The Tallest Dog: An Irish Wolfhound Breed Guide
Irish Wolfhounds take their names from their history of hunting large game, including wolves. While their stature and reputation may make them seem intimidating, these dogs can make affectionate pets. What can pet owners expect when they bring home an Irish Wolfhound?
A Lengthy History
Irish Wolfhounds have a lineage that dates all the way back to 391 AD. There is a written record of a Roman consul receiving one of these dogs as a gift, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). In Ireland, these dogs were used to hunt wolves, deer, and boar. These large canines excelled so much at their job that wolves in Ireland were hunted to extinction, according to The Spruce Pets.
The breed itself almost went extinct in the 1700s, but Irish Wolfhounds made a comeback in the 1800s thanks to Captain George Augustus Graham. He tracked down dogs that had descended from Irish Wolfhounds and set out to rebuild the breed using a number of other types of dogs, such as Great Danes and Scottish Deerhounds.
A Lanky Build
The modern Irish Wolfhound is the tallest dog breed. If this dog stands on his hind legs, he could tower over the average person at seven feet tall. The breed has a lanky build with a narrow, muscular body. Males of the breed typically weigh around 120 pounds, while female are slightly smaller at 105 pounds, according to the AKC.
Coat and Care
Irish Wolfhounds have a wiry coat. You might think of them as grey, but they can also have black, blue, red, brindle, and white coats. Beneath the wiry outer layer, the Irish Wolfhound has a soft undercoat. The breed sheds but not excessively. Regular brushings will help to minimize shedding and keep the coat healthy.
You don’t need to take up big game hunting to have an Irish Wolfhound, but you do need to commit to a regular exercise routine. They will have a high prey drive and love to run. It is important to take them for walks and allow them off-leash play time.
Irish Wolfhounds as Pets
While Irish Wolfhounds have a history as fearsome hunters, they are known today as gentle, loving dogs. These highly affectionate dogs take well to training. Despite their large stature, the breed is not suited as a guard dog. They will be perfectly friendly to strangers.
The Irish Wolfhound Club of America has resources for prospective owners who are interested in recusing one of these dogs or buying from a breeder.