In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, we wanted to shine the dog breed spotlight on the Irish wolfhound. The tallest of the dog breeds, the Irish wolfhound is considered a sighthound because of its excellent ability to see its prey. Bred to hunt large game such as elk, deer, boar and even wolves the Irish wolfhound is fast, strong and graceful.
The Irish wolfhound is considered a very old breed. Some records suggest that they were brought to Ireland somewhere around 7000 BC. Irish wolfhounds were used to hunt larger animals, guard nobles and often fought during battle. A highly prized breed, Irish wolfhounds were often given as gifts to kings, emperors and other nobility. Irish wolfhounds were often exported out of the country because of their popularity, which is believed to be part of the reason they almost became nonexistent in Ireland by 1879. Another reason for their dwindling numbers was believed to be because the wolf and boar that they used to hunt became extinct and the wolfhounds were not needed. Thanks to an Englishman by the name of George Augustus Graham, a breeding program was created to keep the Irish wolfhound around. It is believed that Graham had to crossbreed the specimens he had available with breeds such as the Great Dane, Scottish Deerhound and English Mastiff to name a few. The Irish wolfhound was recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1897.
Considered the tallest of the dog breeds, the Irish wolfhound can range in height from 28 to 35 inches and can weigh between 90 and 150 pounds. Some Irish wolfhounds are so tall that if you stand them on their hind legs they can stand up to 7 feet tall. Like most sighthounds, the Irish wolfhound has a long, pointed muzzle and has a long graceful neck similar to a greyhound. Wirehaired and scruffy in appearance, most Irish wolfhounds are grey but are known to come in a variety of colors including white, black, red and fawn.
There is really nothing not to like about the Irish wolfhound. They are kind and sweet and do beautifully with children. Irish wolfhounds are known to be very patient people pleasers and are extremely loyal. They do not make the best guard dogs because of their friendly nature; however, their size is usually a deterrent to would be home invaders or other individuals with questionable intentions. Their size and regular desire to have a little bit of a run make them better house dogs then apartment dogs especially if a fenced in yard is available. Irish wolfhounds like a good daily walk but are pretty happy to lie about and just be with their family. Because of their size, hard exercise and play is not recommended. Instilling your wolfhound with good leash manners and discipline at a young age is important because you do not want a 150 pound Irish wolfhound constantly pulling you on their leash.
Important things to know
One of the most important things to probably know about this breed is that they sadly do not have a very long lifespan and will typically live between 6 and 8 years. This is due to the health problems that most wolfhounds tend to be prone to. When grooming your wolfhound, a good brushing once a week will do to keep their coat nice and tangle free. They are considered average shedders. Irish wolfhounds eat a lot of food, especially during their puppyhood. It is not uncommon for an Irish wolfhound to eat up to 3 pounds of food a day; they are known to gain up to a pound a day when they are young. It is also important to make sure your wolfhound is eating a good diet. Including a high quality vitamin supplement, like NuVet Plus, would also benefit your wolfhound.