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Adopt an Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound Dog Breed

Picture: Kent and Donna Dannen


Sighthound, Southern (sighthound)

Area of origin:


Original function:

coursing wolves and elk

Average size of male:

Ht: >32, Wt: >120

Average size of female:

Ht: >30, Wt: >105

Other names:


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    Friendliness towards dogs

  • Friendliness towards other pets

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    Friendliness towards strangers

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    Ease of training

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    Watchdog ability

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    Protection ability

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    Cold tolerance

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    Heat tolerance

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See more adoptable Irish Wolfhound dogs available on Petfinder

Irish Wolfhound Dog Temperament

Aptly known as the gentle giant, the Irish Wolfhound is a soft-natured, easygoing breed. He is calm around the house, sensitive, patient, easygoing and sweet. Despite his great size, he is good with children, pets and other dogs. It can be reserved with strangers and courageous when the need arises.

Irish Wolfhound Dog Care

The Irish Wolfhound enjoys a long walk and a chance to stretch its legs, so he needs daily exercise. At home the Wolfhound needs ample room to stretch out on a soft surface and should not be required to live in cramped quarters. He can develop callouses if allowed to lie on hard surfaces too often. His coat needs to be brushed or combed once or twice weekly, plus occasional slight scissoring to neaten up straggly hairs. Dead hairs should be stripped twice a year.

Irish Wolfhound Dog Health

Major concerns: gastric torsion
Minor concerns: cardiomyopathy, OCD, osteosarcoma, CHD
Occasionally seen: none
Suggested tests: (hip), (heart)
Life span: 5-7 years
Note: sensitive to anesthesia; prone to tail-tip injuries

Interested in the history of the Irish Wolfhound dog breed?

Dogs of great size are believed to have come to Ireland from Greece by 1500 B.C. In Ireland they became even more imposing, and gifts of these great dogs were made to Rome. The first definite mention of the Irish Wolfhound occurred in Rome in A.D. 391. The breed gained fame for its imposing stature and ability in fighting wild animals in arena sports. He was so acclaimed in Ireland that he became the subject of many legends recounting his valor in battle and chase. All large hounds were once known as cu, a term implying bravery. The Irish name for the breed is Cu Faoil. Favored by Irish chieftains for the hunt, he gained his reputation as an unparalleled hunter of wolves and Irish elk. Illustrations of these dogs from the 17th century look very similar to modern Irish Wolfhounds. The impressive hounds (often seven at a time) were traditionally given to foreign nobility. This practice, along with the extinction of the wolf in Ireland in the 18th century, contributed to the decline of the breed's numbers. By the 19th century, Irish Wolfhounds were almost extinct in Ireland, and the famine of 1845 virtually decimated the breed. In 1869, Capt. G. A. Graham determined to resurrect the Irish Wolfhound, a task he set about by crossing the few existing Wolfhounds (in particular one named Bran, thought to be the last true wolfhound in Ireland) with such breeds as the Scottish Deerhound as well as the Great Dane, the Borzoi and even the Tibetan wolf dog. When first exhibited at a dog show in the 1870s, the reborn Wolfhound created a sensation (the same reaction it inspires to this day when first seen). Its commanding appearance draws many admirers, but its popularity is tempered by the practicalities of keeping such a large dog.

Copyright © 1998, 2005 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc. based on

Shelters with Irish Wolfhound Dogs

Some animal welfare organizations with Irish Wolfhounds ready for adoption:

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