Personality:Calm, dignified, kindly; courageous but not aggressive
Coat & Grooming:The rough, wiry coat needs routine brushing and occasional trips to the groomer; an average shedder
Energy Level:Somewhat Active; Mellow and docile, IWs are still athletic coursing hounds who enjoy a good gallop
Nicknames: Wolfhound; IW
Meet the Irish Wolfhound
Big? That’s putting it mildly. The IW is an immense, muscular hound. A fully mature male might stand 32 to 34 inches at the shoulder and weigh 120 pounds. This tallest of all AKC breeds is nonetheless gracefully built along classic Greyhound lines and can cover lots of ground quickly when at full gallop. The hard, medium-length coat comes in many colors, including white, gray, brindle, red, black, and fawn.
What's Their Story?
The Wolfhound’s long history is entangled in myth and legend, but we can reliably say that they were created by breeding Middle Eastern hounds to large dogs of Britain. We pick up reliable accounts of these ancient giants at about the 15thcentury, when wolves were overrunning the Irish countryside. IWs, already renowned big-game hunters, began to specialize on wolves. By the late 1700s, when the wolves of Ireland were hunted to extinction, IWs lost their job and nearly went extinct themselves.
“Long and gray and gaunt he lies/A Lincoln among dogs,” poet Christopher Morely wrote of the Irish Wolfhound. And, yes, there’s a dignified mournfulness to this amiable hound that can be described as Lincolnesque. They’re too serene to be fierce guard dogs, but just the sight of an IW is enough to deter intruders. IWs are wonderful with kids, though animals their size should be supervised around small children. Owning an Irish Wolfhound is a unique, rewarding experience—but acquiring a giant galloping hound is a commitment as big as the dog itself.