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Irish Wolfhound Facts

Origin: Ireland
Lifespan: 6-8 years
Breed Group: Hound
Coat Type: Rough and wiry
Coat Colours: Gray, brindle, red, black, pure white
Temperament: Gentle, Friendly, Dignified
Height: 81-86 cm (32-34 inches)
Weight: 54-82 kg (120-180 lbs)

Introduction

Irish Wolfhound for Sale Ireland

The Irish Wolfhound, a dignified and graceful member of the Hound Dog category, is a legendary breed known for its colossal size and majestic presence. Towering above all other dog breeds, this large, rough-coated hound was originally bred for wolf hunting, showcasing a blend of power, swiftness, and keen eyesight. However, behind its formidable name lies a gentle giant with a calm and dignified temperament.

This breed, while easygoing and affectionate, requires a family that can provide ample space and understand their relatively short lifespan. Along with its extraordinary height comes the need for careful consideration of costs, from food to veterinary care. The Irish Wolfhound’s towering stature also necessitates a spacious home and a comfortable bed to accommodate their heavy, bony frame.

A breed deeply intertwined with the rich heritage of Ireland, the Irish Wolfhound’s history of wolf hunting has instilled them with confidence, speed, and strength, making them a remarkable and distinctive addition to any household.

If you’re considering adding one of these gentle giants to your family or simply want to learn more about them, you’ve come to the right place. On our website dedicated to dogs in Ireland, you’ll find valuable information about Irish Wolfhounds and even discover opportunities to bring one into your life.

A Brief History

Origins

The Irish Wolfhound is a breed of dog that embodies the spirit and history of Ireland. Its roots trace back to ancient times, when these dogs were highly esteemed by Celtic warriors and nobility. Initially known as Cu, these dogs were used for hunting wolves, bears, and large game in the harsh Irish landscapes.

It boasts a heritage that spans millennia, with some historical accounts suggesting its presence in Ireland as far back as 7000 BC. These magnificent dogs are believed to have evolved from war hounds bred by the Celts, initially used to unseat knights in armour during battle.

In the days of Julius Caesar, these fearless canines were not mere companions but formidable fighters, pitted against lions and bears in combat. In Ireland, they found their true calling as expert wolf hunters, earning them the Gaelic name “Cú Faoil.” The word “Cu” signifies bravery, and it was an honour bestowed upon kings and warriors to be associated with these powerful and loyal dogs.

Nobility’s Companions

Irish chieftains and nobility held the Irish Wolfhound in high regard, valuing their imposing presence and bravery in hunting elk and wolves. During the late 1800s, these cherished dogs were often presented as gifts to visiting monarchs and dignitaries, a practice that, coupled with the Irish famine and declining wolf population, contributed to the breed’s near-extinction.

In 1902, the Irish Wolfhound was first adopted as the mascot of the Irish Guards regiment by the Irish Wolfhound Club. Over half a century later, in 1961, this noble breed earned the prestigious status of an official Army mascot, receiving care from the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, including food and shelter provided by the public. The regiment’s initial mascot, “Brian Boru,” was named after an Irish King, and today, a drummer and their family take on the responsibility of caring for the regiment’s cherished mascot.

Rescued from Extinction

Historians credit Captain G.A. Graham and R.D. Richardson for rescuing the Irish Wolfhound from the brink of extinction. They painstakingly reconstructed the breed’s lineage by crossing the last remaining Irish dogs with several other breeds, including the Scottish Deerhound, Tibetan Wolf Dog, Great Dane, and Borzoi.

Recognition

The Irish Wolfhound gained recognition from the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1897 and the United Kennel Club (UKC) in 1921. Despite their imposing size and historical warlike heritage, these dogs have earned a reputation for their easygoing and reliable nature, characterized by patience and unwavering loyalty.

Irish Legends

Irish folklore is replete with stories of the bravery and loyalty of the Irish Wolfhound. One famous tale tells of the great hound of Cuchulainn, an epic hero of Irish mythology. These dogs were not just hunters but also companions and symbols of prestige.

Modern Revival

Sadly, as wolves disappeared from Ireland in the 18th century, so did the Irish Wolfhound. However, dedicated breeders in the 19th century worked tirelessly to resurrect this remarkable breed. Today, they continue to be cherished not only for their historical significance but also for their gentle and loving nature.

Irish Wolfhound: Did You Know?

  • Historic Name: The breed’s name, “Irish Wolfhound,” reflects its original purpose: hunting wolves in Ireland.
  • Gaelic Alias: In Ireland, it’s known as “Cú Faoil” and also goes by “Big Dog of Ireland,” “Great Hound of Ireland,” or “Greyhound of Ireland.”
  • Poetic Tribute: English poet William Robert Spencer immortalized the Irish Wolfhound in a poem during his lifetime (1769-1834).
  • Regimental Mascot: The Irish Guards regiment proudly leads their parades with an Irish Wolfhound canine mascot, a unique honour.
  • WWI Icon: These courageous and loyal dogs featured in WWI Irish recruitment posters, symbolised bravery.
  • Giant Stature: Irish Wolfhounds can reach astonishing heights of up to 7 feet (2.13 meters) when standing on their hind legs.
  • Genetic Concern: The breed faces a potential threat due to a “genetic bottleneck” caused by overusing a popular breeding sire.

Irish Wolfhound Puppies

If you want to add an Irish Wolfhound to your family, you’re in for a delightful experience. These puppies are not only adorable but also incredibly affectionate. To find the perfect puppy, check our Irish Wolfhounds for Sale section below for listings from reputable breeders across Ireland.

Irish Wolfhound puppies require careful attention due to their rapid growth. It’s essential to provide them with a balanced diet and regular exercise while also being mindful of their size and potential for joint issues. Irish counties like Cork and Kerry, with their vast open spaces, offer the ideal environment for these gentle giants to thrive.

Size and Weight

One of the most striking features of the Irish Wolfhound is its colossal size. On average, these dogs stand between 30 to 35 inches (76 to 89 cm) at the shoulder for males, while females measure slightly smaller. In terms of weight, males typically weigh between 140 to 180 pounds (63 to 82 kg), while females range from 115 to 140 pounds (52 to 64 kg).

The Irish Wolfhound holds the title for the world’s tallest dog breed. Their immense height and robust build are a testament to their historical role as hunting dogs capable of taking down large game.

Coat & Colours

Coat Characteristics

Irish Wolfhounds boast a rough, shaggy coat that provides insulation against the Irish climate. Their coat can come in various shades, with brindle, grey, red, black, white, and fawn being the most common colours. The brindle pattern is often highly prized for its striking appearance.

Colours

The Irish Wolfhound exhibits a captivating array of colour variations, contributing to the breed’s allure and diversity. Below are some common colour variations you might encounter in Irish Wolfhounds.

Gray

The most recognised and traditional colour for Irish Wolfhounds is shades of grey. These hues can span from a gentle, light grey to darker tones, often adorned with subtle variations and streaks of different shades within the coat.

Brindle

Brindle denotes a pattern of dark stripes set against a lighter background. Irish Wolfhounds can showcase brindle coats, typically featuring a base colour of fawn or grey with darker stripes or streaks meandering through the coat.

Red

Red Irish Wolfhounds boast a lustrous, warm reddish coat. The shade can range from a lighter reddish-brown to a deeper, mahogany tone, frequently accentuated by highlights or variations in colouration.

Black

While less common, some Irish Wolfhounds may sport striking black coats. The black colouration can vary from a solid, all-encompassing black to black coats adorned with small patches or markings of other colours, such as white patches on the chest or paws.

White

Although genuinely white Irish Wolfhounds are a rarity, certain individuals may possess predominantly white coats. These dogs often exhibit patches or markings of other colours, including shades of grey, fawn, or brindle. Importantly, it’s worth noting that coat colour variations are welcomed and celebrated as long as they adhere to the breed standards established by kennel clubs and breed organisations.

Adapting to Irish Weather

The Irish Wolfhound’s thick coat and robust build make them well-suited to the often wet and chilly Irish weather. They have historically roamed the rugged landscapes of counties like Connemara and Donegal, where their dense coats served as a natural shield against the elements.

Temperament

Gentle Giants

Irish Wolfhounds are known for their gentle and affectionate nature. Despite their imposing size, they are remarkably friendly and sociable dogs. They are excellent with children and tend to get along well with other animals, making them a fantastic addition to any family in Ireland.

Loyal and Devoted

These dogs are exceptionally loyal to their owners, often forming deep bonds with their human companions. Their friendly demeanor and protective instincts make them excellent watchdogs, despite their friendly disposition.

Calm and Easygoing

Despite their history as hunters, Irish Wolfhounds are relatively calm and easygoing dogs. They are content to laze around the house but also enjoy a good romp in the yard. Their temperament makes them a perfect match for the laid-back atmosphere of rural Irish counties like Wexford and Waterford.

Pros of Irish Wolfhound Ownership

  • Loyal and Protective: Irish Wolfhounds are known for their unwavering loyalty and protective instincts, making them great companions.
  • Intelligent and Loving: These dogs are not just loyal but also intelligent and loving, forming strong bonds with their families.
  • Easygoing and Reliable: Their easygoing and reliable nature make them a pleasure to have as a part of your family.
  • Friendly with Socialization: When properly socialized, Irish Wolfhounds tend to be friendly and sensible with strangers.
  • Good with Children: They are generally good with children and all family members, making them excellent family pets.
  • Requires Experience: While a wonderful breed, they are typically not recommended for first-time dog guardians.

Cons of Irish Wolfhound Ownership

  • Price and Short Lifespan: Owning an Irish Wolfhound can be costly, and they have a relatively short lifespan.
  • Exuberant Jumping: In their early years, they may exhibit exuberant jumping behaviour.
  • Gassiness and Weight: These dogs can be gassy, and their heavy weight might lead to sitting or leaning on you.
  • Space Requirements: They are moderately active and require ample space both in your home and vehicle.
  • Shedding and Allergies: Their shedding may not be suitable for allergy sufferers.
  • Socialization Matters: Without proper socialization, they may become distrustful of strangers and exhibit aggression towards other animals.
  • Chasing Instincts: Irish Wolfhounds have strong chasing instincts.
  • Destructive Behavior: When left alone, they may engage in destructive behaviour.
  • Experienced Guardians: This breed is best suited for experienced guardians who can provide proper training and socialization.

Irish Wolfhound for Sale Ireland

If you’ve been captivated by the charm and history of the Irish Wolfhound and are considering bringing one into your life, explore our classified ads for listings of Irish Wolfhounds for sale across Ireland. From Dublin to Galway, you’ll find breeders and sellers who are passionate about these magnificent dogs, and eager to help you embark on your journey with this iconic Irish breed.

Living with an Irish Wolfhound in Ireland

Spacious Homes Preferred

The towering and greyhound-like Irish Wolfhound thrives in larger living spaces and isn’t particularly suited to apartments. Ideally, these majestic dogs find their best fit in spacious suburban or rural homes, especially those with extensive, securely fenced backyards or access to ample property.

Room to Roam

In Ireland, where wide-open countryside and green landscapes abound, the Irish Wolfhound’s need for space aligns perfectly with the environment. A substantial yard or access to sprawling fields allows them to stretch their long limbs and indulge in their natural instinct to run.

Companionship Matters

Irish Wolfhounds are deeply social creatures and crave companionship. In Irish counties like Cork and Galway, where the countryside offers plenty of room to roam, these dogs can thrive with the company of their human family members. Regular exercise, including daily on-leash walks or jogs, helps keep them mentally and physically engaged.

Boredom Can Be Troublesome

Without a hunting job, these intelligent dogs may grow bored and exhibit destructive behaviour if cooped up indoors. In the scenic landscapes of County Kerry or County Clare, providing them with mental stimulation and physical activity is essential for their well-being.

Exercise Is Key

A fully grown Irish Wolfhound in Ireland should have the opportunity to burn off their daily energy. In counties like Donegal or Wexford, taking them for at least three substantial walks of 30 minutes to an hour each day ensures they remain content and prevent destructive tendencies. Leaving them alone for extended periods without mental and physical engagement could lead to restlessness, excessive noise, or escape attempts—a fate no Irish Wolfhound deserves.