irish wolfhound

Good tempered, patient and thoughtful!

Irish Wolfhounds as Pets:

general health
energy level
chewing tendency
family and kid friendly

separation anxiety
preferred temperature
average climate
exercise needs
be friendly with other dogs
Thoroughbred Cost of Ownership
$1,500 and $2,000
pack of dogs
male weight
-161 lbs
female weight
-132 lbs

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Throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the Irish Wolfhound was praised in literature for its gentleness and strength.

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Irish wolfhound standing outside and looking up
The breed was so good at working that by the 18th century, there were no wolves left in Ireland.


evolution and history

The 4th century Romans mentioned very large dogs among the Gaels (ancient Irish). However, zooarchaeologists say no one knew of a dog the size of an Irish wolfhound before AD 1200. This may be due to the fact that the large Irish dogs gained their size after crossing with the bloodhounds of the medieval Middle East, known for their size and hunting prowess.

Irish clans then used the breed in battle because despite their gentle nature, these dogs were fierce fighters. Throughout the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the Irish Wolfhound was praised in literature for its gentleness and strength. Usually owned only by nobles, they were often presented as prized gifts to visiting royalty and dignitaries. However, in the 1700s, Irish farmers and hunters chose the breed to help them control the wolves that were rampant in the countryside. Hence their name.

Unfortunately, these heirloom Irish wolfhounds did too well. By the 1860s, wolves were extinct in Ireland, and the breed was nearly extinct. At the time, British Army Captain George Graham was scouting Ireland for any remaining Irish wolfhounds and made it his goal to do everything in his power to preserve the breed. He is still revered for this work.

Irish Wolfhound Health and Recreation

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Throughout their history, the breed has come in both short-legged and long-legged types, but today the Irish Wolfhound is the tallest of all breeds. Irish wolfhounds are sight hounds, meaning they are able to hunt using their keen eyesight and great speed. They are known for their very dignified, calm and courageous demeanor.

3 Pros and Cons of Ownership

advantage! shortcoming!
These dogs have very calm and gentle dispositions, making them great pets for the whole family.
Expensive <br>Caring for this breed can be expensive. Since they are so large, be prepared to spend more money on food, medications, and pet supplies.
Quiet <br>This dog breed doesn't bark often, so you don't have to worry about anyone passing your house being disturbed by the non-stop barking. Short lifespan <br>These dogs only live an average of 6 to 10 years. This is a short amount of time compared to other breeds and won't give you much time to enjoy your furry friend.
Easy Grooming <br>These dogs don't shed a lot. Their coats only need to be brushed once a week. Not very suitable for younger children <br>The large size of this breed is one reason to think carefully before bringing babies and toddlers. They may accidentally injure or scare young children.
Irish Wolfhound (Canis familiaris)
Possibly the tallest of the breed, the Irish Wolfhound weighs 130-160 pounds.

© Jagodka/

size and weight

Irish Wolfhounds are large dogs, possibly the tallest of the breed. Males are at least 32 inches tall, but usually closer to 36 inches, and females are at least 30 inches tall, but usually closer to 33 inches. An adult male can weigh up to 160 pounds and an adult female can weigh up to 130 pounds. A 2-month-old puppy typically weighs about 24 pounds. By 6 months, male puppies weigh nearly 100 pounds and female puppies about 90 pounds. They are fully grown when they are three years old.

high weight
male 32-36 inches 120-160 lbs
female 30-33 inches 105-132 lbs
Irish Wolfhound (Canis familiaris) - Irish Wolfhound on a log
Irish wolfhound owners need to be aware of the breed's susceptibility to certain diseases in order to properly care for the dog.

© Viktoriia Bondarenko/

common health problems

If you're considering adopting one of these dogs, there are some common health issues you should be aware of. It's also important to note that they may not "complain" when something is bothering them, which can make it more challenging to identify what the problem is.

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Irish wolfhounds can get cancer. Osteosarcoma is a bone tumor that most commonly occurs in the extremities, but can also be found in the bones of a dog's spine, chest cavity and even the skull. Some Irish wolfhounds can also develop heart disease. This may include dilated cardiomyopathy. Usually, your veterinarian is able to treat this disease.

This breed can also be affected by a gastrointestinal problem called bloat or torsion, which requires immediate treatment. Pneumonia is another health problem to watch out for. Finally, before bringing home Irish Wolfhound puppies, make sure they've been checked for liver shunt, a developmental disorder.

To recap, some of the most common health issues faced by Irish wolfhounds are:

  • cancer
  • Heart disease (including dilated cardiomyopathy)
  • expand or twist
  • pneumonia
  • hepatic bypass
Irish wolfhound running
Usually calm and well-behaved, the Irish Wolfhound, bred as a hunter, may chase outside.

©Barbora Bridges/


These dogs are known for their brave behavior. However, they also don't have an aggressive personality, which makes them great dogs around kids. They are also very calm dogs. This trait also makes them great family pets. However, if you plan to keep an Irish wolfhound around young children, you still need to ensure close supervision due to how large these dogs are.

Another characteristic that defines this breed is their easy-going nature. While they will usually listen to your request, this may take some time. While Irish Wolfhounds will do well inside, it's always a good idea to take extra care when you're outside with them. They are hunters by nature, so they may spot an animal and try to chase it.


If you're bringing home one of these dogs, there are some key things you'll want to consider when planning their care. Understanding their health needs, dietary and nutritional needs, and other aspects of care they need will set you up for success with your new furry friend.

irish wolfhound as a pet
Like all pets, caring for an Irish Wolfhound requires attention to diet and nutritional needs.


best dog food

As they are very large dogs, be prepared for them to eat a lot of food. For puppies and adults, it is better to feed them several small meals throughout the day rather than several large meals. If you give them too much food at any one meal, they may overeat, which could make them sick.

When choosing food for your puppy, choose whole foods that are very low in calcium and have little to no added supplements. A raw food or high-quality kibble will be your best choice for raising an Irish Wolfhound puppy.

Unlike puppies, adult Irish wolfhounds are capable of self-regulation. This means they only eat when they are hungry and do not overeat. Once your puppy is an adult, you can choose to continue feeding small amounts throughout the day, or you can switch to ad libitum feeding, allowing your dog to eat when hungry.

When choosing food for your adult Irish Wolfhound, you'll also want to look for quality food. Raw food or adult kibble made with high-quality ingredients is also suitable for adult Irish Wolfhounds. When formulating a diet for your dog, you should try to include approximately 25 percent protein and 15 percent fat. Keep in mind the breed's vulnerability to heart conditions like dilated cardiomyopathy. Soy in dog food has been linked to heart failure, so you can choose a soy-free dog food.

Our pick for the best dog food for Irish Wolfhounds at AZ Animals is Purina Pro Plan Large and Jumbo Chicken and Rice Adult Dry Dog Food.

This food does not contain any worrisome legumes, such as lentils and peas, which Irish wolfhounds should avoid. Instead, get real chicken, fish, and beef, which are natural sources of taurine, which supports a strong heart. Due to the breed's potential for pneumonia and cancer, we love that this large breed's formula also contains amino acids, prebiotic fiber, and live probiotics to boost the immune system.

You can find Purina Pro Plan Large and Giant Breed dog food on Chewy and Amazon.

Largest Dog Breeds_Irish Wolfhound
Irish Wolfhounds don't shed, but they can look messy if they aren't brushed regularly.

©Canon Boy/

Maintenance and Grooming

As far as grooming goes, this breed is relatively easy to care for. The Irish Wolfhound has a double coat consisting of a rough, strong outer coat covered by a soft undercoat. Their hair will not be matted. However, you will need to brush several times a week and pluck dead hair about twice a year. If you don't, your dog will look scruffy.

Unlike other dogs that may have hair all over your house, Irish Wolfhounds don't shed. You'll want to keep an eye on their whiskers and clean it regularly, as it gets dirty when the dog eats.


Irish Wolfhounds are relatively easy to train. They respond best to positive reinforcement. When choosing a training method, you need to look for one that centers on positive reinforcement for your dog. You may find that your Irish Wolfhound puppy is clumsy and not very obedient, but after they are a year old, this should not be a problem anymore.


Irish Wolfhounds need 20 to 40 minutes of exercise each day. When your dog is a puppy, it's important to make sure they don't get so much exercise that they can damage growing bones, ligaments, and joints that are still soft.

It's also important to avoid exercising your dog while it's eating. Because of the risk of gas in Irish Wolfhounds, it can be dangerous to exercise them before or after meals.


Irish Wolfhound (Canis familiaris) - Irish Wolfhound Puppy

©Jolanta Beinarovica/

If you're considering adopting a puppy, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, remember that these dogs are very large dogs, so the puppy you bring home will grow very quickly. They are slow to mature, so be prepared to deal with large breed puppy behavior for quite some time.

You should definitely be ready to enroll your puppy in training classes. If they're not well trained, they can do a lot of damage just because of their size, even if they don't want to cause trouble.

When raising Irish Wolfhound puppies, it is also important to realize that their joints and bones still have a lot of development to do. Therefore, you want to be careful to limit their movement and take care to prevent stress on their joints.

interact with children

This breed can make a great family dog. However, due to their large size, they are best suited for families with older children. These dogs may accidentally knock over or startle a baby or toddler.

This dog breed is very gentle and loves children. It's still important to make sure your child knows how to handle dogs appropriately and how to play with them safely. As with other dog breeds, when your children are near your Irish Wolfhound, it is important to supervise them to ensure everyone's safety.

similar dog

Greyhounds, Great Danes, and Setters are three dog breeds that resemble the Irish Wolfhound.

Great Dane: The Great Dane and the Irish Wolfhound are the two largest dog breeds. There is sometimes debate about which breed is the largest. In general, Great Danes are heavier than Irish Wolfhounds, but Irish Wolfhounds are taller than Great Danes.
Greyhound: Greyhounds and Irish Wolfhounds are both very large dogs. Additionally, both dogs are sighthounds, which means they are good at spotting prey.

Bloodhound: The Irish Wolfhound is also similar to hunting dogs, such as the Irish Setter. Both dogs were bred to be hunting dogs and are both large in size. However, the Irish Wolfhound is heavier and taller than the Irish Setter.
Scottish Deerhound: The Scottish Deerhound is another breed that is very similar to the Irish Wolfhound. These dogs can be difficult to distinguish from Irish wolfhounds due to their large size and similar coloration. However, the Irish Wolfhound is taller and more muscular than the Scottish Deerhound. Their tails are also longer and slightly curved, whereas the Scottish Deerhound's tail tapers and almost touches the ground.

Not surprisingly, many of the breed's most popular names are of Gaelic or other Celtic origin and are rooted in Irish tradition or history. These names include:

  • Aodh, pronounced oogh or Hugh, means the Celtic god of fire
  • Anluan, pronounced on-lin, translates to big hound
  • Cathal, pronounced Cahool, means mighty in battle
  • conan or hound
  • Connor, translates to Hound Lovers
  • motor, or dog
  • Onchu, meaning mighty dog
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famous irish wolfhound

As one of, if not the largest dog breed, you might want to know about some of the "famous" Irish Wolfhounds:

  • Liam Hemsworth's dog Dora: Golden Doodle, an Irish wolfhound mix, was rescued by Liam in 2015 when she Only 6 months old.
  • John F. Kennedy: When John F. Kennedy was president, he had an Irish wolfhound named Wolfe. Wolfe was a gift from Irish priest Thomas Kennedy.

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Irish WolfHound FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Are Irish Wolfhounds Good Pets?

Yes, Irish Wolfhounds make great pets. They are calm and easygoing dogs that get along well with children.

Can Irish Wolfhounds Kill Wolves?

Yes, Irish wolfhounds can kill wolves. It's unlikely to happen today, but these dogs were trained to hunt wolfs in Ireland in the 15th century. By the end of the 1700's they had wiped out wolves in Ireland.

How much does it cost to own an Irish Wolfhound?

If you're buying an Irish Wolfhound from a breeder, expect to spend between $1,500 and $2,000. However, if you're looking for a show-quality dog, you can spend $3,000 or more.

In addition to breeder fees, there are some expenses you should be prepared for when adopting an Irish Wolfhound. Since these dogs are large, they need to eat more food than other dogs, which can be more expensive. They also need larger doses of medication and larger dog beds and other supplies if they get sick. Be prepared to pay more to care for an Irish wolfhound than a small dog. You need to spend at least $500 a year to care for your dog.

How Tall Are Irish Wolfhounds? Why are they so big?

The Irish Wolfhound is the tallest dog breed. Males are at least 32 inches tall, but most are closer to 36 inches tall, and females are at least 30 inches tall, but usually closer to 34 inches tall. They used to hunt wolves, so they needed the wolf's size to survive the hunt.

Are Irish Wolfhounds good with kids?

No, Irish wolfhounds don't bark very often. Despite their size, they don't make very good guard dogs because they are relatively quiet.

Do Irish wolfhounds bark a lot?

No, Irish wolfhounds don't bark very often. Despite their size, they don't make very good guard dogs because they are relatively quiet.

Yes, Irish wolfhounds are great for kids. They are gentle and calm, which makes them great family pets. However, you may want to consider waiting to adopt an Irish Wolfhound until your children are a little older. Due to their large size, these dogs may accidentally injure a baby or toddler.

How Long Do Irish Wolfhounds Live?

The average lifespan of an Irish Wolfhound is six to ten years. According to the Irish Wolfhound Club of Ireland, the longest-lived example of the breed is the Killykeen Kildevin. The dog lived to be 16.5 years old.

Are Irish Wolfhounds herbivores, carnivores, or omnivores?

Irish wolfhounds are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and other animals.

To which kingdom does the Irish wolfhound belong?

The Irish wolfhound belongs to the animal kingdom.

What category does the Irish Wolfhound belong to?

The Irish Wolfhound belongs to the class Mammalia.

To which phylum does the Irish Wolfhound belong?

The Irish wolfhound belongs to the phylum Chordate.

What family does the Irish Wolfhound belong to?

The Irish Wolfhound belongs to the canine family.

In what order do Irish wolfhounds belong?

Irish Wolfhounds belong to the order Carnivora.

What type of mulch do Irish wolfhounds have?

The Irish Wolfhound is covered in hair.

What genus does the Irish Wolfhound belong to?

The Irish Wolfhound belongs to the genus Canis.

What are some interesting facts about the Irish Wolfhound?

The Irish Wolfhound is gentle, patient and caring!

What is the scientific name of the Irish Wolfhound?

The scientific name of the Irish Wolfhound is Canis Lupus.

What's the Difference Between an Irish Wolfhound and a Great Dane?

The main differences between the Irish Wolfhound and the Great Dane are appearance, size, health risks, and temperament. Great Danes are generally larger in size, but Irish Wolfhounds are generally taller.

While the Irish Wolfhound originated in Ireland and the Great Dane in Germany, most experts agree that the Great Dane's lineage is a cross between the English Mastiff and the Irish Wolfhound.

What is the Difference Between a Wolf and an Irish Wolfhound?

Irish wolfhounds are larger than wolves, and they were originally bred to hunt this top predator. Also, wolves have a longer average lifespan compared to Irish wolfhounds.

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