An Irish Wolfhound must be “of great size and commanding appearance.” He has a large, muscular greyhound-like shape, and he is the tallest of dogs, but not the heaviest. A superb athlete and an endurance runner, an old Irish proverb describes him perfectly: “Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked.” The breed’s recognized colors are gray, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn, and others.
One of the earliest recorded references to Irish Wolfhounds is in Roman records dating to 391 A.D. Often used as royal gifts, they hunted with their masters, fought beside them in battle, guarded their castles, played with their children, and lay quietly by the fire as family friends. They were fierce hunters of wolves and the oversized Irish elk, so good that their prey disappeared from Ireland and the hounds fell upon hard times. By the 19th Century, there were few IWs left in Ireland.
Although now primarily a family companion, the Irish Wolfhound will still instinctively give chase to fleeing prey. His large size commands more room, more exercise, and a bigger car. The breed’s harsh, natural coat requires regular brushing.
- Hound Group; AKC recognized in 1897.
- Ideal size ranges from 30 to 34 inches tall at the shoulder.
- Irish elk/wolf hunter, family companion.
- Apartments? Not so much.
- Low activity indoors.
- Moderate daily exercise.
- Regular brushing.
- Regular professional grooming recommended.
- Average shedding.