Irish Wolfhound

Two Irish Wolfhounds.
Two Irish Wolfhounds. Photography by DragoNika / Shutterstock.

The Look of an Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhounds have large, muscular frames covered in thick, harsh coats that are slightly wiry over the eyes and under the chin. They usually come in white, black, gray, brindle or red. Wolfhounds have long heads, watchful eyes and small, folded ears. They have long, muscular necks, strong backs and long, thick tails covered in hair. Overall, Irish Wolfhounds have a rustic and swift look about them.


  • Gentle giant
  • Mellow
  • Intelligent
  • Eager to please
  • Gentlemanly
  • Youthful

Ideal Human Companion

  • Active, sporty types
  • Experienced dog handlers
  • Families with older children
  • Outdoorsy types

What They Are Like to Live With

Irish Wolfhounds may have been fierce hunters several centuries ago, but today they are perfectly content to lounge on a couch and be petted all day. Mellow and relaxed around the house, they can easily be rallied for a jog around the neighborhood.

Though Wolfhounds like to get cozy at home, they need some elbowroom and a decent-sized yard. They might feel confined in an apartment. Slightly reserved with strangers, Irish Wolfhounds might save their cuddles and games for close family members. In spite of their size and strength, they are not the best watchdogs.

Things You Should Know

Due to its size, the Irish Wolfhound has a relatively short lifespan. When healthy, it can live about 8 years. Common health issues include tumors, heart disease, hip dysplasia seizures and eye problems. Some dog experts recommend doggie health insurance for this breed. Also prone to bloat, Irish Wolfhounds should be fed smaller meals throughout the day.

Irish Wolfhounds need daily walks and room to run, but avoid pushing them too hard: They can develop joint problems.

Grooming an Irish Wolfhound is fairly easy, but it should be consistent. Brush its harsh coats every few days to keep it under control. Also, you might want to take your Irish Wolfhound to a professional for a bi-annual cleanup.

Irish Wolfhound History

The Irish Wolfhound was developed in Ireland to hunt wolves and giant elk. They did such a remarkable job that, after several hundred years, wolves became extinct in Ireland. Because their work was done, so to speak, and because increasing numbers of Irish Wolfhounds were exported to other countries, the breed reached extinction levels. In the mid-19th century, breeders began working to restore their numbers. Today, Irish Wolfhounds do very little wolf hunting. You’re more likely to find them curled up by the fire.

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