Irish wolfhounds can stand 34 to 35 inches tall and weigh up to 180 pounds – these dogs are MASSIVE! In fact, they are the tallest breed included in the American Kennel Club.
The breed was originally used in war to pull men from their horses and chariots, as well as to hunt boar, wolves, deer, and elk (which stood six feet tall at the shoulder!). These days, they are best known for their sweet, intelligent and family-oriented personalities.
As intimidating as these massive pups may appear from afar, they are lovable goofballs – just look at these hilariously adorable pics to see what we mean!
1. Sitting on Grandma’s Lap
Surprisingly, the Irish Wolfhound almost went extinct. They were primarily used for hunting and so the breed dwindled in numbers as populations of wolves and elk in Ireland dramatically decreased at one point.
By the 18th century, the breed was hard to come by. Luckily, Capt. George A. Graham made it his mission to ensure there were still a few Irish Wolfhounds left in Ireland. He found the remaining dogs and bred them.
Graham ultimately bred Irish Wolfhounds with Scottish Deerhounds to help increase the population.
Around the same time, Major H.D. Richardson began breeding Irish Wolfhounds to help save the breed.
Pure Irish Wolfhounds come in a variety of colors – including the basics like brown, black and cream, as well as more ‘extra’ shades of blue.
Technically, blue isn’t a color in dogs but instead it is a paling effect that dilutes the color pigment of the coat, eyes, and skin. It is known as ‘blue dilute’.
Sadly, at first, ‘blue’ dogs were put down as soon as their coloring became obvious.
It didn’t take long for people to realize that this coloring was something to be treasured and did not impact the health of the dog at all.
Although they are mostly kept as family pets, many farmers still rely on this breed to herd sheep.
Their large size may be intimidating, but don’t mistake them for a great guard dog. This overly friendly breed isn’t aggressive and tends to trust strangers too much.
A note penned in 391 A.D. from a Roman consul to his brother mentioned this breed of dog, thanking him for the gift of an “Irish dog.” He went on to say: “All Rome viewed them in wonder.”
“Wolfdogs of Ireland” were of utmost prestige; often presented as gifts to Roman consuls, kings, shahs of Persia, and other world leaders. They were often delivered wearing chains and collars made from authentic silver and gold.
The number of dogs a royal person owned related to the prestige of the title they held. For instance, members of the lesser nobility kept just two wolfhounds.
Then there’s the Irish legend of folk hero Finn MacCumhaill who was said to keep 500 Irish Wolfhounds – his two favorites were Bran and Sceolan.
7. Big Ron & Big Ern
There’s a reason these tall, lean and beautiful dogs are often used as models in high fashion photography – just look how regal they are on camera!
While they are generally quiet indoor dogs, they prefer a yard with plenty of space to run. Like most dogs, they require at least 40 minutes of daily exercise.
9. This is Guinness. He just passed last month at 9 years…
Sadly, the Irish Wolfhound only lives an average of six to eight years. Not nearly long enough!
He might be the size of a mini-pony, but Irish Wolfhounds should never be ridden by a small child or used to pull a cart – their sensitive joints are not meant to endure this type of stress or strain.
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Originally known as Cu, a Gaelic word that means hound, wolf dog, or war dog, there are many mentions of this impressive dog in Irish literature over the centuries.
A well-known, and rather sad, tale is that of an Irish Wolfhound named Gelert who was gifted to the Prince of Wales, Llewellyn, by England’s King John in 1210.
The two were the best of friends, and Llewellyn loved Gelert more than anything.
One day, he went out hunting and left Gelert in charge of guarding his baby son. When he returned, he found his dog covered in blood. Nearby, he found his son’s carriage tipped over.
Plagued with grief, he killed Gelert. But, just as the dog was dying, he heard his son’s cries. Upon further search he found his baby boy beside a dead wolf that Gelert had killed.
Llewellyn never forgave himself and mourned that dog for the rest of his days. He even built a tomb in Gelert’s honor, which can still be viewed in Caernarvon, Wales.
15. “My Dad, who always complains about the dogs”
18. “Our 3lb kitten’s favorite place to nap is in between her two 180lb Irish Wolfhound brothers”
h/t: Bored Panda