The largest of all dog breeds, the minimum height for an adult male Irish Wolfhound dog breed is 79cm and for the female 71cm. An average height is 81-86cm for the breed, with adult dogs weighing a minimum of 54.5kg and adult females 40.9kg. Although he's huge, he is graceful and athletic. The rough, medium-length coat comes in grey, brindle, red, black, white, fawn, wheaten and steel-grey.
The Irish Wolfhound dog is an ancient breed. Large wolf dogs are documented as being in Ireland more than 2,000 years ago. The dogs of kings and noblemen, the Irish Wolfhound has a long, fascinating history, being used as a dog of war (removing warriors from horseback and chariots) as well as a hunter of wolves. The last wolf was killed in Ireland in 1786 and the breed's popularity went into a period of decline, exacerbated by the Great Famine in the 1840s, but he was revived by dedicated enthusiasts.
Friendly and kind, the Irish Wolfhound dog is the gentle giant of the dog world – but pups and young adults are energetic and boisterous so may not be ideal for a family with young children. He gets on well with other dogs, but some can be intimidated by his size. The sheer enormity of his eventual size makes him unsuitable for many families, but for those who can accommodate his needs, he is a devoted companion.
With a shorter life span than most breeds the most serious health problems that the Irish Wolfhound is predisposed to are an aggressive type of bone cancer and heart disease. Recognised inherited disorders include liver and eye conditions, but due to routine screening and careful breeding programmes these are relatively rare.
He may be huge, but the Irish Wolfhound is active and surprisingly fast and agile. A fully-grown, healthy adult Irish Wolfhound needs at least two hours' daily exercise. Great care should be taken not to over-exercise immature dogs, however, to avoid skeletal problems.
Giant-breed dogs, as well as having giant appetites, benefit from a different balance of minerals and vitamins, supporting different joint and cartilage needs. The Irish Wolfhound is also prone to bloating and stomach problems; try feeding smaller, more frequent meals to help minimise the risk.
The Irish Wolfhound dog's rough, harsh coat is fairly low-maintenance, needing a brush through a couple of times a week.