Great Dane vs Irish Wolfhound: Choosing the Right Giant Breed

Great Dane vs Irish Wolfhound

When it comes to large dog breeds, the Great Dane vs Irish Wolfhound stands out not only for their size but also for their majestic appearance and gentle demeanour.

Both breeds have their unique characteristics, making them popular choices for dog enthusiasts seeking a companion with a commanding presence.

Whether you’re deciding between these giants based on size, temperament, or care requirements, understanding their differences is crucial.

This comprehensive guide compares the Great Dane and Irish Wolfhound across various aspects to help you make an informed decision.

History and Origins of Great Dane vs Irish Wolfhound

Great Dan

Originally known as the “German Boarhound,” Great Danes have a rich history dating back to ancient civilizations.

They were bred primarily for hunting large game such as wild boar and deer. Over time, their role evolved to include guarding estates and serving as companions to nobility.

The modern Great Dane we know today was refined in Germany, where it gained popularity for its impressive size and gentle nature.

Irish Wolfhound

As its name suggests, the Irish Wolfhound hails from Ireland and has a lineage that goes back thousands of years.

Bred to hunt wolves and other large game, these dogs were valued for their strength, agility, and loyalty.

They were companions to Irish chieftains and were even mentioned in early Irish laws and literature, reflecting their esteemed status in ancient Irish society.

Significance and Characteristics

Great Dane vs Irish Wolfhound

Both breeds share certain similarities despite their distinct histories:

CharacteristicsGreat Dane       Irish Wolfhound
SizeVery large, typically weighing 110-175 poundsExtremely large, typically weighing 105-180 pounds
Height28-34 inches at the shoulder30-35 inches at the shoulder
CoatShort and smoothRough and wiry
ColorVariety of colors including fawn, brindle, blackPredominantly gray, brindle, red, black
TemperamentFriendly, dependable, and gentleGentle, dignified, and reserved
Exercise NeedsModerate exercise requirementsModerate to high exercise requirements
GroomingLow maintenanceLow to moderate maintenance
TrainabilityResponsive but can be stubbornResponsive and eager to please
Health ConcernsProne to bloat and joint issuesProne to heart conditions and joint issues
Lifespan7-10 years6-8 years

How to Take Care of Them?

Taking care of Great Dane vs Irish Wolfhound requires attention to their specific needs due to their large size and potential health concerns.

Here’s an elaboration on how to properly care for each breed:

Great Dane Care


Great Danes need regular exercise to maintain their muscle tone and overall health.

Despite their large size, they are relatively moderate in their activity levels compared to some other large breeds.

Daily walks and opportunities to move around in a secure area are essential. Avoid excessive running or strenuous exercise, especially during their growth phase, to prevent joint issues.


Proper nutrition is crucial for Great Danes to support their large size and prevent common health problems like bloat (gastric dilatation volvulus).

Feed them a high-quality diet formulated for large breeds, which helps in managing their growth rate and reduces the risk of skeletal issues.

Divide their meals into smaller portions throughout the day to minimize the risk of bloat.


Great Danes have short, smooth coats that are relatively low maintenance.

Weekly brushing with a soft-bristled brush helps to remove loose hair and distribute natural oils, keeping their coat healthy and shiny.

Occasional baths using a gentle dog shampoo help to keep them clean and fresh.

Health Monitoring

Regular veterinary check-ups are essential for early detection and management of health issues common in different types of Great Danes, such as hip dysplasia, heart conditions, and bloat.

Your vet may recommend specific tests or screenings based on their age and health history.


Early socialization and consistent training are key for Great Danes due to their size and strength.

Start socializing them with other dogs, people, and different environments from a young age to prevent shyness or fearfulness.

Positive reinforcement methods work best, as they respond well to gentle but firm training.

Great Dane vs Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhound Care


Irish Wolfhounds require daily exercise to keep them healthy and mentally stimulated.

They have a strong prey drive and enjoy running in a secure area, so regular walks and opportunities to run off-leash in a safe environment are crucial.

However, avoid excessive exercise during their growth period to prevent stress on their developing joints.

Furthermore, if you don’t take good care of them, they will have multiple behaviour problems.


Feed Irish Wolfhounds a balanced diet appropriate for their age, size, and activity level.

Consider their growth rate and potential health issues, such as heart conditions that are common in large breeds.

Avoid overfeeding to prevent obesity, which can exacerbate joint problems.


Irish Wolfhounds have a rough, wiry coat that requires regular brushing to manage shedding and prevent matting.

Use a slicker brush or a grooming rake to remove dead hair and debris. Baths should be given occasionally using a mild dog shampoo, focusing on keeping their coat clean and free from tangles.

Health Monitoring

Regular health checks are vital for Irish Wolfhounds, particularly focusing on their heart health and joint function as they age.

Routine examinations by a veterinarian help in early detection and management of issues like cardiomyopathy (heart disease) and joint problems such as arthritis.


Irish Wolfhounds are known for their gentle nature but can be somewhat reserved.

Gentle but consistent training from a young age helps to harness their natural disposition and prevent shyness.

Use positive reinforcement techniques to reinforce good behaviour and socialize them regularly with people and other animals.

Preventive Tips

  • Health Screening: Schedule regular veterinary visits for both breeds to monitor their overall health, administer necessary vaccinations, and conduct preventive screenings for common breed-specific issues.
  • Proper Diet: Feed them a balanced diet tailored to their nutritional needs and avoid overfeeding to maintain a healthy weight and prevent obesity-related health issues.
  • Exercise Balance: Provide adequate exercise suitable for their age and breed requirements, ensuring they get enough physical activity without overexertion, especially during their growth phases.
  • Socialization: Introduce them to various social situations, people, and animals from a young age to promote confident and friendly behaviour.
  • Environment: Create a safe living space that accommodates their large size, providing enough room indoors and outdoors for them to move around comfortably and safely.
Great Dane vs Irish Wolfhound


Choosing between a Great Dane vs Irish Wolfhound depends largely on your lifestyle, preferences, and ability to meet their specific needs.

Both breeds offer immense loyalty, gentle companionship, and stunning presence.

Whether you’re drawn to the regal stature of the Irish Wolfhound or the majestic calm of the Great Dane, understanding their differences in history, characteristics, and care requirements is crucial for making the right choice.

In conclusion, these giant breeds bring joy and companionship to many homes, but they require dedicated care and attention due to their size and potential health issues.

With proper care, training, and love, either a Great Dane or an Irish Wolfhound can become a cherished member of your family.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which breed is better for families with children?

Both breeds can be excellent with children, but Great Danes are often noted for their gentle and patient nature, making them slightly more suitable for families with young children.

Do Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds get along with other pets?

Yes, with proper socialization, both breeds can coexist peacefully with other pets in the household.

Are Great Danes or Irish Wolfhounds easier to train?

Great Danes tend to be more stubborn, requiring consistent training, while Irish Wolfhounds are generally more eager to please.

How much exercise do Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds need?

Both breeds require moderate exercise, but Irish Wolfhounds may have a slightly higher energy level and need more space to run.

What are common health issues in Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds?

Great Danes are prone to bloat and joint issues, while Irish Wolfhounds are susceptible to heart conditions and joint problems due to their size.

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