Irish Wolfhound

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Irish Wolfhound


A massive, muscular dog, the Irish Wolfhound is one of the tallest breeds in the world. This gentle giant can reach the size of a small pony. Standing on his hind legs the Irish Wolfhound can reach up to 7 feet tall!  He has a rough, shaggy coat and wiry bushy eyebrows. Colors include gray, brindle, red, black or white. Gray is the most common color. The paws are large and round, with markedly arched toes and strong, curved nails. It has a long head with a moderately pointed muzzle and a muscular arched neck. The chest is very deep and it has a well retracted abdomen. The shoulders are strong. The Irish Wolfhound gives the appearance of both strength and grace. The tail hangs down with a slight curve. The ears are carried back against the head except when the animal is excited, when they my prick up part-way.


Irish Wolfhounds are sweet-tempered, patient, generous, thoughtful and very intelligent. Excellent, and can be trusted with, children. Dignified and willing, they are unconditionally loyal to their owner and family. Not a guard dog by nature, but may be a deterrent simply due to his size. They tend to greet everyone as a friend, so do not count on them being a watch dog. This giant breed can be clumsy. Slow to mature, it takes two whole years before they are full grown. However, they grow rapidly and high-qualify food is essential. Let a puppy decide for itself how much exercit wants. Forced exercise and long distance walks are too taxing for this dog's body when it is young. The Irish Wolfhound is relatively easy to train. He responds well to firm, but gentle training. This approach with plenty of understanding will go a long way because this dog quickly grasps what you intend. Make sure the young dog is given as much self-confidence as possible and that you are always consistent with it, so that it grows into an equable, confident dog. Teach it not to pull on its leash before it gets too strong. This calm dog gets along well with other dogs. This is also true with other animals if the dog has gotten to know them when it was still young. However, it  might "course" a smaller dog in an open yard.

Height, Weight

Height: 28-35 inches (71-90 cm.)
Weight: 90-150 pounds (40-69 kg.)

Health Problems

These dogs are prone to cardiomyopathy, bone cancer, bloat, PRA, Von Willebrands, and hip dysplasia.

Living Conditions

The Irish Wolfhound is not recommended for apartment life. They are relatively inactive indoors and will do best with at least a large yard. You must have a lot of room in your home, heart, yard and car to successfully own this giant breed. They need to be part of the family and would be very unhappy in a kennel. Being sighthounds, they will chase and so need a secure, fenced area for exercise.


These giant dogs need lots of space to run, but do not need any more exercise than smaller breeds. They will adapt to their families situation, but would love to go for long walks with its family. Puppies should be allowed to choose how much exercise it needs. Too much forced exercise is not good for its growth and development.

Life Expectancy

About 6-8 years


The rough, medium-length coat needs regular and thorough grooming with a brush and comb. This with keep the coat in good condition. About once or twice a year pluck the coat to remove excess dead hair. This breed is an average shedder.


Their ancestors were the Cu, a massive shaggy-coated dog used for the pursuit of wolves, elk and wild boar. Irish Wolfhounds were often given as royal presents and eventually became such popular gifts that Oliver Cromwell had to stop their export from Britain. The last wolf was killed in Scotland in the early eighteenth century, and the Wolfhound disappeared from Ireland in 1766. This breed was later brought back to Ireland by the Romans. There it was carefully breed in the second half of the 19th century by a British army officer, Captain George Graham. The breed was revitalized by the influx of Great Dane and Deerhound blood.


Southern, AKC Hound




CKC = Continental Kennel Club
FCI = Fédération Cynologique Internationale
AKC = American Kennel Club
UKC = United Kennel Club
KCGB = Kennel Club of Great Britain
CKC = Canadian Kennel Club
ANKC = Australian National Kennel Club
NKC = National Kennel Club
IWCA = Irish Wolfhound Club of America
NZKC = New Zealand Kennel Club


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 Last updated 18 July, 2001