Breeds, Hound Group

Irish Wolfhound

Welcome to your comprehensive guide on the Irish Wolfhound, a breed known for its gentle giant stature and noble temperament. This manual will explore the distinct traits and characteristics that make these dogs unique.

Future owners will find valuable insights and practical tips tailored to help nurture and understand this magnificent breed. As we proceed, you will learn about their rich history, impressive size, and the kind-hearted nature that endears them to many. Whether you are considering adding an Irish Wolfhound to your family or simply wish to learn more about them, this guide provides the essential information you need. Let’s discover what makes the Irish Wolfhound a beloved companion.

Irish Wolfhound – Size & Life Expectancy

Irish Wolfhound Height

>32 inches (male)
>30 inches (female)

Irish Wolfhound Weight

120 pounds (male)
105 pounds (female)

Irish Wolfhound Life Expectancy
Life Expectancy

6-10 years

About the Irish Wolfhound

The Irish Wolfhound, with its commanding presence and towering height, holds a storied place in the tapestry of canine breeds. This breed’s roots extend deep into Irish history, tracing back to antiquity when these dogs were the esteemed companions of chieftains and warriors. Initially bred for their prowess in hunting and combat, their primary role was to chase down and battle large game, particularly wolves and Irish elk, which explains their formidable size and strength. Literary references to the breed date as far back as Roman times, showcasing their valued role across centuries.

Over the years, the function of the Irish Wolfhound evolved, yet they remained a symbol of status and nobility. By the 19th century, their numbers dwindled due to the decline of their traditional prey and the changing social landscape. Fortunately, dedicated breeding programs initiated by enthusiasts like Captain George Augustus Graham played a pivotal role in reviving the breed from the brink of extinction. His efforts in the late 1800s ensured that the genetic lineage was preserved by integrating similar breeds and carefully fostering the Wolfhound’s resurgence.

Irish Wolfhound in the Modern World

Today, the Irish Wolfhound enjoys a celebrated status across the globe, admired for both its distinct appearance and its serene demeanor. These dogs are among the tallest breeds, with males often standing at least 32 inches tall at the shoulder and weighing upwards of 140 pounds. Despite their imposing size, they are known for their calm and gentle temperament, often referred to as “gentle giants.”

In contemporary times, the Irish Wolfhound has transcended its hunting origins to become a cherished family pet and a show dog. Their popularity continues to grow, thanks to their dignified nature and compatibility with families. They are particularly well-suited to those who appreciate the outdoors and have space to accommodate such a large breed. Owners must commit to providing sufficient exercise to keep them healthy and content but also need to manage exercise types to prevent strain on their significant frames.

The breed’s gentle disposition makes them excellent companions, though their size can be daunting. As such, they are best suited for owners who can handle a large dog and are prepared to engage with their specific needs, including a diet sufficient to sustain their large body and veterinary care that understands giant breed health issues.


From ancient warriors to modern-day gentle giants, the Irish Wolfhound’s journey through history is as grand as their size. Their continued popularity underscores their adaptability and the enduring appeal of their noble characteristics. For those looking to welcome a piece of history into their home, the Irish Wolfhound offers not just a pet, but a majestic companion woven with the lore of centuries. As with any breed, prospective owners should thoroughly understand the responsibilities involved in caring for such a significant member of the family, ensuring a harmonious match between the ancient guardian and the modern home.

Traits & Characteristics of the Irish Wolfhound

  • Gentle Nature: Known for their calm and affectionate demeanor, especially around their family.
  • Impressive Size: One of the tallest dog breeds, with males often standing at least 32 inches at the shoulder.
  • Courageous: Historically bred for hunting and combat, they are naturally brave.
  • Intelligent: Quick to learn and responsive to training, though they can have a stubborn streak.
  • Loyal: Devoted to their owners, making them excellent companions.
  • Quiet: Typically not a bark-prone breed, tending towards a quiet disposition.
  • Exercise Needs: Requires regular, moderate exercise to maintain health but should be managed to avoid strain due to their large size.

Owning an Irish Wolfhound

Choosing an Irish Wolfhound as a companion is a rewarding decision for those who appreciate gentle giants with a storied heritage. As prospective owners, it’s essential to understand the specific needs and characteristics of this breed to ensure they lead a happy, healthy life. This guide provides an overview of the primary care aspects you need to consider, from health to training, making your experience as fulfilling as possible.


Irish Wolfhounds are majestic creatures whose health requires careful attention due to their size and breed-specific issues. Generally, their lifespan is shorter compared to smaller breeds, typically around 6 to 10 years. Common health problems include heart conditions such as dilated cardiomyopathy, bone cancer, and bloat, which can be fatal if not addressed promptly. Regular veterinary check-ups are crucial to early detection and management of these conditions. Additionally, due to their rapid growth, puppy owners should monitor their development to prevent joint problems. Implementing a routine that includes regular health screenings and tailored veterinary care can significantly impact their quality of life.


Despite their size, Irish Wolfhounds do not require extensive exercise but do need regular, structured activities to stay healthy. Daily moderate exercise like long walks or short play sessions in a securely fenced area are ideal. It’s important to avoid strenuous exercise, especially in puppies, as their bones and joints are still developing. Adult dogs appreciate a mix of physical and mental stimulation to keep them engaged. Owners should ensure exercise is consistent and adjusted according to the dog’s age and health status to prevent overexertion.


The Irish Wolfhound sports a rough, shaggy coat that serves as protection against harsh weather. Their grooming needs are moderate. Regular brushing, at least once a week, helps remove dirt and loose hair and minimizes shedding. It also prevents matting, which can be uncomfortable for the dog. Bathing should be done sparingly, only when the dog is particularly dirty, to preserve the natural oils of their coat. Nail trimming, ear cleaning, and dental care are also essential parts of their grooming routine to avoid overgrowth, infections, and gum disease.


Proper nutrition plays a vital role in the health of an Irish Wolfhound. A diet rich in high-quality protein is essential to support their muscular physique, especially during their growth phase. Owners should avoid foods that are high in fat and fillers that can lead to obesity and other health issues. It’s important to monitor their food intake and maintain a feeding schedule that prevents overeating. Foods that cause bloat or are toxic to dogs, like chocolate, grapes, and onions, should be strictly avoided. Consulting a veterinarian to tailor a diet plan specific to your dog’s age, weight, and activity level is recommended.


Training an Irish Wolfhound can be a pleasant experience due to their intelligent and responsive nature. However, they can exhibit stubbornness, making consistent, positive reinforcement techniques crucial. Early socialization and puppy training classes are highly beneficial, helping to mold their temperament and improve their interaction with other dogs and people. This breed responds well to calm, assertive training methods. Regular training sessions help strengthen the bond between the dog and its owner, ensuring mutual respect and understanding. As with all dogs, patience and persistence are key to successful training outcomes.

The Irish Wolfhound Standard

The breed standard for the Irish Wolfhound encapsulates the ideal characteristics and appearance for this noble giant, serving as the benchmark for breeders and judges at dog shows. This standard ensures that the breed maintains its historical attributes, both in form and temperament.


An Irish Wolfhound should exude an imposing presence with a commanding height and sturdy build. Males typically stand at least 32 inches tall at the shoulder, with females slightly smaller. Despite their size, the breed should display an overall appearance of grace and elegance. The head is long and the muzzle is moderately pointed, adorned with a small, rose-shaped ear that enhances their keen expression. The eyes are dark and reflect a gentle, yet alert demeanor.

Coat and Color

The coat of an Irish Wolfhound is rough and wiry, providing ample protection against harsh weather. It covers the body, legs, and head, with a particularly noticeable beard on the chin. Common coat colors include gray, brindle, red, black, pure white, or fawn. Each hue contributes to the majestic appearance of the dog, highlighting its robust frame and alert posture.

Body Structure

The body of an Irish Wolfhound should demonstrate both strength and speed. The neck is long and well arched, merging into well-laid-back shoulders that boast considerable breadth. This structure supports a deep chest that is wide without excessive bulkiness, crucial for housing their powerful heart and lungs. The back should be long and slightly arched, leading to a muscular, slightly curved loin that supports an active, powerful gait.

Gait and Movement

Movement is a critical aspect of the breed standard, showcasing the breed’s unique blend of power and elegance. The ideal Irish Wolfhound moves with a long, easy stride that appears effortless. The gait is even and true, showing good reach in the front and strong drive from the rear, enabling the dog to cover ground efficiently and with dignity.


Temperament is as important as physical traits in the breed standard. The Irish Wolfhound should exhibit a personality marked by patience and dignity. Known as gentle giants, they are calm in nature but possess the courage to protect if needed. The breed is known for its loyalty and affectionate nature, making it a beloved companion.

This breed standard helps protect the integrity and heritage of the Irish Wolfhound, ensuring that these majestic animals not only look the part but also embody the historical and noble characteristics essential to their identity.

Irish Wolfhound – FAQ

Welcome to our FAQ section on the Irish Wolfhound, where we address common questions about this gentle giant. Whether you’re a prospective owner or simply curious about this historic breed, you’ll find insights into their care, temperament, and unique characteristics here.

Alternatives to an Irish Wolfhound

Several dog breeds share similarities in size, traits, and characteristics with the Irish Wolfhound, known for its imposing stature and gentle temperament.

The Scottish Deerhound is closely akin to the Irish Wolfhound, not only in their towering frames but also in their graceful demeanor. Originating in Scotland, this breed was used for deer hunting and shares the sighthound lineage, offering a similar coarse coat and lean body.

Another breed that mirrors the size and gentle nature of the Irish Wolfhound is the Great Dane. Known as the “Apollo of Dogs,” Great Danes stand tall with a commanding presence yet maintain a friendly and affectionate disposition. They also require careful training and socialization due to their size.

The Borzoi, originally bred in Russia for hunting, displays a similar elegance and size. With their long, slender bodies and calm personalities, Borzois move with a grace that rivals the Irish Wolfhound, although they tend to be more reserved in temperament.

Finally, the Leonberger is a giant breed that, while traditionally a little stockier than the Irish Wolfhound, shares its gentle and friendly traits. Originating from Germany, Leonbergers are known for their patience and suitability as family pets, much like the Irish Wolfhound.

These breeds, while each unique, reflect the Irish Wolfhound’s combination of size and gentle character, making them appealing to those who admire such noble qualities in their canine companions.