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Irish Wolfhound Dog Breed Profile

Irish Wolfhound

Other Names
, Irish Greyhound, Great Dog of Ireland 
Dog Group Kennel Club
Breed Classification
The Irish Wolfhound is a member of the hound group. They were originally bred for hunting wolves; today they are companions and seen in the show ring. 
Cost of Ownership
Average Food Cost
per week
Feeding Requirements
Diet should be monitored as this breed grows rapidly as a puppy. The breeder will be able to advise on the correct diet in the correct amounts. As bloat is known in the breed, it is recommended that the adult dog be fed twice daily, rather than one large meal once a day. The feeding bowl should be raised off the ground and at a height where the dog does not have to bend down. As the puppy grows the height of the bowl will have to be adjusted accordingly.  
Other Expenses
The average cost of a puppy is 750. 
< 9 years
Irish Wolfhounds do not have long lives: 6 - 9 years is the average. 
Average Litter Size
The Irish Wolfhound commonly has small litters, although the size of a litter can vary from one to twelve.  
General Physical Description
The tallest and largest breed of the hound group these muscular powerful dogs have a commanding appearance whilst still being gracefully built Their coats consist of harsh rough and rather unkemptlooking hair Their long legs cover the ground in an easy active manner

Height Min Max
Bitch 71cm (28") 0cm (0")
Dog 79cm (31") 0cm (0")
Weight Min Max
Bitch 41kg (90lbs) 0kg (0lbs)
Dog 55kg (121lbs) 0kg (0lbs)
Size Category
Extra Large 
Weight Height Range
Dogs should measure over 79cms at the withers and ideally weigh over 54.5kgs. Bitches should ideally measure over 71cms at the withers and weigh over 40.9kgs. Please note there is no maximum height or maximum weight stated. 
The most common causes of death in the Irish Wolfhound are bloat, cancer and heart disease. They also have growth problems so feeding and exercise are very important particularly in the growing dog. Wolfhounds are very difficult to breed from and mothers have to be constantly monitored during the first 3 weeks or so as they can very easily crush their puppies by accident. 
Common Ailments
Susceptibility To Illness
The Celts invaded Greece in 275 BC and there acquired dogs similar to greyhounds that then accompanied them on their conquests around Europe. These dogs may then have been crossed with mastiff type dogs to produce even larger dogs. The Romans then found these dogs when they invaded Britain in the early centuries AD. There are stories from Ireland of a great Irish hound in 200 BC to 200 AD. From written records of the 5th century it is known that breeding of dogs resembling the wolfhound type was very organised and profitable. So profitable that many of them were sold abroad, and given as gifts to royalty. These dogs were used for guarding, hunting boar, stag, elk and wolf. In the 15th and 16th centuries this hound was mainly used for hunting wolves. As so many of these Wolfhounds were being exported and wolves were still a problem in Britain in the mid 1600s, Oliver Cromwell stopped their export. When the last wolf was allegedly killed in Ireland in 1780 the Wolfhound decreased in numbers, so much so that it almost died out. Towards the end of the 1800s the Wolfhound was starting to make a slow comeback. They were being bred with Deerhounds and crossed occasionally to the Borzoi and Great Dane. They were first shown in the 1870s.  
The Irish Wolfhound is a relatively easy dog to train. A gentle approach, with plenty of understanding, will be rewarded by an obedient dog. As puppies, they are very quiet and well behaved. Jumping up should be discouraged from day one as adult dogs can weigh a lot and will easily knock people over. < 
Show Characteristics
The Irish Wolfhound should have a large head with a long muzzle. The jaws should be strong and have a complete scissor bite. Both the nose and the lips should be black. The eyes should be oval and dark in colour. The ears should be small in size, rose-shaped, hanging away from the face and dark in colour. The neck should be long, strong, muscular and well arched with no loose skin at the throat. The chest should be very deep and the back long with the belly being well drawn up. The front legs should straight, strong and muscular, the back legs, strong, muscular and long. The feet should be large and round with well arched toes. The tail should be long, slightly curved and be well covered with hair. The coat should be rough and harsh and wiry over the eyes and jaw. The colours desired are grey, steel grey, brindle, red, black, white, fawn and wheaten.  
Country Of Origin
Famous Examples
Records Held
Overall Exercise
40 - 60 minutes per day.
As with many of the larger breeds, Irish Wolfhound puppies must be restricted in their activities. Their bones and joints can be damaged and they must be carefully supervised when playing with older more active dogs. They should be allowed to run freely as puppies as they need to build muscle, but with supervision. Taking them on long walks especially with other dogs can cause problems. Long periods of rests are essential for puppies on a daily basis. A large garden with a suitably high fence is a must as they will wander off on their own. As older dogs, they love a long walk in the countryside but will adapt to lesser exercise if necessary without it being a problem. Irish wolfhounds do not jump fences as a rule although, bear in mind, there is always the exception to the rule! 
Distress if Left Alone
Personal Protection
Guard Dog Suitability
Risk of Sheep Worrying
Tendency to Bark
Level of Aggression
Compatibility With Other Animals
Suitable For Children


General Character And Temperament
The Irish Wolfhound is a friendly, loyal dog with a laid back outlook on life who rarely barks. They get on well with children and other dogs, although, in play, they can sometimes forget how big they actually are so they should be supervised when playing with smaller children and other pets. They are, however, gentle natured dogs and are calm and level-headed indoors, making them great companions. All visitors will be welcomed with a friendly greeting!  
Coat Length
Grooming Requirement
< Once a week 
Requires Professional Groomer
They do need regular grooming with brush and comb to keep the coat in good condition and it may be necessary to hand pluck them twice a year when they start to shed the dead hair.  
The Irish Wolfhound can be grey, steel grey, brindle, red, black, white, cream, fawn or wheaten in colour. 
Suffers From Allergies

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