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The Irish Wolfhound is a large breed that is said to be a descendant of Middle Eastern Sighthounds. He is a massive and impressive Hound dog that was bred to hunt wolves, deer, and wild boars. In 1925, he was officially recognised by the Kennel Club.
The Irish Wolfhound dog breed’s massive size may look intimidating; however, this large dog is neither a watchdog nor a guard dog.
Irish Wolfhound dogs are reserved and polite in the company of strangers, but are very affectionate and loyal to their family. Care must be taken when they interact with children as their sheer size alone calls for caution.
The Irish Wolfhound breed has a stubborn streak, but he is quite easy to train. When it comes to grooming, he sheds throughout the year, so he requires weekly brushing. This large dog breed has an average lifespan of 8 years.
The origins of the Irish Wolfhound breed are unclear. Most experts claim that the breed descended from Middle Eastern Sighthounds. These dogs were brought by Phoenician sea traders to the British Isles around 3,000 years ago.
The Irish Wolfhound breed’s origins can also be traced back to ancient Rome. Around 391 AD, the dog breed became famous for being a skilled gladiator and courser.
In the same year, Aurelius, a Roman consul, was given 7 Irish Wolfhounds as a gift. He wrote to his brother, saying: “All Rome viewed with wonder.”
Regardless of the Irish Wolfhound dog’s actual ancestry, he was known to exist as far back as 391 AD. He was Ireland's gift to rulers and influential people.
Over the centuries, Irish Wolfhound dogs were highly prized as hunting dogs. They work in packs mainly to pursue the wolf in Ireland and the giant Irish elk.
In the 18th century, the Irish Wolfhound breed was out of work when the 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. He was a Scotsman in the British Army who made it his life's work to revive and further develop the breed.
In 1897, the Irish Wolf Hound breed was finally acknowledged by the American Kennel Club. Breed clubs like the Irish Wolfhound Club of America were then founded.
The English Kennel Club first recognised the Irish Wolfhound dog breed in 1925. Today, this large dog is known to be a gentle and excellent companion.
If hunting in packs, Irish Wolfhound dogs have a high chance of killing a wolf. However, a lone Irish Wolfhound may not be able to do so.
The Irish Wolfhound is large and massive. Similar in appearance to the rough-coated Greyhound, this huge Sighthound is the tallest breed in the world.
The average weight of a full-grown male Irish Wolfhound dog is between 45–54 kilos (100–120 pounds). Some males can even be as heavy as 81 kilos (180 pounds). As for their height, they can measure around 76–81 centimetres (30–32 inches) tall.
The weight of female adult Irish Wolfhound dogs ranges from 43–47 kilos (95–105 pounds). The Irish Wolfhound height for females ranges from 71–76 centimetres (28–30 inches).
As the breed is a large in size, it is slow to reach full maturity. Most Irish Wolfhound puppies become adult dogs when they are around 18-24 months of age.
The Irish Wolfhound breed has a graceful and robust build and smooth gait. He has a long head that he carries high and proud, giving him a noble look. He boasts of a moderately pointed muzzle and black nose and lips.
The eyes of the Irish Wolfhound breed are dark and oval-shaped. His ears are small and rose-shaped despite his massive frame.
He has long legs, a comparatively narrow body, a slightly arched loin, a deep chest, and a moderately small waist. Like most Sighthounds, his tail is long and carried low.
Irish Wolfhound dogs can endure cold and damp weather. That’s all thanks to the harsh and wiry coat on their body, head, and legs. But the most distinctive parts are their long eyebrows and a patch of wiry hair on the eyes and under the jaw.
The Irish Wolfhound breed’s coat varies in colour such as grey, black, brindle, pure white, wheaten, fawn, and steel grey. His coat sheds all-year round, but it can be remedied with weekly brushing to keep loose and dead hair under control and maintain his coat.
Generally, Irish Wolfhound dogs are clean dogs. They must only be bathed when necessary. Their 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 weekly 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.
The Irish Wolfhound breed is easy to train since he responds well to firm, gentle, and consistent leadership. However, he may still exhibit a bit of independence.
This can be attributed to the Irish Wolfhound breed’s history. He was taught to work at distances from their masters and often do not wait for detailed commands.
Regardless, the Irish Wolfhound dog breed is not ideal for first-time dog owners for a number of reasons. He requires lots of training and rigorous exercise to become a healthy and happy dog. Novices may not be able to keep up with his regular needs.
When it comes to protecting the family against thieves or burglars, the Irish Wolfhound breed's great size is enough to deter bad intentions. However, he is a peace lover and does not bark an alarm.
For this reason, Irish Wolfhound dogs are not good options as watchdogs and guard dogs.
Even though the Irish Wolfhound breed can run at incredible speed when outside, he is decidedly slow around the house. However, beneath the docile exterior is a hunter that loves nothing more than to chase animals.
Make sure that your Irish Wolfhound dog is properly socialised with other pets so that they can interact safely.
Irish Wolfhounds are gentle, sensitive, and even-tempered family dogs. They thrive in human company and do not take on well in being left alone for long periods.
These large dogs are ideal for households wherein one family member works from home or usually stays in the house most of the time.
No. Irish Wolfhounds may have such a fearsome past as a war dog, but they are actually gentle giants. They love people including children, other dogs, and even cats.
Care should still be taken when these massive Hounds are around children. Their size alone can easily knock over small children when playtime gets a bit rowdy.
Here is a typical daily calorie requirement of an adult Irish Wolfhound:
To ensure that your Irish Wolfhound receives the nutrition he deserves, select a high-quality dog food. It should be specially formulated for giant dogs.
The Irish Wolfhound’s diet must be rich in animal protein. It is essential for muscle growth, which can be found in eggs, lamb, beef, chicken, and salmon.
An adult Irish Wolfhound dog should have 4–8 cups of excellent-quality dog food per day. Servings should be split into 2 meals to avoid bloating.
Note that each dog requires a balanced diet that is suitable for his nutritional needs. These are influenced by certain factors such as age, size, gender, metabolism, health, and activity level. If you are not sure what food to give to your dog, consult a veterinarian.
Like other dog breeds, the Irish Wolfhound dog is not exempted from predisposed health problems like bone cancer. He may suffer from the following health issues:
Also called gastric torsion, it causes the stomach to twist, trapping in gas and liquid. This results in the swelling of the abdomen and cutting off blood circulation to the heart. Dog bloat is very common in both large and giant breeds.
As it is a swift and deadly disease, affected Irish Wolfhound dogs should be seen by a vet for treatment ASAP.
This heart disease is characterised by the abnormal rhythm of the heart. The cause for this condition is unknown. Fortunately, Irish Wolfhound dogs with this disease can be treated through administering medications.
Von Willebrand Disease
It is a common bleeding disorder in dogs including the Irish Wolfhound breed. Canines with this health problem will experience excessive bleeding when they are injured or undergo surgery.
The cure is yet to be found for this disease, but it can be managed through blood clotting medications.
This health problem is brought on by the defective connection between the systemic circulation and portal vascular system. It causes a malfunction in correctly filtering out waste and toxins out of the body.
Treating liver shunt may involve diet changes, intake of medications, and/or surgery.
The Irish Wolfhound breed often does things in slow motion, but he is a very active dog. He needs at least 2 hours of daily exercise to keep him physically and mentally healthy.
Think about getting your Irish Wolfhound into dog sports as he particularly excels in lure coursing, tracking, and obedience.
The Irish Wolfhound breed is a large-sized dog that needs room to stretch his legs. He is too big to live in an apartment. Thus, he requires to live in a house with a securely fenced yard.
The Irish Wolfhound breed has a relatively shorter lifespan compared to other purebred dogs. Unlike those that live up to 10–13 years, this dog can only live up to 8 years.
His short lifespan is linked to his size. It is observed that giant and large breeds commonly have a short life expectancy.
As the Irish Wolfhound breed is large in size, it means that he will require large amounts of food daily. Be prepared to spend £60–£70 at most for his monthly food expenses.
Living in a new home often tends to be nerve-wracking for a young Irish Wolfhound puppy. Make him comfortable quickly by providing him with his basic doggy supplies. Necessities such as a dog bed, lead, collar, and puppy toys, will cost you a total of around £100–£400.
Ensuring that your Irish Wolfhound puppy remains healthy and in good shape entails frequent vet visits. The fee for every vet check-up session is around £30–£60.
A young Irish Wolfhound puppy is greatly at risk of contracting severe infectious diseases. Vaccinations will safeguard him from this danger. The cost for initial vaccine shots is approximately £100–£150, whilst it costs £50–£60 for annual boosters.
Vet care for your Irish Wolfhound puppy is expensive. However, medical bills can be reduced if you sign up for pet insurance.
If you choose a lifetime coverage, its monthly fee ranges from £18–£80. If you prefer a time-limited package, the cost will be lesser. You will only need to pay around £15–20 each month.
The price for an Irish Wolfhound puppy is around £2,000. When buying a puppy, it is recommended that you get one from a Kennel Club assured reputable breeder whose breeding dogs are health-tested.
Do not risk looking for puppies from Irish Wolfhound breeders with unethical practices. Otherwise, you are likely to end up owning a sickly puppy with an unstable temperament.
A better alternative would be to adopt from an Irish Wolfhound rescue organisation or rehoming centre.
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.
A Sighthound is a branch of the Hound Group, which is a classification of dog breeds created for tracking and capturing prey. Dogs that fall under the Sighthound category were bred to hunt by sight and speed. For this reason, they are popularly known as ‘Ferraris of the dog world.’
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