Irish Wolfhound

Calm, affectionate, and quiet


Calm, affectionate, and quiet

The tallest of dogs, but not the heaviest, the giant Irish Wolfhound measures 32 to 34 inches and weighs 105 to 120 pounds. An accurate description of the rough-coated, shaggy-browed hound is “great size and commanding appearance but a gentle nature.”

Despite his ferocious name, the Irish Wolfhound makes an outstanding companion and guardian. Alert and courageous, this dog defends his people without aggression. Often his size alone deters offenders. The breed quote, “Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked,” describes the Irish Wolfhound’s temperament.

Built to hunt by sight and chase, the breed was used to hunt stag, boar, and 6-foot tall Irish elk. According to fanciers, the Irish should be swift enough to catch a wolf, and powerful enough to kill it.

A prominent figure in the feudal life of the Middle Ages, during the English conquest of Ireland, ownership of Irish Wolfhounds was restricted to nobility. Today a member of AKC’s Hound Group, the Irish Wolfhound’s biggest drawback is a short lifespan.~Elaine Waldorf Gewirtz

Breed Standard

Official Standard of the Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound Club of America

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 and 120 pounds; of bitches, 30 inches and 105 pounds; 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 to 34 inches in dogs, showing the requisite power, activity, courage and symmetry.

Head: 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.

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

Chest: Very deep. Breast, wide.

Back: Rather long than short. Loins arched.

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

Belly: Well drawn up.

Forequarters: Shoulders, muscular, giving breadth of chest, set sloping. Elbows well under, neither turned inwards nor outwards.

Leg: Forearm muscular, and the whole leg strong and quite straight.

Hindquarters: 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.

Hair: Rough and hard on body, legs and head; especially wiry and long over eyes and underjaw. Color and Markings: The recognized colors are gray, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn or any other color that appears in the Deerhound.

Faults: 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; overbent 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-colored or lacking pigmentation.

List of Points in Order of Merit

  1. Typical. The Irish Wolfhound is a rough-coated Greyhound-like breed, the tallest of the coursing hounds and remarkable in combining power and swiftness.
  2. Great size and commanding appearance.
  3. Movements easy and active.
  4. Head, long and level, carried high.
  5. Forelegs, heavily boned, quite straight; elbows well set under.
  6. Thighs long and muscular; second thighs, well muscled, stifles nicely bent.
  7. Coat, rough and hard, especially wiry and long over eyes and under jaw.
  8. Body, long, well-ribbed up, with ribs well sprung, and great breadth across hips.
  9. Loins arched, belly well drawn up.
  10. Ears, small, with Greyhound like carriage.
  11. Feet, moderately large and round; toes, close, well arched.
  12. Neck, long, well arched and very strong.
  13. Chest, very deep, moderately broad.
  14. Shoulders, muscular, set sloping.
  15. Tail, long and slightly curved.
  16. 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.

Approved September 12, 1950

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