Living with an Irish Wolfhound is a truly rewarding experience, but it is not for everyone. There are many considerations to think about before welcoming this breed into your life.


The sheer size of the breed is the first and foremost thing to consider. Although they do not require huge amounts of food once they are mature, they do need to eat substantially while they are growing into giants. The cost of all veterinary care will be more than the average sized dog. A course of antibiotics alone can easily cost several hundred dollars. Housing is another big consideration, as these guys take up a lot of real estate. They require a safe, fenced in area in which to relieve themselves and a safe place to gallop daily. Such an area needs to be much larger for a Wolfhound than for most other breeds of dog. Wolfhounds can cover significant ground once they get moving! Although they can adapt well to life as a couch potato, Irish Wolfhounds require free running exercise to keep them in optimal condition. Exercise keeps the heart and body fit and functional.  Transportation for such a large hound also bears consideration, especially if you are considering more hounds down the road.

Health Considerations

Health concerns are another factor to consider before getting an Irish Wolfhound. This breed has been referred to time and again as the "heartbreak" breed, and it can be true. Unfortunately, our beloved breed is prone to some serious health issues, and the prospective owner needs to be aware of them. Cardiac diseases, cancers, and bloat are all present within the breed. Many breeders are working hard to breed healthier, longer lived hounds, but it is a long road, and these things are not accomplished overnight. The average lifespan of the Irish Wolfhound in North America is around 7 years. Some live much longer than that, even into double digits, while others die much younger. We lost our first Wolfhound at only 3 years of age. Everyone who considers this breed needs to be prepared to lose a hound at a young age.  If that is not something you think you could handle, then this is probably not the breed for you.


Irish Wolfhounds are loving, loyal souls, with a great sense of humor! Although not typically outgoing with strangers, these dogs can be lap-dogs with their closest friends! This is a smart breed that will not do repetitive tasks for the sake of pleasing you. "What's in if for me?" is something the Wolfhound wants to know! With proper training, they can excel in the Obedience ring.  They are intuitive with their people, and often stoic about their own problems. They can be hunters one minute, then clowns the next. Life with a Wolfhound is never dull. Relaxed, yes, but just when you think you have them figured out, they will amaze you. I can't imagine ever being without at least 2 or 3 of them. And did I mention that they are highly addictive?!


I would encourage anyone new to the Irish Wolfhound breed to attend a Specialty Show if they have a chance to. It is a fantastic opportunity to meet many different hounds and their breeders/owners. I would also encourage anyone wanting a Wolfhound to talk to and visit with as many breeders as they can. Breeders are always open to visitors, and love to talk about their hounds! It is a great opportunity to learn more about the breed, and to see how they live. It's also an excellent chance to get a feel for what it is like to be around such giant dogs. We take it for granted and don't see our hounds as particularly large, but it can take some getting used to. It's one thing to think about a dog laying it's head across the counter to snag a snack, and quite another thing to actually see it! Finding a suitable breeder match is very important. You will want to have a good working relationship and friendship with this person over the duration of your hound's life (and hopefully beyond). They will be there at all hours of the day or night to support you and answer your questions, so make sure the fit is right for you.  Patience is important in getting your first (or second or third) wolfhound.  Many breeders have only one litter a year (or less), so you may have to wait for your perfect puppy.  Waiting for a puppy from a reputable breeder is far more rewarding in the long run than satisfying an instant need by buying one from a questionable source.  When in doubt, contact the breed club of your country to inquire about breeders.