The Irish Wolfhound
The Irish Wolfhound is a dog with a very long history that goes back to antiquity. These dogs were famed as gladiators and coursers back in 391 AD. This is also the year when the Roman consul Aurelius received seven Irish Wolfhounds as a gift and these dogs were remembered as “all Rome viewed with wonder”. Irish Wolfhound was used for hunting elk, boars, and wolves. The dog was also used for guarding homes and livestock, and as a war dog. His job was to pull men down from horses or chariots.
It is unclear just when the breed came to Ireland, but it may have been in the 6th century with the Celtic people. In more recent history, Irish Wolfhound became nearly extinct because of the practice of giving away these dogs as a gift to nobility, the extinction of the wolf in Ireland, and the 1845 Irish famine.
The Irish Wolfhound is the tallest dog breed and the largest of the sighthounds. Male Irish Wolfhound can reach 34-35 inches in height and can weigh up to 180 pounds. Females are slightly smaller and lighter. The Irish Wolfhound has a double coat that consists of a rough and hard outer coat and a softer undercoat. The coat sheds constantly throughout the year. Brush your Irish Wolfhound weekly to keep the coat clean and healthy. The coat comes in several colors: gray, black, red, brindle, white, and fawn. The hair on the dog's face, on the eyes and under the jaw, is long and wiry.
Despite their gigantic size, Irish Wolfhounds are friendly dogs that usually get along with everyone, including other dogs, other pets and children. Some Irish Wolfhounds are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex and some have strong pray instincts, so, just like any other dog, the Irish Wolfhound also needs early socialization and exposure to all kinds of sounds, sights and people. The socialization will help them to grow up into well-rounded dogs.
The Irish Wolfhounds love to be with people. They are quiet and calm indoors, but are not recommended for apartment living. They do best in a home with a large fenced yard and without stairs, where they can have room to run and do not risk damaging their joints. The Irish Wolfhound doesn’t need a lot of exercise. Long walks or 30 minutes play time that includes running will be enough for this giant. Remember, regular exercise will help keep your Irish Wolfhound physically and mentally healthy. Because of their hunting history it is recommended to walk these dogs on a leash, to prevent them from chasing animals or other moving objects.
FUN FACT: Irish Wolfhounds are terrible as guard dogs. They are not at all suspicious of strangers, nor are they aggressive toward them.
Irish Wolfhounds are intelligent and trainable. Always use positive reinforcement because harsh treatment or punishment can cause these dogs to shut down. They are very sensitive and gentle. Although they do have a mind of their own, Irish Wolfhounds are willing to listen to their owner. Especially if he shows them, through patience, persistence and consistency, that he means what he says.
Irish Wolfhounds are dogs with a very short lifespan. They only live 6-8 years, and their giant size predisposes them to many health problems. Irish Wolfhounds are likely to suffer from hip dysplasia (you can read more about hip dysplasia here), elbow dysplasia, liver shut (an abnormal blood flow between the liver and the body that causes big problems considering that the liver is responsible for detoxifying the body, metabolizing nutrients, and eliminating drugs), heart diseases (primarily heart failure caused by dilated cardiomyopathy), some orthopedic conditions, osteosarcoma (an aggressive bone cancer), bloat (you can read more about bloat here), anesthesia sensitivity, etc.
FUN FACT: American presidents Herbert Hoover and JFK had Irish Wolfhounds.
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