If there’s one thing we can say about Irish wolfhounds, it’s that these dogs definitely stand out from the crowd. Or, more accurately, they stand above it! These towering giants are one of the largest breeds in the canine kingdom.
A mainstay at Saint Patrick’s Day parades nationwide, the Irish wolfhound may look imposing, but he couldn’t be sweeter. This easy-going dog is the very definition of a “gentle giant.”
Of course, every breed has its own set of pros and cons. Which is why we’ve rounded up the essential facts you’ll want to know about this hound before jumping headfirst into puppy ownership.
If you’re considering bringing home one of these amicable giants, you’ll need to brush up on your research first. To that end, we’re here to help! We’ve gathered all the important information about this breed to help you decide if an Irish Wolfhound puppy could fit into your life.
|Size||This is a giant breed. Wolfhound males can reach a height of 32 inches, while females will usually be around 30 inches tall. On average, males weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 120 pounds, and females typically clock in at 105 pounds.|
|Breed Characteristics||We’ve got two words for you: think big. These giant hounds are tall, muscular, and can weigh up to 180 pounds! And yet, they still manage to pull off a graceful air that reminds us of a sleek Greyhound. Irish wolfhounds sport a double-coat, with a stiff, wiry outer layer and a softer undercoat. They come in a variety of colors including white, gray, brindle, red, black, and fawn.|
|Temperament||If a fierce watchdog is what you seek, you may want to reconsider bringing home one of these puppies. While they certainly appear intimidating, Irish wolfhounds are famously gentle, patient, and rarely aggressive. These sensitive souls make wonderful playmates for children, although a wolfhound’s immense size and playfulness could prove troublesome for a wobbly toddler.
Always a lover and never a fighter, wolfhounds have no trouble making friends with anyone they meet—whether it’s the family cat or the stranger walking his dog across the street, a wolfhound will always be polite and friendly. They thrive on human companionship, so adopting one of these pups means you’ll have a devoted friend for life.
|Grooming and Health Needs||Unless you plan on having your wolfhound perform in the show ring, you won’t be overworked by a demanding grooming regimen. Quite the opposite, you’re looking at a reasonable once-a-week brushing schedule. These dogs do shed, but only moderately, and they don’t go through any major seasonal sheds like most double-coated breeds.
Unfortunately, the staggering size of an Irish wolfhound accounts for a few health problems seen in the breed. These dogs can suffer from bloat—a sudden and often fatal swelling of the stomach—as well as hip and elbow dysplasia, cardiomyopathy (an enlarged heart), von Willebrand’s disease (a bleeding disorder), and eye problems. Sadly, Irish wolfhounds don’t have longevity on their side, and the average life expectancy of one of these dogs is capped at around 7 years.
|Training||With the proper motivation (think: yummy treats) and a positive, upbeat approach, training an Irish wolfhound puppy shouldn’t be especially difficult. This is a highly intelligent breed, and they’re typically fast learners. Be sure to start training from a young age, so you can get your pup off to a good start in life.|
|Energy Level||Regular exercise is a must for this breed. A simple stroll through the neighborhood should suffice, but if you’re up to it, Irish wolfhounds also love competing in obedience, tracking, lure coursing, and agility. Whatever your preference, just don’t neglect his exercise needs. A lazy wolfhound is bound to pack on the pounds, which puts unwanted strain on his joints.|
|Life Expectancy||Sadly, the average lifespan of an Irish wolfhound is a short 6-8 years.|
While there’s plenty to love about this unique and immense hound, he’s not a perfect match for every household. For one thing, you’ll need to get perfectly honest with your ability to take care of such a large animal. Do you have the space to let him run and do you have the budget to feed him? Compared with a small- or medium-sized dog, a wolfhound can be demanding in terms of space and nutrition. They need a lot of both.
Ideally, an Irish wolfhound will find himself in a home with a large fenced-in yard where he can safely blow off steam. Be prepared to share your furniture with this canine as well—PetMD points out that a wolfhound’s large and bony body can suffer from calluses if they aren’t given a soft place to rest.
If you’re unsure about your patience when it comes to mischievous puppy antics, you may want to pass on Irish wolfhound. According to the American Kennel Club, puppyhood in this breed can extend well beyond one year. Considering their giant size, this could pose some serious problems.
Size-related health issues are something else to consider. Wolfhounds commonly suffer from bloat, a life-threatening stomach condition, and they have a heartbreakingly short lifespan. You’ll need to ask yourself if is this something you’re willing to face as your hound gets older.
If you’re not deterred by a wolfhound’s size or exercise needs, you’re in for a loveable and loyal companion. This breed thrives on human companionship, and they get along beautifully with children and other pets.
The decision to adopt or to work with a breeder for your new wolfhound puppy is a personal choice that requires research. Thankfully, there are many resources out there to help you find a rescue or a breeder who offers healthy, ethically-sourced Irish wolfhound puppies.
Adopting an Irish wolfhound puppy
It may come as a surprise, but adopting a wolfhound puppy is possible. According to the AKC, most shelters report that the majority of their rescue dogs come from individual owner surrender due to a lifestyle change or an incompatibility with the dog. What this means for you: there may be adoptable purebred dogs and puppies out there who are looking for a new forever home.
The main difference between a breeder and a rescue is that a rescue may not always have young puppies to choose from. The benefit, however, is that most are mandated to only adopt out dogs that have been microchipped and spayed/neutered. This means you may end up with a dog who’s already been housebroken and doesn’t need these common medical procedures. You may also find an Irish wolfhound mix that has all the traits you want from the breed, but with a little extra thrown in.
Finding a wolfhound rescue can be as simple as searching the internet. You can check out the Irish Wolfhound Club of America to find local rescues.
Finding an Irish wolfhound breeder
The first step is to do your research. Sadly, there are many puppy mills posing as reputable breeders along with many online scams. Be aware, and reach out to different online forums for conversations about getting your future furry family member.
Be sure to ask questions, and make arrangements to meet the parent dogs or mother. In the end, you must follow your gut. If something seems wrong at a breeder you visit, or the wolfhound puppy seems too good to be true, there’s probably something fishy going on. The AKC also offers resources for finding a breeder, with fairly strict guidelines on who they let participate.
Knowing what you’re in for when you get an Irish wolfhound puppy is an important step in being a responsible pet owner. Whether you find an ethical breeder or are planning to adopt, prepare yourself for a sweet-tempered and friendly addition to your household.
After you find the right Irish wolfhound puppy, it’s time to prepare your home! Here are a few resources to get you started.
- How to Survive the First 24 Hours with Your New Puppy
- How Long Can You Leave a Puppy Alone?
- How Often Should I Walk my Puppy?
- The Essential New Puppy Checklist
- Puppy Training Resources
Featured image via Flickr/James Seattle