affectionate and loving they are. With their speed and intelligence, they were successfully used to hung wolves and wild boars. They then were exported to other countries for this purpose. Today they are sometimes referred as the national dog breed of Ireland, although nothing has been done officially.
It was said that during wartime they were trained to take an armored knight off its horse. When they were only allowed to be owned by royalty (and banned by everyone else) in the 19th century, the breed became almost extinct. The Irish Wolfhound was then bred with the Deerhound, Great Dane and Borzoi, which brought the breed back, changed its initial appearance slightly. The dog was not always as big as it is today but became that way after it was bred with a Kerry Blue Terrier. They were not as mellow and affectionate as the modern day Irish Wolfhound. The motto of the breed is "Gentle when stroked. Fierce when provoked". Today they are one of the best-known Irish breed dogs. Everyone that owns an Irish Wolfhound loves them.
The Irish Wolfhound club was started in 1885 and the Kennel Club recognized the Irish Wolfhound as a breed in 1925.
The temperament of the Irish Wolfhound is loving, patient, generous, thoughtful and extremely intelligent. If they were a human, they would be everyone's best friend. They are wonderful with children and a most loyal member of the family. If you are looking for a watchdog, the Irish Wolfhound is not the dog. His size is about the only thing that may scare strangers. He is far too loving and friendly to be a watchdog.
They are easy to train due to their intelligence, loyalty and desire to please. He will respond well to a firm and loving hand. Make sure you are consistent in any training you give you Irish Wolfhound so he will always be self confident and well adjusted in the home. The get along well with everyone in the family and will get along with other small animals if they grew up together. If not, he may try to chase them while in the yard, although it's usually not a problem.
They are a friendly dog that wants to make friends with everyone they meet. Their love and loyalty for their family is unconditional. It is because of these qualities that the Irish Wolfhound is so easy to train. Very few dogs have the completely all loving temperament that these dogs possess.
The Irish Wolfhound is prone to cardiomyopathy, bone cancer. Bloat, PRA, von Willebrands and hip dysplasia. If you plan to breed your dog, it is recommended that you have their hips x-rayed first and check the pedigree of the parents to assure that they are certified OFA excellent or good. Breeders and vets recommend against giving food supplements with their food as this may make them grow at an irregular and unhealthy pace. Make sure the dog doesn't over eat. They may be a large dog that looks like he needs a lot but they are prone to bloat, which could be fatal.
The Irish Wolfhound has a medium-length rough shaggy coat that will require brushing and combing to keep the shedding to a minimum. As with all dogs that are kept indoors and outdoors, you will want to make sure they are clean. Your Irish Wolfhound will love being outside romping around when the weather is nice and he will get dirty. Always be sure to check him for ticks or other insects when he comes back in.
Grooming should begin when your dog is a small pup so he gets used to having his body parts (feet, toenails, ears, mouth) handled on a regular basis. He will get so used to having his feet and ears touched and cleaned, that it will be something he comes to enjoy as an adult dog. Because his toenails are curved, you may wish to keep them clipped regularly to avoid snagging. Grooming your Irish Wolfhound also is important to all dogs for a couple reasons. One reason is to make him look good and it's a way to possibly alert you to any unusual health problems in or on the skin. Another reason is this is a time for you and your dog to bond-just the two of you. However, if you are not comfortable grooming such a large dog, you can take him to a dog groomer. About once or twice a year, his coat should be plucked to get rid of dead hair.
You may want to trim the ends of his hair from time to time, as they get very wiry. They get hair in their ears that you may want to remover or trim. Keeping the ears clean and dry is very important for dogs, especially dogs that spend a lot of time outdoors. The Irish Wolfhound does not need to be bathed very regularly, but his ears should be clean and dry. If you do bathe him, ask you pet supply store to recommend a good shampoo or conditioner for your breed of dog. Your vet or pet supply store can also recommend some wipes or cleaning supplies for your dog. Your dog will love this attention from you especially if it's ended with a treat.
The Irish Wolfhound needs exercise and lots of room to run around. Because they are a large dog they will need more room to run and play, but they don't need any more exercise than a small dog would. They love going for walks with the family. When you are training them on a leash as a pup, do not let them get away with pulling, as this could become a problem when they are full grown and harder to handle.
They cannot be left in the house all the time, but do not force them to get any more exercise than they feel they need as a puppy as this could affect their growth and development. Because they are such a big dog, many owners treat them as adults by the time they are 8 months old and this does them more harm then good. They are still puppies and puppies love exercise and will let you know when they want to run and play.
Training for the Irish Wolfhound must begin when they are a puppy and before they are too large to handle. One of the first things they need to be taught is how to walk on a leash. It's extremely important that they not be allowed to pull. Remember, the size they will be as adults. If they pull as a puppy, they will continue to pull as an adult. Because of their loving affectionate nature, try to always use a loving and positive approach when training, as they will respond much better. When trainers say to use a firm hand, they don't mean harsh and physical, just firm so they know what is expected of them.
He will be very quick to catch on to what you want of him. They need to be given plenty of self-confidence so they grow up to be proud and friendly dogs, not shy or aggressive. It's also important that your Irish Wolfhound be properly socialized around other people and children so he comes to know that they are friends and not something to fear. They do have minds of their won and need to be shown from you what is acceptable and what is not.
As with exercise, there should not be too much training at one time when they are still growing so as to not over stress and damage their young bones, joints and ligaments. When you look at this big puppy, you will have a hard time remembering they are still a puppy, but they cannot be pushed too hard. Also, do not exercise for an hour before or for two hours after eating to avoid the Irish Wolfhound getting bloat, a condition that is quite common for the breed.
If you plan to show your Irish Wolfhound in the ring, you will need to train him all his basic commands such as sit, stay, come, down, in addition to teaching him to walk on the lead in his correct position. When you start off with him still as a puppy, just do a little exercise at a time. They love doing things with you and love pleasing you, so try to make this into a pleasant experience. You may also want to consider taking him to a professional trainer. It is important that you participate along with the trainer so he knows he must respond to you as well as the trainer.