Although originally the breed was smooth coated or rough coated, only the rough coated variety exists today. It is thought that Phoenician sailors brought dogs of greyhound type from the Middles East to Ireland and these dogs were crossed with Mastiffs to produce a dog of gigantic size with the speed and strength to see off wolves which were a great threat to livestock in Ireland. By the end of the 18th century the wolf was extinct in Ireland and breed numbers dwindled. With the Great Famine in Ireland 1840’s the breed became very rare. However, a group of devotees lead by the Scotsman Captain George Augustus Graham developed a breeding programme to revive the breed, with the few Irish Wolfhounds which had survived using outcrosses with the heavier type of Deerhound, the Great Dane and the Tibetan Mastiff.
The Irish Wolfhound is the tallest, but not the heaviest, dog breed in the world. They are gentle giants and make great family pets and companions. They love exercise but beware if they’re off the lead as they are prone to chasing animals at high speed! They are too serene to be fierce guard dogs, but just the sight of them is enough to deter intruders due to their large size. This gentle giant is sometimes calm and dignified, sometimes playful and silly, always easygoing and reliable. Although they were originally bred for protecting livestock from wolves in Ireland, Irish Wolfhounds are now mostly family pets due to their calm and relaxed nature. Being such a large breed, they suit larger homes with plenty of space and you may even need to invest in a bigger car to be able to take your dog out exploring or for visits to the vets! Irish Wolfhounds require patient reward based training and don’t respond well to negative words and actions.
Read about the history of Irish Wolfhounds – HERE
STATS AND FACTS
Most of these stats are from the UK Kennel Club. You can view stats from kennel clubs around the world at the links below, which may have different standards and classifications.
|Group – UK||Hound|
|Bred For||Protecting Livestock|
|Country of Origin||Ireland|
|Temperament||Gentle and friendly|
|Exercise Needed||2 Hours daily|
|Size of Home Needed||Large house and garden|
|Height at Withers – Female||71 cm / 28 in minimum|
|Height at Withers – Male||79 cm / 31 in minimum|
|Grooming||More than once a week|
|Coat||Medium length. Rough and wiry|
|Colour||Grey, brindle, red, black, white, fawn, wheaten|
|Life Span||Under 10 years|
- There was a time when this breed was not found in any common homes. Only nobility were allowed to own the coveted dogs. They were found in a number of royal courts, including those of Edward III, Henry VIII and Elizabeth I in England and France’s Henry IV.
- They can reach heights of 7 feet when they stand on their back legs.
- Irish Wolfhounds are super tall – likely bred into them because they were used to hunt some pretty big animals (wolves, deer and even bears).
- The Irish Wolfhound has served as the Regimental Mascot of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards since its formation in 1900.
- In the past, they were used as war dogs to drag soldiers off their horses. A far cry from the sweet pets we know today.
LINKS TO KENNEL CLUB BREED STANDARDS AROUND THE WORLD
Breed standard varies throughout the world, these links will inform you of those standards and give further information about Irish Wolfhounds.
Click on a picture below to view it larger and in a slideshow, it’s worth it! 😃
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WEBSITES ABOUT IRISH WOLFHOUNDS
Here’s some websites specifically dedicated to the Irish Wolfhound breed. I am not affiliated with any of these sites, they’re just here for further information. Please note I will not advertise breeders on this site and as many websites dedicated to a specific breed are run by breeders, sometimes there’s fewer sites listed here.
Thanks for reading!