As the name suggests, the Irish wolfhound hunted wolves during the 15th century. The breed was already established and the large Irish wolfhound size allowed these hunters to take on the nearly 6-foot tall Irish elk. Today the breed makes an excellent companion for those who have space to accommodate their size. Unfortunately, the Irish wolfhound lifespan is fairly short, so you will likely have less than a decade to enjoy the dog's company.
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Irish wolfhound characteristics
The Irish wolfhound is a giant breed and member of the American Kennel Club's hound group. Female wolfhounds grow at least 30 inches tall and weigh 105 pounds. Males are larger, reaching at least 32 inches tall and weighing 120 pounds. These are not one of the big dogs with long life spans, as Irish wolfhound life expectancy is only six to eight years.
The breed features a rough coat, with longer hair under the jaw and on the eyebrows. While most people envision an Irish wolfhound with a grey coat, the breed standard does accept other coat colors including black, brindle, fawn, red, and white.
Irish wolfhound temperament & training
Breed is not a reliable indicator of personality, however, Irish wolfhounds are described as dignified and calm. While they are courageous and have an intimidating size, they are not aggressive and do not make good guard dogs. They tend to be good with children, but they can knock over small children, so be sure to supervise.
As with all dogs, be sure to socialize Irish wolfhounds when they are young and make sure they learn basic obedience so that they will be manageable when they reach full size. While puppies should be allowed to play and have fun, don't overdo exercise during the first 18 months as it can lead to injury in growing puppies.
They are intelligent dogs, but also tend to be independent. Use plenty of positive reinforcement and patience during training.
Irish wolfhound grooming
Irish wolfhounds have a rough coat with a soft undercoat. There will be some shedding throughout the year but a weekly brushing should keep that under control and leave the dog with a clean and healthy coat. Baths are not required for a healthy coat, but you can wash the dog when necessary. Be sure to check the wolfhound's nails when you brush her and trim them as needed.
Irish wolfhound exercise & health
While many adult dogs prefer to be couch potatoes, it is important to exercise your Irish wolfhound regularly with walks or by playing in the yard. Make sure if the dog is off-leash that she is in a secure, fenced area. While the breed no longer hunts, they still maintain some of that prey drive and may chase other animals.
Bloat is a health concern for many large breeds including Irish wolfhounds. The breed also has some genetic conditions that may be a concern including hip and elbow dysplasia and congenital heart disease. Responsible breeders will conduct hip and elbow evaluations, cardiac testing, and eye exams to ensure the puppies and their parents are healthy.
Irish wolfhound puppies
Irish wolfhound size continues to increase as the puppies grow and fill out until they are approximately 3 years old. Col. William Dana of Ambleside Kennels kept records of the puppy's growth for 23 years. Based on that data, males are an average of 21.2 inches tall and weigh an average of 44.7 pounds at three months old. Females are 20.8 inches tall and weigh 41.7 pounds at the same age.
At six months, males weigh 98.3 pounds are 30.1 inches tall while females are 28.6 inches tall and weigh 87.2 pounds. By the time puppies are one year old, the males are 34.9 inches tall and weigh 136.1 pounds and females are 32.5 inches tall and weigh 116.7 pounds. Irish wolfhounds will continue to grow slowly and fill out for another two years.