Great Dane vs. Irish Wolfhound: Which Breed is Best For Your Family

Both the Great Dane and the Irish Wolfhound are giant breeds of dogs. They have quite a few things in common and in other respects they are different from each other.

Learning about each of the breeds in depth can help you to decide which of these two gentle giants would be the best breed for your family.

Similarities of the Great Dane and the Irish Wolfhound

Both of these breeds of dogs are purebred and they both have an average amount of intelligence. They are exceptionally friendly overall and with families, kids, other pets, and even strangers.

The personality of the Great Dane and the Irish Wolfhound is also alike, as they are both affectionate, loving, they like to snuggle, are willing to please their family and they are a pack member who does not like being left alone.

Both of these giant breed dogs can live indoors or in a home with a fenced-in yard. They both have a medium energy level and require a medium amount of exercise to stay healthy. Both breeds also have a very high level of strength due to their size in height and weight.

The grooming needs are similar also, with only needing medium maintenance on their coats as they do shed, but only at a medium rate. Both dogs do drool at a medium to a high rate.

Differences between the Great Dane and the Irish Wolfhound

Being giant breeds of dogs means that these two breeds will have a shorter lifespan than smaller breeds of dogs do.

The Great Dane has an average lifespan of 7 to 10 years with proper veterinary care, and the Irish Wolfhound’s average lifespan is shorter at only 6 to 8 years of age.

The Great Dane is a bit larger and heavier than the Irish Wolfhound. Great Danes reach between 28 and 38 inches tall at the shoulder when they are mature and can reach between 100 and 200 pounds.

The Irish Wolfhound reaches a height at the shoulder of 32 to 35 inches tall and weighs in at 90 to 180 pounds when he is fully grown.

A Great Dane can be a bit stubborn and he can also be jealous of other pets. The Irish Wolfhound is more laid back and doesn’t exhibit any of these traits.

Great Danes are much more vocal than Irish Wolfhounds, as the Great Dane will bark and howl very often and the Irish Wolfhound would rather just pay attention to what is going on around him in silence or he may bark or howl, but very rarely.

The Great Dane may be a bit easier to train and socialize with as he is very focused and patient.

Great Danes have a below-average propensity to be aggressive and burrow or dig in the yard, whereas the Irish Wolfhound has an even lower amount of aggression, burrowing, and digging.

The Irish Wolfhound is much more prone to chasing other animals or pets than the Great Dane.

Breed History Comparison

Great Dane

Great Danes are a German breed of dog. Somehow, they are associated with Denmark, although that isn’t clear in their history. In Germany, a Great Dane is called the Deutsche Dog–meaning the German Dog in English.

German nobles used Great Danes to hunt wild boars that were particularly ferocious. The dogs were fast on their feet as they can run at a top speed of 30 miles per hour and, with their giant size, they could overcome the wild hogs and kill them.

Later on, Great Danes became protectors and guard dogs for their homes and loved ones. These fearless bred dogs are in the working dog group and they are quite pleased to be companions to their families and protect them today.

Irish Wolfhound

The Irish Wolfhound evolved from breeding large dogs in Britain to the Middle Eastern hounds. In Rome, the consulate was gifted seven of these hounds who were notably “Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked” and they were used to hunt Irish elk who were said to stand as tall as 6 feet at the shoulder.

In the 15th century, Irish Wolfhounds were used to chase down and kill wolves that were overrunning the country. Today, the Irish Wolfhound is used mainly as a companion dog for families.

Appearance Comparison

Great Dane

The Great Dane is a very tall and lean dog who looks very athletic and muscular. He has a long and narrow head with medium-sized floppy ears.

His ears may be left floppy or the breeder from where he was born may have them cropped and taped so that they stand up straight on his head.

Great Dane’s tails are long and slender and they hold them low. His coat is smooth and short and he may be solid black, blue, fawn, or silver, as well as black and white, brindle, harlequin, merle, or mantle.

Your puppy may also have some markings of black or white on him and he may have a black mask as well.

Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhounds are the very tallest of all the sighthounds. They look much like a huge Greyhound but with a wiry type of coat. He has a double coat that is straight to wavy and his coat can be one of many different types and colors.

Irish Wolfhounds can be solid black, blue, cream, gray, red, silver, white or they may be brindle, gray and brindle, red and brindle, red wheaten, wheaten or wheaten, and brindle. Irish Wolfhounds don’t have any other colored markings on their heads or bodies.

This breed of dog has a long head with a long and moderately pointed muzzle. His neck is long and muscular with a very deep chest that is also wide. His tail is long and it curves gracefully upward with a lot of thick hair on it.

Temperament Comparison

Great Dane

The aggressiveness of the Great Danes of yesterday has been bred out of this breed to make him a gentle giant that gets along well with other dogs, children, and everyone in his family.

Because of his size, he does need to be trained and socialized at a young age so he doesn’t knock smaller kids down with his sheer size.

He’s intelligent and eager to please, so he will learn easily and the Great Danes crave human interaction and companionship.

A Great Dane is friendly, devoted to his family, and a very gentle dog. He can be somewhat reserved while being confident at the same time.

Irish Wolfhound

This breed of dog has an average level in almost everything about him. He ranks average on the scale for trainability and his energy level as well.

He is average in his level of playfulness and his openness to strangers, although he has a great aptitude for being a watchdog and being very protective of his family members.

Irish Wolfhounds are loyal and dignified as well as sweet and generous. He is also a patient dog that is thoughtful, as you may see when training him or when he is making a decision as to what he should do next–but not when some sort of perceived “prey” crosses his path.

At this point, he will likely chase the other animal and try to catch it. This is something you need to focus on when training your puppy so he doesn’t run off after small animals like squirrels or rodents.

Exercise Comparison

Great Dane

Great Danes seem pretty laid back and quiet, but they still do need exercise to stay in shape. Just a short brisk walk two to three times a day is enough exercise for this type of pup.

After your puppy is at least 2 years old, you will find that he will be your best companion for jogging or hiking and make it all that much more enjoyable for both of you.

Remember not to exercise your dog around mealtime as it can cause him to have bloat. Danes use their noses to follow scents, so it’s best to keep him on a leash in an open area or let him loose to play and run in an area with a tall and secure fence. A fenced backyard is a delight for Great Danes to play with their human families.

Most of all, Great Danes enjoy many activities such as agility, obedience, weight pulls, tracking events, and sports such as flyball and disc catching.

Irish Wolfhound

Wolfhounds do need exercise on a daily basis. However, it’s imperative that they be on a leash for exercise or in a securely fenced area to play as they will catch a scent, and then it’s off to the races when they start chasing something.

When your puppy reaches adulthood, he will likely try to be a couch potato, but you should still exercise him or at least play with him for at least an hour a day to keep him healthy and prevent him from becoming overweight.

Irish Wolfhounds also enjoy sports for dogs such as tracking, lure coursing, and agility and they do excel in all three of these areas as well.

Training Comparison

Early training and socialization are a must for all giant breed dogs. They must learn to be very obedient as playful pups and carry this forward throughout their lives to keep from knocking small kids down and from clearing all of your items off the end tables and coffee tables with their tails.

Great Dane

The Great Dane is smart and very easy to train. They are sociable dogs that are eager to please and super friendly as well.

Any type of training in which you offer positive reinforcement with treats, and praise will work well with him.

You should also socialize your puppy as soon as you get him so he knows how to act around other people, families, and pets that he may encounter. He should be taught the basic commands of sit, stay, down, and come.

Irish Wolfhound

When Wolfhounds are puppies–and they don’t mature until they are at least 18 months of age as late bloomers–they are prone to hurting themselves and being very destructive as well if you leave them at home for too long.

This dog breed does best in a home that has a large backyard with a tall and secure fence to contain him.

This will allow him to have playtime whenever he has a burst of energy instead of tearing up your house.

Play with your Irish Wolfhound outside every day and train him outdoors too, if possible. This will teach him that it’s the perfect place to play and run.

Your Irish Wolfhound loves people and is intelligent, so he will be able to pick up on training and socialization easily at a young age. Remember only to use positive reinforcement in all of your training methods.

Health Comparison

All purebred dogs, no matter what specific breed they are, have some health issues that are common for their breed and passed down for generations in their genes.

Great Dane

Great Danes can suffer from bloat as well as eye disease and heart diseases. Hypothyroidism and autoimmune diseases are also common among Danes.

They may also inherit hip dysplasia because of their large size and fast-growing joints. This condition is when the joints do not align properly and it results in arthritis and pain.

Irish Wolfhound

Just like all deep-chested dog breeds, the Great Dane is prone to bloat from overeating. Bloat makes his abdomen swell and it can be life-threatening to him.

Other conditions that Great Danes often have to include hip dysplasia from misaligned joints, heart disease, pneumonia, and certain cancers.

Nutrition Comparison

Great Dane and Irish Wolfhound

Since both breeds of dogs are predisposed to bloat and they are close in size, they have the same nutritional requirements to keep them in tip-top shape.

As a puppy, your Great Dane or Irish Wolfhound should be fed high-quality puppy food to give him all the nutrition he needs for strong bones and adequate growth.

Since large breeds mature much slower than small breed dogs, he will likely stay on puppy food until he reaches about 18 months old, and then you can change him to adult food.

You should ask your vet if you need a large dog breed food for your gentle giant because it does have a special formula in it for large breed dogs.

Space out your dog’s meals so they are fed at least twice a day, although three times a day will be better. Don’t exercise them strenuously either before or after a meal so they don’t contract bloat.

Both the Great Dane and the Irish Wolfhound will eat about 8 to 10 cups of dry food a day when they are adult dogs.

Grooming Comparison

Great Dane and Irish Wolfhound

Both types of dogs have the same grooming requirements, which are quite simple. You should brush them a few times a week and then daily when they are shedding heavily in the spring and fall.

Your pup or dog will only need a bath when they get dirty or about every 2 to 3 months. Overbathing will cause dry skin in your pooch and that can lead to skin conditions that would be worse than him smelling like a nice shampoo.

You should trim your four-legged family member’s nails when they need it, which will depend on how much walking they do on hard surfaces. Walking on concrete will naturally keep the nails shorter for a longer period of time.

Puppy Prices Comparison

Great Dane

You can expect to pay from $800 to $1,200 for a registered Great Dane puppy. It all depends on the lineage of the parent dogs as to where the price will be on this scale.

Irish Wolfhound

Irish Wolfhounds are rarer than Great Danes, so their prices are usually quite a bit higher for a registered puppy.

You can pay between $1,800 and $2,000 for a Wolfhound puppy, with the high part of the scale being for champion bloodlines and the lower end being for a puppy that will be used as a family companion dog.

Final Thoughts

These two breeds of dogs are very similar in just about every way possible.

The Great Dane is not recommended for novice dog owners though, because he can be very stubborn when you are training him and if you let him get away with bad behavior as a pup, it will be double trouble when he achieves his giant size. So, if you are a first-time dog owner, you may decide on the Irish Wolfhound instead.

If someone in your family would benefit from a service dog of any type, the Great Dane should be your choice as they make lovely service dogs, whereas the Irish Wolfhound would most probably not be a very good service dog because of his tendency to be very quiet and reserved.

Whichever of the two breeds you choose will give you a gentle giant to join your family and be a companion and protector for the entire family.

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