Irish Wolfhound


The tallest of the sighthounds, the Irish wolfhound resembles a rough-coated greyhound, although of more powerful build. Great size is especially valued in the breed. This combination of speed, power and size enables the Irish wolfhound to run down and overpower large prey. Despite its size, the breed should be gracefully built, its gait easy and active, and its head held proudly. The rough coat, which provides protection against the cold and damp, as well as its opponents’ teeth, is especially wiry and long over the eyes and under the jaw.

Aptly known as the gentle giant, the Irish wolfhound is a soft-natured, easygoing breed. It is calm around the house, sensitive, patient, easygoing and sweet. Despite its great size, it is good with children, pets and other dogs. It is reserved with strangers and courageous when the need arises.

FAMILY sighthound, Southern (sighthound)
DATE OF ORIGIN ancient times
ORIGINAL FUNCTION coursing wolves and elk
TODAY’S FUNCTION lure coursing
AVERAGE SIZE OF MALE Height: >32 Weight: >120
AVERAGE SIZE OF FEMALE Height: >30 Weight: >105
The Irish wolfhound appreciates a very long walk and an opportunity to stretch its legs, so it requires daily exercise. In the home it requires ample space to stretch out on a soft coating and shouldn’t be asked to live in cramped quarters. It may develop callouses if permitted to lie on hard surfaces too frequently. Its coat has to be brushed or combed once or twice per week, plus occasional little scissoring to neaten up straggly hairs. Dead hairs must be stripped twice per year.
  • Energy levelLow energy
  • Exercise needsMedium
  • PlayfullnessNot very playful
  • Affection levelModerately affectionate
  • Friendliness toward other dogsFriendly
  • Friendliness toward other petsFriendly
  • Friendliness toward strangersFriendly
  • Ease of trainingEasy to train
  • Watchdog abilityMedium
  • Protection abilityNot very protective
  • Grooming needsModerate maintenance
  • Cold toleranceHigh tolerance
  • Heat toleranceLow tolerance
• Major concerns: gastric torsion
• Minor concerns: cardiomyopathy, OCD, osteosarcoma, CHD
• Occasionally seen: none
• Suggested tests: (hip), (heart)
• Life span: 5 – 7 years
• Note: sensitive to anesthesia; prone to tail-tip injuries
Dogs of fantastic dimensions are thought to have come to Ireland from Greece from 1500 B.C.. In Ireland they became even more imposing, and presents of those fantastic dogs were created to Rome. The first clear mention of the Irish wolfhound happened in Rome at A.D. 391. The strain gained fame because of its imposing stature and capacity in fighting wild creatures in stadium sports. It had been so acclaimed in Ireland that it became the subject of many legends recounting its valor in battle and chase. All big hounds were once called cu, a phrase suggesting bravery. The Irish name for the strain is cu faoil. Favored by Irish chieftains for the search, it gained its reputation as an unparalleled hunter of wolves and Irish elk. Illustrations of those dogs in the 17th century seem very much like contemporary Irish wolfhounds. The remarkable hounds (frequently seven at a time) were traditionally awarded to overseas nobility. This practice, in addition to the extinction of the wolf in Ireland in the 18th century, also led to the decrease of this breed’s figures. From the 19th century, Irish wolfhounds were nearly extinct in Ireland, along with the famine of 1845 virtually decimated the strain. Back in 1869, Capt. G. A. Graham decided to reestablish the Irish wolfhound, a job he put about by crossing the couple present wolfhounds — specifically one called Bran, considered to be the last authentic wolfhound in Ireland — using these strains as the Scottish deerhound in addition to the wonderful Dane, the borzoi as well as the Tibetan wolf dog. When first exhibited at a dog show at the 1870s, the reborn wolfhound produced a feeling — the exact same response it inspires to the day when initially seen. Its controlling look attracts many admirers, but its prevalence has been tempered with the practicalities of maintaining such a massive dog.


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