IW Foundation Health Library:
Irish Wolfhounds are not generally unhealthy dogs. Their lifespan is short (average is now about 7.5 years), but it is common for a Wolfhound to be healthy for most of its life. The major causes of death for IWs are cancer (especially bone cancer), heart disease, bloat/torsion, pneumonia, and loss of use of the rear end in older dogs. The good news in the last few years has been that heart disease is increasingly treatable if detected early, which is why it is so important to have your IW's heart screened annually after age 2.
Hereditary issues that should be tested in breeding dogs include heart problems, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and inherited eye problems. Hip dysplasia is not common in the breed but it does exist, and given the small size of the IW gene pool, screening is recommended. Puppies should be screened for portosystemic shunt (PSS or liver shunt) before going to their new homes at 10-12 weeks.
IWs also have some non-life-threatening problems, like hygromas, which give many a new owner a scare when they first appear.
And, of course, they can have conditions any dog may have, like allergies or torn ACLs.
The best thing you can do for your IW is educate yourself on health issues so you will know what to look for and catch things early, which often makes a difference. Your breeder and veterinarian should be important sources of information in addition to your research.
- Longevity Data from the IWF Lifetime Cardiac Study
- Trends in IW Health from the IWF Lifetime Cardiac Study
- Bleeding Disorders in Irish Wolfhounds, a Survey
- Health Issues in Irish Wolfhounds
- Keeping Your Geriatric IW Healthy, Happy and Pain-free
- Anesthesia in Sighthounds
- Scottish Deerhound Health Articles (many applicable to IWs)
- Post-Operative Bleeding in Greyhounds (may be applicable to IWs and other sighthounds)
- Canine Influenza
- PubMed (NIH database of biomedical articles)
- Merck Veterinary Manual online
- Quackwatch (investigates medical fraud)
- US FDA veterinary section (drugs approved for animals, adverse event reporting, etc.)
- Veterinary Partner - general pet health information
- Bloodwork Basics: A Reference Guide
- Antibiotic resistance
- Antibiotic Primer
- As the Summer Heats Up
Links provided here provide Irish Wolfhound-specific, sighthound, and/or general canine information relevant to Irish Wolfhounds.
Disclaimer: The Irish Wolfhound Foundation provides the information on this website for the education of its readers. No information on this website should be used for veterinary medical purposes, diagnostically, therapeutically, or otherwise. Consult a veterinarian before attempting to medically treat your dog or changing your dog's medical treatment.
Note: Links to content outside iwfoundation.org may become inactive over time.