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the irish wolfhound


As a companion dog



Irish Wolfhound

The Irish Wolfhound is a balanced dog, good natured and very sensitive – even sentimental. And though it emanates from him an impression of strength, you can see in his eyes an immense sweetness of manner and an affection that comes near to devotion for the one who will be able to offer all the affection he needs.

In every day life he is rather tractable, this is essential otherwise, considering his size, he would be a permanent threat for his environment, humans and other animals whose life he is sharing.

Don’t try to make a watch-dog of your Wolfhound, if ever you had the desire to have him trained to guard, be well assured that you adopted the wrong breed.

Don’t forget that he is born a hound!


Irish Wolfhound

His height makes him a dissuading fellow, and who would be mad enough to go and face an angry Wolfhound? If he gets used to children since puppyhood, the Wolfhound adores them and behaves with plenty of gentleness / treats them with kindness. As he gets easily bored when left alone, he needs a human presence and he doesn’t bear the dog-kennel, as comfortable it might be.

He must be allowed to live with you in the house, because he is your friend and your companion. He has the typical calmness of the hound with dignified manners, in short, he is « the king of the dogs ».


Give him his own place in your house where he can rest and sleep and where you can ask him to retire when you don’t want to be disturbed. A thick bed mattress, not too close to direct heat but draught free will do. Cove it with a solid blanket or a small carpet which can be washed frequently. A soft bed will protect his elbows which as he grows in size and weight may develop Bursitis, a « pocket » filled with liquid (sinovia) on the articulation. It may reach the size of an orange or more. Once it is there it can take six months or more to cure.

In summer your Wolfhound will appreciate to lie outside. Please see to it that he has a spot in the shadow because he easily suffers from heat.


A serious breeder will be bent to sell you a good-tempered puppy whose only desire is to attach himself and to please you. Therefore, the moment he arrives you should begin to teach him that certain things are allowed whereas others are forbidden.
Educating a puppy means a clever proportioning of firmness and flexibility and he will learn whatever you take pains to teach him. Be consistent: he will not understand that one day something is tolerated while the next day it isn’t any more! A NO with a stern voice should be sufficient, don’t ever hit your Wolfhound.

As soon as his vaccination programme is completed, bring him together with other dogs, children (if you don’t have any yourself). Puppy training classes would be perfect, if there aren’t in your area, sit down on a bench in a public park to get him used to the outside world. Otherwise it could happen that your grown-up Wolfhound courses the smaller dogs, cats, in a word « everything that moves », because a strong hunting instinct is still retained in certain lines.
Sometimes you meet Wolfhound owners – of dogs in particular – that are reluctant whether to let their hounds run free, which is a pity...

If you are patient, you should be able to obtain the basic obedience requirements such as sit, heel, down, etc., as well as walking quietly on a lead without pulling. Besides the fact that this damages his articulations, you will not have the strength any more to retain a hound that weighs 150 pounds or more.


Irish Wolfhound

The weight of an Irish Wolfhound puppy at birth is between one and 1 ½ pound and some twelve months later it will have increased a hundred fold. That’s why plenty of first-rate food is important. Don’t believe those who tell you that one pound of any dry dog food is enough!

Your breeder should give you an extensive diet sheet for the first months. Don’t change food suddenly, the digestive system of the puppy is delicate and it could respond with intestinal disorders.

The adult hound will do better with two smaller meals than one big bowl daily. Besides the pleasure of eating twice a day, the fact to eat less at once will help to prevent the torsion/bloat, a condition that affects most of the giant breeds: the heavy full stomach turning over itself and blocking both ends, then blowing up like an enormous balloon, causing death from shock and ultimate heart failure. That’s why it is also advised that the hound keeps quiet one or two hours after every meal. And don’t forget either that drinking a lot of water, after a long walk for instance, may also cause torsion. It is far better to let him drink small quantities several times after exercising.

Adult Wolfhounds get easily fat, the bitches in particular, which may affect their longevity. Some drink a lot – take care that they always have fresh water at their disposal.

Food and water should be given at a comfortable height proportionally to their size, in particular during growth, so that they don’t need to spread the elbows and the feet to reach their bowl.


Irish Wolfhound

The Irish Wolfhound, like all big dogs, takes a long time to reach his full bloom, physical and psychical. If the growing in height is more or less completed at 12-15 months, he is not « finished » before the age of 3 or 4 years. During the six first months he may grow four inches or more in one month time and gain five or six lbs. weekly.

This rapid growth to reach his great size will not come about without careful management. Imagine the enormous stress put on the whole body by such a growth rate. Thereby everything that might damage the bones, the cartilage and the articulations – so vulnerable with the young puppy – must be avoided: no running neither with other dogs nor with children, no jumping, no stairs!

It’s also very easy to ruin a puppy when it becomes too fat and if you let him gallop more than five minutes a day.

The most common and disastrous mistake during growth is to give too much exercise and so cause permanent deformation of the articulations. Many puppies are made cow-hocked or down in pasterns because their loving owners cannot bear to confine in their exuberant “baby” but let him gallop, leap and play as much as it wants.

Too much exercise may also be the cause of serious bone disorders, particularly osteochondritis of the shoulder joint.

Ideally a Wolfhound puppy should play in an area too small for galloping but large enough to have fun. The puppy should be encouraged to rest and sleep a lot and he must always be locked in after a meal (see above torsion).

At six months, a strong limbed puppy can be allowed a five minutes gallop in a large field every two days, and on the alternate day go for half a mile’s walk on a quiet road, without pulling on the lead which will strain the joints. This is quite enough exercise until it’s growth slows down at about 9-10 months for a bitch and 11-12 months for a dog. After that exercise may be gradually increased, with a heedful eye kept on the youngster’s soundness and strength of joints, because the bones will not be fully calcified before 13-14 months.

Once the young Wolfhound has stopped growing, around 12-13 months, exercise can be stepped up steadily in order to put plenty of muscle on that large frame. About 3 or 4 miles of road walking or an hour of free galloping and trotting (not ambling about) will build plenty of muscle and maintain it. The adult Wolfhound should be given the possibility to run free every day to gain and maintain physical condition and it is equally essential for his mental balance.
Unless you are a sportsman yourself, a second dog, smaller and more restless (of the whippet type for example) might also contribute to keep your hound at the top of its form.

Irish Wolfhound

A horseman followed by a Wolfhound is indeed a beautiful sight. But it is definitely not the ideal dog for this, the Wolfhound is too heavy and too sensible to heat during the summer months to follow at the trot or even gallop during several miles. Other hound breeds are more appropriate for this activity.


The Irish Wolfhound’s coat is easy to groom if it is of good harsh quality. One or two weekly sessions with a bristle brush and a good strong comb are enough to get him smart looking. Don’t forget to have a look on the ears, teeth and nails as well. If you want to show your hound, he will need to be stripped out to some extent.

Unless he gets particularly dirty or has rolled in something unpleasant, it is not usually necessary to bathe the hound. But if you want to do it, use shampoos specifically intended for dogs, then rinse abundantly and take care that it doesn’t catch a chill.

From time to time a visit with the vet will be necessary. Annual boosters are essential. It’s your decision whether you want to insure your Wolfhound. Generally speaking they are not a delicate breed, but the suffering or injured hound is not always stoical, some can be rather timorous of pain.

A constant source of worry are the frequent injuries at the tail as they use to shake it frantically out of excitement, knocking against the walls and the furniture. The slightest scratch must be treated as it can be slow to heal and become infected. It happens that the tip or even part of the tail must be amputated, so be on your guard!


Irish Wolfhound

R.A.L.I.E., in charge of the breed, is responsible for the management and supervision of the breeding in France. We have adopted a quotation system, which include – in addition to the show results obtained – a character test. Therefore the club is able to communicate to the puppy buyers the rating of litters produced by the breeders members of R.A.L.I.E.

Don’t buy following a simple advert in a local newspaper or even in the specialised press. Make inquiries first.

The price of a three months old puppy with good origins, registered with the K.K., vaccinated and tattooed (or micro-chipped) is around 1500 to 2000 Euros.

It’s not easy for a newcomer to evaluate a puppy: it should be robust (around 45 lbs. for a dog, two or three lbs. less for a bitch), neither too fat nor too thin, with good bone and straight limbs, a free gait, a shining coat and an outgoing temperament. For type you must rely on the breeder.


If you are not certain whether the Irish Wolfhound is the dog that suits you, meditate the following ten observations:


The Irish Wolfhound is an animal...

• that will be very expensive to feed, in particular during growth ;
• that must be fed on a regular basis four times a day during the first months ;
• that should avoid during growth steps and stairs, slipping soil and long walks ;
• that will make damage in proportion to it’s height in the house as well as in the garden ;
• that needs company, but also calmness to rest ;
• that, grown up will need regular exercise ;
• that will not be a good watch-dog ;
• that will obey like a « sighthound » ;
• that has little chance to become a champion ;
• that will not live very old, as most giant dogs.



You will agree, the Irish Wolfhounds are not like most other dogs, since more demanding in various respects.

Having said this, if nevertheless you are decided to obtain a Wolfhound, you will discover a dog with a particularly winning personality. A serious breeder will answer all the questions you still want to ask and hand you over a diet sheet for the first weeks. He will also remain at your disposal for further advice.