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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound

Origin: Ireland

AKC Group: Hound

Height: 32 inches (Male) 30 inches (female)

Weight: 120 pounds and over; (Male) 105 pounds and over (female)

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Irish Wolfhounds are the tallest dogs in the world. They're extremely calm and adapt best to country life. Irish Wolfhounds like lots of exercise. They're friendly with strangers and other animals. Because of their size, they're too clumsy for small children. It takes several years for an Irish Wolfhound to reach its full size.

Irish Wolfhounds are part of the hound group. Because they're great at sniffing and exploring, hounds were originally used to trail rabbits, foxes and other small mammals. In general, most hounds are good-natured dogs that make loving companions if trained properly. Hounds are sometimes stubborn, though, so training may take a while.

Most hounds need rigorous physical exercise, so daily walks and runs are a must. Never let a hound off a leash unless it's in an enclosed area, because it will take off if it picks up a scent. Hounds are barkers and howlers, and they're sometimes hard to housebreak.

Male height: 
32 inches
Male weight: 
120 pounds and over;
Female height: 
30 inches
Female weight: 
105 pounds and over
Rough with bushy eyebrows and beard. Brush or comb and Irish Wolfhound twice a week.
Fawn, red, gray or brindle. More rare is solid white or black. Eyes and nose are dark.
Special considerations: 
As with most giant-sized dogs, Irish Wolfhounds have a short life span, about 8 to 10 years.

The Irish Wolfhound's history is sketchy but parallels that of the Scottish Deerhound - both are imposing sighthounds who have been part of the history of their countries for centuries. More than 2,000 years ago, large hounds were used in Ireland as dogs of war, for protection, and to hunt boar, deer and wolves. The type became more consistent in the 15th and 16th centuries. In the 1600s, it was illegal to export Wolfhounds from the United Kingdom because wolves were such a problem there; however, when the last wolves were killed in the late 1700s and the Wolfhound essentially lost his job, his numbers began to fall. The Great Famine in Ireland also took its toll on the giant dogs, and they nearly died off. Captain G.A. Graham made restoring the breed his life's work in the late 1800s. A breed club was formed in 1885, and today the Irish Wolfhound is a thriving breed - the giant of the sighthounds.

The Irish Wolfhound is truly a gentle giant. He is an even-tempered, intelligent, patient and affectionate hound who is extremely loyal to his family. He is slow to mature and doesn't reach his full size until he is at least 2 years old. His size and overall appearance make him a standout in a crowd, so socializing him is easy because people come right up to him - and he loves it!
At home: 
Although the Irish Wolfhound is fairly laid-back inside the home, his size does not make him suitable for apartment life - he needs enough room to stretch his legs. He's not high energy but loves the chance to run - just be sure to exercise him this way in a securely fenced area because he could quickly outdistance you.
As the Irish Wolfhound is growing and going through the puppy stage, it is best to limit his activities to the normal ones of playing and going for short walks. Too much exercise at this time of rapid growth can lead to problems. As a mature adult, the Wolfhound will appreciate being able to use his natural ability of running short distances at high speeds. With regular walks, opportunities to run, and time spent playing and being with his family, the Wolfhound gets the exercise he needs.
The Irish Wolfhound requires a high-quality diet. Many breeders recommend feeding this large breed twice a day.
The intelligent Irish Wolfhound is quick to pick up on what you want him to do, and training him is relatively easy. Persistence and praise are key ingredients to successful training. A people-oriented dog, the Wolfhound is happy to meet and greet anyone who approaches him, and frequent outings in public places greatly improve his confidence, from puppyhood to old age.
While his size is imposing, the Irish Wolfhound is completely trustworthy with children and friendly toward all he meets. He is good with other dogs, but he may see smaller animals as prey or pursue a smaller animal if they start running together.
The average life span of the Irish Wolfhound is 6 to 8 years. Breed health concerns may include bloat; bone cancer; heart disease; hypothyroidism; liver shunts; and von Willebrand disease.
Fun fact: 

In the 1100s CE, it was purported that the King of Ulster offered 4,000 cows for a coveted Wolfhound. The refusal that met his request resulted in a war.

Grooming blurb: 
The Wolfhound's rough, medium-length coat needs regular brushing with a slicker brush and a metal comb to keep it clean and well kept. He is an average shedder who should be taken to a professional groomer a few times a year to have the coarser, longer hairs plucked so that he looks his best.
Copyright by T.F.H. Publications, Inc. This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.