|Sensitivity to strangers|
|Affection for family|
|Suitable for first-time owners|
|Ease of grooming|
The Irish Wolfhound, also known as the Irish dog, the Big Dog of Ireland, the Greyhound of Ireland, The Wolfdogs of Ireland, and the Great Hound of Ireland, is a giant dog whose large size hides a sweet and affectionate temperament.
The Irish Wolfhound has a fascinating past. It appears in many Irish legends and myths. Its origins may be related to an ancient Irish wolf-dog that dates back to the 5th century AD, although the name Irish Wolfhound is quite recent. Only kings and noblemen were allowed to have one of these dogs.
In ancient times, this dog was known as Cú. The word Cú may be translated as hound, Irish hound, war dog, or wolf-dog. Cu is also a term implying bravery, strength, speed, and courage. Furthermore, only noble kings and warriors who had proven noble traits deserved this title and the affection and loyalty of this dog. Some of the most famous Irish heroes took the name Cú since it was an honor to deserve the affection and protection of an Irish Wolfhound.
Scottish Captain George Augustus Graham created the modern variety of this breed. By the middle of the 19th century there were only a few specimens left, so he set out to save the breed from extinction by crossing them with the Scottish Hound, Great Dane and Russian Borzoi.
Thanks to its size, strength and speed, the Irish wolfhound was capable of confronting wolves in the past. Today, it could still do it without any problem.
Irish Wolfhound: Curiosities
There are many curiosities related to the Irish Wolfhound. It is a dog that may have attracted the attention of Julius Caesar during his battles against the Celts. It is a symbol of Ireland and, according to the latest studies, these dogs have lived on the Irish island for at least 7,000 years.
In Irish history and historical accounts, it frequently appears under the name “Cú“. The ancient Irish used them mainly as hunters and guardians. An Irish legend tells that Setanta, an Irish warrior, arrived at his uncle’s castle, unaware that the ferocious guard-dog was lurking. The dog leapt out at Setanta, who immediately took his trusty hurl and ball and hit the wolfhound directly in the throat, killing him instantly. Culann was devastated at the loss of his beloved wolfhound and Setanta, feeling guilty for killing the ferocious dog, offered to rear him as a replacement. Until the replacement guard dog was ready, Setanta would guard Culann’s grounds himself and this is how the name Cú Chulainn (Hound of Culann) was born.
During the years of British colonial rule, Irish Wolfhounds became very popular among the nobility, and only the richest and most powerful could own a dog of this breed.
Gelert, Llywelyn’s dog
A narrative by William Robert Spencer tells a famous legend about Gelert, the Irish Hound gifted by John Lackland to Llywelyn the Great in the year 1210. He was a prince of Wales who ruled for 50 years.
Gelert and Llywelyn became inseparable. One day the prince left his dog to watch over his young son while he went hunting. When Llywelyn returned from the hunt, he was greeted by Gelert who came bounding towards him… its jaws dripping with blood. Llywelyn was convinced that his favorite hound had killed his son. So, he took his sword and plunged it into Gelert’s heart. As the dog howled in his death agony, Llywelyn heard a child’s cry coming from underneath an upturned cradle. It was his son, unharmed. Beside the child was an enormous wolf, dead, killed by the brave Gelert.
Llywelyn was struck with remorse and carried the body of his faithful dog outside the castle walls, and buried him where everyone could see the grave of this brave animal, and hear the story of his valiant fight with the wolf. To this day, a cairn of stones marks the place, and the name Beddgelert means in Welsh ‘The grave of Gelert’. Every year thousands of people visit the grave of this brave dog. According to history books, after this event, Llywelyn never smiled again.
Irish Wolfhound: Physical Characteristics
In terms of stature, no dog is able to surpass the Irish Wolfhound. It stands at least 32 inches (80 cm) tall at the shoulder. The Irish Wolfhound is the true giant in the canine world. The Irish Wolfhound female weighs 88 lb (40,5kg); while males usually weigh 119 lb (54kg).
Its medium-to-short coat is thick, rough, and strong. The Irish Wolfhound can be found in the following varieties of colors:
Irish Wolfhound: Temperament
The Irish Wolfhound is lovely, calm, gentle, and friendly. However, it is also one of the most “unique” dogs, in the sense that each specimen has its own character and personality.
Don’t worry about its size, it is not a destroyer! It is a very controlled, introverted and reserved dog that is also calm by nature and capable of developing an extraordinarily strong bond with its family. It is a breed so attached to humans that it does not tolerate loneliness.
The historical motto used to describe the Irish Wolfhound in its country of origin is: “Calm if petted, fierce if provoked.”
Irish can be easily trained and it responds well to a firm and gentle owner. Despite its truly impressive body size, the Irish wolfhound can live in an apartment without problems. Besides, it would love to live under the same roof with its owners. However, this does not mean that the Irish Wolfhound does not need wide spaces inside home since due to its large size, a small uncontrolled movement can endanger home decorations.
Irish Wolfhound: Needs
It is essential that the Irish Wolfhound be taken for walks on a regular basis. Its energetic level is moderate, so it can abandon its “rural” nature to adapt to urban life with proper exercise.
During the growing stage, the Irish Wolfhound needs a nutritious and balanced diet. And believe it or not, when it is an adult, it will not need more food than what a smaller dog with a more robust body could eat.
Like all sighthounds, Irish Greyhounds are born primarily as hunting dogs. They also have excellent racing abilities. A curious fact is that they are not territorial dogs, so they could not act as guard dogs. They tend to defend people more than their territory. They can even be very friendly with strangers.
They are excellent companion dogs that should be trained from puppyhood, so that their size will not be a problem in the future. Although they are not obedience dogs, they understand how to behave within social and family life.
As excellent companion dogs, they love physical contact. In addition, the Irish Wolfhound, like all greyhounds or sighthounds, are ideal for dog shows.
Irish Wolfhound: Health, Diseases, and Life Span
How long may an Irish Wolfhound live? The life span of an Irish Wolfhound is poor, as is the case with all giant dog breeds. On average, this breed has a life expectancy of 8 years. However, breeders select the longest-lived stallions, and they may live 10 to 12 years.
Osteosarcoma and dilated cardiomyopathy are among the most common diseases that hamper the longevity of this dog breed. In addition, in order to avoid the onset of bone cancer, it is important to wait until the dog is fully developed and not to prematurely spay or neuter it.
Other common diseases that this breed may suffer from are gastric torsion or hip dysplasia. In order for the Irish Greyhound to remain healthy, it must be exercised daily.
Irish Wolfhound: Relationship with its Owner
The ideal owner of an Irish Wolfhound cannot be afraid of the biggest dog in the world. He must see beyond its size and recognize an animal destined to be loved for its gentleness, loyalty and absolute fidelity to humans and other animals that live with it.
It is a dog that has a great affinity with humans. For this reason it is able to understand them well, it changes its mood according to the owner’s mood. With firmness and kindness, the ideal owner knows how to be the leader this breed needs. Also, he has to be able to understand the independent spirit and the diversified personality of these splendid animals.
Irish Wolfhound: Relationship with Children
The Irish Wolfhound loves children and it is a perfect playmate. However, it is important that from puppyhood it becomes aware of its size so as not to hurt the smaller ones during play.
It develops a highly protective relationship towards the little ones in the family. Moreover, it is willing to do anything to keep them out of danger. Their calm character may turn into extreme aggressiveness if someone puts children at risk.
Some of the main characteristics of this breed are sweetness, kindness and peacefulness. All of them are accentuated when it is with the children of the home.
Irish Wolfhound: Relationship with Other Dogs
The Irish Wolfhound knows how to adapt perfectly to the presence of other dogs. As is the case with dogs of the same size, the Irish Wolfhound does not need to assert its size and it only reacts if provoked.
As a puppy, it immediately shows great sociability and will try to befriend all animals that are close to it. This breed is well-balanced. When out for a walk with its owner, it is neither unruly nor a fight seeker.
Irish Wolfhound: Price, Breeders, and Puppies For Sale
The Irish Wolfhound is a very particular dog, and due to its extraordinary size, not many owners can provide it with the space it needs. In addition, it is a difficult breed to find. There are some breeding establishments in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia and Ireland.
As for the price of an Irish Greyhound puppy, it ranges from 1100 to 1600 dollars, about 900-1400 English pounds. It is not an economical dog breed due to the lack of specimens and its characteristics. it is always best to buy from certified breeders and not be tempted to buy on the internet because of their strangely low prices. In addition, if you adopt a puppy, the reliable breeder will provide you with a veterinary certificate which states that the animal has been dewormed and is completely healthy.
You can always ask for the pedigree, which is essential: it allows you to check the purity of the dog’s breed. An animal with a pedigree has certain characteristics of its breed that differentiate it from the rest.
Now that we have clarified all the most important aspects, you can go in search of your new 4-legged friend, who is surely waiting for you.
In addition to the Irish Greyhound, there are other types of sighthounds recognized:
Long or wavy sighthounds:
- Azawakh (African Greyhound)
- Spanish Greyhound
- Polish Greyhound
- Magyar agár (Hungarian Greyhound)
- Miniature Italian Greyhound
- Sloughi (Arabian Greyhound)