Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound Breed description: Character & Co

Irish Wolfhound


History and origin of the Irish Wolfhound

The Irish Wolfhound is one of the largest dog breeds in the world. It is also known by its English name, Irish Wolfhound, which it probably got in the 15th century. This breed was originally bred to hunt wolves (hence the name) and other large prey, and was later used as a guard and war dog.

As its name suggests, the Irish Wolfhound originated in Ireland. It is a particularly old breed of dog. The ancestors were greyhounds, which probably came to the Irish island with the Celts as early as the 3rd century, where they were used to breed larger dogs. Thereby the rough-coated varieties prevailed better because of the climate. The first evidence of this dog breed is the quadruped then called Cu-Culain ("Culan dog") in the first century AD, of which as many as 150 specimens were brought to Scotland, where they led to the emergence of the Deerhoundhave contributed .

In the course of time

Archaeological findings indicate that large greyhounds existed in Ireland as early as 7000 BC. The Irish used the powerful dogs to hunt wolves and big game. Also in writings of the Romans, even praised by Julius Caesar himself, the Irish Wolfhounds are mentioned. In the Middle Ages, only nobles were allowed to keep the Irish Wolfhound and in the 15th century, even every English county was required by law to keep Wolfhounds to protect their farmers' livestock from wolves.

Population decline

Towards the end of the 17th century, this breed almost became extinct. Due to the invention of firearms, decrease of prey animals and their use for Kriesg purposes, the Irish Wolfhound became increasingly rare. In the middle of the 19th century, a Scotsman, the British doctor Dr. George Graham, made an effort to save the rare dog breed. He crossed remaining Irish Wolfhounds with the breeds Borzoi (Russian Greyhound), Great Dane and Deerhound (Scottish Deerhound). At the end of the 19th century, this backbred Irish Wolfhound was officially recognized.


The Irish Wolfhound has regained popularity andenjoys some of the prestige ithad in theMiddle Ages. Wolfhounds arealso kept and bred in fairly large numbers outside ofIreland.

An example of a famous personality who owns an Irish Wolfhound is Heidi Klum her husband Tom Kaulitz. They chose an Irish Wolfhound in 2019, which now lives with them in Los Angeles.

Suitability and attitude

Although this dog breed used to be used very intensively for hunting deer and later to exterminate wolves. Nevertheless, it is suitable as an active family dog; however, due to its mass, special attention should be paid to smaller children.

The Irish Wolfhound is an extremely athletic dog, ideally kept busy by coursing. He is also well suited to regular jogging or as a hurried companion next to a horse or bicycle. Due to its size and activity, it is not suitable for everyone and an acquisition should be well considered.

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Dog,Mammal,Vertebrate,Dog breed,Canidae,Irish wolfhound,Carnivore,Scottish deerhound,Snout,Companion dog, Dog,Mammal,Vertebrate,Dog breed,Canidae,Carnivore,Sporting Group,Working dog,Guard dog,Cimarrón uruguayo, Dog,Dog breed,Mammal,Canidae,Irish wolfhound,Scottish deerhound,Snout,Carnivore,Bosnian coarse-haired hound,Sporting Group, Dog,Mammal,Vertebrate,Canidae,Dog breed,Carnivore,Irish wolfhound,Scottish deerhound,Sporting Group,Snout,
Alternate Name Irish Wolfhound
Origin Ireland
Life expectancy 6 - 10 years
Care requirements high-maintenance
Activity level average to high
FCI group Rough-haired Sighthounds
AKC group Hound Group
KC group Hound Group

Typical character traits of the Irish Wolfhound

The breed standard mentions the following saying about the behavior of these dog breeders: " Athomea little sheep, but a lion on the hunt".

Irish Wolfhounds are described as gentle giants. They are considered balanced, level-headed and lovable. Towards their humans they behave faithfully, adaptably and affectionately. They are very people-oriented and like close contact with their humans. Despite their stately size, they like to lie on the sofa and love extensive cuddling sessions. These dogs feel comfortable when they can live in the house with their humans. The huge dogs are amazingly sensitive. They tolerate rough treatment even worse than other dog breeds.

However, one should not disregard the fact that they have an innate hunting instinct and could once take on wolves. The defensible hunting dogs can make decisions independently. Sometimes the breed tends to be stubborn when dealing with its humans. Nowadays they are often kept as family dogs. Dogs of this breed are well compatible with conspecifics and other pets. As a guard dog, the Irish Wolfhound is less suitable. The giant has a deterrent effect on burglars, but hardly barks and shows no defensive reactions.

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Typical breed diseases of the Irish Wolfhound

Due to the effort to create larger and larger dogs, the Irish Wolfhound is characterized by many diseases and a short life span. They are at an increased risk for, in particular,...

  • gastric torsion and
  • Heart disease

Other typical diseases are:

  • tumors (especially bone cancer)
  • Osteochondrosis (malformation in bone growth)
  • Epilepsy
  • Portosystemic shunt (hepatic vascular malformation)

Life expectancy and health maintenance

As with all large dog breeds, the Irish Wolfhound unfortunately has a short life expectancy. It is only 5-10 years. According to one study, a relatively large proportion (28%) of Wolfhounds die even before the age of five.

In the first year of an Irish Wolfhound puppy's life, one must pay special attention to its feeding. An Irish Wolfhound puppy grows very fast. Too energy-rich food would harm him. On the other hand, he needs important nutrients for his bone structure. A balanced diet is important. During growth, the young Wolfhound should climb few stairs and should not jump out of the car, for example. Also adult dogs should not climb stairs if possible to protect their joints and spine.

Breeding and purchase of the Irish Wolfhound

Since Irish Wolfhounds do not have a high life expectancy, the primary breeding goal should be health. The VDH (Verband für das Deutsche Hundewesen) requires its breeders to have a heart examination performed on parent animals every two years. Therefore, anyone who acquires a wolfhound should only take a dog with VDH papers. In addition, parents should be chosen for breeding, which have all the good qualities of the breed. These are wolfdogs that are gentle, balanced, level-headed and lovable.

Irish Wolfhound in portrait, breed description

The Irish Wolfhound is classified by the FCI as Group 10(Sighthounds), Section2(Rough-coated sighthounds) classified. No working test is required.

The fact that in its breeding almost only height and weight are emphasized is also due to the fact that only a minimum height of 79cm and minimum weight of 54.5kg for males and 71cm and 40.5kg for females is prescribed. Upper limits do not exist . Despite this, this breed should be able to move freely and actively.

The head

This dog breed has along and horizontal head,carried high, with very slightly raised frontal bones with avery small depression between the eyes. The skull should not be too broad.

The muzzle

His muzzle islong but only moderatelypointed. This breed of dog ideally has a scissor bite, but in breeding specimens a pincer bite is permitted.

The Eyes & Ears

Irish Wolfhounds havedark eyes and small rose ears that arecarried greyhound-like.

The body

The rather long, very strong and muscular neck is well arched and developed without dewlap or loose throatlatch. It leads into a long, well ribbed body and slightly arched loins and a croup which has a great width between the hip humps. The chest is very deep, the forechest broad . Well sprung ribs and a well tucked up belly are the result.

The long tail of this dog breed is slightly curved, moderately thick and well coated.

The limbs

The well-muscled shoulder giveswidth tothechest and is sloping so that the elbow can be well placed underneath and does not turn in or out. The forearm is also well-muscled and consists of strong, quite straight bones . Likewise, the entire hindquarters are well muscled, the upper and lower thighs are long and the hock joint is deep.

The front as well as the hind feet are only moderately largeand round, but neitherturned in nor out. The toes should be well knuckled and close together with very strong and curved claws.

The coat

The coat of this breed is rough and harsh on the rump, legs and head.The hair above the eyes and on the lower jaw isjaw is considered particularly wiry.

In terms of color, only gray, brindle, red, black, pure white and fawn are really recognized. However, any color occurring in the Deerhound is also permitted.

Fur length medium
Fur rough-haired
Ear shape Triangle
Tail short
Anatomy slim
Size ♀ 71 - 68 cm
Weight ♀ 40 - 50 kg
Size ♂ 79 - 89 cm
Weight ♂ 54 - 60 kg
Suitable For -


Dog,Mammal,Vertebrate,Dog breed,Canidae,Irish wolfhound,Carnivore,Scottish deerhound,Sporting Group,Rare breed (dog),
Dog,Canidae,White,Dog breed,Miniature schnauzer,Terrier,Sealyham terrier,Carnivore,Irish soft-coated wheaten terrier,Snout,
Dog,Vertebrate,Dog breed,Mammal,Canidae,Puppy,Carnivore,Sporting Group,Irish wolfhound,Rare breed (dog),
  • Gastric torsion

    Gastric torsion is a disease in which the stomach rotates around its own longitudinal axis. The cause of the disease is not known.

  • Bone Cancer

    May occur with age.

  • Heart disease

    Can occur frequently in dogs and can sometimes be treated with medication.

  • Joint problems

    Especially due to overweight, joint problems can occur in dogs.

  • An Irish Wolfhound costs 2000 Euro and is very rare to find. Pay attention to a serious breeding.

  • Large dog breeds also eat relatively much. At an average weight of a male Irish Wolfhound about 1200g of food is needed daily.

  • An Irish Wolfhound is an ancient breed of dog that was originally bred in Ireland to hunt wolves and other large prey.

  • Irish Wolfhounds are one of the largest dog breeds and can grow between 32 and 36 inches tall and weigh between 120 and 180 pounds.

  • Irish Wolfhounds require regular grooming, including brushing, bathing and regular exercise. It is also important to ensure that they receive a balanced diet.

  • Irish Wolfhounds can suffer from certain health problems such as heart problems, cancer and arthritis. It is important to have regular vet visits to detect and treat such problems early.

  • Yes, Irish Wolfhounds are usually friendly and gentle dogs that get along well with children and other pets. They are also usually very affectionate and loyal to their owners.

Other large dogs

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