Irish Wolfhound Dog Breed

About the Irish Wolfhound

The Irish Wolfhound, hailed as the “gentle giant” of the canine world, stands as a symbol of grace, power, and antiquity. Hailing from Ireland, where it was originally known as cú faoil, the breed is renowned for its immense size and gentle temperament as well as for its legendary history. The Wolfhound’s kind-hearted nature obscures its ancient use as a hunter of stag, boar, and wolf.

AKC Group

AKC Group

Hound

Dog Breed Height

Height

30 – 32 Inches

Dog Breed Weight

Weight

105 – 120 Pounds

Dog Breed Lifespan

Lifespan

6 – 8 Years

Highlights

Country of Origin Ireland
Bred For Large Game Hunting, Companionship
Known For Commanding Appearance, Gentleness, Great Size
Popularity Moderate
Temperament Dignified, Courageous, Calm
Activities Coursing, Running, Hiking, Conformation Shows, Dog Sports

History of the Irish Wolfhound

The Irish Wolfhound, often referred to as a gentle giant, boasts an ancient lineage that traces back thousands of years. The breed’s history is steeped in folklore and is as majestic and intriguing as the big dog itself.

Originating from Ireland, as its name suggests, the Irish Wolfhound was primarily used as a dog of war and as a hunting companion. Historical accounts, some dating as far back as Roman times, speak of the breed’s prowess at hunting large game, particularly wolves and elk. The dog’s size, strength, and speed made them formidable hunters, capable of taking down the most challenging prey. It has been said Wolfhound’s were so efficient in their task that they played a significant role in the extinction of the Irish elk and the wolves of Ireland.

Apart from hunting, Irish Wolfhounds also played a crucial role in battles and in wars. They were used to pull men off horses and chariots, displaying both courage and loyalty on the battlefield. Their intimidating presence made them invaluable assets in combat situations.

Over time, as wolves became scarce in Ireland, the need for the Wolfhound declined. By the 19th century, the breed was on the brink of extinction. However, dedicated breed enthusiasts, particularly Captain George Augustus Graham, took it upon themselves to preserve and revive the breed. Graham and others crossbred the remaining hounds with other large breeds, including the the Great Dane and Scottish Deerhound, ensuring the continuation of the breed’s lineage.

The Irish Wolfhound ultimately garnered official recognition from major kennel clubs around the world. The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed in the late 19th century, classifying it as a member of the Hound Group. Meanwhile, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) acknowledged the breed as part of its group of Sighthounds. The Royal Kennel Club in the UK has also been an advocate for the breed, upholding its Breed Standard and promoting its growth throughout the United Kingdom.

Today, the Irish Wolfhound stands not as a fierce hunter or warrior but as a beloved family companion and show dog. The breed’s noble history is a testament to its versatility, adaptability, and resilience.

General Appearance

Height & Weight

Adult male Irish Wolfhounds typically measure 32 inches or more at the withers, while mature females usually stand at a height that exceeds 30 inches.

In terms of weight, mature males generally weigh in excess of 120 pounds, whereas adult females typically weigh in at 105 pounds or more.

Proportion & Substance

The Irish Wolfhound is an imposing yet graceful sighthound, with a length that’s slightly longer than its height. The overall construction of the hound is one that combines power without compromising elegance. The breed’s substantial frame is well-muscled, ensuring strength as well as agility. A deep chest and long, strong limbs are a testament to the Wolfhound’s historic role as a hunter of formidable and fast-moving game.

Coat Texture, Colors & Markings

Texture: The coat of the Irish Wolfhound is rough and hard in texture, especially long and wiry over the eyes and under the jaw. It’s a medium-length coat that serves to protect the hound from adverse weather conditions and the rough terrain on which it has historically hunted. Wooly or silky coats are unacceptable as they do not provide adequate protection in all types of weather.

Irish Wolfhound Colors

Standard Color
Black ee
Brindle ee
Cream ee
Gray ee
Gray & Brindle ee
Red ee
Red & Brindle ee
Red Wheaten ee
Silver ee
Wheaten ee
Wheaten & Brindle ee
Blue ee
White ee

Irish Wolfhound Markings

Standard Marking
Black Markings ee
Gray Markings ee
WhiteMarkings ee

A Note About Color: The Irish Wolfhound hard and wiry coat comes in several recognized colors, including any color that appears in the Scottish Deerhound.

Head

  • Skull: Strong and slightly arched, the skull of the Irish Wolfhound is not too broad, tapering slightly. There is very little stop, giving the Wolfhound its typical sighthound appearance.
  • Expression: Reflective of its gentle nature, the Wolfhound has a soft and introspective expression. Its gaze is often calm and contemplative, resonating with the wisdom of the ages.
  • Eyes: The eyes of the Wolfhound are of medium size and can be dark in color or a shade that complements the color of the coat. They possess a keen yet serene look.
  • Ears: Positioned well above the level of the eyes, the ears are small and carried in a rose or semi-rose shape, like a Greyhound, when the dog is at rest. When alert or in attention, the ears stand semi-erect.