Irish Wolfhound Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em
Irish Wolfhound Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013
The AKC Standard says, "Of great size and commanding appearance, the Irish Wolfhound is remarkable in combining power and swiftness with sight."
This gentle giant is sometimes calm and dignified, sometimes playful and silly, always easygoing and reliable.
The Irish Wolfhound does best in a suburban or country home with lots of companionship and room to stretch out. He needs regular exercise to stay fit, whether he seems to want it or not. A daily one-hour walk/trot (on-leash) with twice weekly gallops inside a safe enclosed area are necessary for proper development.
Sensible with strangers, most Irish Wolfhounds are friendly and expect to be petted, while some are more wary. This breed does need early, frequent socialization to encourage an outgoing attitude. Not many individuals are guardians; indeed, suspiciousness or aggressiveness should never be encouraged because of his massive size.
With other animals the Irish Wolfhound is usually amiable, but he does love to chase, tackle, and pounce on anything that moves rapidly.
A sweet and sensitive dog, he has his independent side but responds well (slowly and thoughtfully) to patient obedience training. Use positive rewards rather than heavy-handed jerking.
Irish Wolfhounds remain gawky, clumsy, and potentially destructive (in a big way!) for up to three years.
If you want a dog who...
- Is a gentle giant with a wiry coat and whiskery face
- Is sometimes calm and dignified, sometimes playful and silly, always easygoing and reliable
- Does best in a suburban or country home with room to stretch out
- Is usually sensible and reliable with everyone
- Responds well to patient obedience training
An Irish Wolfhound may be right for you.
If you don't want to deal with...
- A very large dog who takes up a lot of space in your house and car
- A heavy dog who wants to sit on your feet, lie on your lap, and lean his weight against your leg
- Exuberant jumping, especially when young
- Destructiveness when bored or left alone too much
- Suspiciousness or fearfulness when not socialized enough
- Aggression toward other animals -- chasing instincts
- Regular brushing and trimming of the wiry coat
- Gassiness (flatulence)
- Serious health problems and a very short lifespan
- A high price tag
An Irish Wolfhound may not be right for you.
- choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
- or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
- training your dog to respect you
- avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy
More traits and characteristics of the Irish Wolfhound
If I was considering an Irish Wolfhound, I would be most concerned about...
- Providing the proper balance of exercise. Young Irish Wolfhounds need enough exercise to keep them lean and healthy, but not so much that their soft growing bones, joints, and ligaments become over-stressed and damaged. The proper amount of exercise can be difficult to regulate in giant breeds.
Since you have to minimize their exercise, young Irish Wolfhounds can be very rambunctious. They will romp with uncoordinated gawkiness all over your house. You need to substitute extra quantities of companionship and supervision. Otherwise, left alone, young Irish Wolfhounds become bored and destructive -- and their powerful jaws can literally destroy your living room.
- Providing enough socialization. Some Irish Wolfhounds have protective instincts toward strangers. They need extensive exposure to friendly people so they learn to recognize the normal behaviors of "good guys." Then they can recognize the difference when someone acts abnormally. Without careful socialization, they may be suspicious of everyone, which could lead to biting. Some Irish Wolfhounds go in the opposite direction -- without enough socialization, they become fearful of strangers, which can lead to defensive biting.
- Potential animal aggression. Some Irish Wolfhounds are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex. Some have strong instincts to chase and seize cats and other fleeing creatures. If anything goes wrong in the breeding, socializing, training, handling, or management of this breed, it is capable of seriously injuring or killing other animals.
- Mind of his own. Irish Wolfhounds are very willing to work with you, but they are not Golden Retrievers. They have an independent mind of their own, and you must show them, through absolute consistency and while they are still small enough to be physically controlled, that you mean what you say.
To teach your Wolfhound to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Irish Wolfhound Training Page discusses the program you need.
- Gassiness (flatulence) that can send you running for cover. Fortunately, Irish Wolfhounds who are fed a natural diet of real meat and other fresh foods have much less trouble with gassiness. See my Irish Wolfhound Health Page for more information.
- Serious health problems and a short lifespan. Irish Wolfhounds are extremely prone to a life-threatening digestive syndrome called bloat. In addition, they are frequently stricken at an early age by joint and bone disorders, heart disease and cancer.
To keep this breed healthy, I strongly recommend following all of the advice on my Irish Wolfhound Health Page.
- Paying the price. Many breeders are charging $1000 and up for an Irish Wolfhound.
To learn more about training Irish Wolfhounds to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.
It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Irish Wolfhound the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.
Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.
My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Irish Wolfhound. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.
If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Irish Wolfhound might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.
Once you have your Irish Wolfhound home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.
My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.
Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.
Please consider adopting an ADULT Irish Wolfhound...
When you're acquiring an Irish Wolfhound PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.
But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Irish Wolfhounds who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!
Save a life. Adopt a dog.
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Copyright © 2000-2013 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
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