Irish Wolfhound- (Dog Breed Information)

Irish Wolfhound- The Friendliest of Giants

The Irish Wolfhound is known as the gentle giant. Despite its ginormous size, it is very good with children, pets and other dogs. They are also friendly with strangers and very courageous when it comes to protecting. The IW is very calm, affectionate, easy-going and sweet. If you are looking for a large friendly and affectionate dog, then the Irish Wolfhound may be just the dog you need.

This breed is a sighthound and was used for coursing wolves along time ago. They were known to take down wolves in single combat.

At A Glance

  • Breed: Irish Wolfhound
  • Breed Group: Hound
  • Temperament: Courageous, Dignified, Calm
  • D.H.T. Outdoor Ranking: -5/10 For Temperate Climates
  • Worldwide Popularity: Low
  • Breed Origin: Ireland

General Information And Breed History

This dog of humongous size is said to have come to Ireland from Greece in the year 1500 B.C. Once in Ireland, these dogs were so alluring that they were given as gifts to Rome during the Roman Empire times. Ownership was limited to nobles, kings, and poets. The IW first came across Rome in 391 A.D. The dog became extremely popular for its imposing stature and its incredible fighting abilities in the arena fighting wild animals.

Large hounds were once called Cu, meaning bravery. The Irish named this dog Cu Faoil. Irish Wolfhounds were treasured by Irish chieftains for hunting and had a reputation as an exceptional hunter of wolves and Irish elk.

By the 19th century, these dogs were on the brink of extinction and the famine in 1845 pretty much took them off the map. It wasn’t until 1869 when Capt. G. A. Graham took it upon himself to save the breed. He was successful and thanks to him, we still have this wonderful beast among us!

There is an Irish proverb to describe their personality: “Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked.”

Myth and Legend

 A young warrior, Finn Mac Cumall, having been denied access to the King by his hound, killed the dog in an epic battle.  After all, being denied entry to the King’s castle by the mighty beast was an insult that would not be accepted.  However, feeling sorry to have killed such an amazing beast, he offered compensation to the King.  He volunteered to spend a year serving the King in place of the slain dog and became known as CuChulainn (The Hound of Chulainn)  Cú being the Gaelic word for Dog or Hound.  This ancient legend and the site of the battle can still be visited today at Emain Mhaca in Co. Armagh, where stories are rife and you will come away with a true sense of the legend of one of Ireland’s mythological heroes

General Appearance

Irish Wolfhounds are the planet’s tallest dog breed, and a sighthound. The Irish Wolfhound stands at 33 inches, taller than the Great Dane, just to give you an idea. They have a kind of rough-coat ( kinda like Serius Black when in dog form). IWs are greyhound-like; very muscular and powerfully strong but also gracefully built. Their tail has a slight curve towards their body and their neck and head carried high.

The Irish Wolfhound’s coat has few different colors that include gray, brindle, red, black, white, fawn, and wheaten.

Body

This tall sighthound resembles a rough-coated Greyhound, however, they are built much stronger and more powerful. The chest is strong, very deep and wide. The back is rather long with arched loins. The belly is well drawn up. Their rough-coat which provides them with protection against cold and damp climates, and potential bites from opponents, is extremely wiry and hangs over the eyes and under their jaws.

Head

  • Head and Muzzle-Long
  • Ears – Small and folded

Coat

The coat is rough and wiry. It hangs below the eyes and jaw. Coat colors are grey, brindle, red, black, white, fawn, and wheaten. Brushing once a week will help remove any dirt and dead hair.

Legs & Feet

The forearm muscular and the legs are very strong and straight. Their feet are large and round, Toes, well arched and closed. Nails, very strong and curved.

Tail & Hindquarters

Tails of the Irish Wolfhound are long and slightly curved. Their hindquarters consist of strong thighs, hocks well let down and do not turn in or out.

General Statistics

  • Life Expectancy: 5-7 years
  • Height (at the withers): 33 inches
  • Male: 33 inches
  • Female: 30 inches
  • Weight:  120 lbs
  • Male: 120 lbs
  • Female: 105 lbs

Recommended Dog House Dimensions

The recommended dog house dimensions can be found on the dog house dimensions charts for 440 recognized breeds which includes this dog breed that looks like a wolf.  But to save you time, here are our dog house minimum size recommendations:

  • Door Height: 36 inches
  • Door Width: 25.2 inches
  • Inside Ceiling Height: 48.6 inches
  • Interior House Length: 79.2 inches
  • Interior House Width: 50.4 inches

Expected Costs

Breed Average Puppy Cost: $1,500 – $2,000 USD.

Starter Costs: $3,000

This is our estimate for initial purchase, shots and a few things like food, a bed, leash, that sort of thing.  Basically, this will get you set up but the costs will be greater once the dog is old enough to get spayed or neutered.

Anticipated Annual Care Cost: $2,000 – Expect food to cost you $250 per month.

The Irish Wolfhound is one of the most expensive dog breeds to own. Their price tag is pretty high, and they are prone to some health issues that are quite costly. You may want to invest in pet’s insurance if you own or want to own an Irish Wolfhound. Make sure you are financially able to keep this breed, you don’t want to have to give it up because you cannot afford it. Do your research before taking on this dog. There is a lot of information out there on the care costs and yearly maintenance of an Irish Wolfhound.

How The Irish Wolfhound Reacts To

Babies/Children

Irish Wolfhounds can be great with children if they have been properly socialized from a young age. It is not recommended having an Irish Wolfhound if you have smaller children simply because of their large size and strong build – they often don’t know their own strength and could accidentally knock smaller children over. It is also highly recommended to never leave a child left unsupervised with any dog. Accidents can happen.

Other Dogs

Given their highly social personalities, the Irish Wolfhound should not be aggressive towards other dogs, in fact, they will more than likely try to say hello to every dog they come across.

Cats

They might get along with a cat if introduced from a young age but any introductions should be done very slowly and carefully and you should always supervise their time together.

Other Animals

As Irish Wolfhounds do have a high prey drive, it is not recommended keeping them with smaller pets. They may see your smaller pet as prey and decide to give chase!

Care Requirements

Exercise 

Irish Wolfhounds love long walks and stretching its legs. This means lots and lots of daily physical activity. This will keep them healthy mentally, and physically. They also need lots of room in the home to be able to stretch out on a soft surface. If they do not have a soft surface to lay down on, then it can develop callouses that can be uncomfortable and painful for the dog.

This breed will do well with dog sports like tracking, agility and, lure coursing. Dog sports are great for keeping your dog mentally and physically healthy and meet new friends.

Grooming & Coat Info

The coat is very rough and wiry, which grows below their eyes and to their jaw.

Irish Wolfhounds have a double coat that has a harsh, wiry outer coat covering a soft undercoat. They tend to shed throughout the year, but not excessively. A thorough brushing once a week will help to remove dirt and loose hair and keep the dog looking his best. It is also recommended to cut straggly hairs occasionally to keep the coat neat and tidy.

Health & Nutrition

Major concerns with this breed are:

Bloat– Twisting of the stomach that straps the stomach contents and gases. This can lead to death if untreated. This is common in most large deep-chested dogs breeds.

Elbow dysplasia-Elbow and joint laxity eventually leading to arthritic changes

Osteosarcoma – Malignant bone cancer. Most common in large dog breeds

In regards to feeding your dog, your vet will be able to tell you how much your Irish Wolfhound should be eating. Keep in mind that due to their size, your Irish Wolfhound may eat more than you expect and food bills can quickly rise which is why the annual estimated cost is high. You should feed them high-quality dog food. Try splitting their daily allowance into two meals, and do not overfeed them with treats.

You should try to feed your dog at the same time every day to get them into a routine. Make sure to leave at a gap after eating and before exercising as this can help reduce the chances of bloat which is a major health concern for this deep-chested dog breed.

Training

Being a breed that takes 18 months to mature, you will have your hands full, and maybe a few things in your house destroyed. These puppies should never be left alone for long periods of time as they are prone to injuring themselves as well as being destructive. The puppies should have access to lots of playtime with puppies their age, not with adult Irish Wolfhounds, and do not force activities on them. Because of their intelligence, Irish Wolfhounds are fast learners and love to please, so training them should be a breeze. Remember that positive training methods only will ensure a well trained Irish Wolfhound. These large dogs are very sensitive and do not do well with harsh training.

Recommended Book:

Irish Wolfhound Gifts

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Irish Wolfhounds Shedders?

Irish Wolfhounds shed, but they do not shed as much as other dog breeds. They do require at least one brushing a week to remove any dead hair.

Do Irish Wolfhounds Bark?

Most dogs bark. However, this dog does not bark excessively. Training them early on will help with keeping barking to a minimum. But again not too much to worry about with this breed and barking.

Can The Irish Wolfhound do Well in Hot or Humid Weather?

The IW prefers colder weather. Since they have a thick double coat they are at risk of overheating in hot and humid weather. You may even find them laying down on the cold floor to get some relief. While getting relief from the heat on the hard floor, it can cause calluses on their elbows that will end up being very uncomfortable for the dog.

I think the Irish Wolfhound would be a delight to own given it is very affectionate, protective and loves humans. I would need a much bigger yard though because these dogs need a lot of room and a huge gated backyard for romping around in.

Bibliography

  1. Encyclopedia of Dog Breeds – D. Caroline Coile, Ph. D.
  2. American Kennel Club – https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/irish-wolfhound/
  3. Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_wolfhound
  4. Google Scholar – https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01652176.2007.9695233
  5. Candian Kennel Club – https://www.ckc.ca/en/Choosing-a-Dog/Choosing-a-Breed/Hounds/Irish-Wolfhound

Recommended Dog Gear

Take a look at our Recommended page for a variety of dog products and items. Here are some of the things you can expect:

  • Dog Houses – For small dog breeds, medium dogs, large dogs, and even extra large dog houses!
  • Books, Literature, and Media – We’re working on compiling hundreds of titles of the best video, audio, and books we can find on dogs just for you.
  • Gifts – Only gifts for the discerning dog, and maybe something nice for you too.
  • Harnesses, Collars, and Leashes – We don’t recommend anything that will harm a dog. At DHT we believe in a harm-free training experience so you won’t find any of those collars that cut into the dog’s neck. And no shock stuff either. But, we do have some very cool tech collars worth looking at.
  • Dog Life Jackets and Other Specialty Equipment – Keep your dog safe with you out on the water this summer.
  • GPS and Tracking Collars – As mentioned, very cool tech collars worth checking.
  • Dishes for Dog Food and Water – No garbage, only decent products. We like stuff that will last and won’t fade in the sun.
  • We’ve got more reviews coming at you all the time so stay tuned for more from the Dog House Times team!

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