AKC Meet the Breeds: Irish Wolfhound

American Kennel Club, Inc. (c) 2011

An Irish Wolfhound must be "of great size and commanding appearance." He has a large, muscular, greyhoundlike shape, and he is the tallest of dogs, but not the heaviest. A superb athlete and an endurance runner, he is described perfectly by an old Irish proverb: "Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked." The breed's recognized colors are gray, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn, and others.

A Look Back
One of the earliest recorded references to Irish Wolfhounds is in Roman records dating to 391 A.D. Often used as royal gifts, they hunted with their masters, fought beside them in battle, guarded their castles, played with their children, and lay quietly by the fire as family friends. They were fierce hunters of wolves and the oversized Irish elk, so successful that their prey disappeared from Ireland and the hounds fell upon hard times. By the 19th century there were few Irish Wolfhounds left in Ireland.

Right Breed for You?
Although now primarily a family companion, the Irish Wolfhound will still instinctively give chase to fleeing prey. His large size commands more room, more exercise, and a bigger car. The breed's harsh, natural coat requires regular brushing.

  • Hound Group; AKC recognized in 1897.
  • Ideal size ranges from 30 to 34 inches tall at the shoulder.
  • Irish elk/wolf hunter, family companion.



AKC Meet the Breeds is a registered trademark of the American Kennel Club, Inc.


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