If you've ever had the pleasure of being in the company of an Irish Wolfhound, then you know that the world's tallest breed is really just an oversized "lap dog." Here are some tips on how to care for this sweet and loyal, gentle giant.
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Take your Irish Wolfhound to the vet for regular medical checkups, including eye exams. Stay current on vaccinations and flea and heartworm preventative. Do a monthly home check of your Wolfhound's eyes, ears, nose, skin, teeth and gums.
Spay/neuter your Irish Wolfhound. Spaying females before the first heat will prevent breast cancer and uterine infections. Neutering males at a young age will prevent testicular cancer, help maintain a healthy prostate and curb aggression.
Have your Irish Wolfhound's teeth cleaned professionally, usually once or twice a year is sufficient. You may also want to brush your dog's teeth. Preventative maintenance can include dry dog food and tartar-control dog biscuits and chews.
Feed your Irish Wolfhound a quality diet with the proper balance of protein, carbs, fats, fiber, vitamins and minerals. If feeding a commercial dog food, choose a quality natural brand with human grade foods and no fillers or meat by-products.
Have a large, fenced in yard for your Irish Wolfhound, as well as plenty of indoor space; they don't do well in small spaces. Starting at 6 months, Irish Wolfhounds will require a good amount of exercise; they like to run and jump and enjoy long walks. Frequent jaunts at the off-leash dog park are good for an Irish Wolfhound since they generally have a friendly nature and get along with other dogs.
Give your Irish Wolfhound firm, but gentle training. They are obedient and tend to be quick learners. Due to their large size, they should be taught as puppies not to pull on the leash. You should also socialize your Irish Wolfhound with people and other animals early. Although they have a friendly nature, they may also have a protective instinct around strangers, therefore the more socialization they get at a young age, the better.
Brush and comb your Irish Wolfhound regularly. They are average shedders with a double coat. You may want to have the coat plucked by a professional groomer once or twice a year to remove dead hairs.
Bathe your Irish Wolfhound and have the nails trimmed about every three to four months. If you have a hard time doing it (which is understandable), take your Wolfhound to a professional groomer. The average cost is about $50. Dog's ears are normally self-cleaning, but if you notice a wax or dirt buildup in between baths, you can clean the earflaps with an ear cleaning solution for dogs.
Tips and warnings
- Although giant breeds mature more slowly than smaller breeds, they tend to have a shorter lifespan. It takes an Irish Wolfhound about two years to fully mature, but their average lifespan is 6 to 8 years. Taking your Wolfhound for health checkups every six months during the senior years and feeding an antioxidant-rich diet to boost the immune system may help your dog live to 10 or 12.
- Irish Wolfhounds tend to get fluid sacs on their elbows due to plopping down on hard surfaces. This can be avoided by providing them with a padded bed and blankets in their resting areas. An orthopedic bed is good for an Irish Wolfhound, especially in the senior years, to ease joint or hip problems and arthritis.
- Keep a towel close to your Irish Wolfhound's water bowl to wipe his snout when he's done drinking. They tend to dip their beards in the water bowl.
- Never leave an Irish Wolfhound alone with an infant or small child. Although they are great with children, they could easily knock a child over due to their size.
- Keep your Irish Wolfhound on a leash whenever outside of an enclosed area. They like to chase things.
- Although Irish Wolfhounds are large, they do not make good watchdogs.
- Do not bathe your Irish Wolfhound outdoors with cold water, especially in the senior years. This can exacerbate joint or hip problems and arthritis.
- The breed has a tendency toward hip dysplasia, bloat, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), heart disease and bone cancer.
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