Meet the Breed: The Irish Wolfhound
The Irish Wolfhound is one of the tallest dog breeds, about the size of a small pony. It takes its name from its historical wolf hunting function as opposed to any wolf-like appearance. The IW has a Greyhound appearance with a rough, wiry coat. They are slender yet sturdy, athletic, and have a graceful, galloping gait while running. The chest is deep, and the waist is narrow. The tail hangs low and curves up slightly. Coat colors include grey, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn, wheaten and steel grey. Grey is the most common color.
Dogs resembling the Irish Wolfhound were documented in ancient Rome as early as 391 AD and were used as war dogs and estate guards. Eventually the dogs were imported to Ireland where they were only allowed to be owned by Irish nobles. They were employed as wolf, wild boar, and elk hunters. After the depletion of prey, their numbers dwindled. They were also frequent gifts to visiting nobility which also depleted IW numbers. The dog breed was championed by British army officer Captain George Graham in the second half of the 19th century. The breed was restored by the introduction of Great Dane and Deerhound blood.
The Irish Wolfhound truly is a gentle giant, being trusted with children, other dogs and non-canine animals they have been raised with. They are quiet dogs by nature and modern Irish Wolfhounds do not seem to have retained much of the guarding instinct, though their sheer size is often intimidating enough. They are sweet-tempered, highly intelligent, and eager to please. It is believed that the close proximity this dog has had with humans for thousands of years makes it discerning about human behaviors and intent. Therefore, when called upon, this dog will show great bravery against genuine threats against the family. This giant breed can be clumsy and is slow to mature in both body and mind, taking about two years before they are full grown. High-quality food is essential.
Breed Club Links: Irish Wolfhound Club of America
BaxterBoo.com Perfect Pairings: We recommend elevated feeders to put less strain on this large breed's body and minimize the risk of bloat.
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Photo courtesy of Philip Wilson.