Irish Wolfhound vs Wolf: 5 Key Differences

closeup of eurasian wolf
Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock.com

Written by August Croft

Published: May 9, 2022

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While their names may sound similar, there are a number of differences between an Irish Wolfhound vs wolf. Given the fact that Irish Wolfhounds were originally bred to hunt wolves, these two dogs may be more similar than they are different in a number of ways. But what facts separate them from one another, and what can you expect out of owning an Irish Wolfhound? 

In this article, we will compare and contrast everything you need to know about Irish Wolfhounds and wolves, including their size differences and appearances. We will go over the ancestors of both of these dogs as well as their behaviors so that you can get a full understanding of both of them. Let’s get started now! 

Comparing Irish Wolfhound vs Wolf

Irish Wolfhound vs Wolf
The Irish Wolfhound grows larger than the wolf in both height and weight, given the fact that it was bred to hunt wolves.
Irish WolfhoundWolf
Size30-36 inches tall; 130-160 pounds24-32 inches tall; 80-150 pounds
AppearanceHuge and lanky frame covered in long, wiry hair. Found in a variety of colors, though primarily gray or black in appearance. Floppy ears and a wise face.Rough, thick coat that matches the environment that the wolf lives in. Elongated muzzle and curled, fluffy tail, found in a variety of colors. Small, erect ears and long, powerful legs.
AncestryOriginated as long ago as 700 BC; used primarily in Ireland to fight off wolf populations from farmlandThought to have originated hundreds of thousands of years ago; an apex predator found throughout the world.
BehaviorExtremely even-tempered and gentle; nonvocal and good with children, though not an ideal guard dog due to their content natures. Capable hunting dog, though may need a bit more hands on training than other breeds. Should never be left unattended outsideHunts and lives in packs, thriving on social structure and vocal cues to survive. Extremely intelligent, elusive, and dangerous when encountered, but most wolves avoid humans. Maintains territory ranging in size from 25-100 miles, and enjoys roaming across a variety of cold weather habitats
Lifespan6-10 years10-12 years

Key Differences Between Irish Wolfhound vs Wolf

Irish Wolfhound vs Wolf

The wolf is not domesticated, while the Irish Wolfhound makes a fantastic family animal.

There are many key differences between the Irish Wolfhound and the wolf. The Irish Wolfhound grows larger than the wolf in both height and weight, given the fact that it was bred to hunt wolves. Additionally, the wolf lives a slightly longer life compared to the Irish Wolfhound, likely given their size differences. Finally, the wolf is not domesticated, while the Irish Wolfhound makes a fantastic family animal. 

Let’s talk about all of their differences in more detail now. 

Irish Wolfhound vs Wolf: Size

Irish Wolfhound vs Wolf

Wolves weigh an average of 80 to 150 pounds, while Irish Wolfhounds outweigh them, averaging at 130 to 160 pounds.

Something that may surprise you is the fact that the Irish wolfhound is bigger than the average wolf, regardless of gender. However, when you consider the fact that Irish Wolfhounds were bred to hunt wolves exclusively, it only makes sense that they are larger. They likely needed the size advantage in order to take down an apex predator such as the wolf! 

Looking at the figures in more detail, the average Irish Wolfhound reaches anywhere from 30 to 36 inches tall, while the average wolf reaches 24 to 32 inches tall total. In addition, wolves weigh an average of 80 to 150 pounds, while Irish Wolfhounds outweigh them, averaging at 130 to 160 pounds. While wolves exhibit fantastic hunting and fighting abilities, Irish Wolfhounds took them down time and time again back in the day. 

Irish Wolfhound vs Wolf: Appearance

Irish Wolfhound vs Wolf

The ears of the wolf are erect, while the ears of the Irish Wolfhound are floppy.

You can easily tell the difference between a wolf and an Irish Wolfhound just by looking at them. While both of these dogs are extremely large, the frame of the Irish Wolfhound is much more gangly and elongated compared to the muscular body of the wolf. In addition, the fur of the Irish Wolfhound is long and coarse, almost wiry and appearance, while wolf fur is fluffy and thick. 

Both of these animals are found in a variety of colors, though the fur of the wolf often mimics the environments in which the wolf lives, something that the Irish Wolfhound does not do. Finally, the ears of the wolf are erect, while the ears of the Irish Wolfhound are floppy. You should be able to tell the difference between an Irish Wolfhound and wolf upon first glance! 

Irish Wolfhound vs Wolf: Ancestry and Breeding

Irish Wolfhound vs Wolf

The wolf is rumored to be nearly 300,000 years old, while the Irish Wolfhound originated sometime during 700 BC. 

Besides the fact that the Irish Wolfhound is domesticated while the wolf is a wild animal, there are other differences in their ancestry and breeding that separate them from one another. The wolf is rumored to be nearly 300,000 years old, while the Irish Wolfhound originated sometime during 700 BC. 

However, the main difference between these two dogs is the fact that the Irish Wolfhound was originally bred to hunt wolves, and wolves are wild animals that prefer to be left alone. This in mind, even wolves find themselves in dangerous situations, particularly while pursuing farm animals. This is exactly why the Irish Wolfhound was bred in the first place: to prevent wolves from eating livestock! 

Irish Wolfhound vs Wolf: Behavior

Irish Wolfhound vs Wolf

While wolves enjoy complex social structures in their wolf packs, Irish Wolfhounds enjoy the companionship of humans as well as children.

There are some obvious differences in the behaviors of the wolf and the Irish Wolfhound. While wolves enjoy complex social structures in their wolf packs, Irish Wolfhounds enjoy the companionship of humans as well as children. They are completely relaxed and laid-back dogs compared to the feral and elusive wolf. 

Irish Wolfhound vs Wolf: Lifespan

Irish Wolfhound vs Wolf

While wolves live a dangerous life in the wild, they still live longer on average compared to the Irish Wolfhound.

A final difference between the Irish Wolfhound and the wolf has to do with their life spans. While wolves live a dangerous life in the wild, they still live longer on average compared to the Irish Wolfhound. For example, Irish Wolfhounds live an average of 6 to 10 years, while the wolf lives anywhere from 10 to 12 years, despite surviving in the wilderness.

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About the Author

August Croft is a writer at A-Z Animals where their primary focus is on astrology, symbolism, and gardening. August has been writing a variety of content for over 4 years and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theater from Southern Oregon University, which they earned in 2014. They are currently working toward a professional certification in astrology and chart reading. A resident of Oregon, August enjoys playwriting, craft beer, and cooking seasonal recipes for their friends and high school sweetheart.

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