Dog Breed profiles

Irish Wolfhound Breed Profile

Irish Wolfhound fact file

KC Group: Hound
Size: Extra large
Height: Dogs: over 79cm; bitches: over 71cm
Weight: Dogs: over 54.5kg; bitches: over 40.9kg
Average lifespan: 7 years
Good with children?: Seek breeder advice
Exercise requirement: Lots
Good guard dogs?: Would bark
Moulting level: Low
Grooming: Moderate
Colours: Recognised colours are grey, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn, wheaten, and steel grey
Jogging partner: Yes


The Irish Wolfhound is susceptible to some genetic disorders, including:
  • Cancer.
  • Heart disease.
  • Gastric dilatation volvulus (bloat).
Irish Wolfhounds have a higher than average mortality rate due to cancer, in particular bone cancer (osteocarcinoma).
They are also prone to heart disease, in particular dilated cardiomyopathy where the heart muscle weakens and swells. This usually leads to congestive heart failure in Wolfhounds.
Bloat is a life-threatening condition where the stomach bloats with gas and fl uid. The stomach can twist and cut off the blood supply. The condition can develop suddenly and immediate veterinary attention is needed to save the dog’s life.
Health tests
Kennel Club assured breeders of Irish Wolfhounds are strongly recommended to use the British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club/International Sheep Dog Society eye scheme. The test detects eye problems, in particular general progressive retinal atrophy, which slowly causes blindness.
It is recommended that all Irish Wolfhounds used for breeding take part in the annual heart testing scheme approved by the Irish Wolfhound Club.
The minimum requirement of the scheme is for dogs to be examined by stethoscope, ultrasound scan, and electrocardiography (ECG).
Puppies should be liver shunt tested before being sold.
It is strongly recommended that bitches do not produce a litter under the age of two, over the age of six, and not more than one litter over a 12-month period.


  • Irish Wolfhounds need space, so a good-sized house with a secure garden is a must.
  • A normal-sized family car will not usually be big enough for a Wolfhound.
  • A Wolfhound wants to be with his family as much as possible — if left alone for too long, he will get up to mischief.
  • This is an energetic breed which, once mature, needs at least an hour’s exercise every day. However it is important not to over-exercise Irish Wolfhound puppies. Allow them lots of rest so their growing bodies are not damaged.
  • The breed is good with children but interactions must be supervised, as a Wolfhound could accidentally hurt a child with his huge wagging tail.
  • Items left on coffee tables or worktops are not safe with an Irish Wolfhound around.


  • Loyal and gentle.
  • Irish Wolfhounds love their families but can be aloof with unfamiliar faces.
  • Calm and proud.


  • Irish Wolfhounds are eager to please and will pick up basic training.
  • They are sensitive souls. Never chastise — a firm tone will suffice.
  • They are naturally clean dogs and easy to house-train.

General care

  • Irish Wolfhounds need a good brushing at least twice a week.
  • A comfy bed is a must to support their large joints. They will appreciate a bed that allows them to stretch out.


  • Loving and devoted.
  • Comfortable with other dogs.


  • Short life expectancy.
  • Lots of room required.

Did you know?

  • The Kennel Club recognised the Irish Wolfhound as a sporting breed in 1925.
  • Despite their gentle natures, Irish Wolfhounds are natural hunters and should remain on leads near livestock.