The Irish Wolfhound is one of the most loved and appreciated Irish breeds. His story is old, but well known as Julius Caesar already mentioned it in his comments on the Gallic War. At that time they were valued for their fighting skills, especially for the ferocity with which they attacked the enemy.
But a lot has changed history. Currently, the Irish Wolfhound stands out as one of the most docile and affectionate dogs, but also one of the largest in the world. In this breed file that we have prepared for you at Glòries Veterinary Hospital, we are going to explain everything you need to know about this great breed of dog, including its characteristics, training, care and health. Read on if you are thinking of adopting one!
Origin of the Irish Wolfhound
These dogs are believed to be descendants of the first Egyptian sighthounds, who came to Ireland through the Celts. The Celts were interested in breeding big, tall dogs. The existence of these dogs was already known in 391 AD. when the Roman consul Aurelio expressed the amazement with which all of Rome saw the seven animals that had arrived there as gifts. Formerly it was also known as “cu”, because in Ancient Rome it was baptized as “Cú Faoil”, which in Gaelic means “hound”.
In the 19th century, the decline of the breed was so pronounced that it was thought that it might disappear. This happened to the fact that the Irish Wolfhound was used to hunt elk, and once the population of these animals declined, the use of this breed as a hunting dog also fell. Fortunately, a British Army captain named George A. Graham was able to rescue this breed by crossing Irish Wolfhounds with Bulldogs and Scottish Sighthounds.
Physical characteristics of the Irish Wolfhound
The Irish Wolfhound is among the tallest dog breeds in the world and competes with the Great Dane. The minimum height at the withers for a male Irish Wolfhound is 79 centimeters and at least 71 centimeters for females. The male Irish Wolfhound weighs 54 kg and the females weigh 47 kg. Unfortunately, the life expectancy of an Irish Wolfhound is 6 to 8 years.
This large dog has a long, broad-chested body with a slightly arched back and a long, slightly curved tail covered in good fur. Its head is elongated and measures the same width of the skull as the length of the muzzle, which is pointed in shape. The ears are small and their shape is like that of a rose, like those of a greyhound. His eyes are dark and of medium size.
The coat of an Irish Wolfhound is made up of tough, long and strong hair, especially in areas such as the lower part of the jaw or around the eyes. This coat can be gray, brindle, red-black, pure white, or fawn.
Irish Wolfhound Character
Despite their history as a hunting dog, Irish Wolfhounds are actually very hostile, affectionate, and friendly.
These dogs adapt to almost any type of coexistence, whether with children, the elderly or pets. They are so patient and noble that there will hardly be any confrontations with someone who is part of their family. However, they are also very loyal dogs and will not hesitate to defend their loved ones in dangerous situations.
Caring for the Irish Wolfhound
When caring for an Irish Wolfhound, the first thing to consider is taking care of their hair. You should brush his hair at least twice a week to avoid tangles and keep his coat clean. Baths should be limited and should only be done when necessary.
As a large breed of dog, these dogs understandably need a lot of exercise. In fact, you need at least an hour of high intensity exercise daily. This can include running, jogging, or taking long walks. They will also need time to play in order to be cognitively challenged and mentally stimulated. As large dogs, they will also need a spacious home. These dogs are not recommended for apartments. A house with a large backyard or even a farm is an ideal home for these large dogs.
When it comes to diet, they will need a high-quality, nutritious canine diet to boost their activities and keep them in good health.
Irish Wolfhound training
Like any other dog, Irish Wolfhounds will need to be properly trained from an early age. Educate them to learn to relieve themselves like all puppies: first on pads at home. Once they have all the proper vaccinations and are ready to go out for their first walks, it’s time to properly socialize them and let them relieve themselves outside. This will help them to have a balanced temperament when they are adults.
You can then start training your Irish Wolfhound by teaching him basic commands that will keep him calm in the future in certain situations. We also recommend that you do it through positive reinforcement. This will ensure that his training sessions help you bond with your dog and ensure that he does not develop any behavior problems when he is an adult.
The health of the Irish Wolfhound
Unfortunately, the Irish Wolfhound is one of the breeds with certain health problems. As with other giant breeds, they are prone to hip dysplasia, bone cancer, hypersensitivity to anesthesia or medications, heart problems, and liver problems. That is why they have a short life expectancy.
However, one of the most relevant dangers when talking about the Irish Wolfhound is the dreaded stomach twist. To avoid this disease, do not allow your dog to be physically active immediately after eating. Make sure they rest and digest the food first. You should also recognize symptoms as early as possible, these include lethargy, a distended abdomen, vomiting, and restlessness. If you see that your dog experiences these symptoms or any other abnormal behavior, you should take him to the vet as soon as possible so that he can be properly diagnosed and treated.
Lastly, be sure to keep your dog up to date with his vaccination schedule, deworming, electronic chip, and regular check-ups with his vet. If you follow these tips, your dog will have a happier and healthier life!