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Irish Wolfhound

Sighthound & Pariah Dog Group

The goals and purposes of this breed standard include: to furnish guidelines for breeders who wish to maintain the quality of their breed and to improve it; to advance this breed to a state of similarity throughout the world; and to act as a guide for judges.

Breeders and judges have the responsibility to avoid any conditions or exaggerations that are detrimental to the health, welfare, essence and soundness of this breed, and must take the responsibility to see that these are not perpetuated.

Any departure from the following should be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog and on the dog’s ability to perform its traditional work.


The present-day Irish Wolfhound owes its existence to R.D. Richardson and Captain G.A. Graham who, in the 1840's, helped restore this almost extinct, ancient breed to its former state. The original Irish Wolfhound is thought to be a very ancient breed, being documented as early as 393 A.D. The intelligence, strength and courage of the breed are legendary, and they were valued as guardians, hunters and war dogs.

The Irish Wolfhound was recognized by the United Kennel Club in 1921.

General Appearance

The Irish Wolfhound is Greyhound-like, but rough coated. It is the largest and tallest of the coursing hounds, remarkable in its combination of power and swiftness. Maintenance of breed type is of prime importance. They are of great size, with a commanding appearance, very muscular and strong, yet gracefully built, with easy and active movement. Any deviation from the standard is to be evaluated in relation to its degree of deviation. The ideal specimen has the great size with a proportionate length of body, and shows the requisite power, activity, courage and symmetry.


The Irish Wolfhound is a superb companion animal and a determined hunter.


The long, level head is carried high. The frontal bones of the forehead are very slightly raised, with very little indentation between the eyes.


The skull is not too broad.


The long muzzle is moderately pointed.

Faults: Head too light or too heavy. Frontal bone too highly arched. Lips any color other than black.


The Irish Wolfhound has a complete set of strong, white teeth that meet in a scissors bite. A level bite is acceptable.


The eyes are dark.

Faults: Very light eyes. Eye rims any color other than black.


The nose is dark.

Faults: Nose any color other than black.


The small, rose ears are Greyhound-like in carriage.

Faults: Large ears. Ears hanging flat to the face.


The very strong, muscular neck is rather long and well arched, and is carried high. There is no dewlap or loose skin about the throat.

Faults: Short neck. Full dewlaps.


The muscular, sloping shoulders are set to provide breadth to the chest.


The forearm is muscular. The entire leg is strong, quite straight, and heavily boned. The elbows are set well under.

Faults: Bent forelegs. Over bent pasterns.


The chest is very deep, and moderately broad. The rib cage is long, with the ribs well sprung. The back is rather long than short, with arched loins and great width across the hips. The belly is well drawn up.

Faults: Chest too narrow or too broad. Back too straight. Sunken or hollow back. Short body.


Both the upper and lower thighs are muscular, with the lower thigh being long and strong (as found in the Greyhound).


The hocks are well let down, turning neither in nor out. The stifles are nicely bent.

Faults: Weak and/or lack of muscle in hindquarters.


Both front and back feet are moderately large and round, turning neither inward nor outward. The toes are well arched and closed. The nails are very strong and curved.

Faults: Twisted feet. Splay feet.


The tail is long and slightly curved, moderately thick and well covered with hair.

Fault: Tail excessively curled.


The hair is rough and hard on the body, legs and head. It is especially wiry and long over the eyes and on the underjaw.


Recognized colors include: gray, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn, and any other color that is found in the Deerhound.

Disqualification: Albinism.

Height and Weight

The desired height is 32-34 inches.

Minimum heights and weights (applied only to Irish Wolfhounds over 18 months of age): Dogs, 31 inches, 120 pounds; females, 28 inches, 90 pounds.


Movement is easy and active.

Points of The Breed in Order of Merit

The various points of the breed are listed in order of merit. No singular point is to be exaggerated or diminished at the expense of the total breed standard.
Breed type. A rough-coated, Greyhound-like breed. The tallest of the coursing hounds, with a remarkable combination of power and swiftness.
Great size and commanding appearance.
Easy and active movement.
Long and level head, carried high.
Heavily boned, straight forelegs. Elbows well set under.
Long and muscular thighs. Well-muscled second thighs. Nicely bent stifles.
Rough, hard coat, especially wiry and long over the eyes and on the underjaw.
Long, well-ribbed-up body. Well-sprung ribs. Wide across hips.
Arched loins. Belly well drawn up.
Small ears, carried thrown back and folded (as a Greyhound).
Moderately large, round feet. Close, well-arched toes.
Long, well-arched, very strong neck.
Very deep, moderately broad chest.
Muscular, sloping shoulders.
Long, slightly curved tail.
Dark eyes.

Eliminating Faults

(An Eliminating Fault is a Fault serious enough that it eliminates the dog from obtaining any awards in a conformation event.)
Under height or weight minimums after 18 months of age.


(A dog with a Disqualification must not be considered for placement in a conformation event, and must be reported to UKC.)
Unilateral or bilateral cryptorchid.
Viciousness or extreme shyness.

UKC Breed Standards: Irish Wolfhound

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Official UKC Breed Standard

Revised July 1, 2009

©Copyright 1991, United Kennel Club