Life span: 6-10 Years
Height: 32 – 34 inches (male), 30 – 32 inches (female)
Weight: 120 lbs. (male), 105 lbs. (female)
The Irish Wolfhound is an exceptionally large breed of sighthound that originated in Ireland. The Wolfhound can grow to be 34” tall at the shoulders, weighing up to 130 lbs. And while the breed is considerably large, they have a streamlined physique which helps them to achieve high speeds when running full tilt. The thick, shaggy coat of the Irish Wolfhound comes in a variety of colors and patterns, such as black, white, brindle, and fawn.
Despite its size, this breed is not a good guard dog, given that it is friendly with just about everyone. It will never be aggressive towards strangers and even though it was originally a hunter, it gets along well with almost all other animals.
Their ears are small and bend downwards, and their tail is short with a slight curve. The eyes are brown with a black nose. Their double coat is made up of a rough and wiry overcoat, and a soft and dense undercoat. Coat colors include black, grey, light grey, brown, light brown, red and cream colored.
This breed began as the result of crossbreeding large dogs indigenous to Britain and Middle Eastern coursing hounds. Quintus Aurelius Symmachus received a “Great Hound of Ireland” from his brother, eventually amounting to 7 Irish Wolfhounds owned by Aurelius. For some time, this breed was only allowed to be owned by royalty, and they were usually royal gifts. They were originally used for hunting, and during wars they pulled men out of chariots or off of horses. During the 18th century they neared extinction, but Captain George Graham saved them by crossbreeding them with Scottish Deerhounds, Tibetan Borzi, Pyrenean Wolfhound, and Great Danes, resulting in the current Irish Wolfhound.
This sweet breed is patient and extremely intelligent. They are friendly towards everyone, even strangers, as well as with children and other animals. Before they are two years old, they might be a little messy, but once they are grown they become loyal pets. When walking them, remember to always have them on a leash, but do not pull on the leash when they are puppies.
This breed may suffer from many diseases and conditions, including heart diseases. They may also suffer from:
- Anesthesia Sensitivity, which, as the name suggests, is a high sensitivity towards general anesthesia that can result in death during surgery or even a simple teeth cleaning session.
- Fibrocartilaginous Embolic Myelopathy, in which pieces of cartilaginous material block the blood vessels that supply the spinal cord, which can result in partial or complete paralysis of the back legs. It can start from 3-6 years of age and although there is a treatment, there is no cure.
- Hip dysplasia, a hereditary disease in which there is an abnormal formation in the hip socket, that may eventually cause painful arthritis. It may also be affected by the environment they reside in.
- Osteochondritis Dissecans, in which the cartilage does not grow properly in the joints, causing pain and stiffness. It is usually seen on the elbows and shoulders.
- Osteosarcoma, which is a bone cancer typical in large dogs. It is aggressive and often the limb needs to be cut off along with giving the dog chemotherapy.
- Portosystemic Shunt, which is a congenital disease in which blood vessels let the blood bypass the liver, causing it to not be cleansed properly by the liver. It can be noticed through lack of appetite, hypoglycemia, urinary tract problems, etc. Surgery is recommended.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), in which the dogs may become night blind at first and progressively lose their day eyesight as well.
- Gastric dilatation-volvulus, or bloat, is a mortal disease in which large chested dogs are affected by eating quickly, drinking lots of water and exercising after. This causes the stomach to inflate with gas and twist, making the dog unable to get rid of the excess air through vomiting, which impedes the normal blood flow to the heart. Its blood pressure then goes down and the dog goes into shock. Without proper, and immediate, medical attention, this could be fatal. Its symptoms may include: retching without vomiting, bloated abdomen, excessive salivation, restlessness, depression, rapid heart rate, weakness, etc.
They should be brushed weekly, and although they shed all throughout the year, they don’t shed in big amounts. Their nails should be trimmed regularly, along with their teeth brushed and ears checked for any dirt to prevent infections. They should be exercised, but are not highly energetic, so a long walk should suffice. When they become adults, they can become lazy, but exercising them in a moderate way will help them stay mentally and physically healthy. Training can be relatively easy, given that they are smart and fast learners. They should not be left alone for long periods of time until they are at least 18 months old, given that they are prone to destructive behavior and hurting themselves.