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The Irish Wolfhound is a massive and impressive hound dog bred to hunt wolves, deer and wild boars. Its immense size of 115 to 180 pounds and towering height of 71 to 90 centimetres may deter people, but this hound is neither a watchdog nor a guard dog. Irish Wolfhounds are reserved and polite in the company of strangers, but in contrast are very affectionate and loyal to its family. Care must be taken when it interacts with children as its sheer size alone calls for caution.
Are you planning to buy an Irish Wolfhound? If so, read on to know more about this gentle giant.
The origins of the Irish Wolfhound is unclear, but most experts claim that the breed descended from Middle Eastern sighthounds that were brought by Phoenician sea-traders to the British Isles around 3,000 years ago. Some speculate that they were crossed with local mastiffs to develop what appeared like a giant Greyhound, and later mixed with either the Irish Sheepdog or the Scottish Deerhound.
Regardless of its actual ancestry, the Irish Wolfhound was known to exist as far back as 391 AD as Ireland's gift to rulers and influential people. Over the centuries, Irish Wolfhounds were highly-prized for their hunting abilities, working in packs to pursue wolves and giant Irish elks. In the 18th century, the breed was out of work when last of the wolves and elks in Ireland were hunted to extinction. This took a toll on the Irish Wolfhound’s numbers, and it too almost went extinct especially during the Great Irish Famine.
In 1862, the Irish Wolfhound breed was saved by Captain George Augustus Graham, a Scotsman in the British army, who made it his life's work to revive and further develop the breed. He also crossed the Irish Wolfhound with the Russian Wolfhound, Great Dane, Pyrenean Mountain Dog and Tibetan Mastiff. The Kennel Club first recognised the Irish Wolfhound in 1925, and today the breed is known to be a gentle and excellent companion.
The Irish Wolfhound is massive hound dog that weighs 115 to 180 pounds. Similar in appearance to the rough-coated Greyhound, the Irish wolfhound is the tallest sighthound standing at a towering height of 71 to 90 centimetres. It has a graceful and robust build and smooth gait. The Irish Wolfhound has a long head that it carries high and proud giving it a noble look. It boasts of a moderately pointed muzzle and black nose and lips. Its eyes are dark and oval-shaped while its ears are small and rose-shaped despite its massive frame. Irish Wolfhounds have long legs, comparatively narrow body, slightly arched loin, deep chest and moderately small waist. Like most sighthounds, its tail is long and carried low.
The Irish Wolfhound can endure cold and damp weather thanks to its harsh and wiry coat on its body, head and legs but the most distinctive parts are its long eyebrows and a patch of wiry hair under the jaw. The coat varies in colour such as grey, black, brindle, pure white, wheaten, fawn, and steel grey. This large dog sheds year round, but it can be remedied with weekly brushing to keep loose hair under control and maintain its coat. Generally, Irish Wolfhounds are clean dogs and must only be bathed when necessary. Its mane and body hair can be hand stripped to give it a neat show ring look.
Regularly check and clean the ears for signs of wax build up, irritation or infection. Teeth must be brushed on a weekly basis to inhibit tartar build-up and avoid gum disease and bad breath. Make sure to trim nails monthly if it does not wear down naturally outdoors.
Irish Wolfhounds are gentle, sensitive and even-tempered. In spite of the fact that they can run at incredible speed when outside, around the house they are decidedly slow. However, beneath the docile exterior is a hunter that loves nothing more than to chase animals. The Irish Wolfhound thrives in human company and does not take on well to be left alone for long periods of time. This dog breed is ideal for households where one family member works from home or usually stays in the house most of the time.
When it comes to protecting the house or the family against thieves or burglars, its large form is enough to deter bad intentions. However, Irish Wolfhounds are peace lovers and do not bark an alarm, which makes them poor watchdogs and guard dogs. Although the Irish Wolfhound has such a fearsome past as a war dog, this dog breed is actually a gentle giant that loves people including children, other dogs and even cats. Care should still be taken when an Irish Wolfhound is around children since its size alone can easily knock over small children when playtime gets a bit rowdy.
The Irish Wolfhound is easy to train since it responds well to firm, gentle and consistent leadership. However, it may still exhibit a bit of independent thinking since historically, Irish Wolfhounds were taught to work at distances from their masters and often do not wait for detailed commands. Regardless, this dog breed is not ideal for first-time dog owners for a lot of reasons such as the training required and the number of rigorous exercises and mental stimulations it will need to become a healthy and happy dog.
A typical serving for an adult Irish Wolfhounds is 4 to 8 cups of quality dog food per day. Servings should be split into two meals to avoid bloating. Each dog requires a balanced diet that is suitable to its nutritional needs, which are influenced by certain factors such as its age, size, gender, metabolism, health and activity level. If in doubt, consult a veterinarian.
Here is a typical daily calorie requirement of an adult 140-pound Irish Wolfhound:
To ensure that your Irish Wolfhound receives the nutrition it deserves, select a high-quality dog food brand that is rich in animal protein and is specially formulated for giant dogs. Animal protein is essential for muscle growth which can be found in eggs, lamb, beef, chicken, and salmon.
The Irish Wolfhound has a relatively shorter lifespan compared to other purebred dogs that live up to 10 to 13 years. It can only live up to 8 years when it is given the proper care and love. Like any dogs, it is not exempted from predisposed genetic disorders and other acquired health problems. Irish Wolfhounds may suffer from the following: Bloat or Gastric Dilatation, Bone Cancer, Atrial Fibrillation, Cardiomyopathy, Dermatitis, Hypothyroidism, Immunodeficiency Syndrome, Wobbler Syndrome, Entropion, Shoulder Osteochondrosis, Cataracts, Hip Dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and Von Willebrand's Disease.
Although Irish Wolfhounds often do things in slow motion, they are very active dogs, which means they need at least 2 hours of daily exercise to keep them physically and mentally healthy. They should be given a weekly opportunity to stretch their legs and run to keep them happy. These dogs are too big to live in an apartment, so they require at least a house with a securely fenced yard.
When you buy a large dog, there are a lot of things to consider such as the space, the amount of exercise required and the financial responsibility with feeding and making sure it is healthy and happy. The latter is often overlooked when people start looking for a breeder that often lands dog owners in trouble later on. If you don't want to face certain financial difficulties in the future, it pays to be aware of how much raising an Irish Wolfhound will cost you.
As a rough guide, the average estimated cost you will likely spend to care for an Irish Wolfhound will be between £130 and £200 a month.
Are you sure the Irish Wolfhound is the best breed for you? Take the Pet Breed Selector Quiz to find your perfect breed match.Dog Breed Selector Quiz
Is the Irish Wolfhound’s massive size too much for you? You can find other suitable breeds using our Pet Finder.
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