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Your Pet, Our Passion.

Irish Wolfhound

The tallest of all dog breeds, the Irish Wolfhound is also graceful and athletic. These dogs are true sweethearts and will get along with the entire family, provided there is enough space for their large stature.  

The need-to-know
  • Dogs suitable for experienced owners
  • Extra training required
  • Need to be aware of potential health issues
  • Enjoys active walks
  • Enjoys one to two hours of walking a day
  • Giant dog
  • Some drool
  • Requires grooming every other day
  • Quiet dog
  • Welcomes everyone happily
  • Generally friendly with other dogs
  • May need additional training to live with other pets
  • May need additional supervision to live with children
  • Needs a large garden
  • Can live in semi-rural areas
  • Can be left occasionally with training
This breed may encounter health problems

The Irish Wolfhound is predisposed to:
- Gastric dilatation volvulus 
- Osteosarcoma which is a serious type of bone cancer
- Dilated cardiomyopathy¹ which is a condition where the heart muscle becomes progressively weak and cannot beat properly
- Glaucoma which is a painful condition where the pressure in the eye builds up 
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy which is an inherited disorder where part of the eye degenerates and wastes away which can result in blindness
- Portosystemic shunts²

Priority Kennel Club health schemes and testing:
- Eye testing for pectinate ligament abnormality testing to look for signs that a dog is affected by glaucoma. 
- Eye screening scheme 

¹J. Dukes-McEwan, 'Proposed Guidelines for the Diagnosis of Canine Idiopathic Dilated Cardiomyopathy', Nov 2003, Journal of Veterinary Cardiology 
²K. M. Tobias, 'Association of breed with the diagnosis SMALL ANIMALS of congenital portosystemic shunts in dogs: 2,400 cases (1980–2002)', Dec 2003, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association

Key Facts

Lifespan: 6-8 years
Weight:  Adult dogs weight a minimum of 54.5kg and adult females 40.9kg.
Height:  The minimum height for an adult male Irish Wolfhound is 79cm and for the female 71cm. An average height is 81-86cm for the breed. 
Colours:  The rough, medium-length coat comes in grey, brindle, red, black, white, fawn, wheaten and steel-grey.
Size:  Giant
UK Kennel Club Groups: Hound


Family-friendly: 5/5
Exercise needs: 4/5
Easy to train: 3/5
Tolerates being alone: 2/5
Likes other pets: 5/5
Energy level: 2/5
Grooming needs: 3/5
Shedding: 3/5
Irish Wolfhound is standing near the forest


Friendly and kind, the Irish Wolfhound dog is the gentle giant of the dog world. However, pups and young adults are energetic and boisterous so they may not be ideal for a family with young children. Irish Wolfhounds usually get 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. 

Irish Wolfhound is standing on the grass in a warm spring day

History and Origins

Country of Origin - Ireland 

The Irish Wolfhound dog is an ancient breed related to the sighthounds brought to the UK 3000 years ago by Phoenician traders. Once in the UK, these dogs were crossed with Mastiffs to produce something that looked like a giant Greyhound.  

This mixture of breeds found its way to Ireland where it was probably crossed with the Irish Sheepdog to become the Irish Wolfhound. These dogs became almost legendary in Ireland for their abilities to defend sheep against wolf attacks - and indeed became so successful, the wolf population began to dwindle. The last wolf was killed in Ireland in 1786 and with no job to do, the breed’s popularity went into a period of decline and virtually died out until in the middle of the 19th century, Captain George Graham decided that such an iconic breed should be saved. He established a new breeding programme that included Scottish Deerhounds, Great Danes, Pyrenean Mountain Dogs, Russian Wolfhounds and the Tibetan Mastiffs. In reality rather than save the breed, he created a new one - but no one can argue that the result wasn’t impressive.