Irish Wolfhound Information


Being the same size as a small pony, the Irish Wolfhound is the tallest dog breed in the world with its commanding appearance and muscular greyhound-like shape. Originally called the Cu Faoil in Ireland, Irish Wolfhounds are superb athletes and endurance runners that are “gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked.” With its large size requiring more room, increased exercise, and a larger vehicle, read on to find a full breed description to determine whether this “gentle giant” would be the perfect pet match for your family.

Irish Wolfhound
Basic Info
NameIrish Wolfhound
Other NameCú Faoil
OriginIreland, Belgium
Size Type Giant Dog Breeds
Breed Group Hound Dog Breeds
Life Span6 to 8 years
TemperamentPatient, Sweet-Tempered, Thoughtful, Dignified, Generous, Loyal
Height30 to 35 inches at the shoulder
Weight105 to 180 pounds
ColorsFawn, Grey, Red, White, Black, Brindle
Puppy PriceAverage $1800 - $2000 USD

Irish Wolfhound

Physical description

Body Type

With a very muscular, strong, and enormous though graceful build, the Irish Wolfhound has a long head with a narrow skull and long, somewhat pointed muzzle. The dogs possess small ears that are carried back against their heads when the dog is relaxed, but are halfway pricked whenever the wolfhound is excited. While the neck is long and well-arched, the chest is broad and deep. The dogs have a long tail that hangs down and are slightly curved towards the long, strong legs that are equipped with rounded feet. Although the breed can reach up to seven feet tall when standing on its back legs, Irish Wolfhounds normally will be between 28 to 35 inches at shoulder height with a weight ranging from 90 to 150 pounds.


According to the breed standard from the American Kennel Club, the acceptable coat colors for Irish Wolfhounds include grey, brindle, black, pure white, fawn, red, wheaten, and steel grey. While there is commonly white on the tip of the tail, feet, and legs, the standard does not allow excessive white spotting to be shown on the blaze or collar.


Irish Wolfhounds possess a wiry and shaggy coat that is rough to the touch covering the head, body, and legs with longer hair over both the eyes and beneath the jaw. With the rough medium-length coat, the dogs are considered average shedders that shed excess hair twice each year with the changing seasons.

Good with Kids
Cat Friendly
Dog Friendly
Hypoallergenic  No


Since the dogs have thick and wooly coats that need a good going over to prevent uncomfortable mats and there is a large amount of dog that needs to be brushed, the grooming requirements for Irish Wolfhounds can be time-consuming. It is recommended that owners brush the dogs with a slicker brush at least once or twice each week, while combing out tangles or objects picked up outside when needed. Irish Wolfhounds must be bathed once every six to eight weeks with lukewarm water, dog shampoo, and conditioner with a good comb through after toweling dry. Veterinarians also suggest that owners moisten a cotton ball with water or an approved ear-cleaning solution to keep the ears free of debris and brush their teeth weekly to prevent any dental issues from emerging.


With its name originating from being a wolf hunter instead of its appearance, the Irish Wolfhound is a very ancient breed that has been mentioned in Roman records dating back to 391 AD. Despite the fact that some experts believe the breed may have been brought to Ireland as early as 7000 BC, the dogs are mentioned in Irish literature for the first time in the 5th century AD. Due to their large size, the wolfhounds were used as hunting dogs, ferocious guard dogs, and alert watchdogs to protect either homes or stock. While their main purpose was for hunting Irish elk, deer, wolves, and wild boar, the dogs were also used in ancient wars and were held in such high esteem that battles were often fought over them as well. Often given as royal gifts, only the nobility were allowed to own Irish Wolfhounds during the English Conquest of Ireland.

Then the boar and wolf became extinct in Ireland in the 19th century, the number of Irish Wolfhound dramatically declined in population. Luckily, British officer Captain George Augustus Graham and a few other select breeders were responsible for reaffirming the dog’s existence by introducing Great Dane and Deerhound blood into the breed. In the early 20th century, the breed was presented to the Irish Guards as a mascot and unofficially became regarded as the national dog breed of Ireland. Now primarily a large friendly family companion, the Irish Wolfhound was recognized by the American Kennel Club as a sporting breed in 1925.


Unlike most other dog breeds, Irish Wolfhounds are known to have a varied range of personality styles that allow for personal quirks and individualism from dog to dog. Despite popular belief, the wolfhound is rarely found to be boisterous or destructive with its large size. The dogs are often described as being even tempered, sweet, kind, patient, intelligent, trustworthy, and thoughtful. Always willing and eager to please their owners, Irish Wolfhounds usually have a pleasant disposition with children that makes them unconditionally loyal to their human family.

Although these enormous wolfhounds require plenty of space to run off excess energy in a large fenced-in yard and are not suitable for apartment living, the breed does not need any more exercise than similar smaller dogs. Irish Wolfhounds need to be walked daily to satisfy their natural instincts. Since the dogs strongly benefit from a firm, consistent, and gentle pack leader, it is important that owners teach the dogs to heel beside or behind them holding the lead. Being a sighthound, the breed loves to chase and will need to be secured within a fenced area for exercise, but Irish Wolfhounds need to be part of a family instead of in a kennel.

Interesting Irish Wolfhound Facts

  • Similar to many other large dog breeds, Irish Wolfhounds have a relatively short lifespan that is normally between six and ten years with seven years being the average. Unfortunately, the leading causes for death include bone cancer, gastric torsion, protosystemic shunt, and canine heart disease.
  • Despite the fact that Irish Wolfhounds remain in the puppy stage for almost the first two full years of their lives, the dogs can weigh over 100 pounds at this young age.
  • Sometimes referred to as the “Big Dogs of Ireland,” “Greyhounds of Ireland,” or “Great Hounds of Ireland,” the Irish Wolfhounds has been adopted as a symbol of the country’s national rugby team and the Irish Rugby Football Union.