Irish Wolfhound Dog

The Irish wolfhound , also known as the Irish hound or Irish wolfhound , is one of Ireland’s most beloved and appreciated dog breeds. Its history is ancient and remote, since it was already mentioned by Julius Caesar in the comments on the Gallic War. At that time he was valued for his combat skills, being famous for the ferocity with which he attacked the enemy.

However, currently, the Irish Wolfhound stands out as one of the most docile and affectionate dogs. For centuries this dog breed has defended lands and animals from predators, especially wolves, which is why it has been recognized as an especially brave dog. With a gentle and very friendly character, this dichotomy has surprised those who have been able to enjoy his company. In this AnimalWised breed sheet you will discover the tallest dog in the world, so keep reading to learn all the characteristics of the Irish Wolfhound , its main care and much more.

Origin of the Irish Wolfhound

Ancient and with history, this is the Irish wolfhound breed. These dogs are believed to be descended from the first Egyptian sighthounds , which came to Ireland through the Celts, who became interested in breeding tall, large dogs. The existence of these dogs was already known in the year 391 AD, when the Roman consul Aurelius explained the amazement with which all of Rome viewed the seven animals that had arrived there as a gift. Formerly it was also known as “cu”, since in Ancient Rome it was baptized as ” Cú Faoil “, which in Gaelic means “hound”.

Until the 17th century, Irish sighthounds were dogs highly prized by European and other monarchs. In fact, pairs of these dogs were offered as gifts and were used to protect flocks from wolves. However, at the end of the 17th century the decline of the breed was so pronounced that there were fears of its disappearance , since the populations of the large animals it used to hunt, such as the Irish elk or the wolves themselves, had already decreased too much. It was thanks to a British Army captain named George A. Graham that the breed was able to rise from the ashes, since it was he who rescued it by crossing Irish sighthounds with bulldogs and Scottish sighthounds . Thus, at the end of the 19th century , the Irish wolfhound became part of Irish culture and became a symbol of it, as well as of the Celtic passage that so characterizes it.

Despite being a very old breed, it was not until 1879 that it was officially recognized by the Kennel Club and until 1955 by the International Cynological Federation (FCI).

Physical characteristics of the Irish wolfhound

Given its dimensions, it is normal that when talking about characteristics, the first thing that comes to mind is the size of the Irish Wolfhound. We are facing the tallest dog , because even competing with the colossal Great Dane , the Irish greyhound gains in height. However, it is important to highlight that the largest dog in the world to date, as a whole, is the Great Dane. Specifically, the minimum height at the withers for a male Irish wolfhound is 79 centimeters, with an average of between 81 and 86 cm , being at least 71 in the case of females. Of course, this great height is accompanied by a high weight, 54.5 kg in their case and 40.5 kg for women, all at least.

This great giant has a long body and broad chest, a slightly arched back and a long, slightly curved tail covered by a good layer of hair. The head of an Irish wolfhound is elongated, measuring the same width of the skull as the length of the snout, which has a pointed shape. The ears are small and shaped like a rose, just like a greyhound . The eyes are dark and medium in size.

In general, it is very similar to the Scottish deerhound, although the Irish deerhound is larger and more robust.

Irish Wolfhound Colors

The coat of an Irish greyhound is made of hard, strong , wire-like hair, especially in regions such as the lower part of the jaw or around the eyes. A curious fact is that during its origins there were specimens with hard hair and others with straight hair. However, probably due to the climate of Ireland, the hard hair ended up predominating, and that is why today this is the accepted coat of the breed. As for the colors of the Irish Deerhound, it can be grey, brindle, black red, pure white, fawn or any other color that appears in the deerhound.

Irish wolfhound puppy

Since it is a giant breed, already during the puppy stage we see a large dog. Thus, an Irish Wolfhound puppy of about 3 months can weigh around 15 kg .

Character of the Irish Wolfhound

Although due to its warlike and combative history we may see the Irish Greyhound as a dangerous or hostile dog, nothing could be further from the truth. These dogs are extremely docile and very peaceful . In the past, the following saying ” lambs in the home, lions in the hunt ” was attributed to them , from which we can deduce that as pets they are friendly and very loyal dogs, being known as the ” gentle giants ” of the canine world.

These dogs adapt to almost any type of coexistence, whether with children, the elderly, other animals, other dogs…, since their nobility is such that there will hardly be any confrontations with anyone who is part of their family, which they defend. without hesitation, being a great protective dog . Likewise, we are dealing with intelligent and somewhat reserved dogs, especially with strangers, although not aggressive. However, as we have just mentioned, their protective instinct can lead them to confront anyone they consider to be a threat.

Irish wolfhound care

The care of the Irish greyhound must focus on brushing its hair , which must be done at least twice a week , thus avoiding the formation of tangles or tangles. Baths should be limited to when strictly necessary. These dogs need to do at least one hour of physical exercise a day , this being of a high intensity. This does not mean that you should only take a long walk, far from it! Like any dog, they need to go out a minimum of three times a day, but at least one of the walks should be long and intense enough so that the dog can release all its energy. We will have to complement this with a balanced diet , which covers their energy and nutritional needs, but controlling the quantities, since they are quite gluttonous.

As for space, it is recommended to have an Irish Wolfhound in a spacious place, such as a country house or some land where it can move, so it is not the best option to have it in a small apartment. Even so, it is not a race that should live in isolation abroad . His sociable and affectionate character demands a family that includes him in the family nucleus and allows him free access to the interior of the house.

We must keep in mind that the Irish Wolfhound has been bred as a hunting and flock protection dog, so it not only needs to receive physical stimulation, but also mental stimulation. For this reason, environmental enrichment at home is equally important , so we must offer him toys and dedicate time each day to playing with him.

Irish Wolfhound Education

Irish sighthounds are a relatively easy breed to train, as they are intelligent and respond wonderfully to positive training . Therefore, when training an Irish Greyhound, as with any other dog, it is essential to use positive reinforcement as the main tool and avoid punishment, shouting and any type of violence.

The ideal is to start training when the dog is still a puppy , promoting the home rules established by all members of the family unit. It is not necessary to always use snacks for positive reinforcement, we must also use our voice or caresses to reinforce their behavior. We will teach him to bite gently and urinate on the newspaper until he can go out to relieve himself on the street.

The socialization of the dog will be another fundamental and essential aspect, since it will depend on it learning to relate correctly with all types of people (children, adults and the elderly), animals and environments. Likewise, we will also introduce you to basic obedience commands , essential for good communication with tutors and appropriate behavior. Later we will be able to introduce you to advanced education.

Irish Wolfhound Health

Unfortunately, the Irish Wolfhound is one of the dog breeds with the most health problems. Some of them are common in giant breeds, such as hip or elbow dysplasia . Likewise, they often show a tendency to develop bone cancer or osteosarcoma, hypersensitivity to anesthesia or medications, liver bypass, or heart conditions such as heart failure caused by dilated cardiomyopathy , in which the heart muscle becomes so thin that its capacity is impaired. of contraction.

However, one of the most relevant dangers when talking about Irish wolfhounds, as it is typical of giant or large dogs with deep chests, is the dreaded gastric torsion , in which what occurs is a swelling of the stomach, which is It distends as a result of excess air or gas, twisting and preventing that gas from being released, which affects blood flow and can cause the death of the animal in a short period of time. Some recommendations to avoid stomach twisting are to put food high instead of at ground level, avoid physical activity right after eating, or give them large amounts of food in a single feeding. To act quickly we must recognize the symptoms, which include lethargy, distended abdomen, unproductive attempts to vomit or restlessness. If we recognize them, we will have to go urgently to the vet to try to save our dog and recover.

Apart from these conditions, we must keep our Irish greyhound with regular vaccinations , regular deworming against parasites, both internal and external, and regular visits to the veterinarian for periodic checkups every 6 or 12 months. With this and all the necessary care, the life expectancy of the Irish Wolfhound is between 6 and 10 years .

Where to adopt an Irish Wolfhound?

It is difficult to find Irish sighthounds for adoption outside of Ireland. However, given their size, many people abandon them to their fate when they leave the puppy stage behind. For this reason, we recommend going to shelters, shelters, associations and rescue centers for the breed to ask if they have a specimen with the characteristics of the Irish greyhound. Keep in mind that the important thing when adopting a dog is not that it meets a breed standard, but that its character, size, etc., adapts to our lifestyle so that we can cover all its needs. So, don’t rule out mixed breed dogs.

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