IW Foundation Health Library:
General Health

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.

In addition to broken bones and bleeding, which anyone would recognize as an emergency in a dog, IWs should also be taken to the vet immediately if either pneumonia or bloat is suspected.

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.

Further Reading

Related Topics

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.

« Return to Health Library