Do Irish Wolfhounds Shed?

Written by Kathryn Dueck
Published: November 11, 2022
© Viktoriia Bondarenko/Shutterstock.com
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Originally hailing from Ireland, Irish wolfhounds are massive dogs with gentle hearts. They also go by the name Irish greyhound due to their greyhound-like physique. They developed as working dogs protecting herds and flocks from wolves. Capable of galloping at great speed, an Irish wolfhound could take on a wolf in single combat. Today, it makes an amiable, loyal companion. If you’re hoping to make one of these unique dogs part of your family, you may be wondering: do Irish wolfhounds shed? And are they hypoallergenic?

Are Irish Wolfhounds Hypoallergenic?

Irish wolfhounds shed moderately throughout the year. Fortunately for their owners, they don’t experience heavy seasonal shedding. However, prospective pet owners with allergies will want to avoid this breed as it isn’t hypoallergenic.

Why aren’t Irish wolfhounds hypoallergenic? All dogs release allergens (glycoproteins) through their skin, saliva, and urine. Dogs with lower concentrations of glycoproteins are considered hypoallergenic. The most common pet allergen is dander (flakes of dead skin). Generally speaking, the more a dog sheds, the more dander it releases. Irish wolfhounds aren’t especially heavy shedders, but they do produce enough dander to trigger allergies in susceptible people. This is true of most dog breeds with fur or double coats.

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Irish wolfhound sitting patiently
Irish wolfhounds are moderate shedders and are not hypoallergenic.

©iStock.com/Bigandt_Photography

How Much Do Irish Wolfhounds Shed?

Irish wolfhounds shed moderately, not excessively. They do so steadily throughout the year. Surprisingly, unlike most breeds with their coat type, Irish wolfhounds don’t “blow their coats” seasonally. Blowing the coat is the process whereby dogs undergo periods of massive shedding in the spring and fall in response to temperature changes.

In the spring, dogs lose their winter coats in favour of lighter summer coats. In fall, they get rid of their summer coats so a thicker winter layer can grow in. This usually takes place over a period of two to four weeks. Irish wolfhounds retain the same coat no matter the weather.

Do Irish Wolfhounds Have Hair or Fur?

Irish wolfhounds have fur, not hair. This affects how their coat behaves. See the following factors to get a feel for what to expect from an Irish wolfhound’s coat.

Shedding

It’s an inescapable fact that dogs with fur shed more than dogs with hair. This is because of the hair follicles’ growth cycle. The growth cycle of hair is lengthier and generally leads to a longer, finer coat. Because the hair follicles take longer to reach the shedding stage (exogen) from the growth stage (anagen), they don’t fall out as frequently. Fur has a much shorter growth cycle, which means it replaces itself more frequently. For this reason, most dogs with fur also have shorter coats.

Irish wolfhounds are on the lighter end of the shedding spectrum for dogs with fur, but owners will still find themselves occasionally cleaning up after this breed.

Layers

Unlike dogs with hair, most dogs with fur have a double coat, and Irish wolfhounds are no exception. This breed’s coat consists of two layers: a soft, fluffy undercoat (ground hair) and a coarse, wiry outer coat (guard hair). The guard hair is of medium length and is rough and hard to the touch; it functions as a protective layer to keep out dirt and moisture. The ground hair is finer and shorter, providing insulation against both cold and heat.

Texture

An Irish wolfhound’s coat should not be soft to the touch. The breed standard calls for a rough, wiry texture, which is ideal for working dogs who have to contend with harsh conditions. Dog fur is typically coarser than dog hair, though some breeds with an abundant coat like the chow chow feel fluffy and soft.

Irish wolfhounds running
The Irish wolfhound’s coat consists of two layers: an undercoat and a coarse outer coat which helps to keep out dirt and moisture.

©Barbora Bridges/Shutterstock.com

Grooming an Irish Wolfhound

Despite their shaggy coats, Irish wolfhounds are relatively easy to groom. A weekly brushing should be sufficient to keep the coat clean and free of knots. The best brush for an Irish wolfhound is a soft bristle brush. A steel comb will help you get down to the skin and remove every knot.

For best results, bathe your Irish wolfhound every four to six weeks. If they get dirty prior to their usual bath schedule, you can wash them sooner, but try not to overdo it. Overly frequent bathing strips the skin of its natural oils and causes it to become dry and itchy. It also risks damaging the coat.

Should you shave or trim your Irish wolfhound? Generally, experts strongly advise against shaving double-coated dogs. Though it’s tempting to think a shave will help reduce shedding, it actually increases it in the long term as the fur grows back thicker. Worse, you deprive your dog of a vital means of body temperature regulation. Contrary to popular belief, shaving off a dog’s fur or hair does not make it cooler in hot weather.

However, some groomers recommend hand stripping for Irish wolfhounds if shedding is out of control. This is a harmless, painless process that naturally thins the undercoat. In addition, many owners trim their Irish wolfhounds around the eyes, ears, and feet to keep them looking tidy. If this is something you want to do, check out this review article on the best dog grooming shears currently available.

Irish wolfhound being pet
Brushing your Irish wolfhound weekly should be sufficient to keep the coat clean and free of knots.

©iStock.com/Shumoff

How to Reduce Shedding

There are a number of easy ways to reduce your Irish wolfhound’s shedding if you find it’s all getting a bit much. See the review articles below for recommendations on high-quality pet products.

  • Brushing: Brushing is the best and easiest way to control your dog’s shedding. It removes loose hair before it can get on your floors and furniture. It also keeps your dog’s coat healthy.
  • De-shedding brush: For optimal results, pick one of the best de-shedding brushes on the market. These will make the process of brushing more efficient.
  • De-shedding shampoo: The experts have designed a number of shampoos to reduce shedding. Check out this review of the best de-shedding shampoos for dogs.
  • Blow-dryer: If you’re really desperate to reduce shedding, you might want to invest in a professional dog blow-dryer. This will help blow away remaining loose hairs after a bath.
  • A healthy diet: What a dog eats can affect how much it sheds. Take a look at this review article on the best dog foods for shedding.

Conclusion

Irish wolfhounds make great pets for those who are prepared to deal with their size and coats. Since each Irish wolfhound sheds to a different degree, you’ll want to spend some time with your potential new companion before bringing it home.

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Irish Wolfhound (Canis familiaris) - irish wolfhounds on log
© Viktoriia Bondarenko/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I am a freelance writer with experience in both fiction and nonfiction. When not putting words on a page, I enjoy reading, hiking in the great outdoors, and playing with my dog.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Canine Journal, Available here: https://www.caninejournal.com/irish-wolfhound/
  2. Daily Paws, Available here: https://www.dailypaws.com/dogs-puppies/dog-breeds/irish-wolfhound
  3. American Kennel Club, Available here: https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/irish-wolfhound/