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Irish Wolfhound

One of the largest dogs in dog-dome, the Irish wolfhound, can reach the size of a small pony! This breed can be traced back to between 2500 B.C. and 1500 B.C. The wolfhound has been around a long, long time. It was brought to Ireland by the Celts, who used them as war dogs, their size enabling them to pull a man off his horse in battle. Their large size made them useful in hunting large prey as well.

Only kings were allowed to own them, but since there were 150 kingdoms in Ireland, there were a few of the dogs. By the 2nd century, Irish foot soldiers all had 2 wolfhounds that were reported to have killed more enemies than the Irish soldiers themselves.

Due to its’ huge size and power, and its legendary ability on the battlefield as well as its hunting ability, they were a much sought after dog. They were often given as gifts to nobles and kings. It is reported that the Prince John gave one to the King of Wales, who later unfortunately shot and killed it thinking it had killed his child, when in fact the dog had killed a wolf that had gotten into the room and killed the child. The Irish Wolfhounds had nearly died out as the people could not afford to feed such large dogs.

Major H.D. Richardson and Captain George A. Graham are credited with saving the breed by crossing the few remaining dogs with other large breeds like the Great Dane and the Deerhound. Finally they got a dog that was true to the original breed. In 1885 the Irish Wolfhound Club was formed, and in 1902 an Irish wolfhound was given to the Irish Guard as a mascot.

The Irish wolfhound of today is mostly a companion, a gentle giant; he is patient, sweet, loyal, affectionate, intelligent, reliable, dignified and willing. Not a guard dog by nature, he doesn’t have to be as his huge size is quite intimidating. The Irish wolfhound has made the transition from hunter-war dog to family pet quite well.

Height: 32+ in. males’ 30+ in. females

Weight: 120 + lbs male’s 105+ females

Size: very large

Lives: 7-9 years


  • Dominance is moderate
  • Average barker
  • Needs lots of exercise
  • Friendly temperament
  • Excellent with children
  • Recommended for novice owners
  • Adapts well to most climates
  • Average shedder
  • Relatively inactive indoors
  • Makes a wonderful family pet


  • Needs a lot of room
  • Can be clumsy
  • Requires a lot of exercise
  • Not for apartment living
  • Stripping and trimming required
  • Slow to mature (still a puppy at 2)

Irish Wofhound

Can be prone to: Bloating, cardiomyopathy, bone cancer, hip dysphasia and progressive retinal atrophy.


By: Linda Eastabrooks

Former AKC Breeder



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