Irish Wolfhound

AKC Hound Group


Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved

Photo Copyright © Cook PhoDOGraphy. All rights reserved

The Irish Wolfhound is an ancient breed, known in Ireland since before the Romans invaded. Many tales of these imposing dogs exist from 200 BC onwards. Used for battle, hunting, and guarding duties, the wolfhound gradually came to specialize in hunting wolves. After the wolf population was eliminated from the British Isles, wolfhound numbers decreased substantially. The Great Famine in the 1840s was also hard on this giant breed because people were unable to feed these huge dogs. In the late 1800s, Captain George A. Graham dedicated himself to restoring the breed to its ancient type. Generally a companion dog today, the Irish Wolfhound is also capable at lure coursing.


One of the largest dogs, the stately Irish Wolfhound can reach the size of a small pony. Standing on his hind legs, a large specimen can reach over 7-feet tall! He gives an appearance of both strength and grace. He has an arched loin and very deep chest. His neck is long and his tail hangs down with a slight curve. He has a rough wiry coat of gray, brindle, red, black and white, or fawn. The rose ears are carried back against the head except when the animal is excited, when they might prick up partway.

Key Facts

  • Height:  Over 32 in. (male); over 30 in. (female)
  • Size:  Very large
  • Weight:  Over 120 lbs. (male); over 105 lbs. (female)
  • Availability:  Might take some effort to find
  • Talents:  Hunting by sight and lure coursing


Beware of hip dysplasia. Prone to bloat. Puppies most be nourished carefully with a high quality diet for proper development. You must have a lot of room in your home, heart, yard, and car to successfully own this giant breed. Can be clumsy. Generally good with other pets, but might “course” a smaller dog in an open yard. Slow to mature, an Irish Wolfhound is still a puppy at age 2. This gentle giant lives an average of seven to nine years.


Gentle, patient, sweet, loyal, and affectionate. Generous, intelligent, and reliable. Dignified and willing. Not a guard dog by nature, he can serve as one simply because of his huge presence. Responds well to firm, but gentle training.


  • Children:  Excellent with children
  • Friendliness:  Fairly friendly with strangers
  • Trainability:  Slightly difficult to train
  • Independence:  Not particularly dependent or independent
  • Dominance:  Moderate
  • Other Pets:  Generally good with other pets
  • Combativeness:  Friendly with other dogs
  • Noise:  Average barker
  • Indoors:  Relatively inactive indoors
  • Owner:  Good for novice owners


  • Grooming:  Regular grooming needed
  • Trimming and Stripping:  Some trimming or stripping (little skill required)
  • Coat:  Medium coat
  • Shedding:  Average shedder
  • Exercise:  Needs moderate exercise
  • Jogging:  A poor jogging companion
  • Apartments:  Not recommended for apartments
  • Outdoor Space:  Best with a large yard
  • Climate:  Does well in most climates, but does not like heat
  • Longevity:  Short (under 10 years)

Useful Links

AKC® Irish Wolfhound Breed Standard

Irish Wolfhound Breed Club

Search for a Breeder

Rescue Organizations

Books about the Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound Gifts