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Holly  Courtesy Post

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Irish Wolfhound

Tags: hound, Large-sized, Kid-friendly, Protective guardian, Challenging for first-time owners, Requires firm, dedicated training

Known today as the Gentle Giants of the dog world, we're also the reason wolves went extinct in Ireland around 1800. But so did we -- almost -- until cross breeding the last remaining Irish Wolfhounds (with Deerhounds, Great Danes and possibly Borzoi) brought us back from the brink of extinction -- bigger than ever (34 inches at the shoulder) -- in the 1860s. We were admitted to the AKC's Hound Group in 1897.

Rave review

  • Affectionate, loyal family friend
  • Aloof and proud
  • Born to run, happy to walk
  • Confident and self-assured
  • Even-tempered, good-natured
  • Perfect protector
  • Willing watchdog
  • Sweet disposition

Report card

  • Hardy hunter
  • Independent thinker
  • Intelligent and ready to learn
  • Loves kids and vice versa
  • Novice owners might be challenged with this breed
  • Ready to romp
  • Steadfast an strong
  • Training must be firm, consistent, patient

What to expect

Before I agree to come home with you, I need to know you've done your homework on Irish Wolfies. I know you know how big I'll grow to be in a hurry. But have you anticipated the size of everything else -- like my exercise needs, food and medical bills, commitment to obedience training, and transportation? Have you talked to other owners to learn their experiences -- and their assessment of Irish Wolfhounds as an appropriate breed choice and of you as a prospective owner? One more thing: do you know about the Irish Wolfhound lifespan (typically of giant breeds, 6-8 years), and that we will have only a limited -- but joyous, intense, memorable -- time together? Great, now let's get started!

Watch for

Possible hip and elbow dysplasia, osteochondritis, bloat, heart disease, hypothyroidism, mega esophagus, progressive retinal atrophy, seizures, von Willebrand's disease, and tumors.

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