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Irish Wolfhound Dog Breed… Everything That You Need to Know at a Glance!

Now while it may seem a bit “cliché” starting off an article talking about the Irish Wolfhound by stating the obvious, which is that this is a really BIG kind of dog.

But hey…

Since most people would actually say that the Great Dane is actually the tallest dog breed in existence today, we figured, why not clear up that misunderstanding right away!

Because you see…

While there may be “larger” dog breeds out there, you’re not going to find a taller one, and that’s because the Irish Wolfhound dog breed is “officially” recognized as the tallest dog breed out there.  And this is just when they are standing on all fours because you me, when these guys decide to stand on their hind legs, unless you’re REALLY tall, chances are you’re going to have your furry buddy looking down on you.

But don’t fret…

Despite these guys size, at their core, their basically just big, furry gentle giants!  Gentle giants who just happen to be super sweet too boot.  This coupled with the fact that they aren’t shy means that if you do decide to adopt an Irish Wolfhound puppy or better yet adopt an Irish Wolfhound rescue dog, chances are everyone in the neighborhood is going to know all about you and your new best friend.

But just because…

We here at IndulgeYourPet love these guys, doesn’t mean that they’re going to be the right dog for you.  This is why we wanted to take a moment and talk about what it might be like to own one of these beauties, this way if you ever get a chance to get your hands on one, you’ll know if it’s a good idea or not.

So, without further ado, let’s dive right in.

Irish Wolfhound Fast Facts

Country of Origin: Ireland

Original Purpose: Hunting wolves

Breed Group: Hound

Height: 30 to 35 inches at the shoulder

Weight: 105 to 180 pounds

Dog Breed Classification:  Hound group

Life Span: 6 to 8 years

Irish Wolfhound Origin

The Irish Wolfhound dog breed comes from a long line of ancient dogs dating back as far as 391 A.D, when these dogs were first used as “war dogs” by Roman soldiers.

In fact…

It was these same Roman soldiers that first brought the Irish Wolfhound to Ireland back in right around the mid 400’s when consul Quintus Aurelius Symmachus sent a few of these dogs to his brother who was stationed in a Roman outpost located in Ireland.

Once there…

These enormous dogs became highly prized because of their size and their courage to take on any animals. And because of their sheer size, they were the immediately considered “special” and “unique”.

For this reason alone…

Kings and Queens wanted them – Edward III, Henry VIII, and Elizabeth I of England and Henry IV of France. Kings of Denmark, Spain and Sweden also had them in their courts.

Now as for…

The common folk, they too found these dogs to be a huge asset and began breeding the Wolfhounds to hunt wolves and to keep them away from their farms and homes.

A job that…

The Wolfhounds excelled at.  In fact, they were so good at they’re job, by the 18th century, they had already hunted down most of the wolves in Ireland.  Which meant that they effectively eliminated their main purpose for being, which is why their numbers began to decline.

Which was really…

Bad timing on their part because right around this time, Ireland was also being hit by the great potato famine, which nearly caused the Irish Wolfhound to go extinct!


Though, in 1869 Captain George Graham took it upon himself to “resurrect” the breed by taking the few remaining Irish Wolfhounds that were left and begin crossing breeding them with:

Which effectively saved the breed allowing us to enjoy this great breed today.

Since then…

The popularity of the Irish Wolfhound has been able to spread throughout Europe and the United States which is why the Irish Wolfhound is one of the earliest dog breed “officially” recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1897.

Physical Characteristics of the Irish Wolfhound dog breed

The Irish Wolfhound is the largest of all dog breeds. They can rise up to a height of 30 to 35 inches at the shoulder level.  And while they may have small ears they more than make up for that with their long head, long and arched neck.

They also have a…

Tall and curved tail, much like a Greyhound, only, they are much bigger in size.

Now we should warn you…

That the Irish Wolfhound has a rough and wiry coat which comes in many different colors such as brindle, gray, red, while, fawn and black which does shed quite a bit so he will require a good bushing every couple of days.

Comparison dog breeds

The Irish Wolfhound Dog may be compared to other dog breeds such as the Scottish Deerhound, Great Dane, Entlebucher Mountain Dog, Portuguese Podengo, Flat-Coated Retriever, Bull Terrier, Griffon Vendeen, Deerhound and Curly-Coated Retriever.

Irish Wolfhound Temperament

Irish Wolfhounds are gentle giants – big in size – biggest, in fact – but such softies at heart. You won’t believe how sweet, gentle, generous and sensitive this big guy can be.

At his core…

He’s going to want everyone in the family to love him and can get upset and sulk in a corner if anyone ignores him. This is probably why he is so friendly, patient and good natured. These guys just want to make you happy and is very smart. He is loyal to his family and is such a sweetheart.

Did we mention that he is lovely with kids?

If not, we’re dropping the ball because these guys adore children and is very patient with them. He doesn’t snap at them even if a child does something stupid like pulling his tail or trying to mount him. He sees them as a part of his flock and is very protective of the younglings.

He’s also good…

With cats and other dogs too, as long as he has grown up with them. Sometimes he starts chasing small animals that arouse his curiosity. But this is something that you can discourage him from doing even though he may not always be the easiest dog in the world to train.

Which is why…

You’re going to want to be sure and begin your training early because the last thing that you want on your hands is a giant friendly “goofball’ jumping up on everyone because he doesn’t know any better!

Health Issues

Unfortunately, the Irish Wolfhound may be big and powerful, but he is not the healthiest of dog breeds. He has a life expectancy of only 6 to 8 years, which is really heartbreaking.

He is susceptible to many health problems such as…

And while…

Many of these conditions may not be life threatening, they can certainly become quite expensive to deal with particularly if they become recurring issues.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also recommend that any new pet owner take a moment and see what it might cost for you to purchase a pet insurance policy for your new animal.

Now will a pet insurance policy be right for everyone?

No, probably not.  But until you fully understand what these policies “will” and “won’t” cover and how much these pet insurance policies cost, how will you know if one might be right for you?

For more information on who we feel currently offers the “best” pet insurance policies out there, we would encourage you to check out our Best Pet Insurance Policies article.

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