In detail

Irish wolfhounds: history of the breed


Irish wolfhounds are not only a very special breed today. The story of the gentle giants is anything but ordinary. Irish wolfhounds were primarily bred as hunting dogs - Image: Shutterstock / Jana Oudova

Irish wolfhounds have been around for almost 9,000 years. Their exact origin is not known, but the history of the large family dogs goes back to around 7000 BC. As the name suggests, the wolfhounds come from Ireland. Some of them also appeared in England and Wales at the time.

Irish wolfhounds as hunting dogs

In ancient and medieval Ireland, Irish wolfhounds were mainly used to hunt big game and wolves. The gentle giants owe their name to this effort. Her innate hunting instinct and protective instinct made her the ideal dog for this job.

The long-haired greyhounds were reserved for the nobility, the lower people were not up to the attitude. In the 15th century history, every county in England was required to keep a certain number of wolfhounds. You should protect the herds of farmers from attacks by wolves.

History of the family dog

Irish wolfhounds became a status symbol and a popular gift to the nobility on the European mainland. However, this led to an extinction of the breed in their home country around 1800. Fortunately, the history of the large greyhounds did not end yet: The Scotsman George Augustus Graham introduced a breeding program in the middle of the 19th century in which the remaining dogs were crossed with other breeds. These included the Great Dane, Borzoi and Deerhound.

Irish Wolfhounds: The Gentle Giants

This gave rise to Irish Wolfhounds as we now know them. Today they are the largest breed in the world. Because of their gentle and patient nature, they are kept primarily as family dogs.