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Irish Wolfhound

Family: CanidaeIrish Wolfhound PictureCanis lupus familiarisPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Justin Brough

   The giant sized Irish Wolfhound, originally bred for wolf hunting, is one of the tallest dog breeds in the world with some growing to the size of a small pony.

Despite their size, the Irish Wolfhounds are gentle giants with even tempers. They are very friendly, although some are reserved with strangers. They are sociable and loyal with their owners, and do very well with children. They are also fairly easy to train. This is not an apartment type dog as it needs plenty of space along with lots of room outdoors to run and play. The Irish Wolfhound is prone to a variety of health problems, many of them hereditary. Problems to look for include liver shunts, heart problems, and a history of bone cancer.


  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora
  • Family: Canidae
  • Genus: Canis
  • Species: lupus familiaris
Irish Wolfhound Dogs 101

Common Name(s) Irish Wolfhound

Breed Type The Irish Wolfhound is a type of sighthound. Originally bred for wolf hunting, this is one of the tallest dog breeds in the world.

Background The Irish Wolfhound may have originated before the first century BC. It was bred by Celts for use as war dogs and guard dogs. They were also used to hunt wolves and wild boar. The breed nearly became extinct in the mid-nineteenth century, but was saved through breeding with Deerhounds, Great Danes and Borzoi.

Description Irish Wolfhounds are very large dogs, with some growing to the size of a small pony. They have shaggy coats and long heads with pointy muzzles. Ears are carried against the head. Most Irish Wolfhounds are gray, but some are brindle, red, black, or white. These dogs are usually 28-35 inches tall and weigh anywhere from 90 to 150 pounds.

Care and Feeding The Irish Wolfhound needs lots of fiber, carbohydrates and fat. The best food sources for this breed include horse meat, wheat, barley, and potatoes. Supplements are not recommended. This dog's rough coat requires regular brushing and combing. It should be plucked once or twice each year.
Irish Wolfhounds need annual checkups to maintain optimal health. Vaccinations are due as follows:

  • 6-8 weeks: Distemper, Leptospirosis, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza, Parvo, and Corona virus (DHLPPC)
  • 10-12 weeks: Second DHLPPC
  • 14-16 weeks: Third DHLPPC and rabies
  • Annually: DHLPPC and rabies booster

The Irish Wolfhound is an average shedder, so it is important to vacuum regularly if it is to be kept inside.

Housing Your Dog If kept indoors, the Irish Wolfhound needs plenty of space. This is not an apartment dog. Outdoors, they need plenty of room to run and play, but the yard should be fenced in due to the dog's chasing instinct.

Social Behaviors Irish Wolfhounds are sociable and loyal with their families, and do very well with children. Due to their size, however, small children should always be supervised around them. They get along well with other dogs, as well as other types of pets if socialized with them while young.

Handling and Training The Irish Wolfhound is reasonably easy to train. It is important to keep the dog's self-confidence in mind during training while still being firm.

Activities Irish Wolfhounds need an adequate amount of exercise, including a daily walk and time to run free. Puppies up to 18 months should not be forced to exercise because it could cause developmental problems, but they still need to walk each day.

Breeding/Reproduction When breeding an Irish Wolfhound, it is crucial to check any potential mate's bloodlines. These dogs are prone to a variety of hereditary diseases and disorders.

Common Health Problems Irish Wolfhounds are prone to bloat, so they should be fed a few small meals each day instead of one large one. Other health problems include Von Willebrands, hip dysplasia, heart problems and cancer. This breed has a short life span, usually only 6 to 8 years.

Availability Irish Wolfhounds are a fairly rare breed, but breeders can be found online if there are none in your local area. Prices generally range from $1,000 to $2,000.

References "Irish Wolfhound", Wikipedia, Copyright 2008
"Choosing an Irish Wolfhound", PetPlace.com, Copyright 1999-2008
"Irish Wolfhound", Dog Breed Info Center, Copyright 1998-2008
Cusick, William D., ""What to Feed an Irish Wolfhound", Referenced online, 2008
"Irish Wolfhound Puppies for Sale", Copyright PuppyFind.com, LLC, Referenced online, 2008


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