Irish Wolfhound.jpg
Breed Group Group 8: Sighthound Breeds
Sub-group 8-C: Rough Haired Sighthounds
Origin Country Ireland
Weight Males: 100-125 pounds. Females: 89-105 pounds.
Height Males: 31-32 inches. Females: 28-30 inches.
Other Name(s) Cu Faoil
Breed Type Pure
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Irish Wolfhound

Breed Group Group 8: Sighthound Breeds
Sub-group 8-C: Rough Haired Sighthounds
Origin Country Ireland
Weight Males: 100-125 pounds. Females: 89-105 pounds.
Height Males: 31-32 inches. Females: 28-30 inches.
Other Name(s) Cu Faoil
Breed Type Pure
click here for FULL BREED STANDARD

Origins

Ancient hounds have existed in Irish legends, lore, and literature since the beginning of Ireland's recorded history. They were protectors of kings, defenders of life, and hunters of game up until the fifteenth century. From that point, they were used specifically to hunt wolves, a job that they excelled in. As the amount of wolves living in Ireland diminished in the late eighteenth century, the need for wolfhounds dropped, as did the dogs’ numbers. They became all but extinct during the Great Irish Famine, only to be revived by Captain George Augustus Graham in the late 1800s. Thanks in part to his efforts, the Irish Wolfhound is easily recognized as one of the tallest dog breeds in the world.

Breed Characteristics

Head: Fairly dolichocephalic skull type, long, large, but appearing proportionate in size to the rest of the body. It tapers just slightly from the back skull toward the nose. The topskull is fairly broad to allow for sufficient substance and power, but never so broad as to appear bulky or coarse. It appears flat when felt or viewed from the front or in profile. Frontal bones and brows are only slightly raised, and never prominent. There may be a slightly perceptible median furrow starting at the stop and disappearing toward the occiput. The occiput may be somewhat prominent. The head is clean-cut and without excess skin or wrinkle.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to almond in shape, and medium to dark brown in color. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes. Any signs of entropion or ectropion are incorrect for this breed.
Ears: Small to medium in size, set high and far apart on the skull, and rose in shape. In repose, they are folded slightly backward, and when alert, they are fly-away, hanging with tips away from the head. The ears are never long, overly large, fully erect, drop, or button.
Muzzle: The muzzle is long, full, deep, and broad in comparison to the skull. The plane, or bridge of the muzzle, is straight. Upper and lower jaws are well-developed, approximately equal in length, have good bone substance, never snipy or weak. There is a slight, almost imperceptible taper to the muzzle.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black, or self-colored according to the coat in non-standard color varieties. The nostrils are well-opened.
Neck: Moderate length to allow for proud head carriage, strongly muscled, and well-arched. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut, without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep and broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows, or just below.
Very deep, moderately broad, and breast wide.
Body: Fairly large and substantial, denoting both speed and power, without appearing racy or bulky. The body is somewhat long. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Feet: Oval to round and compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.
Tail: Set neither high nor low on the croup but as a natural extension of the topline. It is thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. The tail is carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, but never tucked or carried up over the back. The tail is of a fairly long length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down. The tail may be straight, gently curved, or with a curve at the end.
Movement: Effortless, efficient, and energetic for his size, the characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.
Temperament: The Irish Wolfhounds of today are gentle giants, which is a far cry from their fierce ancestors. Irish Wolfhounds are known to be intelligent, loyal, and even-tempered. Because of their great size, they are slow to mature. True to his sighthound ancestry, he may still chase things that move away from him, easily outrunning any person around, so a secure (tall) fence is a must for this breed. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.
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Breed Standard

BREED GROUP 8: Sighthound Breeds

Proportions: Somewhat off-square to slightly rectangular in body proportions, with length of the body, measured from the point of the forechest to the point of the rump being slightly greater than the height at the withers. The ideal length-to-height ratio is between 5:4 and 10:9. The body is deep and well put together, of good substance and solid, sturdy bone.

Head

General Appearance: Fairly dolichocephalic skull type, long, large, but appearing proportionate in size to the rest of the body. It tapers just slightly from the back skull toward the nose. The topskull is fairly broad to allow for sufficient substance and power, but never so broad as to appear bulky or coarse. It appears flat when felt or viewed from the front or in profile. Frontal bones and brows are only slightly raised, and never prominent. There may be a slightly perceptible median furrow starting at the stop and disappearing toward the occiput. The occiput may be somewhat prominent. The head is clean-cut and without excess skin or wrinkle.
Expression: Regal, alert, self-confident, and self-composed.
Stop: The stop is slight or shallow.
Skull: The ideal muzzle-to-skull ratio is 1:1, with the topskull being equal to the muzzle.
The ideal muzzle-to-skull axis is parallel.
Muzzle: The muzzle is long, full, deep, and broad in comparison to the skull. The plane, or bridge of the muzzle, is straight. Upper and lower jaws are well-developed, approximately equal in length, have good bone substance, never snipy or weak. There is a slight, almost imperceptible taper to the muzzle.
Lips or Flews: Lips are well-pigmented, clean, and fit tightly over the teeth and jaws.
Nose: The nose is well-pigmented and black, or self-colored according to the coat in non-standard color varieties. The nostrils are well-opened.
Cheeks: The cheeks are well-filled to denote strength but never coarse or bulky. They should never appear chiseled.
Dentition and Bite: Forty-two strong, clean, white teeth. Bite may be level or scissor. Contact must be made between the top and bottom incisors. Missing or broken teeth as a result of routine work is not to be penalized.
Eyes: Moderate in size, oval to almond in shape, and medium to dark brown in color. The eye rims are well-fitted and well-pigmented. The eyes are never bulging. There should be sufficient bone in the surrounding orbital sockets to protect the eyes. Any signs of entropion or ectropion are incorrect for this breed.
Ears: Small to medium in size, set high and far apart on the skull, and rose in shape. In repose, they are folded slightly backward, and when alert, they are fly-away, hanging with tips away from the head. The ears are never long, overly large, fully erect, drop, or button.

Body and Tail

General Description: Fairly large and substantial, denoting both speed and power, without appearing racy or bulky. The body is somewhat long. Width at forequarters is approximately equal to the width at the hindquarters.
Neck: Moderate length to allow for proud head carriage, strongly muscled, and well-arched. The neck tapers smoothly from the deeper and broader body toward the head. The neck is clean-cut, without excess skin, throatiness, or dewlap.
Chest: Deep and broad, but never wider than deep. The brisket extends to the point of the elbows, or just below.
Very deep, moderately broad, and breast wide.
Topline: Level from slightly prominent withers to loin. The back is broad, strongly muscled, and straight, yet supple. The loin is taut, slightly arched, yet supportive. The back is never short, flat, swayed, dipped behind the withers, sloped, or roached.
Croup: Broad across the croup and hips, and gently sloped.
Underline: Well tucked-up, but not wasp-waisted. The underline is taut and firm, without any indication of sagging or excess weight.
Ribs: Long, well-sprung, well-laid-back, oval-shaped, never barrel-chested or slab-sided.
Tail: Set neither high nor low on the croup but as a natural extension of the topline. It is thick at the base and tapering toward the tip. The tail is carried in accordance with the dog’s mood and energy level, but never tucked or carried up over the back. The tail is of a fairly long length, with the tip of the last vertebrae extending to the hock joints when held down. The tail may be straight, gently curved, or with a curve at the end.

Forequarters and Hindquarters

Forequarters: Forequarters are always in balance with the hindquarters. Forequarters are well-angulated with well-laid-back shoulder blades. Shoulder blades are long and approximately equal in length to the upper arm and forearm.
Elbows: Elbows are close to the body. The point of the elbows is approximately half the dog’s height at the withers.
Forelegs: Frontal View: Straight, long, of good muscle, sturdy, of solid bone, and parallel to one another.
Side View: The forelimbs appear straight with strong pasterns.
Pasterns: Never weak or broken.
Hindquarters: Upper thigh and lower thigh are long and equal in length, of strong, sturdy, of solid bone, and well-muscled.
Rear View: When viewed from the rear, the rear pasterns are parallel to one another.
Side View: Good angulation will allow the rear toes to align with the point of the rump or within one to two paw-lengths behind the point of the rump, with the rear pasterns remaining perpendicular to the ground and parallel to one another.
Stifle Joint: Well-angulated with a good bend to well-let-down rear pasterns.
Angulations: Angulation of hindquarters is always in balance with angulation of forequarters.
Feet: Oval to round and compact, with well-arched toes and tough pads.

Coat

Skin: Well-fitted, yet supple. The skin should never obstruct the outline of the dog.
Coat Type: Double-coated, with a protective hard, rough, wiry outer coat, that forms a beard and brows on the head, and a dense, soft undercoat. The coat should never be silky, woolly, curly, or soft.
Coat Color or Pattern: CKC recognizes two color varieties of the Irish Wolfhound breed: the standard color and nonstandard color variety.
Standard coat color variety: Any shade of gray, blue, cream, red, fawn, black, white, all shades of brindle, all with or without melanistic mask.
Nonstandard coat color variety: Any variety of liver as defined by having a self-colored nose and eye rims.

Movement

Effortless, efficient, and energetic for his size, the characteristics of healthy structure are evident: when moving away, the forelegs and rear pasterns should remain parallel to one another. When viewing movement from the front, the forelegs should remain parallel, with elbows and paws moving neither in nor out. From the rear, the back pads should be visible when the rear legs are extended. As speed increases, the forelimbs and hindlimbs will converge to the center line of gravity. From the side, the topline should remain firm and level. Good reach of movement in the front allows the forepaw to extend out in a line with the nose. The width between the forefeet when extended should be approximately equal to the width between the hindfeet when extended, indicating balance, good reach, and good drive. Dogs that exhibit any sign of breathing or locomotive difficulty shall be disqualified from the show ring.

Temperament

The Irish Wolfhounds of today are gentle giants, which is a far cry from their fierce ancestors. Irish Wolfhounds are known to be intelligent, loyal, and even-tempered. Because of their great size, they are slow to mature. True to his sighthound ancestry, he may still chase things that move away from him, easily outrunning any person around, so a secure (tall) fence is a must for this breed. Any unprovoked aggressive or fearful behavior toward people is incorrect for this breed.

Faults

All dogs should be in proper healthy condition, free from disease or defect. Any departure from this description is considered a fault. Unless altered, all male dogs should have two fully descended testicles.