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The Irish Wolfhound

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Irish Wolfhound - History
Written by Hugh McManus   

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Wednesday, 30 July 2008 17:45

Irish Wolfhounds are fast, with excellent eyesight, a rough coat, a large square-shaped head, and a long, muscular neck.  Wolfhounds come in a range of colors: white, grey, brindle, black, brown, wheaten, or even red.  The dog has a long, slender body with narrow hips.  Wolfhounds can range from 30 to 36 inches at the withers.  Wolfhounds are large dogs: the female averages about 120 to 140 lbs.; males vary from 140 to 180 lbs.  Wolfhounds grow quickly; the pups usually weight about 1 pound and reach 30 to 40 pounds by three months.  Between three to six months, pups can grow as fast as one pound per day, resembling a full grown dog at age seven to nine months.  Wolfhounds don't reach full maturity until close to two years old.  As with all large breeds, Wolfhounds don't have a great longevity: six is considered old for a Wolfhound; few live for longer than eight years

Wolfhounds have a great temperament: they are very stoic, patient and sweet tempered.  They can be trusted with children and show unconditional loyalty to their family owners.  Wolfhounds protect people but not property, so the breed is not a great watch dog.  They will protect people, but are indifferent to things.  The breed can be shy with strangers.  This leery, hesitant demeanor coupled with the large size of the breed often serves as a deterrent for those with ill-intent.

As with most pure bred dogs, Irish Wolfhounds have their share of health problems.  The longevity of the breed was discussed earlier.  Six is considered old for a Wolfhound; eight is an exceptionally old dog.  The two most common problems suffered by the breed are dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) or an enlarged heart.  The breed also suffers differentially from bone cancer, particularly in the hind legs.  Common with any deep-chested dog, bloat or gastric torsion is common and a big killer of this gentle breed.   All sight hounds often have extreme sensitivity to anesthesia: the hounds should not be under a general anesthetic for more than ninety minutes two hours.  If a veterinarian seems confused or unconvinced about this sensitivity, it's best not to discuss the matter, rather find a new veterinarian.

Wolfhounds enjoy eating, sleeping, walking and being with their owners.  They are quite happy to be lethargic and spend most of their day sleeping.  Given the breed's history of heart problems, it's good to try and encourage some activity.

 

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