Irish Wolfhound illustration
Hound

Irish Wolfhound

A gentle giant, the tallest of all the breeds

Breed characteristics

Size
Large
Exercise
More than 2 hours per day
Size of home
Large house
Grooming
More than once a week
Coat length
Medium
Sheds
Yes
Lifespan
Under 10 years
Vulnerable native breed
Yes
Town or country
Country
Size of garden
Large garden

About this breed

Although originally the breed was smooth coated or rough coated, only the rough coated variety exists today. It is thought that Phoenician sailors brought dogs of greyhound type from the Middles East to Ireland and these dogs were crossed with Mastiffs to produce a dog of gigantic size with the speed and strength to see off wolves which were a great threat to livestock in Ireland. By the end of the 18th century the wolf was extinct in Ireland and breed numbers dwindled. With the Great Famine in Ireland 1840s the breed became very rare.

However, a group of devotees lead by the Scotsman Captain George Augustus Graham developed a breeding programme to revive the breed, with the few Irish Wolfhounds which had survived using outcrosses with the heavier type of Deerhound, the Great Dane and the Tibetan Mastiff. The Irish Wolfhound is reputed to be the tallest of the hound breeds and the biggest of all breeds. Despite his size he is gentle and calm: truly a gentle giant.

Read the breed standard

Images for this breed

The Hound breed group

Breeds originally used for hunting either by scent or by sight. The scent hounds include the Beagle and Bloodhound and the sight hounds such breeds as the Whippet and Greyhound. Many of them enjoy a significant amount of exercise and can be described as dignified, aloof but trustworthy companions.

Breed standard colours

Breed standard colour means that the colour is accepted within the breed standard and is a traditional and well-known colour in this breed.

Breed standard colours in this breed include:

  • Black
  • Black Brindle
  • Brindle
  • Cream
  • Dark Brindle
  • Fawn
  • Grey
  • Grey Brindle
  • Red
  • Red Brindle
  • Wheaten
  • Wheaten Brindle

Other colour/s

'Other' means you consider your puppy to be a colour not currently known within the breed and one that does not appear on either the breed standard or non-breed standard list. In this instance you would be directed through our registrations process to contact a breed club and/or council to support you on identifying and correctly listing the new colour.

Non-breed-standard colours

Non-breed-standard colour means that the colour is not accepted within the breed standard and whilst some dogs within the breed may be this colour it is advised to only select a dog that fits within the breed standards for all points.

Colour is only one consideration when picking a breed or individual dog, health and temperament should always be a priority over colour.

Health

Whether you’re thinking of buying a puppy, or breeding from your dog, it’s essential that you know what health issues may be found in your breed. To tackle these issues we advise that breeders use DNA tests, screening schemes and inbreeding coefficient calculators to help breed the healthiest dogs possible.

More about health

Priority health schemes and tests

The Kennel Club's Assured Breeders must use the following schemes, tests and advice. All other breeders are strongly advised to also use these.

Important health schemes and tests

We strongly recommend that all breeders, both assured breeders (ABs) and non ABs, use the following schemes, tests and advice.

  • Bitches under 2 years not to produce a litter
  • Bitches over 6 years not to produce a litter
  • Bitches not to produce more than one litter in a 12-month period
  • All hounds used for breeding take part annually in a heart testing scheme approved by the Irish Wolfhound Club: the minimum requirement being examinations by stethoscope, ECG and ultrasound scan
  • Breed club – liver shunt testing of all puppies prior to being sold
  • Check inbreeding calculators

Find out about a particular dog's results

Please visit our Health Test Results Finder to discover the DNA or screening scheme test results for any dog on The Kennel Club's Breed Register.

You can also view the inbreeding coefficient calculation for a puppy's parents, or for a dog you're thinking of breeding from.

Have any questions about health in your breed?

If you have any concerns about a particular health condition in your breed then you may wish to speak to your vet or you could contact your breed health co-ordinator.

Breed health co-ordinators are individuals working on behalf of breed clubs and councils who are advocates for the health and welfare of their chosen breed. They acts as a spokesperson on matters of health and will collaborate with The Kennel Club on any health concerns the breed may have.

Contact the breed health co-ordinator for the Irish Wolfhound.

Breed watch

Category 2

Particular points of concern for individual breeds may include features not specifically highlighted in the breed standard including current issues. In some breeds, features may be listed which, if exaggerated, might potentially affect the breed in the future.

Read more

Breeding restrictions

There are a number of The Kennel Club's rules and regulations that may prevent a litter from being registered, find out about our general and breed specific breeding restrictions below.

More about breeding

There are not currently any additional breed specific restrictions in place for this breed.

More information

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