The largest of all dog breeds, the minimum height for an adult male Irish Wolfhound dog breed is 79cm and for the female 71cm. An average height is 81-86cm for the breed, with adult dogs weighing a minimum of 54.5kg and adult females 40.9kg. Although he's huge, he is graceful and athletic. The rough, medium-length coat comes in grey, brindle, red, black, white, fawn, wheaten and steel-grey.
- Category size: Giant
- Grooming requirements: More than once a week
- Shedding: Moderate
- Allergies: No
- Noise: Not too noisy
- Dog Group Kennel Club: Hound
- Alone: Less than 1 hour
- Other pets: Medium
- Stability as a guard: Medium
The Irish Wolfhound dog is an ancient breed. Large wolf dogs are documented as being in Ireland more than 2,000 years ago. The dogs of kings and noblemen, the Irish Wolfhound has a long, fascinating history, being used as a dog of war (removing warriors from horseback and chariots) as well as a hunter of wolves. The last wolf was killed in Ireland in 1786 and the breed's popularity went into a period of decline, exacerbated by the Great Famine in the 1840s, but he was revived by dedicated enthusiasts
Friendly and kind, the Irish Wolfhound dog is the gentle giant of the dog world – but pups and young adults are energetic and boisterous so may not be ideal for a family with young children. He gets on well with other dogs, but some can be intimidated by his size. The sheer enormity of his eventual size makes him unsuitable for many families, but for those who can accommodate his needs, he is a devoted companion.
With a shorter life span than most breeds the most serious health problems that the Irish Wolfhound is predisposed to are an aggressive type of bone cancer and heart disease. Recognised inherited disorders include liver and eye conditions, but due to routine screening and careful breeding programmes these are relatively rare.
He may be huge, but the Irish Wolfhound is active and surprisingly fast and agile. A fully-grown, healthy adult Irish Wolfhound needs at least two hours' daily exercise. Great care should be taken not to over-exercise immature dogs, however, to avoid skeletal problems.
Giant-breed dogs, as well as having giant appetites, benefit from a different balance of minerals and vitamins, supporting different joint and cartilage needs. The Irish Wolfhound is also prone to bloating and stomach problems; try feeding smaller, more frequent meals to help minimise the risk.
The Irish Wolfhound dog's rough, harsh coat is fairly low-maintenance, needing a brush through a couple of times a week.
Is this the right dog breed for you?
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What to Consider next
It is incredibly fulfilling to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization. It often means offering them a second chance in life. There are many dogs waiting for a loving family, a forever home. Reputable centers will be very careful about matching the right people with the right dogs. Staff learns all they can about the dogs they take in, and will spend time getting to know you, your family and your lifestyle, before they match you with any of their dogs. They’ll also be happy to give you advice and answer any questions you might have before and after the adoption.
Finding a good breeder
If your heart is set on a pedigree puppy, then your best bet is to find a reputable breeder. Contact The Kennel Club or a breed-club secretary who may have a list of litters available, or should be able to put you in contact with breeders in your area. Try to choose a breeder who is part of the Kennel Club’s assured breeder scheme.Visit dog shows to meet breeders in person and inquire about availability of pups of your chosen breed.
Welcoming your dog home
Whether you’re bringing home a tiny puppy or rehoming an adult dog, this is a hugely exciting time for everyone. While you’re waiting for the big day you might need to distract yourself, so luckily there are a few things you need to sort out before you welcome your new arrival. Click here for more information