The Irish Wolfhound is a breed of hound (a sighthound), bred to hunt. The name originates from its purpose rather than from its appearance: To hunt wolves. more...
These dogs are the tallest breed, with a swift pace and good sight. They have a rough coat (gray, brindle, red, black, pure white, or fawn), a large arrow-shaped head, and a long, muscular neck.
The Irish Wolfhound is usually known as the tallest dog in the world, averaging up to 86 cm (34 inches) at the withers, a fact that sometimes is its biggest disadvantage when attracting owners who have no concern for its special needs. As with all breeds, the ideal and accepted measurements vary somewhat from one standard to another, and there will always be individuals whose size falls outside these standards. However, generally breeders aim for a height averaging 32 to 34 inches (81 cm to 86 cm) in male dogs, two to four inches (5 to 10 cm) less for bitches. Acceptable weight minimums range from 105 lb (48 kg) for bitches to 120 lb (54 kg) for males.
In temperament, they are considered gentle and friendly, very calm in the house, enjoying long sleeps but energetic when taken for walks. Despite their great size and sometimes intimidating appearance, wolfhounds are sensitive and should be corrected firmly but without anger. They should be socialized from a young age so that they have a chance to gather experience. While historically Wolfhounds should show a strong guarding instinct, most modern Irish Wolfhounds are not temperamentally suited to be a guard dog.
Wolfhounds should not receive additional supplements when a good dog chow is used. It is generally accepted that they should be fed a large breed puppy food until 18 months of age and then change to a large breed adult food.
By the age of 8 months, the dogs appear adult, and many owners start stressing them too much. Outstretched limbs and irreparable damage are the result. Wolfhounds need at least 18 months to be ready for lure coursing, running as a sport, and other strenuous activities.
Heart disease and bone cancer are the leading cause of death and like all deep-chested dogs, gastric torsion (bloat) is always a possibility. Otherwise they are generally a healthy dog with few if any breed specific illnesses. The average lifespan is around 6 to 7 years, though breeders are doing their best to increase this, with some animals now reaching 10 years or more.
The breed is very old, possibly from the 1st century BC or earlier, bred as war dogs by the ancient Celts, who called them CÃº Faoil. The Irish continued to breed them for this purpose, as well as to guard their homes and protect their stock. Regular references of Irish Wolfhounds being used in dog fights are found in many historical sagas - Cuchulain's favourite, Luath was slain by a southern chief's hound, Phorp.
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