Average Height: 28-35 in
Average Weight: 90-150 lbs
Average Life Span: 7-10 yrs
Coloring: Gray, brindle, red, black, white, fawn
Area of Origin: Ireland
Similar Breeds: Afghan Hound, Greyhound, Borzoi, Saluki, Scottish Deerhound, Whippet, Great Dane, English Mastiff
History and Origin:
The largest of the sight hounds and one of the tallest dogs in the world, the Irish Wolfhound is an old breed, with evidence of its existence dating back to 390 AD Rome. Used as a war dog, guard dog, and wolf hunter, the Irish Wolfhound was so integral to the livelihood of Celtic tribes that wars were fought with the purpose of acquiring more of these dogs. Also used to hunt other large prey such as wild boar and bears, the Irish Wolfhound nearly became extinct in the nineteenth century, after over-hunting depleted populations of these animals across Ireland, Britain, and Europe as a whole. A British military man, Captain George Graham, sought to restore the breed in the last half of the nineteenth century, and interbred the remaining breeding stock with Scottish Deerhound, Borzoi, Great Dane, and English Mastiff blood. Traveling to North America soon after its revival, the Irish Wolfhound was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1897, and moved to the sporting class in 1925. Today, the Irish Wolfhound enjoys its role as a devoted family companion.
Personality and Temperament:
The Irish Wolfhound is typically a reserved, polite, and intelligent breed. It is easy going and patient, making it a fantastic dog for children who are aware of it’s size and strength. It is a loyal breed, and can become restless and destructive if left alone away from its family for long periods of time. Despite this, the Wolfhound’s primary role as a sight hound has forced it to become an independent thinker, able to assess situations and make its own decisions as it would be far away from its handler when hunting its prey. This can cause the dog to be stubborn, and firm at times. Confident leadership is essential to ensure this instinct does not become willfulness. As such, the Irish Wolfhound is not typically a suitable breed for the nervous or first-time owner.
Exercise & Training:
The Irish Wolfhound needs lots of exercise in order to keep it happy and healthy. As a working dog, the Wolfhound is happiest when given a task to do, and a varied exercise regime is ideal to ensure both its physical and mental needs are met. As an intelligent breed, the Wolfhound is fairly easy to train if shown strong leadership from its owner. Due to its massive size, it is essential that this breed receives obedience training, as an untrained Wolfhound can be a danger to itself and those around it.
An average shedder, the medium-length coat of the Wolfhound needs to be brushed and combed daily to prevent matting. Plucking once or twice a year during heavy shedding seasons (spring and fall) will help to remove dead undercoat and keep the skin healthy. Bathe minimally, as the oils in the fur act as a natural deterrent to dirt and weather damage.
As a sight hound, it is likely that the Irish Wolfhound is related to other ancient breeds such as the Afghan Hound and the Saluki. The modern Wolfhound has been influenced by the Borzoi, Scottish Deerhound, Mastiff, and Great Dane, sharing many qualities with these breeds.
Interesting Facts about the Irish Wolfhound:
1. While unofficial, the Irish Wolfhound is frequently considered to be the national dog of Ireland, although its association with British aristocracy (it was held in high regard by the British when they ruled Ireland) made nationalists uneasy with it as a symbol of national pride. The Kerry Blue Terrier was sometimes used as a symbol instead.
2. The Irish Rugby Football Unions A-level national team was renamed the Wolfhounds in 2010.
3. The Irish Wolfhound appears in video games The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, and in Total War: Rome.
4. Evidence in Ireland suggests that Wolfhound-like domestic dogs were present in the area as early as 7000 BC.