Irish Wolfhound Puppy Facts

Did you just bring home a new Irish Wolfhound puppy and want to learn more about the breed?

Maybe you are thinking about buying a puppy and want to know if this is the right breed of dog for you and your family?

No matter what your situation may be, you will find the answers to your questions right here!



Breed History

The breed, also known as the Irish Dog, Irish Greyhound, Big Dog of Ireland, Great Hound of Ireland, and Wolfdog of Ireland, originated more than 2,500 years ago. But while the breed is old, the current breed name originated in the modern times.

Actually, the breed could be much older than 2,500 years. There are numerous accounts of very large dogs that resembled the Irish Wolfhound that existed more than 5,000 years ago. Problem is, it's hard to distinguish fact from fiction.

More detailed accounts of the breed started appearing in Roman times. First, it's mentioned by Julius Caesar in his "Gallic Wars". Later, Quintus Aurelius, the Roman Consul, wrote about the seven dogs that he received as a gift. That was in 391 A.D. and is considered as the first authentic mention of the breed.

In addition to using them for hunting and war campaigns, Romans used the Irish Wolfhound to fight and die for the entertainment of the crowds in the Circus Maximus.

It's believed the breed migrated to the British Isles with retreating Celts.

Irish Wolfhounds were held in very high esteem and used as gifts to emperors and kings. It's said their chains and collars were often made out of precious metals. When disputes arose over them, full scale wars often occurred.

They were used for guard duty, military service, and hunting. In Ireland it was used to hunt wolf, wild boar, and the giant elk. Also, the breed name was derived not from the breed's appearance, but from the fact that it was used to hunt wolf.

After the disappearance of these animals from Ireland, the breed almost went extinct. It was resurrected through the hard work of Captain George A. Graham. In 1862 he gathered the remaining specimens and after 23 years, he not only saved the Irish Wolfhound from extinction, but set the first breed standard.

The breed was recognized by AKC in 1897.

Physical Characteristics of Irish Wolfhound Puppies

The Irish Wolfhound is the tallest (but not the heaviest) dog breed, even taller than the Great Dane! It has greyhound-like shape and combines great power, swiftness, and keen sight.

It has long and muscular body with strong shoulders, deep and wide chest, and long, strong-looking, and muscular legs. The feet are moderately large and round. The slightly curved tail is long and well-covered with hair.

The head is long but not too broad and the muzzle is long and moderately pointed. The neck is long, muscular, and arched. The ears are uncropped and small, and the eyes are dark.

The rough and shaggy-looking coat is especially wiry and long over eyes and underjaw. The coat comes in gray, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn or any other color that appears in the Deerhound.

The Irish Wolfhound doesn't reach its full height until around two years of age but as far as the weight goes... it grows from a little over one pound at birth to between 90 and 100 pounds at 10 months.

Needless to say, puppies have huge appetites! While an adult Irish Greyhound eats about as much as a German Shepherd, a puppy can eat twice as much.

    Height Weight
  Male 32 - 38 inches 120+ pounds
  Female 30 - 35 inches 105+ pounds


An old Irish proverb describes Irish Wolfhounds as "Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked". It may have been true when they were used to hunt and fight in wars but the most appropriate description for them today would be "Gentle Giants".

They are not only gentle but also intelligent, even-tempered, and patient. They are loyal and eager to please their owner and are good with children. When properly socialized, they will get along with other dogs but may still chase other small animals, including cats.

While it had been used for watch and guard duty in the past, the modern Irish Wolfhound is not suited for these activities. It's too friendly to everyone, including strangers. But they will fight when they perceive danger to themselves or their families.

The breed is easy to train but is sensitive and doesn't respond well to harsh treatment. Similar to other breeds, it responds best to gentle but firm handling. When properly handled, it's a fast learner.

It matures slowly, taking about two years until it reaches its adult height. But the weight gain is very rapid and until fully grown, an Irish Wolfhound puppy can be very clumsy.

Overall, while it's not for everyone, the Irish Woolfhound will make an excellent pet. Its only drawbacks are larger space requirements, large food bills, and, probably, the shortest life span of any dog breed (more on this a little later).

Best Owner / Living Conditions

The breed is relatively inactive indoors but because of its large size, it's not well-suited for an apartment lifestyle.

It will do best in a suburban environment with an owner living in a private house with a large fenced yard. It also requires a large car to move it around.

Being a loving and family oriented dog, it needs to be part of the family.

Some Irish Wolfhound breeders may interview prospective owners to make sure this is the right breed for them.

Activity and Exercise

The Irish Wolfhound is a moderately active breed. It requires daily exercise, but like other large breeds, its exercise requirements differ from those of smaller breeds.

Young puppies need to preserve as much energy as possible. For puppies under six months of age, the exercise should not consist of anything more than regular play. Anything more than that puts too much stress on their fast-growing bones.

After your puppy reaches six months, you can start taking him on short walks starting with few minutes per day and increasing gradually. If you have a fenced yard, you may also allow your puppy to play and run on his own.

Avoid long exercises until your puppy is at least one year old.

Adult dogs should be allowed to play and run on their own in addition to regular daily walks.


The Irish Wolfhound is an average shedder and sheds year-round. It requires regular brushing and combing to keep its rough and wiry coat in good condition.

To remove dead hair that didn't shed naturally, pluck the coat once or twice per year. The best time to do it is just before summer, after heavier shedding stops.

Because too frequent bathing will dry out the skin and coat, bathe only when needed. Between two and four times per year should be sufficient for this breed.

Health Concerns

Like all dog breeds, Irish Wolfhounds are susceptible to complications caused by internal and external parasites such as ticks, fleas, and worms.

Other health concerns include heart disease, hypothyroidism, bloat, and cancer (the most common cause of death). To prevent potentially deadly bloat, feed your pet several smaller meals per day instead of one large one.

For more information about dog diseases and health, visit dog health problems.

Buy only from reputable Irish Wolfhound breeders to reduce the risk of the above and many other health problems (visit dog breeders to learn how to identify responsible dog breeders).

No matter how small the risk of health problems is, any puppy may get sick or injured. Many health problems will require an immediate attention from your Vet, but there are many others that will not, and you may handle them on your own.

To save time and money, learn how to diagnose and treat dog health problems that don't require your Vet's attention.

Life Expectancy

This is a very short-lived breed -- the average life expectancy for Irish Wolfhound puppies is between 6 and 8 years.

Did you ever consider adopting your next pet?

If this is the breed you are interested in, and adoption appeals to you, consider contacting your local Irish Wolfhound rescue. There are thousands of pets waiting for a loving home and, yes, it's possible to adopt a purebred dog.

Puppy Training

Not happy with your pet's behavior? Need help with training your dog for obedience? Then check this Irish Wolfhound Behavior and Obedience Training Guide.

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