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What is an Irish Wolfhound?

By J.L. Drede
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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The Irish wolfhound is a breed of dog from the greyhound family that known for its very large size. The breed is very old, with records of the hound dating back to the fourth century. Its name comes from the fact that it was used in wolf hunting, not because it resembles a wolf. In addition to its skill as a hunting dog, it was also frequently used as a castle guard and was even taken to fight in battle alongside its owner throughout history.

On average, Irish wolfhounds are the tallest breed of dog, some are comparable in size to a small pony. They are usually around 32 to 34 inches (81 to 86 cm) in height and weigh around 120 pounds (54 kg). If an Irish wolfhound were to stand just on its hind legs, it would be more than 7 feet tall (2.1 m). It has a very rough coat that is usually white, black or gray, and underneath its coat is a very muscular body. Between its size and muscle mass, the Irish wolfhound is both exceptionally strong and fast.

Larger types of dogs such as the Irish wolfhound are not suitable pets for people who live in apartments or small houses. According to dog breeders, a large yard is an absolute necessity for a dog of its size. Since the wolfhound is a sighthound, it likes to pursue and chase animals outdoors, making the need for a large property and yard even more important.

Since most kennels are far too small for an Irish wolfhound, they should not be kept in them unless necessary. Trying to put one in a compact car would probably be difficult as well. In addition to the space requirements, keeping an Irish wolfhound is more expensive than keeping a smaller dog. It needs more food, and the food it eats should be of a higher-quality than typical dog food.

If a person has the space and means to keep an Irish wolfhound, it is generally regarded as being a great pet. The temperament of the breed is very mild, and it typically gets along with most people and even other animals, including cats. As long as it is trained early, and considering its size most dog experts recommend this, it is a very agreeable dog that follows commands easily. With its size comes a lack in coordination while it grows though, so patience is advised.

While the breed is unique and most consider it great for those with plenty of land and space, Irish wolfhounds are more prone to disease than many other breeds. Bone cancer and hip dysplasia are common ailments for the dog, and its life expectancy is lower than most breeds. Under ideal conditions an Irish wolfhound's life expectancy is only about six to eight years at the most.

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