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Irish Wolfhound

 

General Description:

An Irish Wolfhound must be “of great size and commanding appearance.  He has a large, muscular greyhound-like shape; he is the tallest of dogs not the heaviest.  His chest is deep his neck long and strong.  He is a superb athlete and an endurance runner.  He’s confident, gentle, and kind.

A Look Back

Irish Wolfhounds, according to legend and history, originated in those long ago days veiled in antiquity when balladeers and story tellers were the caretakers of history and the reporters of current events.  One of the earliest recorded references to Irish Wolfhounds is in Roman records dating to 391 A.D.  Often used as royal gifts they hunted with their masters, fought beside them in battle, guarded their castles, played with their children, and lay quietly by the fire as family friends.  They were fierce hunters of wolves and the oversized Irish elk; so good their prey disappeared from Ireland and the hounds fell upon hard times.  By the 19th Century there were few IWs left in Ireland.

In the 19th Century with few IWs left in Ireland Captain George A. Graham gathered those he could find and began a breeding program, working for 20 years to re-establish the Irish Wolfhound.

An Irish Wolfhound must be “of great size and commanding appearance.  He has a large, muscular greyhound-like shape; he is the tallest of dogs not the heaviest.  His chest is deep his neck long and strong.  He is a superb athlete and an endurance runner.  He’s confident, gentle, and kind. 

The Irish Wolfhound Today

Today’s IW is a “recovered” breed.  Opinions diverge on whether or not today’s IW is a replica of the ancient hound.  Today’s hound may be larger, hunts seldom, goes to war never and is owned not by royalty but by commoners.  But he still has that keen hunting instinct, guards his home and family, is a constant companion and friend, lies by the fire at night, and plays with the kids.  Being a family companion has replaced his original, primary function as a hunting hound, but he will still, untrained to do so, give chase to and bring down fleeing prey.
  • Intelligent, people lovers.  Easy to train and live with.  Their large size commands more room, more exercise, and a bigger car.
  • An old Irish proverb says it all:  “Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked.”

 

Size:

Females: The minimum height at the withers is 30 inches, and 105 pounds. Males: The minimum height at the withers is 32 inches, and 120 pounds These are the minimums stated in the Standard of Excellence. Today’s hounds typically EXCEED these minimums. It is not uncommon for a mature male to stand 36” at the withers and weigh 175 pounds.

 

Color:

Most common color is light to dark grey brindle but colors range from light cream to black. A white patch on the chest is common as well as white tips on the toes and a white tip on the tail. Spots on any other part of the body are not allowed.

 

Energy Level:

Moderate but consistent exercise (walking, running) is important.

 

Life expectancy:

Average is 6 for males 7 for females.

 

Children:

Very good with children. Their size may intimidate small children. Their enthusiastic, wagging tails can topple them.

 

Other animals:

Very kind to other dogs. Can be TRAINED to live peacefully with cats and other household pets.

 

Abilities:

Companionship. Hiking. Coursing competition. Some do enjoy obedience competition. They are not retrievers! And are uninterested in fetching anything.

 

Shedding/Grooming:

Lots of dog to shed. Rough textured double coat with the undercoat rolling out profusely in the spring and more moderately the rest of the year. A good combing/brushing several times a week is required.

 

Health:

In general a robust, healthy dog that grows fast and ages rapidly. The diseases of old age, cancer and heart disease, are the major causes of death. In addition Torsion/Bloat is a big health consideration in the breed.

 

Best with:

Someone who wants to share his/her home with a constant, loyal canine companion.

 

Not for:

Anyone who wants a “backyard” dog, a dog to “run free”, or who doesn’t have a fenced yard. Nor for anyone who lives in a wildlife area. The IW unfenced will chase and bring down any wildlife he encounters.

 

Pros:

Kindness, gentleness, amiability, and willingness to please and be trained.

 

Cons:

Short life span. Large size demands large fenced yard, larger car, larger space, and clean up and disposal of large deposits.

 

Further Information:

Irish Wolfhound of America
Irish Wolfhound Club of Puget Sound
Breed Details

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