(aka: Cu Faoil)
The Irish Wolfhound is a giant of a dog, and stands at around 30-34 inches for females, and 32-36 inches for males. The weight of the Irish Wolfhound is around 105-125 pounds for females and around 120-155 pounds for males. The Irish Wolfhound has a harsh, rough coat. The coloring of the coat can vary and includes brindle, black, white, red, fawn, and gray.
Irish Wolfhound Temperament
One of the tallest and largest dog breeds in the world, the Irish Wolfhound has become known as the gentle giant. These dogs carry themselves with dignity, have an amiable and gentle disposition, and are always eager to please their owners. Although they do need plenty of space and attention, these dogs can make excellent family pets. The Irish Wolfhound is intelligent and a fairly quick learner, which can help to make training easier. These dogs can be very independent and, during the early years can also be destructive, making them best suited to owners with some experience of dog ownership. The Irish Wolfhound does need a fair amount of exercise, but whilst still growing care should be taken not to provide physical activity that may be too strenuous for him as he continues to grow. For older dogs daily walks and a safe, secured area in which to run will suffice.
The Irish Wolfhound is an easy going dog, and is friendly, sociable, and good with children - although do take care around smaller children because of his size. Although he may give chase with smaller animals that run, he tends to get along well with other animals in general. These dogs also tend to get along fine with strangers. The Irish Wolfhound is not an aggressive or suspicious dog, and this means that his skills as a watchdog do leave something to be desired, although his size along can serve as a deterrent. The gentle attitude of this breed means that early socialization is important to improve confidence and sociability. An affectionate and very loving breed, the Irish Wolfhound will make a good family pet for those with the space and the time to look after a large dog.
The grooming requirements for the Irish Wolfhound are moderate, and owners should brush and comb the coat of these dogs several times a week. The hair around the ears and eyes may need to be carefully trimmed occasionally. The Irish Wolfhound is a low to medium shedder, but with proper grooming shedding can be kept to a minimum, which can be helpful for those that suffer from allergies.
The history of the Irish Wolfhound began as early as the 1st century when the Celtics bred these dogs as war dogs and to guard their homes and protect their livestock. There were some reports of them being used for dog fights although this is surprising considering how affectionate and loving they are. With their speed and intelligence, they were successfully used to hung wolves and wild boars. They then were exported to other countries for this purpose. Today they are sometimes referred as the national dog breed of Ireland, although nothing has been done officially.
It was said that during wartime they were trained to take an armored knight off its horse. When they were only allowed to be owned by royalty (and banned by everyone else) in the 19th century, the breed became almost extinct. The Irish Wolfhound was then bred with the Deerhound, Great Dane and Borzoi, which brought the breed back, changed its initial appearance slightly. The dog was not always as big as it is today but became that way after it was bred with a Kerry Blue Terrier. They were not as mellow and affectionate as the modern day Irish Wolfhound. The motto of the breed is "Gentle when stroked. Fierce when provoked". Today they are one of the best-known Irish breed dogs. Everyone that owns an Irish Wolfhound loves them.
The Irish Wolfhound club was started in 1885 and the Kennel Club recognized the Irish Wolfhound as a breed in 1925.
Training for the Irish Wolfhound must begin when they are a puppy and before they are too large to handle. One of the first things they need to be taught is how to walk on a leash. It's extremely important that they not be allowed to pull. Remember, the size they will be as adults. If they pull as a puppy, they will continue to pull as an adult. Because of their loving affectionate nature, try to always use a loving and positive approach when training, as they will respond much better. When trainers say to use a firm hand, they don't mean harsh and physical, just firm so they know what is expected of them.
He will be very quick to catch on to what you want of him. They need to be given plenty of self-confidence so they grow up to be proud and friendly dogs, not shy or aggressive. It's also important that your Irish Wolfhound be properly socialized around other people and children so he comes to know that they are friends and not something to fear. They do have minds of their won and need to be shown from you what is acceptable and what is not.
As with exercise, there should not be too much training at one time when they are still growing so as to not over stress and damage their young bones, joints and ligaments. When you look at this big puppy, you will have a hard time remembering they are still a puppy, but they cannot be pushed too hard. Also, do not exercise for an hour before or for two hours after eating to avoid the Irish Wolfhound getting bloat, a condition that is quite common for the breed.
If you plan to show your Irish Wolfhound in the ring, you will need to train him all his basic commands such as sit, stay, come, down, in addition to teaching him to walk on the lead in his correct position. When you start off with him still as a puppy, just do a little exercise at a time. They love doing things with you and love pleasing you, so try to make this into a pleasant experience. You may also want to consider taking him to a professional trainer. It is important that you participate along with the trainer so he knows he must respond to you as well as the trainer.
There are a number of health problems to look out for with the Irish Wolfhound. This includes bloat, liver problems, heart problems, bone cancer, sensitivity to chemicals and drugs, vWD, OCD, PRA, HD, and cataracts. Whilst still growing the joints of the Irish Wolfhound can be susceptible to damage, which is why it is important not to provide exercise that it too strenuous. The life expectancy of the Irish Wolfhound, as with many other larger breeds, is relatively short at 6-8 years. The parents of the Irish Wolfhound puppy should have OFA and CERF certificates.