If you are considering owning an Irish Wolfhound, then you must familiarize yourself with the Irish Wolfhound temperament.
But first, something else to consider is that this is a big dog. If you don’t have the accommodations for a dog this large, then you should probably consider another breed instead.
Irish Wolfhound Temperament and Personality
Despite their fearsome size, most owners are likely to describe the Irish Wolfhound temperament as sweet-tempered – with humans anyway. He tends to pounce on or chase after any smaller creature that moves quickly, like a rabbit, squirrel or cat.
Some Irish Wolfhounds will go right up to a stranger and invite making friends with that person. Others will be more suspicious and keep their distance. It all depends on the temperament of your individual dog.
He Has His Faults
Less biased observers would characterize Irish Wolfhounds as intelligent, patient, and friendly to humans. However, on the flip side, they can also be lazy, clumsy, stubborn and even aggressive with other animals.
Friendly, but Aggressive with Other Animals
Irish Wolfhounds have it in their nature to work with humans…and to kill wolves. However, and consequently, they usually do not shine in the role of a watchdog – though their size is certainly a deterrent to potential thieves.
On the other hand, they can be aggressive with other animals. Because their immense size can make them difficult — in fact, close to impossible — to manage, and because their size makes them deadly to smaller animals, you must make socialization and training priorities in your pet’s early months.
You may think when you bring him home “I have time, he’s still small.” But, just like children, time flies, he grows bigger, and by then, it’s too late.
Intelligent and Independent Irish Wolfhound Temperament
The Irish Wolfhound is a sighthound — that is, it needs to stay in visual contact with its prey, as opposed to following a scent.
This often meant that, in the old days, the Irish Wolfhound did his own thing while chasing prey, leaving his master in the dust. Consequently, he has since evolved to be fiercely independent when he moves in for the kill.
This dog is clearly one of the more intelligent breeds out there.
These “intelligence and independent” characteristics of his further reinforce the need for establishing early on the hierarchy you want your pet to operate under.
There should be no confusion in his mind that you are the boss; if there is, the consequences could be disastrous.
The Irish Wolfhound would lay down his life for his family. He is a devoted dog who, as I mentioned earlier, doesn’t exactly have to try when it comes to defending his house. But, if the need arose, he’d have no problem bringing his A-game to the table.
Remember Each Individual Dog Different
Note: all the characteristics mentioned above relate to the typical Irish Wolfhound temperament. Just like each human has a unique personality, so does your pet.
You must remember that your dog’s traits, in particular, may deviate from that which is typical; it is important that, just like kids, you cater to your dog’s specific personality, rather than what others believe he “should” do.
The Irish Wolfhound is average when compared to other breeds in their ability to train. As with all dogs, tons of patience and positive reinforcement are key.
As mentioned earlier, you must focus on obedience.
Additionally, you need to make sure your Wolfhound behaves while on a leash. You can’t have a dog this large getting out of control, or it will be disastrous for all involved.
Helpful Dog Training Resource:
For help with training your Irish Wolfhound, you should take a look at The Online Dog Trainer by Doggy Dan. Doggy Dan is an expert Dog Trainer based in New Zealand. His online resource contains Hundreds of Excellent Dog Training Videos that will take you step-by-step through the process of developing a healthy, happy well-behaved dog.
How Tall is the Irish Wolfhound?
You might have thought it was the Great Dane, but actually, it is the Irish Wolfhound who is the “giant” of the dog world!
The breed standard demands a minimum of 32 inches tall for a male Irish Wolfhound and 30 inches for a female.
Many Irish Wolfhounds are actually closer to three feet at the withers (top shoulders).
If they stand up on their hind feet (which they shouldn't, mind you), Irish Wolfhounds can tower to a height of seven feet tall!
Irish Wolfhound Weight and Colors
In terms of weight, expect the scale to stretch north of 120 lbs. (fifty-five kilos).
As for colors he can come in, an Irish Wolfhound can be black, brindle, fawn, or grey. He can also come in white or red.
Not only is the Irish Wolfhound a large dog with a large coat, but his coat is also tougher to groom. It is a thick and woolly coat, so you need to brush it several times to be sure you’ve gotten all the dead hair out of it.
You only really need to groom him once or twice per week, though. Just make sure you don’t skip a session; else you’re only inviting mats and possibly even a skin infection.
You may find your Wolfhound has patches of hair that are longer than others, usually on his face, tail, or legs. You can trim these as necessary or, if you don’t trust yourself, you can always bring him to a professional groomer.
Clean his ears and teeth regularly to prevent infections and other problems and bathe him every 6 to 8 weeks. Make sure you bathe him after you brush him – this prevents a lot of mess in the drain, plus it makes cleaning him more effective. You’ll also want to brush him when he gets out of the bath to prevent tangles.
Keep in mind that an Irish Wolfhound’s normal weight is already placing stress on his body. As a result, he can become susceptible to cardiac and skeletal ailments. If you allow your pet to grow chubby, be prepared to meet with your veterinarian on a regular basis.
Some of the conditions to keep an eye out for in the Irish Wolfhound in particular include:
- von Willebrand's Disease
- Progressive retinal atrophy
- Canine hip dysplasia
- Osteochondritis dissecans
The growing phase of a large dog like the Irish Wolfhound is a crucial one. In addition to the need to focus on socialization and training in his early years, your management of his diet is just as crucial!
Expect your gentle giant Irish Wolfhound to live to an age of just six to eight years. Not surprising, considering how larger dogs typically have short lifespans, and you can’t get much larger than the Irish Wolfhound. This is why it is so important to enjoy every day you spend with him.
Note: Don't let the many issues above scare you. The best way to approach health problems is to prevent them in the first place. The Ultimate Guide to Dog Health is a great place to start. Get a copy to keep at home. It will help you prevent the painful health issues that can plague your lovely pet from expressing his winning personality and maximizing his life expectancy.
Make sure you follow your Irish Wolfhound’s exercise regimen faithfully. This should involve at least sixty minutes of moderate activity every day.
One thing’s for sure: he loves to run. If you can bring him to a dog park, or to a large fenced-in area and let him loose, he’ll be in heaven.
You, should, however, be more careful with him as a puppy. Keep his exercise moderate at all times, particularly during his first year. Do not allow himself to overexert! This could damage his growing muscles and joints.
It probably goes without saying by this point, but don’t consider keeping an Irish Wolfhound as a pet if you live in an apartment or a crowded neighborhood. He needs lots of space.
Ideally, you should have an estate in the country; at the very least, you need a large backyard with easy access to dog-walking trails.
Surprisingly, the typical Irish Wolfhound temperament is quite amenable to doing absolutely nothing. He loves exercise if you’re offering, but unlike, for example, the Border Collie, he doesn't care if he doesn’t get any whatsoever.
Scottish Deerhound vs. Irish Wolfhound
If you’re torn between whether to get a Scottish Deerhound or Irish Wolfhound, here are some key differences that can help you make up your mind:
- Deerhounds require more exercise than Wolfhounds do.
- Wolfhounds are bigger than Deerhounds, in both weight and height.
- Deerhounds have a slightly longer life expectancy than Wolfhounds do.
Irish Wolfhound Mixes
If a mixed breed is what you’re looking for, there are plenty of Irish Wolfhound mixes out there. Here are a few of them:
- Irish Mastiff (Mastiff mix)
- Irish Dane (Great Dane mix)
- German Shepherd Irish Wolfhound (German Shepherd mix)
- Wolfsky (Husky mix)
- Corgi Irish Wolfhound mix (Corgi mix)
- Irish Wolfhound Lab mix (Labrador Retriever mix)
Finding the Perfect Irish Wolfhound
If you’re looking into adding an Irish Wolfhound puppy to your family, that’s great!
You can either search for an Irish Wolfhound for sale from a breeder, or you can adopt one through a rescue or adoption agency close to your home.
Irish Wolfhound Puppies for Sale
The average Irish Wolfhound price is between $1,500 and $2,000.
It’s, of course, less expensive to adopt, but keep in mind this is just the price of the dog. You also have to budget for everything he will need on the regular, from food and flea meds to regular vet visits.
Irish Wolfhound Adoption and Rescue
If you would like to adopt an Irish Wolfhound, visit the website for the Irish Wolfhound Club of America.
This group can help match you with an adoptable Irish Wolfhound that will be a good match for you and your family.
Most of the Irish Wolfhounds who are up for adoption are adult dogs who simply got a bad shake in life. For instance, many dogs end up in shelters when their owners can no longer afford to take care of them, or when they move to a smaller home and can’t bring the dog.
While you may want a puppy, note that adult rescue dogs come with their share of perks. For one thing, they usually know by now that they have to do their business outside. And they should have outgrown any chewing tendencies.
Not only that but when you adopt an Irish Wolfhound through a rescue group, the group will always spay/neuter the dog and give him one final check-up before you bring him home.
Irish Wolfhound Breeders
Another option you have available is to buy an Irish Wolfhound dog for sale from a breeder. However, you shouldn’t just jump into a transaction blind without doing any additional research.
For one thing, you’ll need to review the breeder’s credentials, which you can probably find online. Most Irish Wolfhound breeders have websites and social media profiles. Here, you can see if any other customers have filed complaints against a particular breeder you’re interested in.
Whatever you do, don’t buy puppies from pet stores or online brokers. These people don’t care about the dogs – or you – and are only in it for the money.
You will need to continue to keep your guard up when you visit the breeder. During the visit, look for signs of trouble that could spell the breeder not taking proper care of her dogs.
If you discover dirty, unsafe, or cramped conditions at a breeder’s home, you should report that breeder. Not only will you save someone else from making a terrible mistake, but you will help rid the Irish Wolfhound market of a breeder who should not be in the business.
You should also avoid buying an Irish Wolfhound from a breeder who cannot provide you with the dog’s medical records. The only reason a breeder would not be forthcoming with this information is if she had something to hide.
Conclusion: Why the Irish Wolfhound?
The calm and friendly Irish Wolfhound temperament is more than enough to convince you to bring this fella home. Plus, if you’re looking for a good guard dog, all a burglar needs to do is catch a glimpse of this guy, and your home will be safe – he’s huge!
The Irish Wolfhound is great with kids, but you may want to refrain from bringing one home if you have toddlers. He may end up knocking them down and inadvertently hurting them because of his larger size.
Also, with larger dogs, people tend to allow their children to “ride” them like horses. Please, don’t do that. The Irish Wolfhound’s back cannot withstand the weight of a child, and you could end up seriously hurting the dog.
Other Large Dogs
While the Irish Wolfhound is the largest of the breeds, there are several other big dogs if you ultimately decide the Irish Wolfhound is not the dog for you. These breeds include:
Kailyn has worked as a professional freelance writer since 2012, and during that time she has written about nearly every dog breed imaginable. Her mother loved Collies, and so Kailyn grew up with three of them throughout her childhood – including a blonde one who was half-blind! Now her home belongs to her first official dog, Macho, a Dogo Argentino rescue.