Guide to Dog Breeds
(See Full List)

Irish Wolfhound

(AKC Hound Group)

Irish Wolfhound

Height: Over 32 in. (male); over 30 in. (female).

Size: Very large.

Weight: Over 120 lbs. (male); over 105 lbs. (female).

Availability: May take some effort to find.


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 or white or fawn. The rose ears are carried back against the head except when the animal is excited, when they may prick up partway.


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 since 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.


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 7 to 9 years.


Hunting by sight, and lure coursing.


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 and Physical Needs:

Grooming: Regular grooming needed.
Trimming & 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).