Written by Vet Tech

Irish Wolfhound Breed Info

Amber LaRock
Written by: Amber LaRock, Vet Tech
Here is everything that you should know about ancient breed Irish Wolfhound. Discover in this ultimate guide how to take care of Irish Wolfhound. Read on.
Dog Breed Group:
Hound Dogs
32 to 35 inches tall at the shoulder
115 to 180 pounds
Life Span:
6 to 8 years

Breed Characteristics:

Apartment Friendly


How well will this breed adapt to apartment living? Is the apartment size the most important factor when it comes to proper living conditions? Is the breed suitable for apartment living?

Good For First-Time Owners


Some dogs aren't suitable for first-time dog owners. Is this breed a good match for someone with no dog experience? Can training help them be on their best behavior with owners with no dog experience? Are they suitable to be handled by someone who is just entering the canine world?

Overall Sensitivity


Some dogs are sensitive. Certain breeds are rough on the outside, while having the softest heart on the inside. In other words, some dogs are 'thick-skinned' while some are 'easygoing.' Is this breed prone to sensitivity?

Tolerates Being Alone


Separation anxiety in dogs is a serious condition that can affect a dog's life quality. Is this breed prone to this condition? Can you leave him alone for hours? How destructive this breed can become when bored, neglected, or not loved enough?

Affectionate With Family


How affectionate this breed will be around his humans? Will he welcome new family friends easily or he will choose to be shy? Some breeds can be clingy with owners, while others don't attach a lot. Will this breed act as the family's best friend?



Some dogs will tolerate children, while others will adore well-behaved ones. Dogs and children should always be supervised, no matter how well trained the dog might be. Will this breed act as a nanny dog or he will stay away from children?

Friendly Toward Other Dogs


Some dog breeds cannot wait to run to the dog park and run with others. Others prefer to be with their humans, and not to be a part of a multi-pet household. Is this breed dog lover or not? How friendly this breed will be toward other dogs?

Friendly Toward Strangers


Some dog breeds tend to be reserved toward strangers and highly suspicious. Others are fast to walk away with them easily. How welcoming this breed is toward strangers?

Drooling Level


If you love to clean all the time drooling level in dogs is a trait that you should mind. Is this breed less likely to drool, or you will always need a towel on hand?

Easy To Groom


Heavier shedding during the shedding season is something that every dog needs to go through. However, some dogs shed just a bit all year round. Is this breed one of them? How often should you groom this dog?

Overall Health


What can you expect from this breed in terms of health? Are there any genetic conditions to vary about? Is obesity a major issue in this breed? By knowing more about the dog's health, you are learning how to help him live a longer and healthier life.

Prone To Obesity


Treats are a great addition to training sessions. Dogs love sweet bites of dog treats but they should be served in moderation. Treats can lead to obesity, next to poor nutrition. Can this breed gain extra weight from treats? How prone to obesity this breed actually is?

Trainability Level


Training some dogs is easier than others. How easy this dog will be to train? What can you expect? Some dogs are huge people pleasers and they will master commands easily, while others will try to outsmart you.

Intelligence Level


Dogs are smart beings. We do our best to train them, but they do still end up training us to adapt to their needs. How intelligent is this breed? Will he try to outsmart you? Or he will need multiple training sessions to master basic commands?

Prey Drive


Dogs were bred for a specific purpose. Those who were bred to hunt have natural instincts to hunt, even today. This is why many dogs, like Terriers, will chase other animals. They will also have a hard time concentrating on your commands when there is something small moving. Is this breed prone to following his prey instincts?

Barking Level


How vocal this breed is? Can you expect neighbors to ring you often to calm your dog? Or you can sleep without worries of hearing your Fido bark? Some breeds are highly vocal, others have unusual sounds, and some are silent. Is this breed prone to barking?

Energy Level


Low-energy dogs are happy with regular walks and indoor chill times. High-energy dogs are always ready for action. Is this breed a couch potato, energetic dog, or somewhere in between?

Exercise Needs


Some dogs are more than happy with a slow stroll down the street. Others need hours of active time to stay happy and fit. Is this breed demanding in terms of exercise? How much exercise this breed needs to stay happy and healthy?

Playfulness Level


Some dogs never lose that puppy spirit, not even in their senior years. Others are more serious and prefer having a job to do. Is this breed demanding in terms of playfulness? Can you expect playfulness in their senior years as well?

The Irish Wolfhound is largely known for their striking appearance and dignified demeanor. While this breed can seem a bit daunting at first due to their large size, they have the ability to be wonderful companions when raised in a loving environment.

In this article, we’ll dive into the details of the Irish Wolfhound breed, and tips for welcoming this breed into your home.

History Of The Irish Wolfhound

The Irish Wolfhound has been treasured since the moment they stepped into the dog world. Their striking size made them equipped to hunt massive animals, and even play a huge role when they joined their humans at war.

The Irish Wolfhound was used as a war dog that was well feared, and often pulled men off the backs of their horses or from their chariots. When they weren’t accompanying their battle buddies they were hunting massive elk and wolves.

Most believe they got their name from taking down wolves and therefore, stealing their name.

After their time spent at war, they were only able to be owned by Irish royalty, and the number of dogs owned were related to how prestigious your title was.

For example, “average” citizens could only own 2 Irish Wolfhounds, while some royalty owned up to 500 at once. Royalty truly loved the Irish Wolfhound and was often used as a gift between royals.

If you travel to Caernarvon, Wales, you will likely come across a tomb created in honor of an Irish Wolfhound named Gelert. Prince Llewellyn of Wales has gifted this Irish Wolfhound and loved him more than life itself.

Once the Prince married and had his own children, Gelert was often tasked with guarding the children. While he always did so with honor, one day it appeared that things went wrong.

The Prince returned from a normal day of hunting to find his baby’s crib turned over and empty, and his dog Gelert covered in blood. In a fit of rage, he slayed Gelert, only to find his baby unharmed nearby, lying next to a dead wolf that Gelert had mauled.

Consumed with grief and guilt over what he had just done, he created a memorial in Gelert’s honor that is still standing today. It’s still a huge tourist attraction in the area that people travel to in order to pay respects.

While Irish Wolfhounds may no longer watch over children as their parents go out to hunt, they are still a treasured breed. The Irish Wolfhound made their way to the US in the early 1900s and is treasured by those that welcome them into their family.

Appearance Of The Irish Wolfhound

The Irish Wolfhound’s appearance is one of the main reasons as to why they are so popular. The Irish Wolfhound can weigh up to 140 pounds and stand up to 34 inches in height.

This breed is striking, and will certainly cause you to take a back each time you see this majestic pup.

Their coat is extremely thick and coarse and can range in length. While some breeders are said to create Irish Wolfhounds with softer fur, this hasn’t been proven.

Their fur can come in a variety of colors including white, fawn, brindle, grey, red, and black.

Some Irish Wolfhounds are believed to be bred with merle Great Dane’s, giving some Irish Wolfhound crosses a merle coat color.

Personality Of The Irish Wolfhound

While this breed can appear threatening due to their size, they are actually gentle giants. With a deep desire for human companionship, they make wonderful and gentle furry friends.

They are also extremely calm and dignified in any setting.

Their sensitivity makes them deeply connected with their favorite humans but does cause them to shut down if you attempt to train them with negative reinforcement.

It’s quite funny when you think of their past as guard dogs and war dogs because this breed is known to be incredibly gentle.

Many Irish Wolfhound owners note that their pups are useless around “possible intruders”, and how they often cower in overwhelming situations.

If you’re looking for a vicious guard dog, this is likely not the breed for you.

Overall Health Of The Irish Wolfhound

While the Irish Wolfhound can live a generally healthy life of up to 8 years, they are prone to certain medical conditions. These conditions include:

1. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is an inherited condition that refers to the improper alignment of the hip joint. Since this condition is a result of breeding, there is no set time that a dog will begin to display symptoms.

Dogs with hip dysplasia can have pain, limping, difficulty getting up and down, slow down with time, experience lameness, and other pain-related symptoms.

Since this is hereditary, it’s important to have medical records on each parent when purchasing an Irish Wolfhound puppy.

2. Luxating Patellas

Luxating patella refers to the dislocation of the knee joint. This condition refers to the sliding of the knee joint, which often results in pain and possible lameness.

While most dogs can lead generally normal lives with this condition, it can lead to severe pain and lameness in some dogs.

3. Gastric Bloat (GDV)

Bloat (GDV) is a life-threatening condition that affects deep-chested dogs.

Any time you have a deep-chested dog, GDV will be a condition to be aware of. During gastric bloat the stomach will flip on itself, trapping the stomach contents and cutting off blood circulation.

Symptoms of bloat include wretching with no vomit produced, distended abdomen, weakness, and even collapse. When not treated immediately, this condition will always be fatal.

4. Osteosarcoma

Like many other large and giant breeds, osteosarcoma is an aggressive bone cancer that often affects large dogs.

Osteosarcoma will need to be treated aggressively, usually with the amputation of the limb and chemotherapy.

With treatment, dogs can live nine months to two years or more. The first signs of osteosarcoma are limping, lameness, and swelling of the limb. Some dogs may also experience weight loss.

5. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive retinal atrophy is a condition that causes the retina to deteriorate over time.

If not treated early on, this can eventually lead to blindness.

Though blindness is a condition that dogs can handle well in the right environment, it’s still important to have them seen for their yearly exams to help detect changes in the eye to hopefully catch this condition early on.

6. Anesthesia Sensitivity

Many sighthounds, including Irish Wolfhounds, are extremely sensitive to anesthesia and other pain medications. Due to their low body fat, standard amounts of anesthesia affect them differently.

A regular dose for a dog the size of the Irish Wolfhound is generally too high for the Irish Wolfhound, so it’s important to be aware of this possibility.

Exercise And Your Irish Wolfhound

The Irish Wolfhound is known to be very playful, so this is not an ideal breed for a laid back family. They benefit from a minimum of 30 minutes of daily exercise and are happy to tag along on any of your adventures.

Since this breed is known to be a bit anxious, any pent up energy can exacerbate the possibility of undesirable behavior. In order to keep them calm and happy in your home, it’s best to make sure that you have at least 30 minutes each day to dedicate to your furry friend.

The Irish Wolfhound LOVES to participate in outdoor activities, so keep this in mind when you are trying to determine an activity to do with your favorite furry companion.

Training Your Irish Wolfhound

The Irish Wolfhound is easy to please, making them the perfect candidate for obedience training.

They are known to be really intelligent when it comes to the training process, meaning they catch on fairly quickly to tasks you are trying to teach them.

While they are smart, they can shut down if they are in a training environment that does not uplift them.

The Irish Wolfhound is extremely sensitive, meaning they need a positive reinforcement style of training in order to succeed. They will shut down and retreat if they are scolded, so it’s important to keep their training positive and encouraging.

Since they love to be around their favorite humans, they are just happy to be involved in any process that involves their family.

The Bottom Line

The Irish Wolfhound is a unique breed that has so much to offer their family.

If you are looking to find a furry gentle soul to add to your home, this is the perfect breed for you!

Popular Irish Wolfhound Comparisons

Compare Dog Breeds: