Although the country was once nicknamed "wolf land," the only place you'll be able to find a wolf is in the Dublin Zoo. The species was eradicated in 1786, thanks in part to the services of the Irish wolfhound to chase them down. With wolf top speed clocking in at up to 45 miles per hour over short distances, the wolfhound had to be fast and agile to pursue his quarries and bring them down.
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Irish wolfhound vs. wolf
Irish wolfhounds aren't just fast on their feet — they're big. The breed stands about 3 feet tall at the shoulder but can rise to a height of up to 7 feet when they're standing on their hind legs. Although they have a slender build like other sighthounds, such as greyhounds and deerhounds, they are much larger, weighing at minimum 120 pounds. Their immense size was necessary for bringing down gray wolves, which can grow up to 5 feet long and weigh up to 145 pounds.
Although the Irish wolfhound is the tallest dog breed, they can move quickly, reaching speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. Although that is slower than the wolf's top speed, groups of several wolfhounds would be able to successfully pursue and bring down a wolf.
Not an Irish greyhound
Although it's one of the world's fastest dog breeds, the Irish wolfhound is not a greyhound. The greyhound is significantly smaller and faster, reaching speeds of up to 45 miles per hour and weighing in at under 75 pounds. A greyhound's coat is also short and smooth, whereas an Irish wolfhound has a longer, wiry coat.
Both Irish wolfhounds and greyhounds make calm family pets who seldom bark. They both fall into the sighthound category and can excel at modern activities, such as lure coursing, racing, tracking, agility and rally competitions, and therapy dog work. Their intelligent and willing demeanor make both suited for obedience, although greyhounds can tend to have a stubborn streak.
Exercising your wolfhound
Just because your wolfhound can reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour doesn't mean that you should run her at that speed regularly. Irish wolfhounds are happy chilling on the couch; roaming and playing in a large, fenced yard; and taking walks with you. Avoid the tendency to let them become couch potatoes, though. Engage their mind and body through regular play and exercise sessions.
Because Irish wolfhounds grow so quickly, it's crucial to avoid developmental injuries caused by overexercise. This means limiting exercise until their bone plates are fully developed at 13 months old. It's OK to let pups run at will in an enclosed yard with other young wolfhounds of their own age but avoiding letting them run with adults or other older, faster dogs. Playing with small dog breeds should also be avoided, as trying to keep up with their sharp turns can injure your dog.
The repetitive impact from hard surfaces, such as roadways, trails, and sidewalks, can cause permanent joint injury to your dog. During your pup's first year, avoid taking him for long, leashed walks, letting him run alongside your bike or bringing him along on your morning run. Once his bones and joints are fully mature at 13 to 14 months is the right time to start introducing him to structured exercise activities.
- Dublin Zoo: Wolves in the Woods Now Open!
- American Kennel Club: Irish Wolfhound
- The National Wildlife Federation: Gray Wolf
- Animals Home: Top 20 Fastest Dog Breeds in the World
- Dogell: Irish Wolfhound vs. Greyhound – Which One Is a Better Dog Breed for You?
- Irish Wolfhound Club of America: How Much Exercise Is Appropriate For a Young Irish Wolfhound?