Irish Wolfhound

  • Overview

    Despite their rugged physical appearance, Irish Wolfhounds are really the kings of the dog world. In their native Ireland, they were considered symbols of wealth and luxury to the extent that only the nobility were allowed to own them. They're often depicted in art reclining with their well-adorned masters on plush cushions or standing at the foot of the table in great banquet halls. Males stand at least 32 inches tall and females stand at least 30 inches tall.

    Irish Wolfhounds are gentle, affectionate companions for families willing to spend a little extra time grooming their large dogs and providing them with the special care and attention they need.

  • Personality

    Irish Wolfhounds are dignified, calm dogs with balanced temperaments and willing natures. They are not overly active indoors, but outdoors, they can run for great distances with a long, loping gait that is similar to the Greyhound's. Getting that quality exercise time, whether in the form of a long walk or a free-range romp, is crucial for the Wolfhound to maintain his lithe shape and keep his joints healthy. Even though these large dogs are very contented to become couch potatoes, they need frequent activity.

    They respond best to firm but gentle leadership, because they can be somewhat sensitive. These dogs are incredibly dependent on approval and affirmation. If they feel as if they have been mistreated or too harshly reprimanded, they will demonstrate their disappointment by acting quite morose.

  • Coat Care

    Irish Wolfhounds have rough, shaggy coats that are rough and hard to the touch. The wiry hair on the eyes and under the jaw is longer and forms bushy eyebrows. Their coats come in gray, brindle, red, black and white colors and usually appear without one clearly defined color.

Irish Wolfhound
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Brush your Wolfhound weekly with a large bristle brush and a metal comb to keep the coat healthy.

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With preparation, perseverance and a positive attitude, bathing can become a fun and fulfilling part of the regular grooming cycle, while helping your dog avoid many diseases and infections.

The general rule of thumb for dog bathing is every three months but wire-coated dogs can be done with greater frequency, often within a four-to-six week range. The coat should end up fresh smelling, shiny, with no loose or shedding hair. First give the dog a good brushing to remove dead hair and mats. Place a rubber mat in the tub to provide secure footing and fill the tub with three to four inches of lukewarm water. Use a spray hose, pitcher or unbreakable cup to wet the dog, taking caution to avoid getting water in the eyes, ears and nose. Massage in pet shampoo, saving the head for last. Immediately rinse thoroughly, starting with the head to prevent soap from dripping into the eyes. Towel dry. The coat should be fresh smelling, with no loose or shedding hair.

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Hair Clipping

Twice a year, the Irish Wolfhound's coat needs to be hand-stripped, which can be done at home by plucking out dead hairs or using a shedding rake. Strip out the hair along the underbelly and at the base of their tails with a shedding rake to help define his body's graceful outline. Irish Wolfhounds should have a natural, rugged appearance in the show ring, but if your dog is a pet, you can trim the hair around his ears, eyes and feet so that he is more comfortable.

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Many dog owners are apprehensive about trimming their dog’s nails because they are nervous about cutting into the quick. But with the right conditioning and careful cutting, nail clipping can be a simple, stress-free activity for you and your dog.

Provide your dog with plenty of positive reinforcement and even treats to help associate nail clipping with a positive experience.  As you start to clip, gently press on your dog’s paws to help him become accustomed to the feeling of having his nails clipped. Then, work gradually, shaving down just a thin portion of the nail at first to make sure you don’t reach the quick. Clip one nail, reward your dog with a treat, and stop to give him some positive reinforcement before moving on. Gradually increase the number of nails you clip in one sitting to help your dog get used to the process. Never trim extremely long nails down to a short nail in one sitting, because this is an excellent way to accidently quick the dog’s nail. Instead, work gradually, shaving small portions of your dog’s nails off each time.

You can tell if you’re getting close to the quick by the texture of your dog’s nail. The nail is hard closer to the surface and becomes softer as you get closer to the quick. If your dog’s nail starts to feel softer, that’s a good indication that you’re getting close to the quick.

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Eyes / Ears

Not all breeds and coat styles require routine trimming in and around the eyes and ears but all should undergo regular inspection and cleaning around these sensitive areas. Doing so will help prevent the development of infections that could seriously damage these amazing organs.

It is always important to routinely clean your dog's eyes and ears, and examine for potential infections. Wire coated dogs have sensitive ears covered in hair that  need to be checked weekly for infection and cleaned with a cotton ball. Gently wipe a cotton ball moistened with mineral oil, olive oil or witch hazel in your dog's ear, being careful to avoid the ear canal. Never use a Q-Tip, which could cause damage to the inner ear if your dog suddenly shakes or jerks his head. Bushy hair growth within the ear can be thinned with tweezers or blunt scissors. Use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around the eyes, ears and face. West Highland Terriers and other small terriers with white coats are prone to developing tear stains around the eyes, so clean around their eyes with a cotton ball or soft cloth and use a small trimmer to trim excess hair around their eyes.

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Many owners do not realize how important it is to brush your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. Some dogs are prone to dental problems and sensitive teeth, especially small dogs with tiny teeth and dogs with special diets. These problems can be easily combatted with frequent brushing.

Cavities are rare with dogs but gum disease caused by tartar buildup is not, which is why they require regular brushing with toothpaste and a toothbrush formulated specifically for dogs. While daily brushing is ideal, doing so on a weekly basis will be a big help in avoiding the need to bring your dog to a veterinarian for a cleaning, which usually has to be done under sedation.