The Irish wolfhound has a shaggy coat that is rough and wiry. This longer coat covers the entire dog including the legs, tail and head. The most recognized color for this giant breed is gray; however, this sighthound can also be red, brindle, white, black or fawn. The oldest known records of the Irish wolfhound date back to AD in Rome. During these ancient times this large breed was most commonly used to guard property as well as fight in wars.
As time progressed, these dogs were also used for hunting wolves, Irish elk, deer and boar. Irish wolfhound populations declined until it was restored many years later and the Irish Wolfhound Club was established in The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in and in it was recognized as a sporting breed. The Irish wolfhound is often recognized as a dog of royalty since it was frequently given to royalty as a gift in more regal times.
Despite being bred to track and kill wild wolves, the Irish wolfhound has a kind and sweet temperament with humans. This large breed is one of the few giant breeds that seems to be aware of its size and is very gentle with children and can be trusted as family dogs. As puppies they can be over exuberant and clumsy and this puppyhood phase lasts for around two years. So owners should be prepared to invest in obedience training upon adoption. Irish wolfhounds are exceptionally loyal dogs and are considered to be real people pleasers.
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This breed is also welcoming to other dogs and large family pets but you may want to keep it away from your pet gerbils and rabbits. Due to the sociable nature of a well-adjusted Irish wolfhound this breed is not recommended as a guard dog. It should be noted however that if this dog notes danger in the presence of its family it will not hesitate to act.
The strong bond that the Irish wolfhound builds with its family drives it to protect its family members regardless of any danger it may face itself. This characteristic leads many to characterize this breed as a guardian rather than a guard dog. Due to their incredible rate of growth it is important that Irish wolfhounds receive adequate nutrition in order to develop strong bones and healthy organs.
High quality dog foods eliminate the need for additional supplementation. Most breeders advise avoiding supplementation of this breed all together since it can increase their already rapid growth and lead to more health concerns. It should be noted however, that some individual dogs have special dietary needs that may differ from this recommendation. The Irish wolfhound is an incredibly large dog and it is important that they receive frequent and regular exercise in order to maintain a healthy weight.
Exercise also gives all dogs an outlet for their natural need to roam and exposes them to varying stimuli. The Irish wolfhound experiences fast growth spurts so their bones can be heavily impacted by over exertion. Anyone contemplating adding an Irish wolfhound to their home should be prepared to invest time and money in training. Due to the sheer size of this dog, it is crucial that owners have full control at all times.
One of the most significant subjects that need to be tackled when the dog is young includes walking on a leash and avoiding jumping behavior. The Irish wolfhound is an easily trained breed but it requires both firm and gentle leadership. All dogs require a firm leader; however, breeds like the wolfhound are particularly sensitive and do not respond to harsh training methods. A lack of self-confidence can also lead to problems such as nervous biting, separation anxiety and trouble socializing with people and other dogs.
If purchased from a reputable breeder, your Irish wolfhound should have a well-rounded temperament. But it is up to you to ensure that this temperament is given the chance to bloom. One of the most important responsibilities as an owner is to properly socialize your dog, regardless of the breed.
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Due to their incredible size however, this socialization process is even more crucial for the Irish wolfhound. Once the Irish wolfhound has been given all of their vaccinations and can safely mingle with other dogs and people, socialization should begin immediately. Good methods for socializing include puppy obedience classes, dog parks, pet friendly stores, frequent walks and exposure to children at playground areas.
It is important to keep in mind that not everyone is going to be open to petting your dog, particularly in a playground setting. Rather than requesting that people pet your dog, simply sit and allow people to approach your dog if they desire to pet it. If introducing your wolfhound to other animals, always do this on neutral territory and allow the dogs to meet each other on their own terms. Due to the size of this dog when fully grown, the Irish wolfhound does not tend to do well in apartments and they cannot fit in most compact car models.
While this breed is not very active indoors, they are large and require enough room to roam without constantly being underfoot. Due to their exercise requirements, Irish wolfhounds do best in homes with large yards where they can exercise freely in addition to receiving daily walks. This anxiety can be eased by engaging in playtime with the dog and not locking them in an outdoor kennel. As a sighthound, the Irish wolfhound has never quite lost its tendency to chase prey items. The Irish wolfhound is a very short-lived breed and has an average life span of 6 to 8 years.
This breed is also prone to a number of health conditions that can limit its lifespan. Cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the muscles of the heart become deteriorated to a point that they interfere with functioning, is common among this breed. Bone cancer and hip dysplasia are also common in Irish wolfhounds.
As with most deep-chested dog breeds, canine bloat is a concern but this can be mitigated by modifying feeding habits and posture.
PRA or progressive retinal atrophy is another common condition for this giant dog and often leaves these gentle giants without their sight. According to studies conducted by the Irish wolfhound Club of America and the UK Kennel Club, the most commonly recorded cause of death for this breed between and was bone cancer. Temperament is affected by a number of factors, including heredity, training, and socialization.
Puppies with nice temperaments are curious and playful, willing to approach people and be held by them. Choose the middle-of-the-road puppy, not the one who's beating up his littermates or the one who's hiding in the corner. Always meet at least one of the parents — usually the mother is the one who's available — to ensure that they have nice temperaments that you're comfortable with.
Meeting siblings or other relatives of the parents is also helpful for evaluating what a puppy will be like when he grows up. Like every dog, the Irish Wolfhound needs early socialization — exposure to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they're young. Socialization helps ensure that your Irish Wolfhound puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog. Enrolling him in a puppy kindergarten class is a great start. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking him to busy parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.
Irish Wolfhounds are generally healthy, but like all breeds, they're prone to certain health conditions. Not all Irish Wolfhounds will get any or all of these diseases, but it's important to be aware of them if you're considering this breed. If you're buying a puppy, find a good breeder who will show you health clearances for both your puppy's parents. Health clearances prove that a dog has been tested for and cleared of a particular condition. In Irish Wolfhounds, you should expect to see health clearances from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals OFA for hip dysplasia with a score of fair or better , elbow dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and von Willebrand's disease; from Auburn University for thrombopathia; and from the Canine Eye Registry Foundation CERF certifying that eyes are normal.
You can confirm health clearances by checking the OFA web site offa. Despite his great size, the Irish Wolfhound is a housedog. He loves being with people and is calm indoors. He's best suited to a home without stairs; going down them can damage his joints. Give him access to a securely fenced yard where he can run, and he'll be happy.
A fence is necessary to prevent this breed from chasing other animals. An underground electronic fence won't do the job; the instinct to chase is much stronger than the fear of a momentary shock. Irish Wolfhound adults need a couple of minute play times where they can run freely every day. They'll enjoy a walk as well. Avoid any exercise an hour before meals and two hours after meals to decrease the risk of gastric torsion , or bloat. Puppies need free play in a securely fenced yard, but limit running to only a few minutes a day.
They shouldn't be taken on walks until they're at least six months old. Start with short walks of no more than five minutes, and build up to walks of a mile over a three-month period. They shouldn't reach a distance of two miles until they're a year old. Continue this gradual and gentle exercise program until the Irish Wolfhound reaches maturity at 18 to 24 months of age.
Giant breeds are prone to joint problems, and excessive exercise during their growth and development phase can damage their joints. Walks on leash are a must with this breed. They are sighthounds and will chase running animals when they see them, heedless of your calls to come. A sighthound on the chase will focus on his prey, not traffic, and can easily become injured or killed. He can also injure or kill the animal he's pursuing, which won't do much for your relationship with your neighbors if their Toy Poodle or Siamese cat is his victim.
Irish Wolfhounds are intelligent and trainable if you're consistent and use positive reinforcement techniques such as food rewards and praise. They're generally easy to housetrain , and a crate can help, although it shouldn't be overused. Crate training is a great aid to housetraining, and it will also keep your belongings safe from your puppy and your puppy safe from your wrath because he chewed up your favorite shoes.
The Irish Wolfhound should not be crated for long periods, however. Long hours in a crate can damage his joints. NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don't all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you'll need to shake into your dog's bowl.
Keep your Irish Wolfhound in good shape by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. If you're unsure whether he's overweight , give him the eye test and the hands-on test. First, look down at him.
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You should be able to see a waist. Then place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine, with the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs without having to press hard. If you can't, he needs less food and more exercise. For more on feeding your Irish Wolfhound, see our guidelines for buying the right food , feeding your puppy , and feeding your adult dog. The Wolfhound coat is rough and hard. The hair on the eyes and under the jaw is wiry and long.
A pet-quality Irish Wolfhound may have a softer or longer coat, but that doesn't affect his ability to be a companion. Coat colors are gray, brindle, red, black, white, or fawn. Irish Wolfhounds shed consistently throughout the year. Brush your dog weekly to keep the coat healthy. He shouldn't need a bath more than once or twice a year unless he gets into something stinky. To give the coat a neat look for the show ring or simply because you prefer it, gently pluck excess hair from the ears with your thumb and forefinger and use thinning scissors or a stripping knife to neaten the hair on the feet and tidy the hair on the side of the neck.
Don't remove too much; the Irish Wolfhound should have something of a mane. To finish, strip out long hair under the belly and at the base of the tail. You want your Irish Wolfhound to have a smooth, clean look that shows off his graceful lines. Brush your dog's teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.
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Trim nails once or twice a month if your dog doesn't wear them down naturally to prevent painful tears and other problems. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they're too long. Dog toenails have blood vessels in them, and if you cut too far you can cause bleeding — and your dog may not cooperate the next time he sees the nail clippers come out. So, if you're not experienced trimming dog nails, ask a vet or groomer for pointers. His ears should be checked weekly for redness or a bad odor, which can indicate an infection.
When you check your dog's ears, wipe them out with a cotton ball dampened with gentle, pH-balanced ear cleaner to help prevent infections. Don't insert anything into the ear canal; just clean the outer ear. Begin accustoming your Irish Wolfhound to being brushed and examined when he's a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth.
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Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you'll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he's an adult. As you groom, check for sores, rashes, or signs of infection such as redness, tenderness, or inflammation on the skin, in the nose, mouth, and eyes, and on the feet. Eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. Your careful weekly exam will help you spot potential health problems early. Irish Wolfhounds are gentle with children, but simply because of their large size they can accidentally knock toddlers down and scare or injure them.
They're best suited to homes with older children. Irish Wolfhounds are not ponies, and children cannot ride them. Your Wolfhound can be injured if children try to ride him.
Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs, and always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Teach your child never to approach any dog while he's sleeping or eating or to try to take the dog's food away. No dog should ever be left unsupervised with a child. With early socialization and training, your Irish Wolfhound should get along well with other dogs. He may chase small animals such as cats unless brought up with them and taught not to. It's vital to properly introduce him to other animals in the household and supervise their interactions.
He'll consider outdoor cats and other small animals fair game. Irish Wolfhounds are often purchased without any clear understanding of what goes into owning one. There are many Irish Wolfhounds in need of adoption and or fostering. There are a number of rescues that we have not listed. If you don't see a rescue listed for your area, contact the national breed club or a local breed club and they can point you toward an Irish Wolfhound rescue.
Breed Characteristics: Adaptability. All Around Friendliness. Health Grooming. Exercise Needs. See Dogs With Low Intensity. Vital Stats: Dog Breed Group:. Irish Wolfhounds are not recommended for apartment living. Although they have relatively low activity levels inside, they need room to stretch out and aren't built for negotiating stairs. Irish Wolfhounds require at least 40 minutes of daily exercise and do best in a home with a large fenced yard. Irish Wolfhounds need a fenced yard to keep them from chasing prey away from their yards.
They should not be kept in a yard with underground electronic fencing. The desire to chase is too strong to be overcome by the threat of a momentary shock. The Irish Wolfhound is a gentle dog who usually gets along well with everyone. With early socialization and training, he'll be gracious toward other dogs and forbearing of indoor cats.
He'll view outdoor cats and other animals as fair game. If you are looking for a long-lived breed, the Irish Wolfhound is not for you. He lives roughly 6 to 8 years and his giant size predisposes him to many health problems. Irish Wolfhounds do not make good guard dogs although their size can be a deterrent to a would-be intruder. The Irish Wolfhound is an average shedder and only needs to be brushed on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. You'll need to strip the longer portions of his coat if you want to keep him looking like the Irish Wolfhounds that compete in the conformation ring.
Irish Wolfhounds should be walked on leash to prevent them from chasing animals or other moving objects, such as radio-controlled cars. The Irish Wolfhound is not a pony and should not be ridden by children, no matter how small. His joints aren't built for the strain. Nor is he built for pulling a cart or other vehicle.
Irish Wolfhounds thrive when they are with their owners. They are not outdoor dogs, although they enjoy playing outside. To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from an irresponsible breeder, puppy mill, or pet store. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they're free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies, and that they have sound temperaments. Anesthesia Sensitivity: Sighthounds, including Irish Wolfhounds, are sensitive to anesthesia and some other drugs that can lead to the death of the dog if it is administered a regular dose.
This sensitivity is probably related to the lower percentage of body fat in this breed than other breeds. A regular dose for a dog the size of the Irish Wolfhound is generally too much for the low-body-fat Irish Wolfhound. Choose a veterinarian who is familiar with this sensitivity in sighthounds. Hip Dysplasia: This is a heritable condition in which the thighbone doesn't fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia. As the dog ages, arthritis can develop.
Dogs with hip dysplasia should not be bred. If you're buying a puppy, ask the breeder for proof that the parents have been tested for hip dysplasia and are free of problems. Hip dysplasia is hereditary, but it can be worsened by environmental factors, such as rapid growth from a high-calorie diet or injuries incurred from jumping or falling on slick floors. Elbow Dysplasia: This is a heritable condition common to large-breed dogs.
It's thought to be caused by different growth rates of the three bones that make up the dog's elbow, causing joint laxity. This can lead to painful lameness. Your vet may recommend surgery to correct the problem, or weight management or anti-inflammatory medication to control the pain. Liver Shunt: A liver shunt is an abnormal blood flow between the liver and the body. That's a problem, because the liver is responsible for detoxifying the body, metabolizing nutrients, and eliminating drugs. Signs can include but are not limited to neurobehavioral abnormalities, lack of appetite, hypoglycemia low blood sugar , intermittent gastrointestinal issues, urinary tract problems, drug intolerance, and stunted growth.
Signs usually appear before two years of age. Corrective surgery can be helpful in long-term management, as can a special diet. Heart Disease: Irish Wolfhounds can be prone to heart disease, primarily heart failure caused by dilated cardiomyopathy. Dilated cardiomyopathy occurs when the heart muscle becomes very thin and is unable to contract normally. Because the heart must work harder, it becomes enlarged. Dogs with this disease have an abnormal heart rhythm and show signs of heart failure, including weakness, loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, collapse, difficulty breathing, a soft cough, and an enlarged abdomen.
There is no cure, but rest, diet, and medication can help for a time. Fibrocartilaginous Embolic Myelopathy: This condition occurs when pieces of cartilaginous material obstruct blood vessels supplying the spinal cord, causing partial or complete paralysis of the hind legs.
The condition usually affects dogs between the ages of 3 and 6 years and may occur suddenly during any activity. There is no treatment, but some dogs improve with time. The severity of the loss of use must be determined before a course of action can be decided. Some dogs can live out their lives with only minimal assistance, but others are fully paralyzed. If physical rehabilitation doesn't help, euthanasia is the kindest option.
Osteochondrosis Dissecans OCD : This orthopedic condition, caused by improper growth of cartilage in the joints, usually occurs in the elbows, but it has been seen in the shoulders as well. It causes a painful stiffening of the joint, to the point that the dog is unable to bend his elbow.