Irish Wolfhound

Breed History

Irish Wolfhound socializing

Irish Wolfhound is from Ireland and is one of the biggest dogs in the world. Largest Sighthound, by weight and height, that is known for its superior hunting instincts and abilities.

Strong and powerful breed with a distinct Greyhound head and Great Dane body frame. They had a few jobs that they did very well and one of them was protecting the country.

Known as hunters of deer, wolves and Irish elk, but they’re known most importantly for their work with wolves. Ireland was in emergency need of assistance with the Wolves in their country.

Hunting wolves in packs and killing them is what made their stamp in history. They did it so well that brought wolves to a point of extinction. Unfortunately, after they did this incredible job, they were the ones facing extinction because people in that area no longer were in need of their service.

4th century documentation mention a large wolf dog and they also have drawings of this breed in detail. Historically the breed looks different than it looks today.

18th century saw that the number of dogs were showing limitations. Mentioning the extinction by referring to them not having a lot of numbers in the region anymore and it being hard to find them.

That was the fate of this breed and dogs that came from this bloodline were breed together to salvage whatever they could from dogs that had their bloodline.

Many doubts that this dog is a resurrection of a dog that previously was big, strong, and vicious enough to take on an Irish Wolf while winning.

Ancient bloodlines are less likely a huge part of this breed and crossbreeding other dogs on a wealthy estate was the likely outcome of the Irish Wolfhound.


In 1897 the Irish Wolfhound became an official member of the American Kennel Club and has recognition all around the world.

Here are the major Kennel Clubs who track the bloodline of this dog.


Male Height: 32 inches

Female Height: 30 inches

Male Weight: 120 pounds

Female Weight: 105 pounds

The weight and height in the breed standard states that they must at least be this big. Boys are bigger than females by far and it is easy to recognition the difference.

Litter Size

Litter size for this dog is around 4 to 6. Small size litter for such a large dog but litter sizes have been known to be around ten plus. No known procedures are in need when the mother is giving birth.


  • Gray
  • Brindle
  • Red
  • Black
  • White
  • Fawn


Irish Wolfhound cost $1,000-$2,500 depending on the breeder and the quality of the dog. Papers will come with the documentation of the bloodline.

Cheaper dogs without papers will cost a few hundred. Dogs without papers will not have any trace of what the dog is breed with other than the mom and dad that may not be on site. Be careful buying dogs without knowing what breed the dog is.


Huge dog to try and groom yourself but it can be done. Here are some areas you should address when you want to do it yourself.

  1. Brushing
  2. Combing
  3. Bathing
  4. Ears
  5. Nails
  6. Professional Help

Brush the hair multiple times per week. During times of shedding it is important to get a lot of the loose hair from the coat. Start at the skin and brush outward to prevent tangles and matting of the coat.

You should comb right after you brush this dog. Combing is important for preventing tangles as well and during the shedding season. Finding the right comb for the fur type is the best route.

Bathing a dog once a month with this type of coat will be good unless the dog is dirty or smelly. Putting the dog on a schedule is the best thing you can do.

Cleaning the ears is an important part of stopping ear infections. Simple method of cleaning the ears routinely or weekly can keep the vet bills down.

Nail can be trim naturally by walking and running the dog, which we recommend. If you choose not to exercise, which we don’t recommend, then buy a set of clippers and cut them instead.

Professional help is a recommendation with this breed. Taking the time to get them grooming from a professional will be your best option if you’re short on time or effort.

Life Span

Average lifespan is short at 6-8 years. You should be aware that this breed doesn’t live for a long time, but they can live up to a decade. Ten years of age is closer to the average. Large dogs normally have a shorter lifespan.

Health Issues

Bloat – one of the main causes of death to dogs is bloat. Bigger breeds with a large chest are in danger of suffering from this condition. When the stomach expands too far it puts pressure on the heart and vein causing the dog to pass away sometime soon.

Willebrand Disease – something that dogs inherit from their parents that prevents the blood from clotting the way it was intended for it to clot. With his condition the dogs are not going to stop bleeding it they’re cut because the blood will show an inability to clot and stop the bleeding naturally.

Progressive retinal atrophy – as this progresses these dogs will lose their eyesight. Although this is something that develops it is another condition that is inherited through generations.

Megaesophagus – inability of the body to take food from the mouth to the stomach area. Development can occur at birth or later in life, so it is important to continue to monitor possible symptoms.

Cardiac Exam – due to the heart problems this breed has you will find information from their official Kennel Club that outlines getting several exams and the cardiac exam is one of them.

Hip Dysplasia – x-rays will be able to determine if the dog has an improper hip and bone fit. When there is a discrepancy you will notice the dog doesn’t want to run or walk much. Painful condition that will need different medication to lubricate the joints but there is no cure.

Elbow Dysplasia – growth in the elbow joint will cause pain to the dog and cause avoidance of exercise as well. Examinations of this area will help with getting them early treatment and avoiding aggravating the issue further.

Breed Group

As their name suggest they are a member of the legendary Hound Group. This group has several things in common with one another. They all have some type of strong hunting background in their history.

Generally, they come from a few different ancestors and became what they are today through cross breeding with other dogs to get certain characteristics.

Having endurance and stamina to continue to chase down prey restlessly is one of their other similarities.

Here are some of the dogs that make up this group

Lower energy level and you can exercise less than most breeds. Most big breeds have a lower energy level in comparison to their smaller counterparts and this breed is no exception.

As we always recommend the dogs behavior and energy levels will always cause you to do more, maintain, or decrease exercise. Most people will never have to worry about the last two because they need to get their dog out more.

When the dog is younger it will need the most exercise and the most runs. Two sessions per day will be more likely to fit the requirements. As they become three to five years old you will see that the energy will come down.

Running will decrease and taking multiple days off will be a reality at this stage. Coming to the senior years of the dog are going to be this dog’s last years according to the breeds lifespan.

Take the time to take it easy and only exercise when it is in need. Those needs may be a small walk around the corner for the next two or three days.

Here is what we recommend

Morning: Hour (run, walk, or treadmill)

Evening: 20 minutes (run, walk, or treadmill)

The last session is optional and will only need to be done to a younger dog that is bursting with energy. Great part about these big breeds is that they’re quick to get tired and slow to recover.


  1. Exercise program
  2. Commands
  3. Socialization
  4. Corrections

Training any dog is easy, but it does require effort. Working hard and working smart are the key formulas to gaining the type of traction you need to train properly. Without this first part of the program the training will have no direction. Tire the dog out and then teach them commands, socialization, and correction when they are calm and have no energy for excess activity. Biggest part of the training program is right in this section. Daily exercise.

Commands are a small part of the training. Most people assume this is a bigger issue, but it isn’t. Repetition and a couple of days will supply the dog with the training they need to continue to sit, stay, and lay for the rest of their lives. Although this is the popular ways of training it is one of the least important.

Socializing the dog is something you do after exercise and start as young as possible. When they go out for a long run and get another walk in the evening that time is perfect to take them to the dog park, vet, or any other social event.

Correcting the dog is important if you do it right. When you correct properly you will not need to correct much when the dog gets older and mature. Daily exercise will decrease the energy on bad activity and correcting the right way will all enhance compliance.

Tallest dog in the world?

The tallest dog in the world is the Irish Wolfhound. Great Dane will be competing but most of the time those honors go to the Wolfhound and sometimes there will be a taller Great Dane.

Are Irish Wolfhound’s a Great Family Dog?

Family, kids, other dogs and trainability are all areas where this dog excels in their calm demeanor and outstanding outdoor abilities.