Caring for an adult IW - THE IRISH WOLFHOUND CLUB

The
Irish Wolfhound Club
SEARCH
Go to content

Main menu:

Wolfhound life
CARING FOR YOUR ADULT WOLFHOUND
 
 
Your hound will be happiest fit, not fat. A sensible feeding regime of two quality meals a day, combined with regular exercise, should keep your Irish Wolfhound fit and happy. 

Adult hounds should be fed twice a day. Because of his long legs, it is better to place his feeding bowl around 18" off the ground. This stops him having to splay his feet and elbows out at an uncomfortable angle to reach down to his bowl. There are many raised feeding stands available in pet shops, but an old kitchen chair or stool can act as a suitable stand.

Your hound will be happiest fit, not fat. A sensible feeding regime of two quality meals a day, combined with regular exercise, should keep your Irish Wolfhound fit and happy. 

Adult hounds should be fed twice a day. Because of his long legs, it is better to place his feeding bowl around 18" off the ground. This stops him having to splay his feet and elbows out at an uncomfortable angle to reach down to his bowl. There are many raised feeding stands available in pet shops, but an old kitchen chair or stool can act as a suitable stand.

This method of feeding is also thought to help avoid bloat, or gastric torsion, which can be a real problem with deep-chested breeds such as Irish Wolfhounds. This potentially fatal condition involves the stomach turning over on itself, blocking the passage of food and gas at both ends and ultimately blowing up like an enormous balloon. This condition needs immediate veterinary attention.

There are other precautions you can take to minimize the risk of bloat. One hour before and two hours after every meal, he should be kept quiet and any violent activity forbidden. It is also a good idea only to feed food that does not swell up in the stomach after eating.

To test the consistency of the food, put a handful into a bowl, pour on some hot water and leave for 15/20 minutes. If it has increased in size, then this type of food must be soaked before feeding to your hound. Mixer biscuit and meal is usually OK and when combined with meat, will make a good diet for your hound.

You should also try to encourage your dog to be calm when feeding and not to bolt his food as if he is starving!

If you notice your hound's tummy has swelled, or it feels hard or distended, this could be the first sign of bloat. If your hound also seems uncomfortable, is standing strangely and unable to settle, or vomits a small amount of 'frothy' liquid, then take him to see your vet immediately. Gastric Torsion is an emergency. You cannot treat this yourself with home remedies.

Wolfhounds are prodigious drinkers - a bucket, or large bowl of fresh water should be available at all times. You should make sure that the inside of the bowl is thoroughly cleaned out at least every morning, before refilling. Contaminated water can lead to unexpected infections. Water should also be given at a comfortable height for your hound.

It is important for all dogs to have a place they can call their own. Your Wolfhound's bed should be placed somewhere draught-free and away from hazards.

As he grows in size and weight, his joints must be protected, otherwise he may develop bursas. These unsightly, sometimes painful swellings develop mostly on elbows, but hocks and 'bottoms' can also be affected. Bursas can also develop as a result of a knock. This fluid-filled sac helps protect the affected area and should usually be left to subside on its own unless it becomes infected, at which time you should seek veterinary attention. It can take six months or more before bursas are absorbed back into the body.


Soft bedding is imperative to ensure that a Wolfhound's heavy bones and joints are supported when he is at rest. Your hound will be more comfortable sleeping on a rectangular bed, approximately 60"x40", rather than a round basket that he cannot stretch out in. A single bed mattress with a wipe clean cover, or a large piece of thick, vinyl-covered foam, is ideal. A piece of fleece bedding or a blanket on top of the bed will make it even more cosy. 

Show dogs are tidied up by 'stripping out' overlong hairs with finger and thumb. This keeps them looking smart and elegant and retains their graceful lines. The companion hound will feel and look better with similar attention. Use finger and thumb to remove untidy hair from the ears, both inside and out. Keep his beard clean and free from sticky food residue, which can cause skin irritation. Daily brushing and a regular rub down with a flannel soaked in a bucket of warm water and Savlon will keep him smelling sweet and clean and remove dirt and grease from his coat. Regular grooming gives you the chance to notice any small abrasions, cuts, or lumps that can be difficult to see in a hound with a thick, double coat.

Teeth, ears, toenails and anal glands also need careful, regular attention. 

Your hound's feet carry a lot of weight, so it is very important that you ensure they are kept in good condition. Keep them strong with exercise on paving and hard ground, as well as with a good gallop over fields and through forests. In wet or icy weather, clean his feet after his walk, making sure there are no or lumps of mud, small stones, or ice, wedged between his toes or pads.

If they do not wear down naturally and/or, if your hound has dewclaws, you must keep his nails regularly trimmed. Very long nails can give your hound pain and cause him to injure his feet whilst galloping. Since wolfhound nails are very thick and strong, secateur-type nail clippers with a guard, are best.

Wolfhounds' long tails are a constant source of worry, easily damaged within the home on sharp corners of cookers, etc. These cuts can add to your decor with bloody brush marks all over the walls! The slightest scratch must never go untreated, as it can be slow to heal, become infected and result in amputation of part or even the whole tail. 
Never trust your hound with livestock, the hunting instinct is very strong. The hound's motto is, 'if it moves - chase it!' You may be able to trust him not to chase your own animals on your own property, but if he is out walking in the fields anything will be fair game to him. Your Wolfhound should never be allowed the opportunity to chase and kill stock. If he does - it is your fault - but he could pay the price. Farmers are still at liberty to shoot dogs for worrying stock so don't take the risk.

Never physically chastise your Wolfhound. Most Wolfhounds are quite sensitive and intuitive by nature so a disapproving tone of voice is usually sufficient. 
Please remember that not everyone loves dogs. Wolfhounds are naturally curious and will investigate anything and everything that interests them. Not everyone will appreciate this! Better to let members of the public come to your hound, rather than allow him to approach someone who may be nervous of his size.

All Wolfhound owners should be careful to avoid their hound being a nuisance to anyone. As a breed they cannot go unnoticed in public so care must be taken to ensure they are under proper control at all times. 
 
 
 
 
The oldest Irish Wolfhound club in the world,
established in 1885 by Capt George Augustus Graham.
Back to content | Back to main menu