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An Irish wolfhound lying in the grass.

Breed overview

  • Breed group — Hound
  • Height — 30-32 inches
  • Weight — 105-120 pounds
  • Coat length & texture — Long, shaggy, and rough
  • Coat color — An Irish wolfhound’s coat can come in a variety of colors, including gray, gray roan, red, black, and white. The coat requires regular bathing and brushing to keep it clean.
  • Exercise needs — Moderate
  • Intelligence — High
  • Barking — When necessary
  • Life span — 6-8 years
  • Temperament — Friendly, sensitive, and gentle
  • Hypoallergenic — No
  • Origin — Ireland

Irish wolfhound fun facts

👉 Coming up with a pet name can be fun but tricky. Search no further! According to PetScreening’s 2o24 database, the majority of our users name their male Irish Wolfhounds Murphy; Onku is the 2nd most popular male name. Meanwhile, most of our users with female Irish Wolfhounds love Ellie and Nala equally.

  • Irish wolfhounds are sometimes referred to as “Irish dogs,” “big dogs of Ireland,” and “great hounds of Ireland.”
  • At six months old, an Irish wolfhound can weigh up to 100 lbs.
  • An Irish wolfhound can be considered a puppy for more than a year.
An Irish wolfhound standing outside next to a small dog.

Irish wolfhound temperament and characteristics 

One of the first things you may notice as an Irish wolfhound owner is that your dog is very easygoing. Although your dog may have speed and agility, it’s more likely to go slow and at its own pace. To help your Irish wolfhound use its speed and agility, give it lots of space to run and play. You don’t necessarily have to take your wolfhound on long walks to hit daily exercise goals. Generally, going outside for fun and playing once a day with your pet is plenty.

If you bring your Irish wolfhound outside, keep in mind that your hound may chase after other animals. Your wolfhound’s large size may scare other animals, too. And, even though a wolfhound is typically good with children, you should watch your dog closely since your pet may tower over small kids.

Common Irish wolfhound health problems 

The Irish wolfhound dog breed is prone to health problems similar to those of other large and deep-chested dog breeds. A responsible breeder can tell you about health and genetic conditions that may affect your pet. Here are a few to be aware of:

  • Osteosarcoma. This bone cancer can cause a malignant tumor to form in a wolfhound’s leg, as this cancer originates in the bone. When this happens, the dog may limp and try to avoid putting weight on the affected leg.
  • Gastric bloat. Bloat in wolfhounds damages the liver, kidneys, and other organs. It may be linked to stress, and if left untreated, can be fatal.
  • Obesity. Giving an Irish wolfhound unhealthy foods or too many treats can lead to obesity. Dogs that suffer from obesity can experience joint problems, metabolic and digestive disorders, and other severe health conditions.
  • Dental disease. With dental disease , tartar can build up on your dog’s teeth, and may eventually cause inflammation of the gums and affect the roots of the teeth. If left untreated, it can cause loose teeth and lead to liver, joint, kidney, and heart damage.

Cost of caring for an Irish wolfhound

The cost of caring for an Irish wolfhound puppy in its first year may total around $5,500. Irish wolfhound puppies may cost about $2,500 or more depending on the breeder.

Keep in mind that dog supplies can be more expensive when you own an Irish wolfhound—large dog breeds like this one need more food and space than other small- to medium-sized breeds.

Don’t forget to bring your Irish wolfhound to a veterinarian for an examination and vaccinations at least once a year. You can always buy health insurance when your dog is a puppy so that you have a plan in place as they grow up. If you need help budgeting for your wolfhound, it may be worthwhile to consider a pet savings account, too.

An Irish wolfhound watching the sunset.

History of the Irish wolfhound

Irish wolfhounds are greyhound-like dogs with a history dating back to Roman times . The popularity of Irish wolfhounds reached a point where they were prohibited for exportation in Europe in 1652. In 1863, Captain George Augustus Graham made an attempt to restore the Irish wolfhound and just a couple years later in 1885,  founded the Irish Wolfhound Club.

Most recently, people relied on Irish wolfhounds to protect their property and livestock. Much like wolves, they hunted Irish elk, boar, and deer. Today, the wolfhound has a size, coat, and temperament that set it apart from other dog breeds. It remains a tall, strong, gentle giant that continues to charm people around the world.

Caring for your Irish wolfhound

Caring for a new Irish wolfhound puppy can be a lot of work. First, you’ll need to make a trip to the vet and schedule your dog’s vaccinations. You’ll also want to puppy-proof your home and prepare for teething. Finally, no one likes to think about their dog getting lost, but FidoAlert provides a free Fido ID and tag so you’re prepared just in case. 


Your Irish wolfhound should get at least two hours of exercise every day. Avoid extreme dog sports like flyball, since they can put too much pressure on your pet’s joints. On the other hand, a nice walk with your wolfhound can be mutually beneficial for both of you. Give your pet plenty of attention, too. If you leave your dog alone for too long, it may experience stress and anxiety, both of which can impact its short- and long-term health.

An Irish wolfhound on a leashed walk.


Your Irish wolfhound’s thick, rough coat requires some grooming. Use an undercoat rake and pin brush to groom your dog and remove debris from its coat. In terms of trimming your dog’s nails, do so every four to eight weeks to prevent cracking. Also, look for debris in your wolfhound’s ear canals at least once a week, and use ear cleaners to gently wash away any buildup. Finally, don’t forget to brush your Irish wolfhound’s teeth at least twice a week, too.

Diet and nutrition

An Irish wolfhound may eat an average of four to eight cups of dry food per day. As a puppy, it may be beneficial to give your pet regular meals throughout the day. At this time, let your puppy eat for up to 10 minutes, pick up what’s left, and give your dog a fresh meal later. A high-protein diet may be helpful for a working dog, but is not necessarily the best choice for a household pet. For help choosing the right dog food, consult with a vet.

As your wolfhound ages, it may require less food than when it was a puppy. Remember to keep an eye on your Irish wolfhound’s weight as it gets older, too. If your dog is dealing with obesity, it’s more likely to suffer from joint pain and other health problems.

Training your Irish wolfhound

It’s usually easy to teach Irish wolfhounds simple behaviors like sit and stay. You can teach your Irish wolfhound puppy these behaviors by using positive reinforcement. If you’re working with an older dog, you may need a head collar, harness, or other training aids to help. Wolfhounds are sensitive, and they generally do not respond well to harsh training. In these instances, the dogs tend to shut down and stop listening altogether. 

An Irish wolfhound in training.

Breeds similar to the Irish wolfhound

Not quite sure that an Irish wolfhound is right for you? Even if you are, it’s worth taking the time to research and consider other similar breeds. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Scottish deerhound. Sometimes called the “royal dog of Scotland,” the Scottish deerhound is an affectionate breed that typically gets along very well with other dogs.
  • Great Dane. The Great Dane is a gentle giant that loves being around family members and protects against strangers and unwanted visitors.
  • Greyhound. The Greyhound is commonly known as the fastest dog breed. Its inverted S-shaped body, tucked waist, and other distinct features help give the breed a dignified appearance.

Frequently asked questions

Is an Irish wolfhound a good family dog?

Absolutely. Irish wolfhounds are great with small children and other pets, as long as the dog is socialized at a young age. They’re also affectionate and tend not to bark too much.

Which is bigger: a Great Dane or an Irish wolfhound?

Overall, the Great Dane tends to be taller and heavier than an Irish wolfhound. The average size of a Great Dane is 28 to 35 inches (from floor to shoulder), and its average weight is 100 to 200 pounds. Comparatively, an Irish wolfhound typically stands 30 to 32 inches tall, and has an average weight of 105 to 120 pounds. Ultimately, some Great Danes are bigger than wolfhounds, and vice versa.

Are Irish wolfhounds aggressive?

Irish wolfhounds are generally not aggressive by nature. These dogs may look intimidating, but tend to have a friendly and pleasant demeanor. They are also usually protective.

Is an Irish wolfhound bigger than a wolf?

Most Irish wolfhounds are bigger than wolves. On average, a wolf weighs anywhere from 80 to 150 pounds. Meanwhile, an adult wolfhound may weigh up to about 160 pounds.

What are the pros and cons of owning an Irish wolfhound?

Irish wolfhounds are kind, sweet, and sensitive. They can get along well with all members of your family, and can be loyal companions.

On the other hand, an Irish wolfhound’s lifespan tends to be much shorter than many other dog breeds. This breed can be needy and doesn’t do well when left alone for long periods of time. Additionally, it requires more food and care relative to other small- or medium-sized dog breeds, which can impact your bottom line.