About the Breed

Frequently Asked questions …

What is the origin of the Irish Wolfhounds
The origin of the breed is lost in antiquity, but there are references of the “Great Hound of Ireland” in many ancient classics. The breed was well known in ancient Rome, the first authenticated reference being made in 391A.D. when the Roman Consul mentions them in a letter to his brother Flavius, thanking him for a gift of the “Great Irish Hounds”. As well, there are constant references to the wolfhound throughout the history of the Irish people such as one that occured during the reign of Ard Rhi (King) Conor of Ulster. There was a great hound named Aibhe who had such a fantastic value that King Conor himself and his rival, Queen Maeve, submitted identical offers to secure its ownership – “three score hundred milk cows and a chariot”.
What was the original purpose of the Irish Wolfhound
The Irish Wolfhound was the most valued and sought after hunting dog of the early centuries, not only because of his hunting prowess but because he was an exceptional guardian and companion. When hunting game such as stags, boars, elk and wolves, the Irish Wolfhound hunted by sight rather than scent. This characteristic led to the sighthound designation and in the showing area, they are listed within the Hound group.
Are Irish Wolfhounds trustworthy with children?
The typical Irish Wolfhound is completely trustworthy with children. Their kindness and patience is a characteristic of the breed but as with any breed, dogs should not be left unsupervised with them.
Do Irish Wolfhounds make good guard dogs
Irish Wolfhounds are quiet by nature, but their very size combined with some barking will discourage potential intruders. However, they are not known to be and should not be aggressive.
Does the Irish Wolfhound hunt?
There is tremendous variation in the interest individual Irish Wolfhounds show in hunting, some have little or no interest whatsoever. However, in some Irish Wolfhounds the keen sight, tremendous speed and power and natural coursing ability combine to produce a uniquely proficient hunter.
Every Irish Wolfhound owner should be aware of this hunting potential and be prepared for unexpected hunting behaviour. Some owners channel this skill into the sport of lure coursing which many clubs organise on a regular basis.
When does an Irish Wolfhound mature and reach his full height?
An Irish Wolfhound usually reaches full height between 18 and 24 months of age, but may not reach full maturity until 3 years or later.
See a pictorial history of the growth of a Wolfhound here including height and weight charts
Are Irish Wolfhounds a long lived breed?
The Irish Wolfhound, like most large breeds, tends to have a shorter life span than smaller breeds. In general, hounds can live between 7 and 10 years of age.
Are Irish Wolfhounds easy to train and easily housebroken?
The Irish Wolfhound is very easy to train providing the owner is consistent. Patience, consistency and kindness are all that is required when training a hound and the puppy will soon learn what is expected of him. Obedience classes are a great way to help you train your puppy and also provide him or her with valuable socialisation opportunities.
Does an Irish Wolfhound shed a great deal and how much grooming is required?
The Irish Wolfhound is similar to any other rough-coated dog. Daily brushing will maintain a clean healthy coat. On a regular basis skin, ears and nails should be checked for parasites and other general problems.
How much exercise does an Irish Wolfhound require?
The whole key to adequate exercise is consistency and regularity – no matter what the time of the year. The Irish Wolfhound is a large galloping hound and covers a lot of ground in a short time. It is therefore necessary to find an open space away from traffic and livestock for free running exercise. Hilly areas are good for young hounds as muscle development is important and helps to strengthen ligaments and joints.
While it is true that exercise plays an important part in the development and health of the Wolfhound, plenty of rest is also necessary and this is particularly true for puppies. Wolfhounds can easily become “couch potatoes” if you let them!
Where can I purchase an Irish Wolfhound within Australia?
The first step in choosing an Irish Wolfhound puppy is to contact the breed specialist clubs of South Australia, N.S.W. or Victoria who can provide you with a breeders list. Those breeders should be contacted and arrangements made, if possible, to see the hounds in their own environment.
What should I expect from a responsible breeder?
1. An opportunity to visit and view the dogs in order to begin to learn about the breed.
2. A knowledge, concern and love of dogs.
3. Encourage questions and give straight-forward and easily understood answers.
4. Does the breeder stand behind the puppies he/she places? Will he/she take a puppy back or help you place it if for any reason you are not able to keep it?
Can you feel free to call with questions about feeding, grooming, or health concerns?
Can he/she give you information about regional clubs and dog activities you might enjoy with your new puppy?
5. Explanation and visual demonstration of conformation to the Standard.
6. Detailed sources of information, preferably some available printed material such as pedigree, a diet sheet, etc.
7. What genetic testing does the breeder do? What health problems are found in the breed.
8. Are the puppies well-socialised in a pleasant, home or kennel environment? Can the breeder supply you with names of other owners for references?
When looking for a puppy that will share your life for many years, all the research you do before that puppy comes into your home will be worth your effort. A Irish Wolfhound is not a dog for everyone. However, if it is the right breed for you and your living situation, you will be rewarded with an affectionate, loving companion