Irish Wolfhound

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Is the Irish Wolfhound right for you?

Species group:

Other name(s): Cú Faoil

The basics:
The Irish Wolfhound, the tallest breed of dog in the world, is a true gentle giant. It's also one of the ancient breeds, actually mentioned by Julius Caesar himself in his 391 BC treatise The Gallic Wars. This impressive hound was used to hunt elk and wolves-- and almost went extinct itself after being instrumental in extirpating the wolf from Ireland in the 1800s. An old Gaelic song celebrated this dog as "gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked." In other words, this is a true hound, a devoted hunter who seems to genuinely enjoy helping, protecting, and exercising with humans.

Especially considering its need for exercise and mental stimulation, the size of the Irish Wolfhound means that it's a good choice for owners who have lots of space and time to roam over the countryside with a large, friendly companion.

Appearance / health:
The Irish Wolfhound is a large Greyhound-like breed, and is among the tallest of the coursing hounds. The head is long and carried high. The eyes are dark. The forelegs are heavily boned and quite straight. The neck is long, well arched, and very strong. The chest is very deep and moderately broad. The thighs are long and muscular.

They have a double coat consisting of a harsh wiry outer coat and a softer undercoat. They shed throughout the year, but do not "blow coat" like other longer-coated breeds. Weekly or brushing and combing is sufficient to keep the coat in good shape.

They love to run freely, especially when puppies. Long walks and short jogs keep them healthy and happy. However, vigorous activity of any form early in the dog's life is detrimental to its health.

One of the major causes of death in Irish Wolfhounds is heart disease. Cancer (especially bone cancer), thyroid and eye problems, seizures may occur in some Irish Wolfhounds. As with many large dog breeds, they may develop hip and elbow dysplasia, diseases marked by abnormal formation of joints that can lead to lameness. Von Willebrand's disease, a condition characterized by unusual bleeding, is seen in several dogs.

Behavior / temperament:
Irish Wolfhounds may generally get into trouble mainly because of their large sizes. However, they are good hunting dogs who love to chase all small animals. They require human company most of the time. Kenneling or chaining a dog for too long may result in boredom leading to behavioral problems. They can be energetic outdoors though at home they may spend their time sleeping.

They require firm, consistent training. Early socialization and training is of great importance with the breed, as it is easy to train a young dog compared to a fully-grown adult.

Some hounds have the tendency to howl in the night, which can be disturbing to neighbors. They do not bark much.


Gentle Giant, temperament, Affectionate Wolfhound, lazy teddy bear, companionship, friendly dogs


short life span, bone cancer, Secure tall fencing, dominance issues, intense prey drive, heart failure


vigorous exercise, medieval shaggy variant, amazing service dog, massive size, ideal therapy dog

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