Irish Wolfhound

Last updated March 1994

A breed standard is the guideline which describes the ideal characteristics, temperament and appearance including the correct colour of a breed and ensures that the breed is fit for function. Absolute soundness is essential. Breeders and judges should at all times be careful to avoid obvious conditions or exaggerations which would be detrimental in any way to the health, welfare or soundness of this breed.

From time to time certain conditions or exaggerations may be considered to have the potential to affect dogs in some breeds adversely, and judges and breeders are requested to refer to the Breed Watch information related to this breed for details of any such current issues. If a feature or quality is desirable it should only be present in the right measure. However, if a dog possesses a feature, characteristic or colour described as highly undesirable, it must not be rewarded in the show ring.

General appearance

Of great size, strength, symmetry and commanding appearance, very muscular, yet gracefully built.


Of great power, activity, speed and courage.


Gentle, kind and friendly nature.

Head and skull

Head long, carried high, the frontal bones of forehead very slightly raised and very little indentation between eyes. Skull not too broad. Muzzle long and moderately pointed. Nose and lips black.


Dark. Elliptical (regular oval) and full. Eyelids black.


Small, rose shaped, of fine velvet texture. Preferably dark in colour, not hanging close to face.


Jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws. Level bite tolerated but not desirable.


Rather long, very strong and muscular, well arched, without dewlap or loose skin about throat.


Shoulders muscular, giving breadth of chest, set sloping. Elbows well under, turned neither in nor out. Leg and forearm muscular, and whole leg strong and straight.


Chest very deep. Breast wide. Back, long rather than short. Loins arched. Belly well drawn up.


Muscular thighs and second thighs, long and strong, good bend of stifle with hocks well let down and turning neither in nor out.


Moderately large and round, turned neither in nor out. Toes well arched and closed. Nails very strong and curved.


Long and slightly curved, of moderate thickness and well covered with hair, carried low with an upward sweep towards the extremity.


Easy and active.


Rough and harsh on body, legs and head; especially wiry and long over eyes and under jaw.


Recognised colours are grey, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn, wheaten and steel grey.


Minimum height for dogs: 79 cms (31 ins), bitches: 71 cms (28 ins). Minimum weight: 54.5 kgs (120 lbs) for dogs, 40.9 kgs (90 lbs) for bitches. Great size, including height of shoulder and proportionate length of body is to be aimed at, and it is desired to firmly establish a breed that shall average from 81-86 cms (32-34 ins) in dogs.


Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.


Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.

*Note for prospective puppy buyers

Size – The Kennel Club breed standard is a guide and description of the ideal for the breed; the size as described does not imply that a dog will match the measurements given (height or weight). A dog might be larger or smaller than the size measurements stated in the breed standard.