“Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked”
This majestic breed’s motto perfectly describes the breed’s behavior and temperament. Irish Wolfhounds, classified as a giant breed, are the tallest and heaviest members of the hound group. They are large, rough-coated, long-limbed dogs that hunt by sight (aptly referred to as sighthounds, or, occasionally, gazehounds). Male Wolfhounds can grow to around 3 feet at the shoulder, and weigh up to 190 lbs.
Though giant in size, the Irish Wolfhound is among the gentlest of breeds. Their nature and temperament make them unsuitable as guard dogs, but their great size and deep bark may prove effective deterrents. As they say, “lambs at home, lions in the chase.” They are not aggressive, but they are courageous.
Wolfhounds are most definitely “people dogs,” and form a strong bond with their owners. They are very faithful indoor pets that need to be part of your family. They do best when human companionship is at the core of their daily lives.
Irish Wolfhounds are very good with children. However, young hounds can be very boisterous and do not realize how big they are. A small child is no match for an affectionate, playful puppy weighing anywhere from 50 to 100 pounds. Albeit unintentionally, a welcoming tail, a toss of the head, or a running sideswipe can have consequences.
Being sensitive by nature, training a wolfhound is easy. They like to please and hate to be chastised. A firm voice is all that is necessary if he makes a mistake and should never be punished physically.
When you welcome a Wolfhound into your life, everything will change. Your house, your car, your lifestyle will be rearranged around him. The amount of exercise essential to his well-being requires a fenced area of sufficient size, and fencing of adequate height to keep him within the boundaries of your property. Many Wolfhounds can easily clear three feet, so you will need a fence that is at least four feet high to safely accommodate this athletic sighthound.
Although not always reciprocated because of their size, Wolfhounds are usually friendly towards other dogs and can be disarmingly gentle with the tiniest creatures. However, it is best to remember that Wolfhounds are hunting sighthounds, and some do have a strong prey drive, and, therefore, the instinct to chase.
Wolfhounds are considered among the healthier of the giant breeds, with a life expectancy of six to ten years. However, they do require some veterinary attention from time to time, and most treatments are expensive (because of their size), so a good insurance policy is highly recommended and well worth considering.