Photo by coda.allegra

Irish Wolfhound - Breed Profile:

Origin: Ireland
Colors: Usually grey
Size: Extra large
Type of Owner: Novice
Exercise: Moderate
Grooming: Regular
Trainability: Easy to train
Combativeness: Friendly with other dogs
Dominance: Moderate
Noise: Not a barker

Physical characteristics

The Irish Wolfhound is an extra large dog with a remarkable appearance. Although gracefully built, this breed is very muscular and strong. The body type somewhat resembles the Greyhound, slightly longer than tall. The chest is very deep and wide. The head is long but not too broad. The muzzle is moderately pointed. The small ears are carried back against the head when the dog is relaxed, and part-way erect when the dog is excited. The long neck is strong and well-arched. The long tail is slightly curved. The feet are round, with well-arched toes. The gait is full of elegance and grace.
Irish Wolfhounds weigh 90 to 150 pounds. The height is 28 to 35 inches. It's one of the tallest dog breeds in the world.


Gentle giants, Irish Wolfhounds are sometimes calm and dignified, sometimes playful and silly, but always easy-going and reliable. Loving, patient, generous, friendly, thoughtful and extremely intelligent. If this dog was a human, it would be everyone's best friend. Excellent with children, although the kid should be somewhat considerate because of the dog's great size - this is to avoid accidental injury. Irish Wolfhounds are very loyal members of the family. They are very eager to please and easy to train. This breed responds best to a loving but firm, consistent hand. Usually gets along well with other pets if raised with them from puppyhood. An early socialization is necessary to encourage the outgoing attitude.
A suburban or country home is best for this breed. The Irish Wolfhound needs regular exercise to stay fit, whether the dog seems to want it or not. A daily one-hour walk/trot with twice weekly gallops inside a safe enclosed area are necessary for proper development. This is, in fact, approximately the same amount of exercise any small dog would need. The Irish Wolfhound likes to chase, tackle, and pounce on anything that moves rapidly, so it's better to keep the dog on leash during the walks.

Coat and grooming

The coat is wiry, shaggy, and rough on the head, body and legs. It's longer and especially wiry over the eyes and under the jaw. The coat colours include grey, brindle, red, black, pure white or fawn, with grey being the most common. Regular thorough grooming is necessary. This breed is an average shedder.


Prone to cardiomyopathy, bone cancer, bloat, PRA, Von Willebrands, and hip dysplasia. The lifespan is very short - 6 to 8 years.

Other interesting facts

The Irish Wolfhound's name originates from its role as a wolf hunter. It has little to do with the dog's appearance. This is a very old breed with Roman records dating as far back as 391 AD. These dogs were used in wars, for guarding herds, property, and for hunting Irish elks, deer, boars, and wolves.