The Irish Wolfhound

The smaller dog looks like a tiny
stuffed toy beside this Irish Wolfhound.
There are a few dog breeds that are called "wolfhounds", but for our purposes today we are going to zero in on the breed known as the Irish Wolfhound.

The Irish Wolfhound is a huge breed of dog, which based on its size, would be a frightening figure to encounter in a dark alley! Lucky for most, this breed of dog is sweet, gentle, and friendly. They are also very loyal, so if trained as a guard dog, it would appear quite intimidating. The average weight range for an adult male wolfhound is 140-180 lbs, while the female weighs less, usually between 115-140 lbs. This may sound a little on the light side considering the fact that this is one of the tallest dog breeds (many can reach up to 7 feet tall standing on their hind legs, which is taller than your average professional basketball player), but the slender stature of the breed makes it easier for them to run fast and take down their prey without injuring themselves.

Irish Wolfhounds are really fast runners, and in the past they could prey on animals as large as deer or elk. As the breed name suggests, it is almost certain that the wolfhound was bred specifically for hunting and taking down wolves. They are considered part of the sight hound family, which means they rely on sight and sound to hunt, and not so much on their noses.

This breed may date back as early as 7000 BC, according to some research. There are many stories throughout the history of Ireland and England that includes large wire-coated dogs that could hunt wolves, suggesting that they are talking about the wolfhound. Most of the writing suggests that it is more likely that they were established and used as companions as early as 600 BC, when they also began to be used for war. There are writings by survivors of Celtic attacks at Delphi, and also by Julius Caesar after the Gallic wars, speaking about the fierce huge, wiry-haired war dogs; dogs that were as fast as greyhounds and made fearless fighting companions. Actual records have been found, recorded by the Romans, dating back to 391 AD, speaking directly of the Irish Wolfhounds as pets and companions to nobility.

The wolfhound was so good at its job that in the 1800s, wolf and wild boar became extinct in England, where the breed was most prominent. Imagine hunting yourself right out of a job! Due to this happening, wolfhounds were bred less and less, almost causing this lovely breed of dog to become extinct. Luckily, in the late 19th century, efforts were put forth to breed them back into existence, largely by a Scotsman and British army officer named George Graham. In 1856, at the age of 29, he became the owner of "Faust", an Irish Wolfhound. This led to a lifetime devoted to restoring the dog and maintaining the breed.

The Irish Wolfhound breed includes roots in the Great Dane and Deerhound families, others that are part of the huge breeds. The Irish Wolfhound is in the American Kennel Club as a recognized breed and the colors most often seen are gray, white fawn, brindle, red, and black. They are fairly easy to care for and need daily walks, but not too much heavy exercise. As a matter of fact, in the nearly two years that it takes for a wolfhound to mature fully, it is best to try to keep strong exercise to a minimum, to avoid injury. With proper training, you could get this breed ready for hunting, or competition in shows. They should be taught proper leash walking, for your sake as much as theirs!

Although this breed is considered a great family pet, there is a downside: they only live about 6 to 10 years. The breed is also prone to some health problems, including bloat and heart issues. If you adopt or buy an Irish Wolfhound as a family pet, be sure to feed high quality kibble, and they will need to be brushed weekly to keep tangles out of the coat. Remember that due to the large size when full grown, they may have a hard time fitting in smaller cars. They will love being with the family and make great companions, but they don't like to be left alone for long, and don't usually take very well to being crated.

Prepare to give some good training in the first year of ownership and an Irish Wolfhound may be a wonderful choice for your family.


  1. Your post is very helpful, thank you. We live in the world where dogs are considered to be part of the family. Elderly, adults and children love, live and play with their dogs everyday and indulge the joy of owning a man’s best friend. Unfortunately, nothing is perfect, so dogs too are sometimes uncontrollable and cause problems. See more

  2. Wow! This blog looks just like my old one! It's on a totally different topic but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Great choice of colors!

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