Irish Wolfhounds are amongst a group of breeds classed as ‘Category Two’ by The Kennel Club. These are breeds of dog that have been highlighted as having ‘points of concern’ – visible features which, if exaggerated, might potentially affect the breed in the future and cause health and welfare concerns.
Irish Wolfhounds are a member of the ‘Hound’ breed group. The Hound group include breeds originally used for hunting either by scent or sight. They require a substantial amount of exercise and are considered to be aloof but trustworthy dogs.
Irish Wolfhounds are known to be gentle giants. Their temperament means they get on well with other pets and children, given the right socialisation, but their size may cause problems around very small children and pets. They can have growth problems so extra care should be taken over their diet and exercise as puppies. They require grooming 2 or 3 times per week to keep their coat in top condition.
Breed-related health problems:
Owners are, understandably, upset when their dog develops a health problem linked to its breed. Often they wish they’d known what problems the breed was prone to have. The potential health problems that Irish Wolfhounds are prone to include:
- Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) – often known as ‘bloat’, this is a condition where the stomach twists, trapping the contents and gases. This is an emergency and requires urgent veterinary attention. It’s often seen in large, deep-chested breeds.
- Elbow dysplasia - elbow joint laxity as a result of poor development, which will eventually lead to arthritis.
- Hip dysplasia – hip joint laxity as a result of poor development, which will eventually lead to arthritis.
- Heart problems
- Cardiomyopathy – enlarged heart due to degeneration of the heart muscle.
- Wobbler Syndrome – abnormality of the bones in the neck, which can lead to incoordination of the hind legs or paralysis.
- Portosystemic shunt – abnormal blood circulation, with the blood effectively bypassing the liver and entering general circulation.
- Entropion – inward turning eyelids.
- Von Willebrand's disease – deficiency in blood platelet function resulting in excessive bleeding.
- Panosteitis – a painful, inflammatory bone disease.
For some conditions, there are screening programmes available through the British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Kennel Club. The Canine Health Schemes allow breeders to screen for a range of inherited diseases, so it’s a good idea to check the parents of any puppy you’re looking to rehome have been screened under these schemes. We’d also recommend discussing the medical history of your potential puppy’s parents and grandparents, and think very carefully before taking on a dog with any of the health conditions listed above evident in the family line.
You can find out more about the Canine Health Schemes on the BVA's website.
Irish Wolfhounds rarely appear to ‘hurry’, but still require plenty of exercise – ideally more than 2 hours per day. They’re relatively easy to train and special care should be taken to ensure they are trained not to jump up as they can easily knock a person over once they reach full size. To learn more about reward-based training for your dog, visit our dog behaviour page where you can pick up plenty of tips to help you and your canine companion better understand each other.
Estimated lifetime cost:
The likely lifetime costs for an Irish Wolfhound are based on estimates calculated using current market prices and include:
- Initial costs of the purchase of the pet
- First vaccinations and booster vaccinations
- Pet insurance
- Flea treatments
The list above does not include veterinary costs if your pet becomes sick or injured, so these average lifetime costs could be even higher.
Insure your Irish Wolfhound with PDSA:
1 in 3 pets need vet treatment each year and vet bills can come to hundreds of pounds. PDSA Pet Insurance can give you peace of mind when your pet is poorly, especially for breeds like Irish Wolfhounds that are prone to certain conditions. PDSA Pet Insurance offers:
- 5 Star Pet Insurance* - from the vet experts
- 4 levels of cover to suit you
- Monthly payment at no extra cost
*Defaqto 5 Star rating applies to our Plus and Premier policies only. Defaqto’s Star Ratings provide an independent assessment of the quality of financial products.
By insuring your Irish Wolfhound with PDSA you’ll also be helping to provide vet care to some of the UK’s neediest pets.