Irish Wolfhound, Muscular Dog

The Irish Wolfhound is a dog breeds of domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris), specifically a sighthound. The name originates from its purpose (wolf hunting) rather than from its appearance. Irish Wolfhounds are the tallest dog breed on average.

Irish Wolfhound Appearance

The most distinguishing physical feature of the Irish Wolfhound is its great size. Built like a very muscular greyhound, the Irish wolfhound male can attain the stature of a small pony. Its large, long head tapers to a medium point and is held high. Ears are small and stay close to the head except during moments of intensity. Strong shoulders, a muscular neck, a deep chest and a retracted abdomen give the dog its characteristic body shape. Paws are large and round. The tail is carried between the legs, curving slightly upward. The coat is rough, shaggy, wiry and especially bushy over the eyes and under the jaw. The Irish Wolfhound is graceful with an easy yet powerful gait. Historically these dogs had to not only possess speed but endurance, allowing them to follow their prey and hunt it down. They had to be hardy enough to withstand being injured whilst using their own brute force to bring the prey down. The modern representation of the breed appears to be a dog capable of doing just that. Generally breeders aim for a height range of 85 to 95 centimeters (34 to 38 inches) at the withers in males, 50 to 80 centimeters (30 to 35 inches) for females. Generally acceptable weight 46–70 kg (101–154lbs). The recognized colors are gray, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn or any other color that appears in the Deerhound.

Irish Wolfhound Temperament

The Irish Wolfhound has a very peaceful personality and is good with children. An easygoing animal, they are usually quiet by nature. They should not be territorially aggressive to other domestic dogs but are born with specialized skills and it is common for hounds at play to course another dog. This is a specific hunting behavior, not a fighting or territorial domination behaviour. The Irish Wolfhound is relatively easy to train. They respond well to firm, but gentle, consistent leadership. The Wolfhound of today is far from the one that struck fear into the hearts of the Ancient Romans. Irish Wolfhounds are often favoured for their loyalty, affection, patience and devotion. Although at some points in history they have been used as watchdogs, unlike some dog breeds, the Irish Wolfhound is usually unreliable in this role as they are often friendly towards strangers. That said, when protection is required this dog is never found wanting. When they or their family are in any perceived danger they display a fearless nature.

Irish Wolfhound Health

Irish Wolfhounds don't live long lives. Published lifespan estimations vary between 5 and 10 years. Dilated cardiomyopathy and bone cancer are the leading cause of death and like all deep-chested dogs, gastric torsion (bloat) is also common; the breed is also affected by hereditary intrahepatic portosystemic shunt.

In a privately funded study conducted under the auspices of the Irish Wolfhound Club of America and based on an owner survey, Irish Wolfhounds in the United States from 1966 to 1986 lived to a mean age of 6.47 and died most frequently of bone cancer.

By the age of 8 months, Irish Wolfhounds appear adult, and many owners start stressing them too much. Outstretched limbs and irreparable damage are the result. Wolfhounds need at least 18 months to be ready for lure coursing, running as a sport, and other strenuous activities.

Wolfhounds should not receive additional supplements when a good dog food is used. It is generally accepted that they should be fed a large breed puppy food until 18 months old and then change to a large breed adult food. Most breeders today recommend that they not be supplemented to slow their rapid growth.

Irish Wolfhounds are one of the tallest of dog breeds so they are well suited to rural life, but their medium energy profile allows them to adjust fairly well to suburban and urban life as well, provided they receive appropriate exercise.

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