The Irish Wolfhound, the tallest dog in the world

It's the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. Heading the regiment of the Irish Guard is Domhnall, a spectacular Irish wolfhound that leaves no one in the audience indifferent, which swirls expectantly behind the fences to see the colorful parade. This regiment is the only one that is allowed to parade with its pet, which embodies a tradition started in 1902, when the Irish Wolfhound Club gifted their first wolfhound named Brian Boru.

Recently created, but that revives a very ancient spirit, the current Irish Wolfhound is the result of the passion of an English Captain who wanted to conquer the dream of revive the mighty Celtic race. Dream that he shelved and, thanks to which, he bequeathed us not only the greatest of the sighthounds, but also the tallest of all recognized dog breeds.


The history of the Irish Wolfhound has its roots in the first Middle eastern sighthounds, introduced to Europe by the Phoenicians around the 10th century BCE. From the mainland, were introduced to Ireland by the Celts, who arrived on the Atlantic island around the seventeenth century BCE. The territory in which they were present was wide, thanks to the fact that the Celts took them with them to the new lands in which they settled. Among them was Scotland, being the Wolfhound the direct ancestor of the Deerhound, Scottish Greyhound.

These dogs were used by the Celts to hunting, warfare and the defense of their properties, but they could only belong to kings and noble families, determining the number of copies according to the position they ran. They were so valued that they were offered as gifts to important people and they were immortalized in jewels and beads.

But they were not only appreciated by the Celts, the Romans made them famous throughout the Empire thanks to their size and strength, as witnessed by numerous classic writings in which the fighting in the arenas of the amphitheater in which they were made to participate.

With the passing of the centuries, differentiated racial lines were developed according to their geographical location and purpose. There are historical references from the 15th century of the different lines then called as rough or wire haired Greyhound, Irish Greyhound, English Greyhound, Scotch Greyhound, Scottish Deerhound Y Highland Deerhound. All of them were defined as differentiated races according to their role, but they still shared great similarities.

In this case, the Irish Greyhound became specialized in hunting the wolf, activity from which it acquired its name Wolfhound. This reality was their condemnation as a race, since his fate was closely linked to the fate of the Irish wolf. From the 16th century the decline of the wolfhound began and in 1952 the Cromwelian ban in which its export to other countries was prevented, given its high demand after having become a common gift among leaders. Despite these attempts, once its main prey was extinct, the wolfhound suffered the same fate. It was kept in certain families as a companion animal, but degenerated as a species by interbreeding with more popular species such as the Great Dane.

In the 19th century, Irish Wolfhounds were extremely rare to find, with some specimens existing in remote areas of Ireland. Coinciding with the Celtic Renaissance, an enthusiast of the breed set out to revive the Irish Wolfhound and focused all his efforts on achieving it. The English Captain George A. Graham settled in Gloucestershire (England) after retiring from the British Army and in 1862 he began his work. 23 years later he managed to set the breed standard, a breed created with some extant specimens that had been crossed with Great Danes, Deerhounds, Borzois and Tibetan Mastiffs.

The arrival of the First World War was a tough period for the breed. Difficult life circumstances and supply problems made it very difficult to feed dogs, especially large breeds. As an extraordinary measure, the Kennel Club, with the approval of the Government, prohibited the registration of new litters from September 1917 until the end of the war. The Irish sighthound population was reduced and with it the genetic diversity of the breed. The same situation was repeated with the Second World War, when numerous families decided to euthanize their dogs before they died of starvation. Still, the breed continued, but in fewer numbers, since many specimens died of disease and old age.

Currently, Irish wolves have become a National symbol from Ireland, leaving behind his original role as a hunter to become an incredible service dog.


The official standard for the Irish Wolfhound was established by the International Cynological Federation in 2001. Classified in group 10 section 2 as wire-haired sighthounds, their physical characteristics are:

  1. Hope of lifetime: between 6 and 8 years.
  2. Size: giant.
  3. Height: between 81 and 86 cm.
  4. Weight: between 40 and 54 kg.
  5. Complexion: slim and robust.
  6. Extremities: long and muscular.
  7. Eyes: round and dark, with dark colored eyelids.
  8. Ears: small and rose-shaped.
  9. Snout: long and pointed, with a black nose.
  10. Jaws: with scissor bite, although it is accepted in pincer.
  11. Neck: long, strong, muscular and arched.
  12. Line: long, thick, slightly curved and well covered with hair.
  13. Hair: strong and hard all over the body. Over the eyes and under the jaw it is longer and wire-textured.
  14. Coat colors: gray, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn and any other color that appears on the deerhound.

The Irish Wolfhound is not only the tallest of the sighthounds, otherwise also among other dog breeds. Even so, its size does not limit its capabilities, being able to travel great distances at full gallop. In addition, their genetic selection has shaped them for hunting, being the perfect combination of strength and agility with Eagle eye view.


Irish wolves are friendly and very close dogs, despite the fact that because of its size, more than one feels intimidated. Behind this imposing dog hides a faithful companion who enjoys family conviviality and long naps on the sofa. Even if it is a greyhound, shyness is not one of their distinguishing traits and is usually calm and friendly when meeting new dogs as well as humans, both children and adults.

They are very intelligent dogs who learn quickly with the right motivation, being the positive education the one that offers the best results. This education model focuses on reinforcements, relegating punishments and the use of fear of oblivion, thus avoiding future behavior problems while reinforcing the human-canine bond.

Like all puppies, wolfhounds can be a bit clumsy, but as adults they become very calm dogs who enjoy the calm of their home compared to any other plan. Even so, we must avoid that they are ina dogsctive by introducing them a little daily exercise to avoid future ailmentsHis ideal exercise routine is a half-hour walk with a few minutes of running at his own pace and in freedom.

Despite his passivity, we must not forget his hunting instinct for prey on the move, so you must take care of its socialization and the spaces in which you release it. It is recommended that they have contact with small mammals, such as rabbits and cats, in their socialization stage, in addition to training the call well to come to you when a stimulus is presented.


The Irish Wolfhound can be affected by a series of pathologies more frequent in their racial group:

  1. Heart diseases.
  2. Cancer, especially osteosarcoma.
  3. Gastric dilation.
  4. Gastric torsion.
  5. Pneumonia.
  6. Portosystemic shunt.
  7. Joint problems
  8. Megaesophagus.
  9. Progressive retinal atrophy.
  10. Hypothyroidism
  11. Hemophilia.
  12. Hygromas.


The Irish Wolfhound does not need great care daily thanks to its characteristics. This breed has a double cloak, disheveled and rough on the outside and soft on the inside, which is renewed throughout the year, not with annual molts like other short-haired breeds. One brushing weekly or every two weeks it will be enough to keep you healthy and free of dead hair.

The greatest care that should be taken is focused on its puppy development stage. This breed grows very quickly in a short period of time, so it is important to provide a high quality feed and a veterinary follow-up to ensure that its development is adequate. They should also not be forced to exercise., including long walks, until their body development ends (about a year, a year and a half of age).

Keep in mind that wolfhounds are prone to developing joint problemsTherefore, it should not be forced to do exercises in which its joints can be affected even if the dog is already an adult, such as standing on its hind legs. You have to take extreme care at the bone and muscle level during all stages of its life to enjoy a dog as healthy as possible.

As with other dogs, it must visit the vet regularly for your vaccination, deworming and health checks. You should also maintain a stable routine of daily walks and feeding, suitable for its large size.


Are you one of the lucky ones who shares your couch with an Irish wolfhound? Well, don't wait any longer to share your experience with us. Go ahead and leave us a comment telling us your story. We can't wait to meet her!

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