A well-bred, typical Irish Wolfhound is a joy to own. Gentle and loving, this magnificent creature wants nothing more than to be your friend. Wolfhounds are large dogs, but are satisfied with a comfortable spot in which to lie and need not live on a large estate. They are by nature loyal and loving companions dogs, but are often trained for the show ring or coursing and sometimes trained for obedience or as therapy dogs. But if you’re just looking for a loyal dog to curl up nearby and go for walks with you, the Irish Wolfhound can ﬁll the bill perfectly.
An Irish Wolfhound’s stature and deep bark are usually enough to thwart an intruder, but other than that, he is likely to gently wag his tail while the family silver is being stuffed in a sack and carried out the door. We quite intentionally do not breed guard dog temperament in the Irish Wolfhound as it would be extremely dangerous in a dog of this size and would be out of character for the breed, in any event.
An Irish Wolfhound must be “of great size and commanding appearance.” He has a large, muscular greyhound-like shape, and he is the tallest of dogs, but not the heaviest. A superb athlete and an endurance runner, an old Irish proverb describes him perfectly: “Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked.” The breed’s recognized colors are gray, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn and others.
Temperament: Loyal, Sweet-Tempered, Generous, Dignified, Thoughtful, Patient
Origin: Belgium, Ireland
The breed standard for the Irish Wolfhounds describes them as being: sweet-tempered, patient, kind, thoughtful and very intelligent. Excellent and can be trusted with children. Willing and eager to please, they are unconditionally loyal to their owner and family. They tend to greet everyone as a friend, so do not count on them being a watch dog, but may be a deterrent simply due to his size. Irish wolfhounds have a varied range of personalities and are most often noted for their personal quirks and individualism.
This giant breed can be clumsy and are slow to mature in both body and mind, taking about two years before they are full-grown. However, they grow rapidly and high-quality food is essential. While it is important to take a growing pup for daily walks for their mental well being, hard exercise should not be forced and may be too taxing for this dog’s body when it is young. Teach it not to pull on its leash before it gets too strong.
The Irish Wolfhound is relatively easy to train. He responds well to firm, but gentle, consistent, leadership. This approach with plenty of canine understanding will go a long way because this dog quickly grasps what you intend.
Make sure the young dog is given as much self-confidence as possible and that you are always consistent with it, so that it grows into an equable, confident dog. This calm dog gets along well with other dogs. This is also true with other animals.
Height: 28-35 inches (71-90 cm.)
Weight: 90-150 pounds (40-69 kg.)
The Irish Wolfhound can reach up to 7 feet tall when standing on his hind legs.
The Irish Wolfhound is a giant-sized dog, one of the tallest breeds in the world, reaching the size of a small pony. The head is long and the skull is not too broad. The muzzle is long and somewhat pointed. The small ears are carried back against the head when the dog is relaxed and part way pricked when the dog is excited. The neck is long, strong and well arched. The chest is wide and deep. The long tail hangs down and is slightly curved. The legs are long and strong. The feet are round, with well arched toes. The wiry, shaggy coat is rough to the touch on the head, body and legs and longer over the eyes and under the jaw.
The Irish Wolfhound is not recommended for apartment life. They are relatively inactive indoors and will do best with at least a large yard. This is a giant breed that needs some space. They may not fit well in a small compact car.
They need to be part of the family and would be very unhappy in a kennel. Being sight hounds, they will chase and so need a secure, fenced area for exercise.
These giant dogs need lots of space to run, but do not need any more exercise than smaller breeds. They need a daily walk where the dog is made to heel beside or behind the human holding the lead. Never in front. Like many other giant breeds it is important to remember that too much forced, vigorous exercise is not good for a young dog’s growth and development, so watch your puppy for any signs, but they still instinctual need a daily walk.
The Irish wolfhound was bred for long solitary hunts based solely off of the dog’s ability to visualize its landscape and perceive, unlike scent hounds (such as Bloodhounds and Beagles) who rely on scent rather than sight. For this reason, the neck of an Irish wolfhound should be long with the head held high the majority of the time. The Irish wolfhound should appear to be longer than it is tall. Once used to hunt wolves, an Irish wolfhound’s structure should appear as if it is “fast enough to catch a wolf, and strong enough to kill it”
The Irish Wolfhound’s name originates from its use as a wolf hunter, and not from its appearance. This is a very old breed with Roman records dating as far back as 391 AD. They were used in wars, and for guarding herds and property and for hunting Irish elk, deer, boar, and wolves. They were held in such high esteem that battles were fought over them. Irish Wolfhounds were often given as royal presents. Boar and wolf became extinct in Ireland and as a result the Irish Wolfhound declined in population. A British army officer by the name of Captain George Graham bred them in the second half of the 19th century. The breed was restored by the introduction of Great Dane and Deerhound blood. The Irish Wolfhound Club was founded in 1885 and it was recognized by the AKC in 1897. In 1902 a hound was first presented to the Irish Guards as a mascot. It was recognized by the Kennel Club as a sporting breed in 1925. The Irish Wolfhound Society was founded in 1981.
The Irish wolfhound comes in various colours, from cream to black, wheaten, reds of various shades, and grey from pale silver to slate are included, either with or without brindling. White on tip of tail and feet (and legs) is acceptable, but excess white spotting (blaze or collar) is not. (AKC Breed Standard)