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Home » Club Guidelines
Image of a Irish Wolfhound

We know the continental Celts kept a greyhound, probably descended from the greyhounds first depicted in Egyptian paintings. Like their continental counterparts, the Irish Celts were interested in breeding large hounds, but theirs seem to have been even bigger than the more ancient variety. These large Irish hounds could have had smooth or rough coats but, in later time, the rough coat predominated possibly because of the Irish weather. The first written account of these dogs was by a Roman Consul in 391 A.D. but they were already established in Ireland in the first century A.D. when Setanta changed his name to Cu-Chulainn (the hound of Culan). Mention is made of the Uisneach (1st century) taking 150 hounds with them in their flight to Scotland. Irish hounds undoubtedly formed the basis of the Scottish Deerhound. Pairs of Irish hounds were prized as gifts by the Royal houses of Europe, Scandinavia and elsewhere from the Middle Ages to the 17th century. They were sent to England, Spain, France, Sweden, Denmark, Persia, India and Poland. The change of name to Wolfdog probably dates from the15th century when each county was required to keep 24 Wolfdogs to protect farmers’ flocks from the ravages of wolves. The Cromwellian prohibition (1652) on the export of Wolfhounds helped preserve their numbers for a time but the gradual disappearance of the wolf, and the continued demand abroad, reduced their numbers almost to the point of extinction by the end of the 17th century. It was probably part of the surge of the Romantic nationalism which helped interest in the breed. The Wolfhound achieved a true strain only through fairly frequent inbreeding, but the results were ultimately accepted as a legitimate revival of the breed. A club for the Irish Wolfhound was formed in 1885 and the Irish Kennel Club scheduled a class for the breed at their show in April 1879. The Irish Wolfhound now enjoys once again something of the reputation it had in the Middle Ages and excites the most interest because it is a living symbol of Irish culture, a remembrance of the Celtic past. Wolfhounds, lambs at home, lions in the chase, are now bred in fairly large numbers outside Ireland.
The Irish Wolfhound should not be quite so heavy or massive as the Great Dane but more so than the Deerhound which, in general type, he should otherwise resemble. Of great size and commanding appearance, very muscular, strongly though gracefully built, movements easy and active; head and neck carried high; the tail carried with a slight curve towards the extremity.
Long and level, carried high; the frontal bones of the forehead very slightly raised and very little indentation between the eyes.
Cranial Region
Not too broad
Facial Region
Long and moderately pointed.
Teeth: Scissor bite ideal, level acceptable.
Eyes: Dark.
Ears: Small, rose ears (Greyhound like in carriage).
Rather long, very strong and muscular, well arched, without dewlap or loose skin about the throat.
Long, well ribbed up. 
Back: Rather long than short. 
Loins: Arched Croup: Great breadth between hips 
Chest: Very deep, moderately broad, breast wide. 
Ribs: Well sprung 
Belly: Well drawn up. 
Long and slightly curved, of moderate thickness, and well covered with hair.


Forelegs: Heavily boned; quite straight.
Shoulders: Muscular, giving breadth of chest, set sloping.
Elbows: Well-set under, neither turned inwards nor outwards.
Forearm: Muscular
Thighs: Long and muscular.
Stifle: Nicely bent.
Second thigh: Well muscled, long and strong as in the Greyhound.
Hocks: Well let down and turning neither in nor out.
Moderately large and round, neither turned inward nor outwards. Toes, well arched and closed. Nails, very strong and curved.
Movements easy and active. COAT Hair: Rough and hard on body, legs and head; especially wiry and long over eyes and under jaw. Colour and markings: The recognised colours are grey, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn or any colour that appears in the Deerhound
The minimum height and weight of dogs should be:
Minimum height: Dogs 31 inches (79 cm).
Minimum weight: Dogs 120 pounds (54.5kg).
Minimum height: Bitches 28 inches (71 cm).
Minimum weight: Bitches 90 pounds (40.5 kg).
Anything below this should be debarred from competition. Great size and commanding appearance (bold type), including height at shoulder and proportionate length of body, is the desideratum to be aimed at, and it is desired to firmly establish a race that shall average from 32 inches (81cm) to 34 inches (86cm) in dogs, showing the requisite power, activity, courage and symmetry.
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.

  • Too light or too heavy a head
  • Too highly arched frontal bone
  • Nose any colour other than black.
  • Lips of any other colour than black
  • Very light eyes. Pink or liver coloured eyelids
  • Large ears, hanging flat to the face
  • Short neck; full dewlap
  • Too short in body
  • Back sunken or hollow or quite straight
  • Chest too narrow or too broad
  • Tail too curly
  • Bent forelegs; overbent fetlocks
  • Weak hindquarters and a general want of muscle
  • Twisted feet
  • Spreading toes

NOTE Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.