Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound

Group: Hound Group

Origin: Ireland

– Males: Min. height is 32 in (81 cm) — Average about 34-35 in.
– Females: Min. height is 30 in (76 cm) — Average about 32-34 in.

– Males: Min. weight is 120 lbs (54 kg) – Average generally 140-180 lbs
– Females: Min. weight is 105 lbs (47.5 kg) – Average generally 115-140 lbs.

Irish Wolfhound
Quinn & Boudicca
Photo courtesy of Katherine Goodes,

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Breed Profile

The Irish Wolfhound, the national dog of Ireland, is the world’s tallest breed of dog, standing up to 6 feet 4 inches on his hind legs. He is an ancient breed of the Greyhound family, believed to have descended from the Cu, a giant, rough-coated type of Greyhound. Legend has it that the Cu was a ferocious dog in battle, a tenacious courser of large game and a trustworthy guardian. Originally, he was used to hunt wolves and elk and to accompany Irish nobles to war.

The Irish Wolfhound is among the gentlest of breeds. However, he can be very fierce and intimidating when defending his home and family. A very social dog, he thrives on human companionship and should not be left alone for extended periods. Known as the “Gentle Giant”, he is excellent with children and generally good with other dogs. His combination of power and swiftness with keen sight makes him good at lure coursing.

His coat is rough and hard and especially long and wiry over the eyes and under the jaw. He is either grey, brindle, red, black, fawn, or pure white.

Note: The Irish Wolfhound is not the breed for everyone. Due to his size, this is a dog that is more expensive to maintain, needing more of just about everything, including food, space, and exercise than the average size dog. Sadly, it should also be noted that the Irish Wolfhound in general has a short lifespan, with the average being six to eight years.


Irish Wolfhound
Photo courtesy of Katherine Goodes,

Health Issues

Like all breeds of dogs, the Irish Wolfhound is susceptible to certain health problems. The document Irish Wolfhound Health Issues outlines some of the more common disorders found in this breed. If you are considering the adoption of a Irish Wolfhound puppy, or any breed, it is very important to be selective in choosing a responsible and reputable breeder. Ensure that the prospective puppy’s parents have all health clearances. Breeding of any dog should not be done until after they have been proven to be free of evidence of significant hereditary diseases. (For more information on selecting a breeder, see the articles on the main General Information page.)

Additional Health Resources:


Grooming Information

Like other rough-coated breeds, the Irish Wolfhound’s coat should be brushed daily to maintain a healthy condition. Ear cleaning and nail trimming should also be part of a regular grooming routine.

  • Grooming — This section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website includes tips, articles and information covering all aspects of dog grooming along with a listing of Groomers from across Canada.

Training Resources

  • Training — For training information, see this growing section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website for tips, articles, as well as listings of training centres across Canada.


Additional Information

  • — An internet resource for Irish Wolfhound breeders.
  • The Irish Wolfhound Foundation — The purpose of the Foundation is to promote the appreciation, knowledge, and understanding of Irish Wolfhounds by raising and allocating funds for research, education, and rescue.
  • Lure Coursing Information
  • Whippets and Other Sighthounds — A very informative website dedicated to Sighthounds explaining why a Sighthound thinks and acts differently from other breeds of dogs.
  • Clubs, Sports & Activities — For information on the many sports and activities you can get involved in with your dog.
  • Working Dogs — The Working Dogs section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website provides information and listings of organizations that are involved in various dog jobs, such as Guide Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Police Dogs, Protection Dogs, and much more.

*NOTE 1: CHIC – The Canine Health Information Center “is a database of consolidated health screening results from multiple sources. Co-sponsored by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Health Foundation, CHIC works with parent clubs to identify health screening protocols appropriate for individual breeds. Dogs tested in accordance with the parent club established requirements, that have their results registered and made available in the public domain are issued CHIC numbers.” To learn more, visit:

*NOTE 2: The Fédération Cynologique International (FCI) is the World Canine Organization, which includes 91 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI recognizes 344 breeds, with each being the “property” of a specific country. The “owner” countries write the standards of these breeds in co-operation with the Standards and Scientific Commissions of the FCI, and the translation and updating are carried out by the FCI. The FCI is not a breed registry nor does it issue pedigrees.

Breed Listing

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