Irish wolfhound: dog breed information, personality traits, history, and lifespan

Strong, majestic, fierce, and beautiful are just some of the words that come to mind when one thinks of the Irish wolfhound, which is one of Ireland’s most important symbols.

The Irish wolfhound is an animal which is not only symbolically linked with Ireland but also highly steeped in Irish history. It is an animal which is instantly recognizable and one that is held in high regard by the Irish people

In this article, we will take an in-depth look into this dog and touch on its personality, history, and other valuable information about its lifespan and type of breed.

Dog Breed information

A dog everybody should check out, and it's of Ireland's origin.

The Irish wolfhound has an imposing height, it is, in fact, the tallest breed of dog. It is a slim dog, but large and strong. It has a wiry coat that protects it from scratches, which helps it to withstand the damp and wet Irish conditions.

On average, males can be anywhere from 32 to 36 inches tall and 140 to 180 pounds in weight, with many weighing even more at times.

The females on average can be anywhere between 32 to 34 inches tall and 115 to 140 pounds in weight. 

Today’s Irish wolfhounds are mainly recreated from the very last, original pure-bred Irish wolfhounds that have been crossed with other breeds, such as the Scottish deerhound, Great Dane, Tibetan wolfdog, and borzoi.

Personality traits

Irish wolfhounds are known for being friendly and loving, well behaved dogs.
Credit: @bosco_irishwolfhound / Instagram

Irish wolfhounds have a big heart and can be quite gentle, sensitive, and laid back. While they do have the ability to run at great speed, they generally tend to take a slower and more relaxed approach when moving around. Perfect for taking for walks or for grabbing a drink.

They are naturally talented hunters so owners should be vigilant when outdoors with them as they can take off after other animals.

Despite being such a big and fierce dog, it is often referred to as a gentle giant due to its calm disposition. However, it can also be protective, which makes it a great family dog. 

There is a saying about Irish wolfhounds which is “gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked”.


Irish wolfhounds are known for being gentle beings with bug hearts.
Credit: @dipsea.and.kazoo / Instagram

The Irish wolfhound has ancient origins, with mentions of it even stretching back as far as 391 AD in Rome, where it was used as a gladiator and courser.

In Ireland, it served mainly as a war dog and a hunting dog in a considerable measure. The Irish wolfhound was said to be strong enough to physically drag men off horses and chariots during a battle and could successfully hunt large game, such as wolves, deer, and boar.

The Irish wolfhound was a favourite amongst Irish royalty and Irish chieftains, they were seen as being so brave that their breed name in Irish is Cu Faoil: which translates to brave hound.

The Irish wolfhound was known for their strength and power, a symbol of strength.

In ancient Irish law, only kings and nobles were granted permission to own an Irish wolfhound. Generally, the higher the prestige a noble had, the more wolfhounds they would have in their possession.

So desired was the Irish wolfhound that it’s said that in the 12th century, an Irish wolfhound named Aibe was cited as the cause of war when his owner refused to trade him to the King of Ulster in return for 4,000 cows!

By the 19th century, the Irish wolfhound was in severe risk of becoming extinct due to several factors, such as the fact that the animals it once hunted so fiercely had, for the most part, disappeared throughout Ireland, and the occurrence of the Irish famine in 1845.

Thankfully the breed survived and has since thrived and is now seen today as a great companion to dog lovers. 

The lifespan of the Irish wolfhound

The Irish wolfhound lives a shorter life than most other dogs.
Credit: @bosco_irishwolfhound / Instagram

Sadly, the Irish wolfhound has a shorter lifespan than many other dog breeds as it only lives roughly for 6 to 8 years. This short lifespan is mainly due to the fact of the Irish wolfhound’s giant size, which causes it many health problems.

That concludes our article. Have you ever met an Irish wolfhound before and if so, how was your experience?

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