The Irish Wolfhound is gentle, intelligent and friendly. Irish Wolfhounds are known as 'Gentle giants' and are extremely loyal, kind and slow to anger. They do not make good watchdogs or guard dogs. Irish Wolfhounds are unconditionally loyal to their owner and need to be a part of a family as they will pine if kept away in a kennel. These dogs get on well with children and other dogs, but need to be socialized early on with household pets to prevent difficulties. The Irish Wolfhound responds to gentle training and needs to be taught not to pull on the lead, while still young and small.
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Regular, thorough brushing and combing is needed to keep the Irish Wolfhound's coat in good condition. The coat will also need stripping (dead hairs plucked out) once or twice per year. This can be done by a professional groomer or the owner can learn to do it themselves.
Irish Wolfhounds adapt themselves to the family activities for some of their exercise needs, but they still need additional exercise and they adore being taken for long walks in the countryside.
This breed needs a considerable amount of food, considering its size. The Irish Wolfhound grows from about 750g (1.5 lb) from bith to about 45kg (100 lb) in its first six months, therefore plenty of food, calcium and vitamins are essential for a healthy development.
The Irish Wolfhound is the largest breed in the Sighthound family and also one of the oldest. It is believed that they were brought from Asia to Greece in 273 BC and were highly valued for working in areas where wolves were a problem. In 391 AD, some of these dogs were sent to Rome and later found their way to Ireland with traders. By the 4th century AD this breed became established in Ireland. However as the number of wolves decreased so did the popularity of these dogs, that they almost became extinct. In the 19th century with the help of cross-breeding possibly from the Great Dane and Deerhound, the Irish Wolfhound was resuscitated.
General Appearance: Very tall, muscular and gracefully built.
Color: Brindle, grey, wheaten, red, fawn, black or white.
Coat: Rough and harsh with bushy eyebrows and a beard.
Tail: Long, moderately thick, slightly curved and carried low.
Ears: Small and rose-shaped.
Body: The shoulders are muscular and oblique. The chest is very deep and wide with a long back. The loin is arched and the belly is tucked up.
- One of the tallest Irish Wolfhounds is recorded to have been 99cm (39.5 inches).
- Careful nutrition and monitored exercise is important for Irish Wolfhounds while they are young and rapidly growing. They continue to grow for up to two years.
- Irish Wolfhounds are prone to bloat (built up gas in the stomach) and their diet must be monitored to prevent it.