Species group: Hound Group dogs
Other name(s): Cú Faoil
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
Irish Wolfhound – Tiny; a gentle giant
It’s very hard to comprehend the size of the Irish Wolfhound until you get to spend time with them. My uncle had an Irish Wolfhound called Tiny! We use to ride on Tiny’s back when we were children. Most children were fascinated with teddy bears but an inanimate teddy didn’t cut the mustard for me when we had an Irish Wolfhound in the family. Irish Wolfhounds are extremely friendly, this can be an issue if one jumps on you!!!!! Haha! It’s also quite funny when they try sit on your lap!! If I had the space, I would adapt an Irish Wolfhound in a heartbeat but unfortunately the uniqueness of their size makes it difficult to keep them as pets for most people. However, Irish Wolfhounds are extremely good with children, they truly are gentle giants. When I think back to climbing all over Tiny, lying on top of him, being dragged while holding onto his tail, using him to play “London’s bridge” (he was the bridge!); he never once batted an eye lid! Irish Wolfhounds are very easy to train; their caring nature makes them want to please. They require plenty of space to run around for exercise and unfortunately they don’t have a long life!.
From ElaineRice Jul 4 2015 10:20AM
A truly unforgettable dog
In sum: Loyal, loving, entertaining, intelligent, memorable
As a puppy, he was ridiculously hard to train. Once we got his energy channeled he was a great playmate and was really agile with his paws. Once we trained him, he became INCREDIBLY loyal and obedient. If he sees you once after three or four years he would remember you.
When we got him as a puppy he was a giant ball of fur with elephant-sized paws. He was the dog, as a puppy, who wanted to be around everyone during the stairs. He was a bit rebellious, going up and down stairs when he wasn't allowed to. He is NOT your "play catch" kind of dog. He'd give this dumbfounded look as to why you would throw something. He was pretty territorial about his food bowl because he knew the birds would come down and try to steal his food. He actually tried to paw them out of the air so they would stop coming around.
This is a SMART dog. He will find a way to protect what he wants and escape if he wants. We had to get an electric fence because he was constantly creating new escape routes. He loved being outside, being the size that he was and had no problem rolling around in the sand or getting himself all dirty again after a bath.
A truly unforgettable dog..
From msmit245 Jun 25 2015 9:19PM
Our Irish Wolfhound
We had an Irish Wolfhound for almost a year. She was a very sweet and loveable dog. She was great with kids and thought she was an oversized lapdog. However, that is where the positive sides of owning an Irish Wolfhound stops.
The negatives to owning an Irish Wolfhound are many, unfortunately. They are very hard to keep in a secured area. We have a fenced in backyard, and she constantly jumped the fence. I do not like to let my dogs run freely as I'm afraid they'll get hurt so this was a huge problem. She constantly chased our smaller animals. She was extremely anxious, scared easily, and very energetic. Her size was an issue as well because during her "puppy" phase she didn't just chew shoes. She actually ate my couch. We had gotten her from a friend and thankfully our friend decided that they wanted her back so she could be with her mother and a couple of her siblings. We gladly gave her back since we knew she was going to be in a great environment.
I have to say these dogs are great, but they require a lot of special care in regards to accommodating their size and personality. They do bark a lot and quite loudly. However, if you are a person willing to modify your home to suit this breed then you would be a great person to own one..
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