Although other dogs have more massive builds, Irish Wolfhound puppies grow to be the tallest of all dog breeds. Despite its exaggerated height, though, this gentle giant makes an excellent family dog and child-friendly pet! Very patient, sweet-tempered, and attentive, your pet makes an excellent companion who is very eager to please but not necessarily a good guard dog. While strangers may be scared off because of your pet's size, its very affectionate temperament may result in its making friends with intruders, instead of deterring them.
The Irish Wolfhound is a very old breed. It may have existed in Ireland as early as 7000 BC, and has been mentioned in Irish literature as early as about 600 A.D. In fact, Julius Caesar apparently mentioned this dog in his treatise, The Gallic Wars. In 391 BC, the Roman consul Quintus Aurelius Symmachus received seven Irish Wolfhounds as gifts to fight bears and lions. They performed so bravely that he said they were dogs that "all Rome viewed with wonder."
Ancient peoples bred them as hunting dogs, and the Irish continued this practice. During the English conquest of Ireland, only nobility could own Irish Wolfhound puppies, with the allowed quantity dependent on one's position. Foreign nobles and other important people were frequently gifted with Irish Wolfhounds. The dogs were considered "regal companions," and were given housing right alongside their owners. King John of England presented an Irish Wolfhound to the Prince of Wales in 1210, and this dog, Gelert, was later honored in a poem by William Robert Spencer.
Because Irish Wolfhound puppies were so prized, they were also quite rare. The limitations in their breeding pool led to their near extinction. They became status symbols and were used less often for their original purpose of hunting. By the late 1800s, the breed was nearly extinct. The modern Irish Wolfhound owes its existence to a British Army Captain, D.E. Graham, who sought to reestablish it by tracing Wolfhounds' ancestry. Subsequently, he created the new breed of Irish Wolfhound and in fact devoted his life to the quest. Because few dogs of pure Wolfhound ancestry survived, it's believed that he crossed them with the Deerhound, Mastiff, and Great Dane breeds to create modern Irish Wolfhound puppies. Capt. Graham founded the Irish Wolfhound Club in 1885, and also established the Breed Standard of Points. Today, the Irish Wolfhound has become a very popular dog primarily for its captivating qualities as a companion.
Although the Irish Wolfhound is sometimes called the national dog breed of Ireland, no such official breed actually exists. Because the Wolfhound could only be owned by nobles historically, it was thus coveted and owned by British royalty when they ruled Ireland. This made Irish Wolfhound puppies unpopular as a national dog, with the Kerry Blue Terrier chosen as the favorite of the people. However, the Irish Wolfhound today is most certainly preferred in Ireland, illustrated by both the Irish Rugby Football Team and the National Rugby League Team who use "wolfhounds" in their team names ("Wolfhounds" for the National Rugby League Team and the "Ireland Wolfhounds" for the secondlevel national team of the Irish Rugby Football Team).
The Irish Wolfhound has been called "commanding" because of its massive size and imposing appearance, and indeed, its sleek, swift build and effortless gallop make it one of the most physically impressive dogs to behold. Its proportions are large but its movements are graceful. Strong and powerful, the Irish Wolfhound is so big it can grow to 150 pounds in adulthood – even though it is sleek and lean rather than massive and bulky. While its size can be the equivalent of a St. Bernard, its elegance of dexterity much resembles that of a greyhound. Wolfhounds average 100 to 150 pounds in adulthood and stand between 28 and 35 inches at the shoulder. Typical colors for Irish Wolfhound puppies are white, fawn, steel gray, wheaten, brindle, gray, black, or red. The coat is rough and of medium length.
Despite its imposing magnitude, your pet is extremely docile, loving, and unwaveringly devoted to those it loves. In fact, the Irish Wolfhound is so charming that it really doesn't make a good guard dog, as it simply wants to socialize with everyone it meets. Although your new pet may be somewhat distant with strangers, this lack of immediate warmth does not translate to fierce protectiveness.
Because of its calm nature and gentle tenderness, this is a sweet dog which will be perfect even around small children as long as you train him or her to be careful. Your pet's massive size may pose a slight "danger" simply because it could unwittingly knock over a small child, especially in puppyhood. However, careful training should take care of this difficulty. Your pet is easy to train and will respond well to gentle, firm, consistent boundaries. You should never, ever, be overly harsh when training your sensitive and perceptive pet who has a heart of pure gold.
You may notice that your pet is a little bit "independent" when you are training, but that's not because he or she has a disobedient streak. Instead, Wolfhounds were traditionally trained to work far away from their masters, meaning that they had to be able to think independently. Again, careful guidance that's consistent and gentle should correct any problems you may have, and those should be minor.
Because of the Irish Wolfhound's large size, he or she will function best in a large house with a yard and plenty of room in which to romp. Your pet is very obedient, though, and once he or she gets past the puppy stage (which can take over a year with this large breed), he or she can be quiet enough that spending time indoors will not be a problem, as long as you make sure to spend plenty of time with your pet. This breed does not accept solitude well and needs a family or at least a single devoted owner who can provide nearly constant companionship.
Although the Irish Wolfhound is quite a hardy breed, your pet has a relatively short lifespan because of its size. Most Irish Wolfhound puppies grow to live on average between six and eight years.
It is critical that you feed your pet appropriately. Because Irish Wolfhounds grow so rapidly during their first year and a half, they'll need to be fed very carefully and frequently. Unfortunately, as a large breed, Irish Wolfhound puppies are also prone to bloat, an often fatal condition.Therefore, be sure to feed your pet small, frequent meals of high-quality, adult dog food with a protein level of 19 to 21%. If you see any signs of bloat, during which gasses accumulate in the stomach and cannot escape, take your dog to the vet immediately, as bloat can kill within an hour of onset. After puppyhood, the relatively low-protein food will slow the rapid growth rate down somewhat and therefore prevent other problems that could come about as a result of too-rapid growth.
Your pet's rough coat is of medium length and it needs to be thoroughly groomed with a brush and comb at least weekly. During times of heavy shedding (once or twice a year), brush daily. Bathe only if necessary.
Group Classification: Southern, AKC Hound
Country of Origin: N/A
Date of Origin: N/A
Shedding: Moderate Shed
Body Size: N/A
Weight M: 90-120 pounds
Height M: 33-36 inches
Weight F: 105-150 pounds
Height F: 31-32 inches
Litter Size: 3-4 puppies
Life Expectancy: 6-8 years
Recognized By: CKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, APRI, ACR
The colors of the Irish Wolfhound may vary from grey, wheaten, brindle, red, black, pure white, brown, or fawn, although grey is the most common color.
The Irish Wolfhound is a dog that can be kept indoors or outdoors, but is best kept indoors with the family, although apartment life would not allow much room for this large dog. If they are kept indoors too much, they are inactive which isn't good for them. They thrive very well in a large yard where they can run free. Due to their desire to chase smaller animals they don't know, they should always be kept in a fenced yard. They do enjoy being indoors with their family members as much as they can.