The Irish Wolfhound is one of the oldest recorded breeds of dog. Records of the existence of Irish Wolfhounds go back to the first century, where they were bred for war. These large shaggy haired dogs were often used by farmers to protect their livestock and guard their home. In early times, Wolfhounds were used to hunt boar and deer and provide much needed food.
The hounds were used as war dogs to haul men off horseback and out of chariots and there are many tales in Irish mythology of their ferocity and bravery in battle. They were also used as guards of property & herds, as well as for hunting Irish elk, deer, boar, and wolves. They were held in such high esteem that battles were fought over them.
After the conflicts in England ceased, Irish Wolfhounds became known as the dog of royalty and were transported around the world to be the guardian dogs of Kings and Queens. In fact the Irish Guard, the Queen’s own army still uses Irish Wolfhounds in special civic ceremonies.
Traditionally a rather aggressive but loyal dog, this more modern species of Irish Wolfhound are more noted for their calm, even temperament.
Owning An Irish Wolfhound
The Irish Wolfhound is not a breed for everyone. Apart from the obvious things like size, appetite and exercise, the most important consideration is have you the time to own one and are you prepared for the responsibility that comes with ownership of such a large dog? This is an energetic hunting hound who must have freedom and space for at least one long gallop every day, as well as a disciplined road walk. The wolfhound is a galloping hound with a strong hunting instinct and this should always be considered when letting them off the lead.
All wolfhound noses are at crotch height and they are not particularly gentle with their greetings! You must keep this in mind for non-doggy visitors.
Apart from feeding and exercise, a wolfhound’s main requirement in life is to be with its owner and family. This is not a breed that can be left all day while you are out at work; your Wolfhound needs to be with you.
Are Irish Wolfhounds Good Pets?
If you are looking for a long-lived breed, the Irish Wolfhound is not for you. They live roughly 6 to 8 years and his giant size predisposes him to many health problems.
Reliable, calm, gentle and loyal family companions, this breed bonds deeply with his people and wants to be included in all aspects of family life. Their sheer size is enough to scare away those with ill intentions, but Irish Wolfhounds are by no means guard dogs. They are polite to strangers but can be aloof.
Breeders – Where Can I Get An Irish Wolfhound?
A good place to start is: http://www.irishwolfhoundsociety.com/
They can point you in the right direction of a good breeder where you can start to ask lots of questions and research the breed. Be prepared, a good breeder will have a waiting list and will want to do a home check to make sure this is the right breed for you.
Always insist on seeing the puppy’s mother and father.
Diet – what should I feed my Irish Wolfhound
Your breeder should give you a diet sheet when you collect your puppy.
It is important to choose the right diet for your wolfhound. The very high protein/high energy feeds are intended for working dogs and not for the average family dog. Therefore, find a food low in protein at about 18 per cent or less. Again, your breeder will advise you on a good food, use them for advice. They will want to help and be involved throughout your puppy’s life.
How Often Does an Irish Wolfhound Need Grooming?
An Irish Wolfhound’s coat is wiry and rough which means a weekly brush is essential to keep their skin and coats in good condition. It’s also important for these dogs to be hand stripped at least twice a year and more especially when they shed most which is during the Spring and then again in the Autumn.
Your Irish Wolfhound fully grown won’t fit into your bath, that needs to be considered. You must ensure you get your puppy used to going to the dog groomers from a very young age if you are not going to do it yourself. I learned the hard way and didn’t take Murphy when he was young enough. As a result, he refused point blank to go into the walk-in bath at the dog groomers. I had to find somewhere with a wet room rather than walk-in bath.
With Finlay I took him very young and we made it a very positive experience with lots of treats. Now he loves an afternoon out at the groomers.
How Much Does an Irish Wolfhound Cost?
A typical cost for an Irish Wolfhound can be between £1,000 to £1,500. The Irish Wolfhound Society can put you in touch with a good breeder and offer advice.
Should I Get an Irish Wolfhound?
This needs a lot of thought and the breed should be thoroughly researched. They are not a suitable breed for someone who works full time. An Irish Wolfhound needs to be with his family and can be extremely destructive when bored. Forget chewed shoes or slippers, a bored Irish Wolfhound can chew through sofas, skirting boards and even plaster on your walls!
The Irish Wolfhound is usually a reliable, calm, gentle and loyal family companion but heed the saying – Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked!
I have had two Irish Wolfhounds now; Murphy and Finlay – and I can confirm they are an incredible breed. Once you are owned by a Wolfhound, life will never be the same.