Irish Wolfhound

Type: Sighthound and Pariah

Height: Females: 28 – 32 inches; Males: 32 - 35 inches.

Weight: 90 - 120 lbs. Females are desired to be 105 lbs., while males are desired to be 120 lbs.

Life Span: 8 - 10 years.

Litter Size: 3 - 4 puppies.

Country of Origin: Ireland

Activity: Medium

Watch-dog: Medium - Low, but their great size can scare intruders.

Guard-dog: Medium to Low. Irish Wolfhounds may greet an intruder with love and affection.

Description: The Irish Wolfhound is one of the largest and is the tallest of dogs in the world. By the age of six months they can weigh as much as ninety pounds and do not reach maturity until twenty to twenty-four months. They have a deep chest, straggly looking fur, and similar in shape to the greyhound. They have a long tail, almost reaching the ground. The Irish Wolfhound has large feet, and a double coat that may be gray, brindle, red, black, white or fawn. Despite their great size, they are very gentle in nature. They are excellent with children, and acknowledge that they are protectors of the family. Known as the gentle giant, they are a perfect gentleman who shows no signs of aggression to their family. Irish Wolfhounds are willing to please their owners and make a good family dog for those who have adequate space and a lifestyle to feed them, as they are rather expensive to look after. Irish Wolfhounds are calm, loving and affectionate. They are very loyal and courageous when called upon to be. Many an Irish tale tells of this breed defending their master and chasing away fiends. The Irish Wolfhound is the perfect dog for the person with enough space in their house and in their heart.

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Other Names: Irish Hound, Irish Wolfdog, Cu (ancient Celtic), Cu Faoil (Ireland)

Colors: Gray, steel gray, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn or wheaten color.

Coat: Rough and harsh. They have a dense undercoat and a medium length rough outer coat that can be especially wiry under the chin and around the eyes.

Temperament: Irish Wolfhounds are gentle, friendly, loving and intelligent. They are very good with children and other pets, but only do moderately well in guarding or watching. Their size may scare off unwelcome guests, however. Irish Wolfhounds are dignified, calm, and fun loving. They can be active dogs, but are usually calm inside the house. They are a breed of courage, loyalty and have the potential to earn plenty of obedience titles.

With Children: Yes, they are wonderful around children.

With Pets: Yes, Irish Wolfhounds do good with other pets.

Special Skills: Hunting dog and family pet.

Care and Training: Irish Wolfhounds require regular grooming of their hard, wiry coat or it will become matted. Comb their fur daily. Trim around the eye and ears with blunt scissors. The Irish Wolfhound does not require as much exercise as one would think for their great size, but they do need daily walks or runs or they will be inclined to be lazy. Rearing of young Irish Wolfhound puppies is critical because of their rapid growth rate. Do not take them on long walks as they can damage their joints.

Learning Rate: High – Medium. Obedience - High. Problem Solving - High.

Special Needs: Exercise, fenced yard, grooming and training.

Living Environment: It is recommended that you have a large house and big, fenced backyard. Irish Wolfhounds are not good for city life, as they are very large and take up a lot of space and food. The best owner for this breed would be a family or individual living in a suburban or rural environment.

Health Issues: Heart problems (heart disease), hip and elbow dysplasia, and cancers such as lymphoma. Other health concerns for the Irish Wolfhound include bone and kidney disease, eye problems, hypothyroidism, seizures, von Willebrand's disease, and bloat. Bloat is a common health issue to most dogs, being the most populous killer of dogs second to cancer. But Irish Wolfhounds are particularly susceptible to it because of their deep chests.

History: Recorded in history is a letter from a Roman consul Symmachus written to his brother, Flavianus, thanking him for sending seven Irish Wolfhounds, and exclaiming that "All Rome viewed them with wonder." This occurred in 393 AD in Rome, and his brother, Flavianus was from Britain, suggesting that the hounds were already in Britain at the time. Back then, the breed is thought to have come in a variety of smooth/rough coats of different colors. It is said that the Celts took their hounds to Ireland around 1500 B.C. Known then as the "Cu", their name used to imply bravery and many warriors would prefix their own names with the word. Other names they have been called by are the Irish Hound and Irish Wolfdog. Currently in Ireland they are called the Cu Faoil. They were used in battle to pull men off of horseback and at times to hunt wolves. Irish history has many references to the Wolfhound. The breed was highly esteemed with myths and legends surrounding it. From 200 B.C. to 200 A.D. stories were written of the hound, involving Wolfhounds that could run around an entire city in one day, dogs that possessed supernatural intelligence, and others of this breed that would protect the lives of its owner at all costs. One such Irish tale (that is thought to be true to this day) is about a man named Llewelyn, prince of North Wales, who owned an Irish Wolfhound and went hunting with him. One day the Wolfhound was no where to be found, and Llewelyn went alone. When Llewelyn got back, he found his hound and the floor covered in blood. His Wolfhound joyously sprang to meet him. Frantically, Llewelyn searched out his toddler son to make sure he was okay, only to find his bed clothes bloody and his son missing. In agony, Llewelyn plunged his sword into his hound, who made an eerie howl. Immediately after hearing its cry, Llewelyn's young son stepped out, and revealed a dead wolf which lie on the floor beside him, which his hound had slain. Llewelyn, prince of North Wales, was said to have never smiled again. By the 15th and 16th centuries, the breed was used mainly for hunting. They were used to hunt Irish elk (now extinct), wolves, stag, and boar, as well as to guard. Because of their excellent hunting abilities, the breed was often exported to other European countries, including Spain, in which they also made entries into foreign literature. In the mid 1600s, wolves were a major problem in the Irish country. In 1652 Oliver Cromwell banned the exportation of all Irish Wolfhounds, due to the problem of wolves being such a threat. By the 1800s, all of the wolves in the area were extinct, and the Irish Wolfhound's use diminished. The breed's numbers decreased rapidly, and the Great Irish Famine did not help in securing their future survival. The Irish Wolfhound breed was almost lost in 1845 when the Great Irish Famine and lack of use nearly destroyed them. The breed became a legend, and most people in the early 1800s had never even seen an Irish Wolfhound. In the 1840s, a writer by the name of R.D. Richardson wrote articles about the breed and became interested. He purchased a Wolfhound named "Bran", who was of the old stock (legends surround an earlier Wolfhound named Bran, claiming that she had incredible speed and bravery) and bred him with a few other breeds of deerhound and wolfhound. Ironically, the partial progenitor of the Deerhound (the Wolfhound) became the descendant of it! It is said that a British officer by the name of Captain Graham set out to revive the breed as well, and in the latter half of the 1800s he took descendants of Bran and bred them with Borzoi and Great Dane to create the breed we have today. In the 1870s the breed was displayed in shows, and in 1885 a club was formed. In 1897 the breed was accepted by the American Kennel Club, and continues to grow in popularity for those who have enough space to keep them!

First Registered by the AKC: 1897

AKC Group: Hound

Class: Hound

Registries: AKC, ANKC, CKC, FCI (Group 10), KC (GB), UKC