Irish Wolfhound - Origin, Characteristics and Behavior

Irish wolfhound or Irish Greyhound: find out what this animal is like, its physical characteristics, character, behavior, etc. The Irish Wolfhound, also known as the...

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The Irish Wolfhound, also known as the Irish Greyhound, is one of Ireland's most beloved and cherished dog breeds. Its history is old and distant and we even found comments by Julius Caesar about it during the Gallic Wars. At the time, he was prized for his combat prowess and was known to attack the enemy with great ferocity.

Today, however, the Irish Greyhound stands out as one of the most docile and affectionate dogs around.For centuries, this breed of dog has defended the land and animals against predators, especially the wolf, and has therefore been recognized as a particularly courageous dog. Of a gentle character and very friendly, this dichotomy surprised those who enjoyed his company. In this PlanetAnimal breed sheet, you will find out all about the tallest dog in the world! Read on and discover all the characteristics of the Irish Wolfhound!


  • Europe
  • Ireland

FCI Nomenclature

  • Group X

Physical Characteristics

  • Rustic
  • Muscular
  • Lying


  • Giant


  • Over 80cm

Adult Weight

  • 45-100

Life expectancy

  • 8-10

Recommended physical activity

  • High


  • Balanced
  • Society
  • Very loyal
  • Smart
  • Active
  • Affectionate

Ideal for

  • Children
  • Apartment
  • House
  • Shepherd
  • The guard
  • Elderly people

Recommended climate

  • Temperate

Hair type

  • Long
  • Hard
  • Big

Origin of the Irish Greyhound

" The Irish Wolfhound is an ancient and legendary breed. These dogs are thought to be descended from the first Egyptian hounds, which came to Ireland via the Celts, who were interested in breeding large dogs. The existence of these dogs was already known in 391 AD, when the Roman consul Aurelius described the astonishment with which all of Rome looked at the seven animals that had arrived as gifts. In antiquity it was also known as cu. In ancient Rome it was called Cú Faoil, which means hunting dog in Gaelic."

Until the 17th century, Irish wolfhounds were highly prized dogs by European monarchs. Indeed, pairs of these dogs were offered as gifts and were used to protect the herds from wolves.However, by the end of the 17th century the breed had declined to such an extent that it was feared to be extinct, as populations of the large animals it hunted, such as the Irish eland and wolves themselves, had already too low. It was thanks to a British army captain named George A. Graham that the breed was able to rise from its ashes, because it was this man who saved it by crossing it with bulldogs and Scottish greyhounds. Thus, at the end of the 19th century, the Irish Greyhound became part of Irish culture and a symbol of it.

Although it is a very old breed, it was not officially recognized until 1879 by the Kennel Club and in 1955 by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI).

Characteristics of the Irish Greyhound

Given its dimensions, it is normal that when we talk about characteristics, the first thing that comes to mind is the size of the Irish Wolfhound.It is the largest dog in the world, yes! even comparing it with the colossal Great Dane, the Irish Wolfhound is bigger! However, it is important to note that the largest dog in the world to date, in terms of records, is a Great Dane. Specifically, the minimum height at the withers for a male Irish Wolfhound is 79 centimeters, with an average between 81 and 86 cm, and it is at least 71 cm for females. Of course, this large size comes with a weight of at least 54.5 kg for males and 40.5 kg for females.

This giant dog has a long, broad body, a slightly arched back and a long, slightly curved tail. The head of the Irish Greyhound is elongated, and the width of the skull is equal to the length of the muzzle, which has a pointed shape. Its ears are small and rose-shaped, like a greyhound. The eyes are dark and of medium size.

In general, it is very similar to the Scottish Greyhound, but the Irish is larger and more robust.

Irish Wolfhound colors

The Irish wolfhound's coat is harsh and strong, sinewy and long, especially in areas such as the underside of the jaw or around the eyes. A curious fact is that in its origins there were dogs with hard coats and others with smooth coats. However, probably due to the climate of Ireland, the rough coat has become predominant. As for the colors of the Irish Wolfhound, it can be gray, brindle, red black, pure white, fawn or any other color that appears in the deerhound.

Irish Wolfhound Puppy

As it is a giant breed, from the puppy stage we are dealing with a large specimen. An Irish wolfhound puppy around 3 months old can weigh around 15 kg.

Irish Greyhound Character

" Although due to their warlike and combative history, we may consider the Irish wolfhound to be a dangerous or hostile dog, it is quite the opposite.These dogs are extremely docile and very peaceful. In ancient times, they were attributed the following saying: lambs at home, lions on the hunt, which allows us to deduce that as a pet they are friendly and very loyal dogs, known as the gentle giants of the canine world."

These dogs adapt to almost any type of coexistence, whether with children, the elderly, other animals, other dogs, because their nobility of character is such that it has no not tend to look for problems with the people or animals around him. However, he is a protective dog who will do anything to protect his family. He is also an intelligent and somewhat reserved dog, especially with strangers, with whom he will never be aggressive. However, as we just said, their protective instincts can cause them to confront anyone they see as a threat.

Caring for an Irish Greyhound

To take good care of an Irish Greyhound, you will need to brush it frequently (at least twice a week). You only have to wash it when it gets really dirty. These dogs need at least one hour of physical exercise per day, at a high intensity. That doesn't mean they just have to go for long walks, far from it! Like any dog, he should go out at least three times a day, but at least one of the walks should be long and intense enough for the dog to exercise. This must be complemented by a balanced diet, which will cover their energy and nutritional needs.

As for space, it is recommended to adopt an Irish Wolfhound if you have quite a bit of space, such as if you have a country house or land where he can run around. Despite this, it is not a breed that should live isolated outdoors. His sociable and affectionate character requires a family that includes him in the family nucleus and allows him to go out and come in freely.

It should not be forgotten that the Irish Wolfhound was bred as a hunting and herding dog. He therefore needs physical stimulation, but also mental. Enrichment of the home environment is therefore equally important. It is therefore necessary to give him toys and devote time every day to play with him.

Irish Greyhound Education

Irish Greyhounds are a relatively easy breed to train as they are intelligent and respond wonderfully to positive training. Therefore, when training an Irish Greyhound, as with any other dog, it is essential to use positive reinforcement as the main tool and to avoid punishment, yelling and any form of violence.

Ideally, it is best to start training when the dog is still small, reinforcing accepted behaviors. You will have to start by teaching him to pee in a piece of newspaper until he can go out to relieve himself.

The socialization of the dog will be another fundamental and essential aspect, since it will allow him to learn how to behave correctly with all kinds of people (children, adults and the elderly), animals and environments. Likewise, we will introduce him to basic obedience commands, which are fundamental for good communication with guardians and appropriate behavior. Later, we can introduce him to higher education.

Irish Greyhound He alth

Unfortunately, the Irish Wolfhound is one of the dog breeds with the most he alth problems. Some of these are common to giant breeds, such as hip or elbow dysplasia. Likewise, they often show a tendency to develop bone cancer or osteosarcoma, hypersensitivity to anesthetics or drugs, hepatic bypass, or cardiac disorders such as heart failure due to dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the muscle heart becomes so thin that its ability to contract is impaired.

However, one of the most significant dangers for Irish Greyhounds, as is the case with giant or broad-chested and deep-chested dogs, is the dreaded gastric torsion, which results in the swelling of the stomach, which is distended due to excess air or gas, twists and prevents this gas from escaping, which affects blood circulation and can lead to the death of the animal in a short time . To avoid stomach twists, it is recommended to place food high up rather than at ground level, to avoid physical activity immediately after eating, or to give large amounts of food at one time. Acting quickly requires recognizing the symptoms, which include lethargy, distended abdomen, unsuccessful attempts to vomit, or restlessness. If we recognize them, we must go to the vet urgently to try to save our best friend.

Apart from these he alth conditions, we must ensure that our Irish wolfhound is vaccinated, dewormed regularly against internal and external parasites.You should also take him to the vet for 6 to 12 months for routine checks. With proper care, the life expectancy of the Irish Wolfhound is between 6 and 10 years.

Where to adopt an Irish Greyhound?

It is difficult to find Irish Greyhounds to adopt outside of Ireland. However, given their size, many people abandon them when they grow too large. This is why we recommend that you contact the nearest SPA to see if they have a specimen of this breed for adoption. Keep in mind that the important thing when adopting a dog is not that it meets a breed standard, but that its character, size, etc., fits our style. of life so that we can cover all his needs. Cross-breed dogs should therefore not be excluded.

Pictures of Irish wolfhound or Irish Greyhound

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