Would you like to know about the Irish Wolfhound breed of dog? The tallest and one of the oldest dog breeds...

Dog Breeds

Irish Wolfhound
by Mary Hale

As dog breeds go, the Irish Wolfhound is both the tallest know breed of dog and one of the oldest breeds, dating back as far as 600 A.D. Like the name implies, the breed originated in Ireland and was originally bred to be hunting and war dogs. They were used to hunt wolves and wild hogs, and were also trained to take mounted soldiers down from their horses in war times.

irish wolfhound This breed of dog almost became extinct as a breed in the 19th century due to a ban that allowed only royalty to own the dogs. Captain Graham re-introduced the breed, however, by crossing it with Great Danes and other breeds. This saved the Wolfhound from extinction.

Despite their size and heritage, this breed of dog is very easy-going and friendly personality. They make wonderful pets, are good with children, and are also good with most other animals. If you have other small animals for pets - such as cats or toy breeds of dogs - they might be tempted to chase them, and could hurt them; they were originally bred to be hunters, remember, and these smaller pets could be considered prey by a Wolfhound. They do not make good guard dogs, however; they tend to be much too friendly for this sort of work! The breeds large size can make them rather intimidating, however.

Wolfhounds tend to have a rather short lifespan, on average only living 6 to 8 years. They are also a rather expensive dog to purchase and care for; most pups bought from reputable breeders sell for figures nearing $1000 each. Any medications, feed, or other necessities will be more expensive due to the larger quantity required for this very large breed of dog. These things should be taken into consideration when deciding if they are right for your family and home. On average, Wolfhounds weigh between 105 and 130 pounds and reach heights of 30 to 32 inches tall. They would not be a good choice for apartment living as they need a large yard to run and exercise. It is recommended to feed adult them twice a day, and they can eat quite a bit. However, it is not a good idea to supplement a pup's meals as this can increase their rate of growth to an unhealthy rate.

As a breed, the Irish Wolfhound is not without its problems. There are several different diseases and health problems they are prone to. One of the biggest problems with this breed is Heart Disease and heart failure. The breed is also prone to bone cancer. Some of the other health problems that plague the breed are Bloat and Gastric Torsion, Von Willebrands Diesease - which is a bleeding disorder, Hypothyroidism, Liver Shunt, Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and Seizures.

When looking for an Irish Wolfhound to add to your family, there are many options available. It is a good idea to research the breed thoroughly prior to purchasing a puppy or adult Wolfhound; by doing so, you are able to make an informed decision on which dog is right for you and also avoid ending up with a dog that could be even more susceptible to future health problems. You should also make certain that any puppy is purchased from a reputable and recognized breeder. This will help ensure that your dog has the best start at life possible.

There are also numerous Irish Wolfhound rescue organizations that have both adult dogs and puppies available for adoption to the right home. This can be a very good choice when looking to add a Wolfhound to your family. The dogs that are available for adoption have had vet care, are usually already spayed or neutered, and are current on shots and worming. The rescue organization will also be able to give any background information that they have on each animal, and can also help make the best choice based on the environment and family the prospective dog will be entering. In some cases you are even able to take the animal and foster it on a trial basis to decide whether or not it fits into your family.

Despite the possible problems the breed has, it also has many advantages. They are a very loving dog and much prefer to be with their human "family". They are also very smart and easily trained. It is usually very easy and quick to house-break a Wolfhound. They are not prone to excessive shedding, and in most cases a weekly brushing or grooming will be enough to maintain their coat. This gentle giant can make a wonderful addition to a loving family.

Bibliography: Frequently Asked Questions About the Irish Wolf Hound. The Irish Wolf Hound Club of America. June 24, 2007. July 18, 2007.
Irish Wolfhound. PetSmart Pet Community. July 18, 2007.
Irish Wolfhound. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. July 18, 2007. July 18, 2007.

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