The Irish Wolfhound, also called Irish Wolfhound, is one of the largest dog breeds in the world. In terms of size, the gentle giants are surpassed only by the Great Dane. Although the name suggests it, the Wolfhound is not more closely related to the wolf than other dog breeds.
The Irish Wolfhound is an independent dog breed recognized by the FCI Federation. They belong to the FCI group 10 section 2, the rough-coated sighthounds.
The coat of the Wolfhound is slightly longer, rough and hard. The coat color can be black, white, gray, red, fawn or brindle. According to the breed standard, the same colors are allowed for the Irish Wolfhound as for the Deerhound.
As befits a greyhound, Irish Wolfhounds have slender but very firm, well-developed muscles. They appear nevertheless very dainty for their body size. Females reach a shoulder height of at least 71 cm with males it is more than 79 cm. They reach a weight of about 40 to 55 kg.
Despite its imposing size, the Irish Wolfhound is a very gentle and calm character. He is a very relaxed and calm dog and can hardly be ruffled. Therefore, he is also very suitable for families with children.
However, the Irish Wolfhound can get uncomfortable when they have to. They are known for their loyalty and courage. These purebred dogs are very alert and will not leave their owner's side. In case of emergency, they would defend their humans. They are basically not aggressive at all, but they can judge a dangerous situation well.
The Irish Wolfhound was used in Ireland for hunting wolves. Later it was also used for bear hunting. Therefore, they have a lot of strength, energy and a well-developed hunting instinct. They need a lot of exercise every day. It is best to give him the opportunity for some short sprints as well.
For a greyhound, running is a real basic need to keep him sufficiently busy. For agility and dog sports, where many jumps are necessary, he is not suitable. Due to the size and weight, his joints would be too much stressed and wear out quickly. The Irish Wolfhound is very frugal and adaptable.
In principle, he could therefore also be kept in the city. Provided he gets the opportunity to let off steam in a suitable place. For the apartment he is only conditionally suitable, because the large animals need a lot of space. So if he should live in an apartment, then it would have to be sufficiently large. A garden is a plus for keeping Irish Wolfhounds, but it does not replace extensive walking and running.
With conspecifics, the Irish Wolfhound usually gets along very well. Due to its calm and good-natured nature, it rarely comes to disputes with other dogs. Nevertheless, because of the size and the pronounced hunting instinct, he should be socialized early and accustomed to conspecifics and other animals. This way you can avoid negative experiences in everyday life.
Also the education must be consistent with a dog of this size. As an owner, however, you must never be overly strict or harsh. Wolfhounds are sensitive and at the same time very stubborn. The implementation of commands can take a little longer, because he must first carefully check their meaning and weigh. Here a lot of patience is required from the owner. However, once the Wolfhound has established trust and a firm bond, his loyalty is hard to beat.
The right food
There are a few things to consider when it comes to nutrition. Since the Irish Wolfhound is very large, it requires significantly more food than smaller breeds. But not only the quantity is important. Especially in the puppy age should not be spared on the diet. The small wolfhounds grow very quickly and need the necessary nutrients for it.
The food should not be filled with excessive empty energy, as this can negatively affect the weight and growth of the dogs. If they become too heavy before their bones and joints are stable enough, it can lead to serious diseases and deformities later on. For young dogs, you should choose a puppy food specifically for very large breeds if you want to use ready-made food. It takes up to 2 years for an Irish Wolfhound to become fully grown.
Another important point in the diet of Irish Wolfhounds is the ratio of calcium to phosphorus. Too much phosphorus in the feed inhibits the absorption of calcium. This leads to bone loss. In breeds as heavy and large as the Irish Wolfhound, this can be dangerous. Ideally, the ratio of calcium and phosphorus should be balanced. Because phosphorus is also important for the body.
Irish Wolfhound Care
The Irish Wolfhound is quite a low-maintenance and frugal dog. The long coat should be brushed thoroughly about once or twice a week. As with other dogs, you should regularly check the eyes, ears and teeth. You can carefully wipe the eyes and ears with a soft cloth if they are dirty.
Heat accumulates in the drooping ears of wolfhounds, which are usually angled slightly backwards. This creates more sebum and dirt is deposited in the auricles and in the entrance area of the ear canal. So that it does not come to ear infections, you should pay attention therefore regularly to the cleanliness of the ears. However, you must not go too deep into the ear, otherwise you risk injuries to the ear and the eardrum.
After walking, especially if you have walked through tall grass or across fields, you should thoroughly check the coat for ticks. The long coat of the Wolfhound offers many hiding places for the unwelcome parasites.
Large breeds of dogs, such as the Irish Wolfhound, should not climb stairs if possible. Ideally, he should live at ground level or there should be an elevator. Otherwise, you will have to carry him up and down the stairs, but this can be problematic with an adult Wolfhound. Climbing stairs is problematic because it strains the joints and can promote ailments such as hip dysplasia and osteoarthritis.
The rest periods should be urgently observed with an Irish Wolfhound. Especially young dogs are sometimes very high-spirited and overestimate their strength. Since the bones and joints, but are not yet so stable, the young dog must be protected from overload.
The Wolfhound has a very calm and almost stoic nature. Therefore, owners often notice late that something is wrong. Because the dogs usually endure any pain without letting on anything. They keep this up until it is almost too late. That is why it is so important for owners of Irish Wolfhounds to observe their dogs closely. Any change in weight, behavior or movement could be an indication that something is wrong.
For the care of the long and wiry coat of the Wolfhound it is recommended to use an appropriate brush for long-haired dogs. Also well suited are de-felting combs, as they loosen the small nodules from the fur long. A matted coat prevents the skin from breathing and is a breeding ground for germs and parasites.
Because of its size, a raised food bowl can be a wise purchase. If the food bowl is on the floor, the large dogs have to bend down very far to reach their food. If you pick up your wolfhound as a puppy, a height-adjustable bowl is a good choice. You can adjust it to the size of your growing wolfhound.
Wolfhounds are not overly playful and as greyhounds they are not very fixated on food. Nevertheless, they are also happy about a ball they can chase after or a snack as a reward. A Ball throwing machine for dogs would be a great idea for you with a garden.
Origin & History
The Irish Wolfhound is a very old breed of dog. Little is known about its exact origins. Traditions suggest that the breed may have existed for over 7000 years. Already in ancient Egypt, people are said to have kept very large greyhound-like dogs.
These, it is believed, were brought to Ireland by the Celts 3000 years before Christ. During excavations, archaeologists found the remains of very large greyhounds in the region around England, Wales and Ireland. They may have been Irish Wolfhounds, or at least one of its ancestors. The bone finds indicate that the animals had a shoulder height of 71 cm or higher.
In ancient times and in the Middle Ages, only nobles were allowed to keep the Irish Wolfhound. He was thus a real status symbol. But due to its size, strength and pronounced courage, the dogs were more than that for their owners. Often the Irish Wolfhound was described like a loyal soldier or brave warrior. In many sagas and legends, the special character of the Irish Wolfhounds is particularly emphasized.
The Irish Wolfhound was an excellent hunting dog and very popular in those days. He was used for hunting big game, such as bears, wolves or even moose. However, when firearms were invented, the Irish Wolfhound increasingly lost its importance as a hunting dog.
The breed was kept less and less often, as it no longer served any purpose. The Irish Wolfhound was in danger of extinction. Around the middle of the 17th century, it was forbidden by law to export the Irish Wolfhound from Ireland, as there were hardly any dogs of this breed left.
Finally, in the middle of the 19th century, the breed began to be revived in Ireland. For this purpose, the last Wolfhounds were crossed with other breeds such as Deerhound, Great Dane and Borzoi. The result of these breeding attempts is the Irish Wolfhound, as it is officially recognized today. Compared to the original Wolfhound, today's one is slightly stronger and larger.