The Irish Wolfhound

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Irish Wolfhound
Weight: 105 — 120 lbs
Height: 30” — 32”
AKC Rank 2008 #79
Life Span: 5—7 yrs
Group Hound
Origin Ireland

Dog Breed Info - The Irish Wolfhound

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Breed Overview

Origin: Ancient times. Original function: Coursing wolves. Today: :Lure coursing.The first mention of the Irieh Wolfhound was in Rome in a.d. 391. Arena sports was where the dogs got their early notoriety. At one time, large breeds of dogs were known as “Cu’s.” This meant bravery, something derived from the fighting arenas. The Irish name for the breed is Cu Faoil which were used to hunt wolves, Irish elk and boar. The last wolf was killed in the 18th century and by the 19th century the Irish Wolfhounds were nearly extinct in Ireland. In 1869, British officer G. A. Graham decided to re-develop the breed and set out to locate a few of the remaining Wolfhounds. With time and work, the breed was slowly replenished using Great Dane, Borzoi, and Tibetan Wolf dogs to the point where the Wolfhound was able to be shown in a dog show in the 1870’s. This created quite a stir but the breed will never be highly popular due to it’s impractical size.


Slow learner. He’s intelligent, but takes his time learning. If you use clicker training it will speed thing up quite a bit. You'd be surprised. Dogs respond well to this method and it's so simple to do.

Crate Training

Want to crate train your Irish Wolfhound puppy? It's easy and if you're interested, take a look and you'll see what to do. Crate training your puppy will save many headaches and problems.

Potty Training

Irish Wolfhound puppies can be somewhat difficult to house train, potty train, toilet train, housebreak or whatever you want to call it. If you have a puppy, decide if you want to crate or paper potty train it. For the best results, we have a page at Crate vs Paper Potty Training which will help you decide and from there you can get all the information you need to get the job done. Always praise the pup profusely when she goes potty in the RIGHT PLACE so she knows she has done a good thing. Either method will work for this breed.

If you have an older dog, take the dog outside every two hours until she gets the idea which door leads to her potty area. Older dogs catch on to the potty or housebreaking pretty fast once they are shown what to do.


An Irish Wolfhound gets a tummy rub
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Irish Wolfhounds are oversized pussycats. They are so mild mannered, polite and easy-going that they are sometimes called “the gentle giant.” It is a calm, patient dog that gets along fine with children and just about anyone who comes to visit. The Wolfhound does quite well with other dogs and is not considered aggressive in nature. The breed is not playful and that's good because a dog of this size could do damage if it got too rambunctious! This is a loyal family dog. The Wolfhound is not really a watchdog but he can defend himself if necessary. His size alone can be intimidating.

If you happen to get an Irish Wolfhound with a separation anxiety problem, that can be dealt with by investing a few hours of work on your part and some "tough love."

Friendly Toward Other Dogs

OK. Gets along with most other dogs. Not an aggressive breed.

Friendly Toward Other Pets


OK. Usually no problem with other pets.

Friendly Toward Strangers

Yes, likes most people and usually no problem with strangers.


NO. Not playful. Friendly, affectionate, calm and quiet, but not playful. Throw a ball and he might fetch it though.


Yes, reasonably affectionate for a big guy.

Good with children?

Yes, the friendly Irish Wolfhound is quite tolerant with children. Small children beware and should be supervised closely, as this big dog could cause serious harm by accident.

Good with Seniors over 65?

NO. Too big, heavy and difficult for a senior to handle and get to a vet.

The proud Irish Wolfhound
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Living environment

House with a medium size backyard, farm, ranch. Needs room to roam and stretch and maybe fetch balls. Must have a soft bed to sleep on. Can not sleep on hard surfaces.

Energy level

Minimal. Irish Wolfhounds aren't known for excessive energy,

Exercise needs, daily

A quiet walk on leash once or twice a day. He might fetch a ball.


Might bark a little if senses a threat.

Guard dog

No. May challenge if provoked.


No to very little.


Brush twice a week. Some scissoring as needed. Strip dead hair twice yearly.


Suggested Reading - Irish Wolfhound
Click on the cover photos for more book information and reviews.

Last book on the right is by the American National Red Cross and deals with dog health, Dog illness, emergencies and injuries. It's a valuable reference manual for all dog owners.Vol 2, Cpyrt 2008 and includes a DVD.


Irish Wolfhound Breeders

In the event you decide to go looking for Irish Woldhound puppies, be SURE to find reputable breeders that really know what they are doing. Be sure the puppy has been well socialized and started in obedience training.
Irish Wolfhound Breeders with puppies for sale.

Irish Wolfhound Rescue

In the event you are seriously considering the adoption of an older dog and are looking for an Irish Wolfhound Rescue group or groups in your state, here are several links that might help:
Petfinder - Irish Wolfhound RescueI just checked and Petfinder is showing only 54 Wolfhounds available for the entire country. If you do adopt one, try to locate any dog health records for possible future reference.
Adopt A Pet This is an interesting site but based on what I found at Petfinder, you may need to surf the web. Check for Irish Wolfhound Rescue groups, kennels, and dogs for sale. This will not be an easy breed to locate.


Dog Health Issues For The Irish Wolfhound
Below are the dog illness / illnesses or medical problems listed for the Irish Wolfhound by various vets.

This is basically a healthy breed. Don’t let the list below scare you! Your own dog will probably never have ANY of these problems. These are dog illness and medical problems this breed is prone to that have been listed by various veterinarians at different times over the past decade or so and some pertain to puppies and very young dogs that a breeder would deal with.

The information contained herein has been gathered from numerous books by veterinarians and is intended as general information only. Every dog and situation is different. You must see your vet. Our information is for general interest only and not intended to replace the advice provided by your own veterinarian.

  • Gastric Torsion—Sometimes called Dog Bloat or “Twisted stomach.” Mainly in larger, deep-cheated dogs. Here's a brief description of the problem:
    Symptoms include excessive drooling, nervous pacing, agitation, weakness, attempt to vomit, bulging stomach area, heavy breathing, retching and gagging, shock or total collapse.

  • Patellar luxation—Limping, Hind Leg Held Up, Can’t straighten back leg. Caused by an unusually shallow spot on the femur, weak ligaments and misalignment of tendons and muscles that align the knee joint and allow the knee cap (patella) to float sideways in and out of position. This can be caused by injury or be present at birth and can affect both rear legs. If your dog has trouble straightening the leg, is limping, or is walking on three legs and holding one hind leg up, look for patellar luxation. Several of my dogs have had the problem and all I’ve done is reach down, massage the knee a little until they drop their leg, and we’re good to go for another 3 or 4 months. Severe cases require surgery for a fully lame leg.

  • Elbow Dysplasia—This, as with hip dysplasia, is something the dog is born with. Wear and time in the front legs (elbow joints) cause lameness by the time the dog is roughly a year old. If you have a dog prone to this disease, have an early x-ray to see if surgery to the joints will stave off further damage to the joints. Typically, there has been no cure, but recently doctors have come up with some ideas. 1) Keep the weight of your Irish Wolfhound down. 2) Use anti-inflammatory medication. 3) Look into injections of stem-cells to help regenerate bone-covering cartilage to cause the bones to line up properly again. (This is new research and some vets may not know about it so ask around.)

  • Cervical Vertebral Instability—”Wobblers syndrome” A narrowing of the cervical vertebrae, also known as Wobblers Syndrome and found in large dogs linked to heredity and possibly nutrition. The Irish Wolfhound will have trouble standing, as the rear legs will be affected first with lack of coordination. Then the front legs will weaken, spread a bit and the dog’s walk will be “wobbly.” The disease is noticed at about 3 to 5 years of age. Treatment comes by medicine and as a last resort for severe cases, specialized surgery.

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy—A serious heart disease. The muscle of the heart loses it’s ability to pump blood properly causing a backup of blood, an enlarged heart, and an improperly functioning heart. Prognosis is generally 4 weeks to 2 years, depending on the dog and how advanced the problem is. The vet may try medications to alter the heart function, but this one is a killer.

  • Osteochondritis dissecans—A common type of elbow dysplasia except it can occur in any joint. Flaps of cartilage run against tissue causing irritation, pain, lameness and in time, joint degeneration disease. Pieces can break loose and float around limiting movement, or getting lodged or wedged inside the joint itself. Look for lameness, pain and swelling in joints in the Irish Wolfhound. Treatments include Non-steroid anti-inflammatory meds, weight loss, confinement to rest the joints, and dietary supplements for joint health. Surgery is the last option for very severe cases.

  • Osteosarcoma—A leg bone cancer in large breed dogs of any age but usually in large, older dogs. Osteosarcoma in the limbs is “appendicular osteosarcoma.” The Irish Wolfhound will be in great pain as the disease destroys the bone from the inside out. The dog’s inability to walk will progress over only about 3 months time as the bone is destroyed by the tumor. Unfortunately, surgery to remove the leg is the only way to give your dog the only total relief needed.

  • Entropion—Eye irritation caused by the eyelids and lashes rolling inward. The problem is usually inherited and found in young, adult dogs. It can come from an eyelid spasm. Affected eyes will be held partially shut and tear excessively. Both eyes will usually be affected the same. Treatment for the condition requires eye surgery.

  • Hip dysplasia - Hind end limping, back leg acts lame. Wear and time causes the femur to fit poorly into the pelvic socket with improper rotation causing great pain, lameness, arthritis and difficulty walking. You may notice the dog “hopping”” like a rabbit when running plus hesitating to climb stairs, all due to pain in the hind quarters. The problem actually starts as a very young puppy with an abnormal formation of the hip joint and grows progressively. A vet can locate this with a diagnostics test.

  • von Willebrand"s Disease—A deficiency in clotting factor in the blood. The affected dog does not properly utilize the blood-platelets for blood-clotting. Thus, the dog is prone to excessive bleeding if in an accident or surgery.

  • Hypothyroidism—An underactive thyroid gland produces too little thyroid hormone which reduces the dog's metabolism level. Hypothyroidism stems from the Irish Wolfhound’s immune system attacking the tissues of the thyroid gland. Bottom line is the dog becomes symptomatic. The cause can be a predisposition for thyroid problems, air pollution and allergies. A FEW symptoms of the disorder include lethargy, weight gain, skin infections, dry skin, hair loss, slow heart rate, ear infections, depression. See your set right away.

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy—An inherited, untreatable disease of the retina affecting both eyes causing blindness. It’s in the genes of the dog and is not painful. Starts with night blindness and progresses as the retina gradually deteriorates.

  • Cataracts - Hazy or cloudy vision and if not treated will eventually cause total blindness.

  • Megaesophagus—Incomplete nerve development of the esophagus in a few Irish Wolfhounds 5 to 12 years old causing regurgitation of food. Since food is collecting in the esophagus and not the stomach, the dog feels hungry and keeps eating. Food collects for up to a day or two and finally vomits back out, having never reached the stomach. A dangerous aide effect of the disease is pneumonia. The only solution is getting the dog to drink and eat in a position where he has to reach his mouth way up high, like on a step ladder with his paws elevated where he can barely reach the food with his whole body elevated nearly vertical. There is no other cure.

    No allergies are reported for this breed so far.

Other health problems could occur with your Irish Wolfhound. If you notice any problems with your dog, take it to the vet immediately. This website is for general information only and is not intended to, in any way, be a medical guide.


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