The Irish Wolfhound is certainly distinct in appearance; possessing a rough and coarse coat and having wiry and long hairs around their eyes and eyebrows. You may have seen some pictures of the breed, and it’s only natural to question how big they typically get. At what age are they considered fully grown? Here is all you are going to want to know.
So, how big do Irish wolfhounds get? Irish wolfhounds are classified as a large breed of dog. The average Irish wolfhound will reach between 32 to 35 inches in height at the shoulder, weighing between 115 to 180 pounds by the time they are two years old. This is when they are considered fully grown. While they are considered to be the tallest dog in the world, they are not the heaviest.
Considering their size, it comes as no real surprise to learn that this purebred dog was used in war to drag men off chariots and horses. I guess somebody needed to do it!
Again, hunting massive game including boar, wolves, and deer was how they were historically used. The benefits of their size were clearly put to use.
Presently, the Irish wolfhound is kept as a companion dog. And despite their heritage in fighting and combat, this is not a fair reflection of their general temperament and personality.
Just some of the words that you will find used to describe this breed are: thoughtful, sweet-tempered, patient, loyal, dignified, and generous.
They therefore do very well with families and make great pets, but they will need obedience training in order to be mindful of their large size. Equally a kind but firm owner is advised.
Despite their huge size, even from a young age, they will take time to mentally mature adding to the importance of their training.
These dogs develop the mental maturity and temperament of a mature adult on average between 12 and 18 months old of age.
Puppy-like behavior such as chewing and being raucous may continue during this time but tends to settle when they reach two years old.
That being said, each Irish wolfhound is different, and some may take longer to calm down than others.
Let us now take a closer look at the average size of the Irish in further detail.
We will also be covering whether or not they can be classified as the biggest dog in the world, what you can expect in terms of growth, and how much space you would need if you wanted to take one in.
So, be sure to continue reading to get all the information you will likely need if you were seriously considering the Irish Wolfhound as your next pet.
Average Irish Wolfhound Height, Weight, And Size
Irish wolfhounds begin their life weighing just 500 to 800 grams, but within nine or ten months will weigh between 105 to 143 pounds. And they keep on growing!
The average Irish wolfhound will reach a height of 32 to 35 inches at the shoulder and weigh between 115 to 180 pounds. They will do this by the time they are two years old.
While weight may expand beyond this time, it is usually not in the form of muscle or required size, and is more likely to be excess or undesirable weight. A sufficient diet and an appropriate amount of exercise will be required to keep their weight stable and in healthy ranges.
In terms of physique, this is a tall and large yet lean and muscular breed. They have very narrow frames.
It has led to some descriptions of them having a ‘noble and commanding presence’.
However, despite their intimidating appearance, they are among the most gentle dogs you’ll ever encounter.
Considering their bodily dimensions, this breed is entirely unsuitable for apartment living.
Instead, you would need a larger home as they do require lots of space, both indoors and outdoors.
Additionally, they like to run, so it helps to have a larger fenced yard or access to an open and safe space where they can stretch their legs each day.
Irish wolfhounds are not ideal watchdogs, they don’t have the right temperament that you would seek in such, and they don’t bark very much.
While they are brave they are certainly not aggressive. With that said, this dog’s size would certainly be enough to deter some potential intruders.
Is The Irish Wolfhound The Biggest Dog In The World?
The Irish Wolfhound is the biggest dog in the world in terms of height, but it is not in terms of weight. The acclaim of the heaviest dog breed goes to the English mastiff.
Whether or not this is enough to classify this breed as the biggest dog in the world, therefore depends on your classification of the word. It’s a relative word that is not viewed the same by all.
Irish wolfhounds are, however, one of the fastest-growing dog breeds.
They experience a lot of growth from birth up until they reach two years of age; when they essentially stop growing and are considered ‘full-grown adults’.
Irish Wolfhound Puppy Dietary Requirements
If you hope to feed an Irish on a budget, forget it!
Wolfhound pups have large appetites; consuming twice as much food as adults because they grow so quickly and in order to fulfill their potential.
The good news is that their appetite lessens after about six months of age – phew!
At this stage and beyond, an adult wolfhound eats about the same portion as a German Shepherd.
If you decide to take on an Irish, you, therefore, need to follow a diet personalized to your dog and their respective age and size.
To begin with, this typically involves following the diet set out by the breeder for the first few weeks before changing it gradually.
When you do begin to change the diet, consult your vet for advice. They will be able to give you specific recommendations on the food to buy and how much to give.
Either way, wolfhound puppies simply need a high-quality diet to ensure their growing bodies get all of the nutrition they need.
You might also consider enhancing their diet with calcium supplements while they grow, this will help to support their joints and bones which undertake quite a change.
How much your adult Irish ends up eating will depend on their age, metabolism, size, and activity levels. This is therefore likely to change and evolve over time.
At What Age Is An Irish Wolfhound Fully Grown?
Typically, Irish wolfhounds are fully grown by the time they are two years old. At this stage, they should be between 32 to 35 inches tall and weigh between 115 to 180 pounds.
Some would say that it can take between three to four years old before these dogs reach their full maturity.
The Irish Wolfhound is also one of those breeds that vary quite a bit from litter to litter.
Some puppies grow rapidly in the early months of life, yet slow down later. Whereas others can grow very slowly at the beginning but end up reaching the same size.
Whether or not an Irish goes through faster growth will depend somewhat on the environment, nourishment, and their heredity, although these factors may not affect every pup of the litter. There are other intangibles.
Here are some interesting points:
- Some of the largest wolfhounds are known to weigh less during their first six months than others. They then experience a second growth spurt after 6 months, while others stop growing at eight or even nine months.
- Some Irish wolfhounds are larger than average, and others are smaller than the average.
- Smaller-than-average dogs are considered rare instances.
Below we will take a look at the respective growth rates of both male and female Irish Wolfhounds as they age:
Growth Of A Male Irish Wolfhound
- The weight of a male Irish Wolfhound at 3 months should be between 23 and 37 pounds.
- At 6 months, they will likely weigh between 80 and 110 lbs (pounds).
- At 1 year, a male Irish Wolfhound should weigh between 91 and 185 lbs (pounds).
|Weight – Low Average
|Weight – High Average
|3 Years +
Growth Of A Female Irish Wolfhound
- The weight of a female Irish Wolfhound at 3 months should be between 19 and 37 lbs (pounds).
- At 6 months, they will likely weigh between 79 and 107 lbs (pounds).
- At 1 year, a female Irish Wolfhound should weigh between 75 and 78 lbs (pounds).
|Weight – Low Average
|Weight – High Average
|3 Years +
The above were records kept by Ambleside Kennels, tracking this breed for a 23 year period and based on the average weights by sex.
The Irish Wolfhound Club of America (IWCA) documents the records here.
If you ever decide you want to weigh or monitor your puppy, then consider the following tip: roll them gently in a towel before putting them on the scales.
This should stop them from moving about and allow for a more accurate reading of their weight.
When Do Irish Wolfhounds Mentally Mature?
Irish wolfhounds will become more mentally mature between the ages of 12 to 18 months; this is when they go through puberty.
Male wolfhounds have heightened testosterone, and females begin their cycles.
Like any dog breed, Irish wolfhounds go through six stages of mental development, and each stage is as crucial as the next.
Until puppies reach the final stage they start opening their eyes, and seeing the world around them.
As young dogs, they begin to assert themselves more and challenge those in charge of them, to determine the alpha.
Their energy will increase as they prepare for sexual maturity.
While much of their personal development is inherent, they need obedience training to become happy, well-behaved, self-disciplined dogs.
The Irish wolfhound is very gentle and not known to be aggressive; they are reasonably intelligent and somewhat easy to train, but training is non-negotiable, especially given their imposing size.
As this breed is highly-sensitive, positive reinforcement and patience work better than harsh corrections.
Yelling, name-calling, and belittling him is counterproductive and will make him shut down.
They don’t sit instantly on command, but you must consider how long it takes for the signal to go all the way to their back ends from their ears – they are big and slow.
This breed doesn’t like repetition and will invent their own variation on command.
On the plus side, this breed is usually eager to please and will make an effort to obey your commands. However, positive reinforcement and patience is the way to go.
How Much Space Does An Irish Wolfhound Need?
Irish wolfhounds need lots of space, both indoors and outdoors. They are not suited to apartment living, and you will need to ensure that your home has sufficient open areas for them to be able to roam.
While these dogs have low-energy levels; they still need room to move around, and they can’t negotiate stairs.
This breed needs at least 40 minutes of exercise each day, and they are happiest in a home with a spacious fenced yard; this stops them from chasing prey away from your property.
Their prey drive is strong, so they need something to halt their desire to chase. Some owners even install specialized electric fencing designed for dogs; this helps to stop them from running away in a humane and safe manner.
For Irish puppies – they will need some free play in a secure yard. However, you will need to limit their running to only a couple of minutes a day.
As puppies, Irish wolfhounds shouldn’t be taken on walks for longer than five minutes. This is to protect their bones, joints, and growth platelets.
You should look to slowly and safely build up any walking time. It comes advised to increase by a mile every three months. Nevertheless, they should not reach a distance of two miles before the age of one.
These dogs should only be walked on a leash to stop them from chasing moving objects, animals, and anything else that gets their attention. As previously mentioned, their prey drive can easily get the better of them!
While these dogs enjoy playing outside, they are homebodies that thrive in their owner’s company.
It’s almost hard to believe that these gentle giants, who like the comfort of home, were once fearsome in battle and could pursue the Irish elk, an animal double this dog’s height.
The Irish wolfhound may look somewhat imposing, but in temperament, they are far from this. These dogs are considered to be one of the sweetest, loving, and gentle breeds – known for cuddling up with their owners and doing well with other people.
That being said, they do have a high prey drive that is inherent. It must also be managed to stop you and your dog from getting into trouble!
Thankfully, they can get along quite well with other pets if properly trained from an early age.
While these dogs are not suitable guard dogs, and they are not the most vocal, they will protect you should the need arise. They may not be aggressive, but they are brave and fiercely loyal to their owners.
Unfortunately, this breed has a a shorter average lifespan than other dog breeds, living roughly between six to eight years.
So, you should spend as much time with your Irish wolfhound as you can. Walking is an ideal way to do so, so long as you are mindful of their age and do not over-exercise a pup.
There is little you can do to extend an Irish’s life. Their short average is mostly down to their enormous size, which comes with many health problems and amkes them prone to certain diseases.
Although this is not to be expected for every dog of the breed; most Irish wolfhounds remain healthy for their entire lives.
It is therefore thoroughly recommended, that when getting a puppy, you seek out a reputable breeder. Not only will your dog come from a superior lineage, but they will be able to provide you with health clearances for your puppy’s parents.
Going through an organization such as the AKC is an advised approach.
All in all, if you are willing and able to take on a large framed dog, then they should certainly be under consideration.
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I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.