... and so you really want an Irish Wolfhound?

Photo M.+T.Berry

Think twice before you bring home an Irish Wolfhound. He is the King among dogs and will rule your life for the time coming. Everything will change or will have to adjust, be it your car or your house. Holidays can be a problem, youíll need to find a Kennel specialised for I.Wís or friends, preferably also Wolfhound owners, to keep him during your holidays. But the easiest way is to adjust your holidays and take him along.

If your living quarters are filled with breakable trinkets and not so stable, even antique valuables, an Irish Wolfhound can cause catastrophes. A fruit bowl or other delicacies cannot be left on a table, as for an Irish Wolfhound having set his mind on self service, nothing is sacred anymore.

He is a friendly and tolerant dog, gentle by nature, but donít let him deceive you by his ĄGentle Giantď image. A young puppy can have itís distinct personality and be very boisterous. His

friendly wagging tail can mean hurting blows and cause bruises for adults and children. Specially with small children one has to be careful, so quickly they can be overrun and hurt, even the puppy meant no harm. But fortunately puppies soon learn to be careful of smaller beings, whether they have 2 or 4 legs.

Irish Wolfhounds are very sociable dogs, they want to live with the family in the house, not locked away in a kennel. The sad howling of a lonely dog could make you unpopular with the surrounding neighbours. In the same way as he loves humans, he also loves contact with other dogs.

He is not a watchdog, but will alert you if somethingís not the usual way. A Wolfhound is a born hunter, he was bred for the chase of wolves and big prey. His size could lead to think to use him as watchdog and have him patrol a farm or a company yard. This would be contraproductive and ridiculous, because a lonely and bored Hound would welcome any burglar as a friend to play.

If you still think this will be your dog, youíll find the addresses of breeder in Dogís Magazines or at the breed clubs/Kennel Clubs. A breeder will gladly show you his dogs or puppies by appointment. He will ask you a lot of questions, he will want to know if his ďkidsĒ come into a good home.

The Puppy

Prepare his bedding before you bring him home the first time.The ideal would be a mattress, single or children size, in a quiet corner of your living quarters, not beside a radiator, but off draught. The mattress can be covered with plastic or a waterproof protection sheet (as used in childrenís beds) to stay clean, on top of this one of these towel cloth sheets or a Vetbed mat. The main thing is that it can be washed easily

The puppy needs a place, that belongs to him alone, whereto he can retire and sleep undisturbed.

A soft bedding is indispensable. As he grows and puts on weight, his elbows must be protected to avoid a bursite, which take up to 6 months to heal and are not nice to look at.

The breeder will probably give you a feeding plan, to which you should pay attention, as in the first months a balanced diet is very important to make his bones strong enough to reach the final size gradually, but not to quickly. This final size will be reached at about 2 Ĺ yrs for a bitch and 3 yrs for a male


Meals and Care

Adult dogs should be fed twice a day, never give just one huge meal! One hour before and after meals the dog should be kept quiet, no playing and running in this time.

This is one of the measures to avoid a bloat or gastric torsion, that can be lethal and is always a danger in large breeds. The full, heavy stomach, like a sack hanging by two ends, is turning around itself, blocks the two ends and bloats like a balloon through the gas. The result if not treated within minutes, is death by shock and heart failure.

Wolfhounds put on weight quickly, a bit of regulation is necessary, older dog better get several, but smaller meals per day, to avoid that overweight is to demanding on their articulations.

Wolfhounds are drinking a lot, therefore they should always have a bowl of fresh clean water at their disposition. The bowl, particularly when it stands outside, should be thoroughly cleaned each morning because by dirty ev. contaminated water an expected infection can occur. Water and food should be presented at a comfortable height for the dogs (min. 50 cm), so they can swallow food and water with the gravity, not against it. Also they can stand upright, which is easier on shoulder and elbow articulations.

Make it your intention to brush your dog daily, if your lucky youíll do it 2-3 times a week. Regular care of his coat helps to see smaller injuries or ticks, which can be hidden in the thick coat. Also teeth, ears, claws and anal glands should be checked regularly.

Fleas, ticks and other unpleasant visitors can occur even in a clean household. Do something against it! Your veterinary can advise you, there are meds and sprays, which can give you and your dog peace for several months. Flea eggs can survive under worst conditions up to 2 yrs, thatís why the dogs bedding should be washable.

For a show Irish Wolfhounds are trimmed with thumb and index finger, but a special trimming instrument will also do good services. if you donít show, your dog looks good this way and shows his elegant lines. If he is dirty or smells you can rub him with a wet terry towel (with a few drops of bath oil or sim.). Nobody visiting you should ďsmellĒ the dog.



An adult hound will take some hours of your day, he needs his walks and runs (donít forget, he is a sighthound!) to stay fit. A puppy needs a lot of rest and sleep during its growing time. His activities and walks should grow longer very gradually and regularly. Each day around the block and a 10 Miles walk on Sunday are an absolute No.

Training is important, it should start the moment the pup comes home. You will have to show him, that you will always be bigger and stronger(Alphadog), even later on this of course is untrue, but heíll still believe it.

Donít show him to greet you standing up on his hind legs, he will later weigh about 50-75 kg, and youíll need a very good accident or third party insurance to cover any results of this.

All training should be in a gentle but firm way.

An Irish Wolfhound must learn to walk on a lead without pulling, for his and your safety.

Think of visiting an obedience course with him. The word he must learn is NO. But donít expect to much of him,

he is a born hunter, not a working dog. The following things you can and must ask him to do, to protect you and himself of danger, are:

  • walk on a lead quietly
  • come to you, when called
  • stop, when you ask it
  • sit and down on command.

Donít trust your dog, when you meet cattle, sheep and goats. His instincts are highly developed after the motto: what moves is to be chased. If an Irish Wolfhound chases such an animal or worse kills it, it is your fault not his. So donít give him the opportunity!

Never deal a blow to your dog or beat him! He will lose his trust in you and not forgive.Your disapproving voice is as a rule enough to punish him. If he was really bad or naughty,take the loose skin on both sides of his neck in both hands, then on even level with your face look at him and tell him in no uncertain way, that you did not like his behaviour. This will do it and your position of Alphadog is safe again.



Healthwise the IW in general is not a problematic breed. He is rather stoic and does not make a big fuss when hurt in playing etc. Also whenever he has a cut or else that has to be stitched,

insist at the vetís to do this with a local anaesthetic, if you stay with him he will be calm and let him do it. try to avoid a general anaesthesia as much as possible.

The very long tail can sometimes be a problem. It can be hurt, when a dog wags excessively to greet you and bangs it against door corners or other, and when it bleeds your walls will have to be redecorated. Even the smallest hurt on the tail has to be treated carefully, it can quickly get infected, and this can result that a partial amputation is necessary.

Some of the problems of this breed are related to the size and the rapid growth. But with reasonable and careful acting they can be avoided.

Donít let your puppy chase after other dogs or jump walls or race up and down the stairs. Avoid everything that could hurt those fast growing bones and ligaments. Torn ligaments mean a long time healing process and sometimes even an operation cannot heal it completely.

Rasse-Info/2002 ISV ©

If you read all this and still want an Irish Wolfhound, you really mean it. You will experience a lot of joy with him, he is simply different from other breeds. Heíll bond with you, will feel every mood and share joy and sadness with you. If once you shared your life with an Irish Wolfhound, it is almost inevitable that after him, you will have another and never live without one.

Irish Wolfhound Club Switzerland