Everything You Need to Know About the Irish Wolfhound

Posted by Mateja Lane

WATCH NOW: Irish Wolfhounds Are the Tallest Dogs!

oembed rumble video here

There is mention of the breed in Irish literature from the 5th century!

Irish Wolfhounds are sighthounds that are extremely tall. In fact, they are the tallest breed in the AKC registry, sometimes reaching seven feet on their hind legs!

These dignified dogs were originally brought to Ireland to hunt wolves, with mention in texts from as early as 7000 BC. The Irish word "cu" (meaning "hound") was used to describe warriors and kings. There was even a period, when the British ruled, when only royalty could own an Irish Wolfhound.

The Irish Wolfhound is a big dog. Full-grown males can stand as tall as 34 inches at the shoulder and weigh 120 pounds. The breed is part of the galloping hound grouping, as are Great Danes and Greyhounds. Wolfhounds have wiry hair, different than fur, and can be white, gray, brindle, red, black, and fawn. Their height made it easy for them to sight prey, like wolves and the Irish elk, over long distances.

Irish Wolfhounds are easygoing dogs, often wary of strangers and quite reserved. They bond strongly with their owners and are great with kids, although their size could be an issue with small children. They are often described as inquisitive and with the ancient adage:

"Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked."

Due to their size, Irish Greyhounds live between six and 10 years.

Hover over the image for more information. 

General Appearance

The Irish Wolfhound is formidable due to its impressive height. They are the tallest of the galloping hounds, which include dogs like Greyhounds. The Irish Wolfhound was originally bred to hunt wolves and Irish elk.

The Irish Wolfhound is often wary of strangers and is described as reserved and inquisitive. While generally very sweet, they bond closely with their owners.


The forehead of the Irish Wolfhound is slightly raised while the eyes sit on top of the muzzle. The ears are small and lay close to the head. The hair under the muzzle can look a bit like a beard.


The hair on an Irish Wolfhound is wiry and rough. It can grow especially long under the chin and over the eyes. They standard colors are Black, Blue, Brindle, Cream, Gray, Red, Red Wheaten, Silver, White and combinations of these colorings.


The Irish Wolfhound can grow as tall as 34 inches, mostly due to their strong, muscular legs. Their feet are large and round and help them travel long distances. Their tails are long and are curved behind their bodies, sometimes coming between the back legs.


Like many large dog breeds, Irish Wolfhounds have relatively short lifespans. The leading causes of death in Wolfhounds are dilated cardiomyopathy and bone cancer.

Do you have an Irish Wolfhound? Show us in the comments below!

WATCH NOW: German Shorthaired Pointers Are Built for the Field!

oembed rumble video here

recommended for you

Everything You Need to Know About the Irish Wolfhound