The Irish Wolfhound is a sight hound and one of the tallest breeds of dog. The breed was bred around 1st century BC, as a war dog by the ancient Celts. The Irish used them continually as a guard dog. The breed was also once used for coursing, but it may have been a poor coursing breed. The breed was also known to have the ability to kill both men and lions. Due to a ban during the 19th century, the breed nearly vanished, but the breed was saved by Captain Graham. Historically, the breed was a dog only nobles could own, and the British took it up during their rule in Ireland.
The breed stands 33 to 36 inches high and generally weighs 115 to 180 pounds. The body of the Irish Wolfhound is similar to that of the Greyhound, but is typically larger. The coat of the Irish Wolfhound is rough and can be one of several different colors: grey, wheaten, brindle, red, black, white, fawn, or brown. The head of the Irish Wolfhound is boxy and its neck is long and muscular. The breed may look mature by about 7 months of age, but will not technically be mature for at least 1.5 years.
The Irish Wolfhound has a relatively short lifespan of only 5 to 9 years on average. The breed may experience problems such as dilated cardiomyopathy, bone cancer, bloat, and intraphepatic portosystemic shunt.