Breed Standard

Irish Wolfhound Breed Standard

IW Breed Standard (PDF 576 KB)

General Appearance

Of great size and commanding appearance, the Irish Wolfhound is remarkable in combining power and swiftness with keen sight. The largest and tallest of the galloping hounds, in general type, he is a rough-coated, Greyhound-like breed: very muscular, strong, though gracefully built; movements easy and active; head and neck carried high; the tail carried with an upward sweep with a slight curve towards the extremity.


The minimum height and weight of dogs should be 32 inches (81 cm) and 120 lb. (54 kg); of bitches 30 inches (76 cm) and 105 lb. (48 kg), these to apply only to hounds over 18 months of age. Anything below this should be debarred from competition. Great size, including height at shoulder and proportionate length of body, is the desideratum to be aimed at, and it is desired to firmly establish a race that shall average from 32-34 inches (81-86 cm) in dogs, showing the requisite power, activity, courage, and symmetry.

Coat and Colour

Hair rough and hard on body, legs and head; especially wiry and long over eyes and underjaw. The recognized colours are grey, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn, or any other colour that appears in the Deerhound.


Long, the frontal bones of the forehead very slightly raised and very little indentation between the eyes. Skull not too broad. Muzzle long and moderately pointed. Ears small and Greyhound-like in carriage.


Rather long, very strong and muscular, well arched, without dewlap or loose skin about the throat.


Shoulders muscular, giving breadth of chest, set sloping. Elbows well under, neither turned inwards nor outwards. Forearm muscular, and the whole leg strong and quite straight.


Back rather long than short. Chest very deep. Breast wide. Loins arched. Belly well drawn up.


Muscular thighs and second thigh long and strong, as in the Greyhound, and hocks well let down and turning neither in nor out. Feet moderately large and round, neither turned inwards nor outwards. Toes well arched and closed. Nails very strong and curved.


Long and slightly curved, of moderate thickness, and well covered with hair.


Too light or heavy a head, too highly arched frontal bone; large ears and hanging flat to the face; short neck; full dewlap; too narrow or too broad a chest; sunken or hollow or quite straight back; bent forelegs; over bent fetlocks; twisted feet; spreading toes, too curly a tail; weak hindquarters and a general want of muscle; too short in body. Lips or nose liver coloured or lacking pigmentation.

List of Points in Order of Merit

Typical – The Irish Wolfhound is a rough-coated, Greyhound-like breed, the tallest of the coursing hounds and remarkable in combining power and swiftness.

  1. Great size and commanding appearance.
  2. Movements – easy and active.
  3. Head – long and level, carried high.
  4. Forelegs – heavily boned, quite straight; elbows well set under.
  5. Thighs – long and muscular; second thighs, well muscled, stifles nicely bent.
  6. Coat – rough and hard, especially wiry and long over the eyes and under jaw.
  7. Body – long, well ribbed up, with ribs well sprung, and great breadth across hips.
  8. Loins – arched, belly well drawn up.
  9. Ears – small, with Greyhound-like carriage.
  10. Feet – moderately large and round; toes, close, well arched.
  11. Neck – long, well arched and very strong.
  12. Chest – very deep, moderately broad.
  13. Shoulders – muscular, set sloping.
  14. Tail – long and slightly curved.
  15. Eyes – dark.

Note: The above in no way alters the “Standard of Excellence,” which must, in all cases, be rigidly adhered to. They simply give the various points in order of merit. If, in any case, they appear at variance with Standard of Excellence, it is the latter which is correct.