5 Things to Know About Irish Wolfhounds

Irish Wolfhounds are affectionate companions who love children.

Irish Wolfhounds

AKC Group AKC Group
Weight Weight
105–120 lbs.
Height Height
30–35 in.
Life Expectancy Life Span
6–10 years

1. Key Characteristics of Irish Wolfhounds

The Irish Wolfhound is a giant sight hound and the tallest of all dog breeds.

These dogs have long heads and small ears, similar to the ears of a Greyhound. The neck is long and arched, and the tail is long, hangs down and is slightly curved. The feet are large and round with arched toes.

The coat is rough and wiry and typically longer over the eyes and under the jaw.

There are 13 coat colors of Irish Wolfhounds, including gray, brindle, red, black, white and fawn.

2. Where Irish Wolfhounds Came From

Irish Wolfhounds may have been around since 273 B.C.

The dogs were treasured for their abilities in hunting wolves and huge Irish elk. Because wolf and elk numbers dwindled over the later centuries, the breed was in danger of going extinct at one point.

An Irish Wolfhound breeding program was started in 1862 by Captain George A. Graham, and a breed standard was written 23 years later.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in 1897, and the Irish Wolfhound Club of America was formed in 1926.

Irish Wolfhounds
Irish Wolfhounds are the tallest dog breed. Photos: peggycadigan (Top: Mikkel Bigandt)

3. How Friendly Are Irish Wolfhounds?

The breed is sweet, eager to please, loyal and intelligent.

They are patient and caring with children and typically get along well with cats and dogs, although they may chase smaller, fleeing animals.

Irish Wolfhounds are easy to train and do best with positive reinforcement, but in their first year they can be clumsy and slow to mature.

They do not endure kenneling or confinement well if left for a long time.

The Irish Wolfhound is not a guarding breed. Although they look intimidating because of their size, they are not aggressive or protective by nature. Most often they are friendly with everyone they meet.

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4. Is This the Right Dog for You?

Exercise Needs


MEDIUM: As a giant dog breed, Irish Wolfhounds grow quickly. Avoid strenuous or extended exercise for the first year to protect your Irish Wolfhound’s physical development.

The breed is inactive indoors and does well with a large yard. They are not ideal for apartments because of their large size.

When outdoors with an Irish Wolfhound, remember that they are sight hounds and likely chase small animals that move quickly or appear to be fleeing. So exercise yours in fenced or secured areas.

Grooming Needs


MEDIUM: Grooming an Irish Wolfhound can be easy when you do it regularly. Brush yours a few times each week and bathe only occasionally. Shedding is average.

Wax and debris build up easily in the ears, so check the ears and clean them regularly.

The nails are prone to splitting and cracking if not maintained, so be sure to trim them every few weeks. Teeth brushing is also recommended, as it is with every breed.

Health Problems


MEDIUM: Some health issues are common to the Irish Wolfhound.

Here are some common health issues:

Check out the sheer magnitude of the Irish Wolfhound:

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5. Where to Adopt an Irish Wolfhound

You can sometimes find Irish Wolfhounds in shelters and rescues, so check there first.

If you contact a breeder, make sure the dogs and puppies are well cared for and show no signs of mistreatment.

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