The giant Irish Wolfhound has a commanding appearance but a gentle nature. He loves human companionship and welcomes one and all. His rough coat requires weekly grooming and sheds moderately.
The Irish wolfhound was originally a war dog used to drag men off horseback or off chariots.
He was also used as a hunting dog and a guard dog. They hunted wolves and elks when they were abundant in Ireland.
Oliver Cromwell saved the Irish wolfhound by refusing to allow the export of any more from Ireland after their numbers dwindled.
This is a giant breed. That gangly 20-pound puppy will eventually weigh as much as 120 pounds, sometimes more. If your home is reached by stairs, think twice before getting this breed. How will you get him up and down if he is incapacitated? His huge size is often what attracts people, but the tradeoff is a heartbreakingly short life span of six to eight years.
In the mid 1800s Captain George Augustus brought the breed back form the verge of extinction by cross-breeding wolfhounds with deerhounds, great danes and mastiffs.
The pure Irish wolfhound comes in various colors, from cream to black. Wheatens, reds of various shades, and greys from pale silver to slate are included, either with or without brindling. White on tip of tail and feet (and legs) is acceptable, but excess white spotting (blaze or collar) is not.
Toward one and all, including children, strangers and other dogs, he tends to be calm, intelligent, dignified and friendly. That said, his great size may make him unsuited to homes with toddlers. Nor is it appropriate to let children ride the Wolfhound. He isn’t built for that and it can cause back injuries.
For exercise, he’ll enjoy a long daily walk, as well as any opportunity to run full-on in a traffic-free area. When it comes to dog sports, Wolfhounds are found competing in obedience and tracking, but it's on the lure coursing field that they take your breath away. Wolfhounds will adapt to your level of activity, but they shouldn’t be allowed to become couch potatoes. Lack of exercise can cause them to put on weight, which is injurious to their joints.
Talk to the breeder, describe exactly what you’re looking for in a dog, and ask for assistance in selecting a puppy. Breeders see the puppies daily and can make uncannily accurate recommendations once they know your lifestyle and personality. Whatever you want from an Irish Wolfhound, look for one whose parents have nice personalities and who has been well socialized from early puppyhood.
There is also a color in the breed which is considered impermissible – blue. In the past, if this color occurred the affected puppies were put down at birth or as soon after as their color became obvious.
Wolfhounds usually adore children. However, they are not always good with other animals, especially smaller ones, due to their hunting instinct.
They are sometimes used in Scotland for herding sheep and are said to be almost as good as the border collies.
They are not considered the brightest of dogs, compared to border collies or other breeds.
The Wolfhound has a rough coat that is especially wiry and long over the eyes and beneath the jaw. Extensive grooming is done to give the dog a perfect appearance in the show ring, but for a pet owner the coat is easy to maintain. There's just a lot of dog to groom.
Brush or comb the shaggy, wiry coat once or twice a week to remove dead hair and prevent or remove any mats or tangles. The double coat sheds moderate amounts year-round but doesn’t go through a heavy annual or biannual shed. A bath is rarely necessary.