Irish Wolfhound

    Irish Wolfhound


    Introduction to the Irish Wolfhound Breed

    The Irish Wolfhound is a dog breed with a rich history and an origin shrouded in mystery. Although the exact origins of the breed are unknown, it is believed to have originated in Bulgaria and was brought to Ireland by the Celts. The breed was developed in the 14th century to address the problem of wolf packs attacking sheep in Ireland. A law was passed requiring at least 24 dogs to be kept on each property to protect livestock. Today, the Irish Wolfhound is solely used as a family dog due to its friendly and loving nature.

    The Irish Wolfhound is one of the largest dog breeds in the world, with males standing at around 88 cm at the shoulder and weighing about 70 kg. They are known for their impressive size, proportional body length, and strength, which made them ideal for hunting wolves and bears in medieval Ireland. Despite their size, Irish Wolfhounds have a moderate temperament and are known for their calm and patient nature. However, it's important to avoid overexerting the dog physically before their bones and muscles are fully developed.

    Caring for an Irish Wolfhound

    Feeding and Nutrition

    Feeding and nutrition are crucial aspects of caring for an Irish Wolfhound. Being a large breed, the Irish Wolfhound requires a balanced diet that meets its nutritional needs. While opinions on dog nutrition vary, super-premium dry food is recommended for feeding an Irish Wolfhound. It's essential to avoid overfeeding the dog, as obesity can lead to health issues like joint pain and cardiovascular diseases. Some companies even offer specialized food for Irish Wolfhounds. Therefore, consulting with a veterinarian to determine the appropriate diet and feeding regimen for an Irish Wolfhound is crucial.

    Exercise and Physical Activity

    Exercise and physical activity are also important for the health and well-being of an Irish Wolfhound. Although the breed has a history as a hunting dog, it is now primarily kept as a companion animal. However, Irish Wolfhounds still require daily exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction to thrive. Overexertion should be avoided, especially before the dog's bones and joints are fully developed. Regular exercise can help prevent obesity, improve cardiovascular health, and promote overall fitness. Therefore, it's essential to ensure an appropriate amount of physical activity for an Irish Wolfhound.

    Coat Care

    Coat care is another important aspect of caring for an Irish Wolfhound. The breed has a long, wiry coat that requires regular maintenance to prevent matting and tangling. While coat maintenance is relatively low, it's still necessary to brush the dog's coat at least once a week to keep it clean and healthy. Additionally, it's important to trim the dog's nails and clean its ears regularly. Proper grooming not only helps the dog look its best but also prevents skin infections and other health issues. Therefore, regular grooming should be incorporated into the overall care routine for an Irish Wolfhound.

    Health Issues

    Irish Wolfhounds are prone to several health issues, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, which can cause pain and mobility problems. They are also susceptible to bone cancer and bloat. To ensure the best possible health for your Irish Wolfhound, it's important to be aware of these common health issues and take preventive measures. Regular exercise and long walks are essential for maintaining the breed's physical and mental well-being. However, it's also crucial to monitor their health and schedule regular check-ups with a veterinarian. Preventive measures, such as administering deworming agents, can help maintain the health of Irish Wolfhounds.

    It's important to understand the breed's lifespan, which is relatively short compared to other breeds, with an average lifespan of around 6-8 years. However, with advances in veterinary care and breeding practices, some breeders make an effort to improve the breed's overall health and longevity. Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial for Irish Wolfhounds, especially for monitoring and managing potential health issues like dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).

    Understanding the breed's lifespan and common health problems can help owners make informed decisions about their pet's care and ensure their well-being throughout their life. Despite the breed's susceptibility to certain health issues, Irish Wolfhounds are generally healthy and robust dogs with a gentle and loyal temperament, making them good companions for the right owner.

    Training an Irish Wolfhound

    Training an Irish Wolfhound requires a combination of basic commands and obedience training, socialization, and advanced training. Starting with basic commands such as sit, stay, and come is essential for establishing good behavior and obedience. It's important to establish a consistent and firm training routine to ensure that the dog understands and follows commands. Practicing basic commands and playing with the dog at home can also contribute to its physical and mental health.

    Socialization and behavioral training are also crucial for an Irish Wolfhound. Early socialization with other dogs and people can help prevent aggressive behavior and fear. Puppy classes can provide a safe and controlled environment for socialization and basic obedience training. Additionally, trick training and activities can help improve the dog's behavior and strengthen the bond between the dog and the owner. Consistent training and socialization can lead to a well-behaved and happy Irish Wolfhound.

    Advanced training and activities, such as hunting, showing, and tracking, can provide mental stimulation and physical exercise for an Irish Wolfhound. It's important to ensure that the dog is physically capable of these activities and that they are carried out in a safe and controlled environment. Environmental training can also help the dog adapt to various stimuli and situations.

    However, it's important to note that dog fighting is illegal and should never be considered as an activity for an Irish Wolfhound or any other dog breed. With consistent training, socialization, and appropriate activities, an Irish Wolfhound can thrive and become a loving and loyal companion.

    Living with an Irish Wolfhound

    Living with an Irish Wolfhound requires adequate space both indoors and outdoors due to their large size. According to FCI standards, males should have a height of 81 to 86 cm. Therefore, if you have sufficient space both indoors and outdoors, an Irish Wolfhound can be a delightful companion. However, they need daily exercise and mentally stimulating activities to keep them healthy and happy. Despite their size, Irish Wolfhounds are gentle and calm dogs that are practical in the home and do not create much noise or commotion.

    Irish Wolfhounds are known for their friendly and loving nature, making them great companions for families with children and older individuals. They are similar to Scottish Deerhounds, which are also beloved dogs. However, it's important to monitor interactions between an Irish Wolfhound and children or other pets, as with any dog, to ensure everyone's safety. They are also compatible with other large dog breeds such as Great Danes, St. Bernards, Leonbergers, Mastiffs, and Bernese Mountain Dogs.

    Owning an Irish Wolfhound requires time and attention, as with any pet. They are good-hearted dogs that require a little more than just being close to their family. However, they require veterinary care and exercise to maintain their health. It's important to carefully consider the breed's origins and characteristics before deciding to bring an Irish Wolfhound into your home. Overall, living with an Irish Wolfhound can be a rewarding experience for those with the right space, time, and attention to dedicate to this gentle giant.

    Irish Wolfhound Rescue and Adoption

    If you are interested in adopting an Irish Wolfhound, the first step is to find a reputable organization. This can be done through online research or by contacting local animal welfare organizations. It's important to ensure that the rescue or shelter you choose follows ethical practices and has the best interests of the dogs at heart. Once you've found a suitable rescue or shelter, you can begin the adoption process.

    The adoption process for an Irish Wolfhound typically involves filling out an application, providing references, and undergoing a home visit. The rescue or shelter may also require an adoption fee and may ask you to spay or neuter your new pet as part of the adoption process. It's important to be patient during this process, as it may take some time to find the right dog for your family. Additionally, you should be prepared to meet the specific requirements of the rescue or shelter, such as having a fenced yard or being willing to provide regular exercise for your new pet.

    Caring for an adopted Irish Wolfhound requires commitment and responsibility. These dogs are large and energetic and require plenty of space and exercise. They also need regular grooming to maintain their medium-length, rough coat. It's important to provide your Irish Wolfhound with a healthy diet and regular veterinary care, as they can be prone to certain health issues.

    Additionally, you should be prepared for the financial responsibility that comes with owning a large dog, including expenses for food, medical care, and grooming. However, the love and companionship that an Irish Wolfhound can provide make it all worthwhile.

    Breeding Irish Wolfhounds

    Breeding Irish Wolfhounds is a responsibility that requires careful consideration and ethical practices. It's important to avoid breeding practices that may increase the risk of health issues in the breed, such as liver cancer. Responsible breeding includes conducting health tests and screening to ensure that only healthy dogs are used for breeding.

    Health tests and screening for Irish Wolfhounds typically include X-rays to screen for hip dysplasia (HD), elbow dysplasia (ED), and osteochondritis dissecans (OCD). These tests help identify potential health issues in the breed and prevent them from being passed on to future generations. Breeding only healthy dogs can help ensure the breed's long-term health and well-being.

    Finding suitable homes for Irish Wolfhound puppies is also an important aspect of responsible breeding. Breeders should carefully screen potential buyers to ensure they can provide the puppies with a suitable home. It's important to find homes where the puppies will receive proper care and attention, as well as sufficient space for exercise and play. Breeders can also provide training and guidance to new puppy owners to ensure a successful transition to their new homes.

    Additionally, breeders should be mindful of the number of litters they produce and avoid overbreeding the breed. By practicing responsible breeding, Irish Wolfhound breeders can help preserve the health and well-being of this majestic breed, cherished for its hunting abilities for centuries.


    In conclusion, the Irish Wolfhound is a unique and fascinating breed with a rich history and a dedicated following of enthusiasts. The breed was originally developed for wolf hunting, but as wolf populations declined, it nearly disappeared. It was eventually recreated by crossing the Scottish Deerhound and the Great Dane. Today, the Irish Wolfhound is known for its large size and gentle disposition, making it a popular choice for families and individuals seeking a loyal and loving companion.

    One of the key characteristics of the Irish Wolfhound is its hearty appetite, with the breed known to consume up to 1 kg of dog food per day. Despite its size, the Irish Wolfhound is a gentle and loving breed known for its loyalty and devotion to its family. While the breed may not be suitable for everyone due to its size, those willing and able to care for an Irish Wolfhound will be rewarded with a loving and loyal dog.

    Overall, the Irish Wolfhound is a breed well-suited for families and individuals seeking a gentle and loving dog. While the breed may have some unique characteristics, such as its large size and appetite, these are outweighed by the breed's loyalty, affection, and gentle nature. Whether you are an experienced dog owner or considering getting a dog for the first time, the Irish Wolfhound is a breed that is definitely worth considering.

    Frequently Asked Questions about Irish Wolfhounds

    Are Irish Wolfhounds good family pets? Yes, Irish Wolfhounds are known for their friendly and loving nature, making them great companions for families. They are gentle and patient with children and can adapt well to family life.

    How much exercise do Irish Wolfhounds need? Irish Wolfhounds require daily exercise to keep them healthy and happy. They need regular walks and mental stimulation to thrive. However, it's important to avoid overexertion, especially when they are still growing.

    Are Irish Wolfhounds easy to train? Irish Wolfhounds are intelligent and eager to please, which makes them trainable. However, they can be independent at times, so consistent and patient training methods are recommended. Early socialization and obedience training are crucial for their development.

    Do Irish Wolfhounds get along with other pets? Irish Wolfhounds generally get along well with other pets, including dogs and cats. However, proper socialization and introductions are important to ensure a harmonious relationship. Supervision is recommended when introducing them to new animals.

    How much space do Irish Wolfhounds need? Irish Wolfhounds are large dogs and require adequate space both indoors and outdoors. They need room to stretch their legs and move around comfortably. A fenced yard or access to a safe outdoor area is beneficial for their exercise needs.

    Do Irish Wolfhounds shed a lot? Irish Wolfhounds have a medium-length, wiry coat that requires regular brushing to prevent matting and tangling. They do shed, but not excessively. Regular grooming and brushing can help keep their coat healthy and minimize shedding.

    Are Irish Wolfhounds prone to health issues? Like many large dog breeds, Irish Wolfhounds are prone to certain health issues such as hip and elbow dysplasia, bone cancer, and bloat. Regular veterinary check-ups, proper nutrition, and exercise can help minimize the risk of these health problems.

    How long do Irish Wolfhounds live? The average lifespan of an Irish Wolfhound is around 6-8 years. However, with proper care, some individuals can live longer. It's important to be aware of their shorter lifespan and provide them with a healthy and fulfilling life.

    Can Irish Wolfhounds be left alone for long periods? Irish Wolfhounds are social dogs and thrive on human companionship. They may not do well when left alone for long periods. If you need to be away for extended periods, it's important to provide them with mental stimulation and consider a dog sitter or doggy daycare.

    Can Irish Wolfhounds be used for hunting? While Irish Wolfhounds have a history as hunting dogs, they are primarily kept as companion animals today. Engaging in hunting activities with them is not recommended. Instead, they excel in activities such as obedience, agility, and therapy work.

    Remember, each Irish Wolfhound is unique, and their temperament and behavior can vary. It's important to consult with breeders, trainers, or veterinarians for personalized advice and guidance based on your specific Irish Wolfhound's needs.

    Are Irish Wolfhounds suitable for apartment living?

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