Guard dog, wolf hunter, watchdog, sighthound, snuggle bug, a man’s best friend — the Irish Wolfhound is all in one. And there is more to this wolfy breed of dog than its amazing pawsonality.
Known as fearless wolfdogs, the Irish Wolfhound breed appeared in Ireland over a thousand years ago. They were primarily bred as wolf hunting dogs that also hunt deer, wild boar, and other large game.
Hunting wolves was an easy task for, Irish Wolfhound (I mean, the name of this giant breed says it all!). When you look at their great size, it doesn’t surprise you that Irish Wolfhounds were able to stand up against large wolves.
However, over time, this breed of dog suddenly started disappearing.
By the end of the 19th century, Captain George Augustus Graham took it upon himself to establish a quality breeding program. And thus, modern Irish Wolfhounds, that we know today, were born.
In order to blend with natural settings, Irish Wolfhound colors had taken on some interesting shades and hues. They definitely contributed to the hunting skills of the Irish Wolfhound.
The Irish Wolfhound colors that are so abundant and vivid that it makes them difficult to describe with words.
But, we will do our best to give you lots of information on all possible Irish Wolfhound colors and patterns!
Irish Wolfhound Colors: The AKC Breed Standard
The American Kennel Club, along with the Irish Wolfhound Club Of America have put up an Irish Wolfhound dog breed standard that recognizes 13 Irish Wolfhound colors! That’s quite a lot, right?
When you take a look at some of these Irish Wolfhound colors, you will notice that there are many coat colors that look very similar. The full AKC breed standard states that:
“The recognized colors are gray, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn or any other color that appears in the Deerhound.”
According to the AKC breed standard for Scottish Deerhounds, these large dogs come in seven colors. Add the six of the above mentioned colors and bam — you get the Irish Wolfhound coat colors.
Scottish Deerhounds and Irish Wolfhounds are close relatives of Scottish Deerhounds, and they look very much alike (people often confuse one for another). So, they are most likely to inherit the same coat colors.
Besides Scottish Deerhounds, Irish Wolfhounds inherit large dog genes from Great Danes and Borzois. Having said that, Irish Wolfhounds share some of the Great Dane colors.
1. Black Irish Wolfhound
Photo from: @ruutithegriffon03
The Black Irish Wolfhounds get their coat color from dominant genes. Because the black coat gene is dominant and the brown coat gene is recessive, the Irish Wolfhound puppy inherits a black coat even if both different color genes are passed down.
The black color is mostly concentrated on the back and chest. But, just like in other black dog breeds, the black coat color fades to lighter hues such as gray and even cream to tan. We can see such coloration across the black Irish Wolfhound’s face, fore- and hind legs, as well as its tail.
White markings can appear on these dogs at times and are most common around the face and chest, and paws. The markings should not, however, be overly extensive; for instance, there shouldn’t be any white “socks.”
The coat is wiry and rough on top, with a soft undercoat. The undercoat stays black for the whole of the Irish Wolfhound’s lifespan, while the hair on the limbs and muzzle may become lighter (gray) in color as it ages.
2. Gray Irish Wolfhound
On a gray day, I am sure that a gray Irish Wolfhound will brighten up your mood!
Gray Irish Wolfhounds are not solid gray in color. In fact, the gray varies from light to dark. Their wiry coats have black and white hairs.
Usually, black hairs are located on the ears and muzzle, while white markings appear on the chest and paws — like socks!
Irish Wolfhounds rock their gray double coats and look ultra cute with their white markings on paws. The tip of their tail can also inherit a funky white coloration.
Some Gray Irish Wolfhounds also inherit white hairs across their muzzle and mustache!
3. Red Irish Wolfhound
When you look at a purebred red Irish Wolfhound, you notice the lively shades of copper, golden, cream, and bronze colors in its coat.
This is because the red Irish Wolfhound’s coat is made of a soft undercoat and a coarse overcoat that come in different shades of red. Comparison wise, the red Irish Wolfhound‘s coat color shades are similar to those we see in red Shih Tzus.
Most red Irish Wolfhounds inherit a dark colored muzzle, and ears, as well as a dark tip of the tail. Their fore- and hind legs come in a lighter yellow to beige color.
Some red Irish Wolfhounds have brighter colored tummies.
4. Silver Irish Wolfhound
A giant dog that comes with a silver coating? Yes please! The Silver Irish Wolfhound is truly a sight to behold.
Irish Wolfhound‘s medium length silver coat makes it shine bright!
Unlike silver German Shepherds that have their coats full of solid black areas, the Silver Irish Wolfhound’s wiry coat sports black areas across the muzzle and on its ears.
While most silver Irish Hounds inherit coarse black hairs on their outercoat, there are some that inherit lighter hairs. Some silvers have most black hairs concentrated across their backs, the area of the dog‘s body that we call “saddle“.
5. White Irish Wolfhound
Photo from: @endlesstale
White is the rarest and the purest Irish Wolfhound color. When I say purest, I am referring to the lack of dark colored hairs that all Irish Wolfhounds inherit.
When it comes to their coats, the pure white coat of an Irish Wolfhound closely resembles the shade of a white Labrador Retriever. But, in terms of coat type and texture, it’s not as soft as Lab’s coat.
Speaking of coat type, white Irish Wolfhound’s coat is not any different from the other Irish Wolfhound coats. It’s double layered, coarse, wiry, and sheds moderately.
As we previously mentioned, the main difference is the absence of black hairs and black markings. However, there can be a few gray-ish hairs around the white Irish Wolfhound’s nose and ears. Their eyes are always dark brown in color.
The white coat color of this wolfdog doesn‘t always appear pure white. It may lean more towards creamy and golden shades.
White Irish Wolfhounds are very rare and if you happen to find one, make sure to give it a unique name that suits a white dog!
6. Blue Irish Wolfhound
Let’s start off by saying that blue dogs don’t actually exist. I mean, did anyone ever see a blue dog? The blue is used to describe gray dogs with a bluish tintto their coats. Take the blue American Bully as an example!
So, blue Irish Wolfhounds are actually gray dogs with bluish tint on their muzzle and ears. Some blue Irish Wolfhound puppies inherit white markings instead of blue ones around their mouth, but blue hairs can be seen across their body.
Blue in dogs is a color that is created when another color such as brown or black is diluted. We can refer to it having a paling effect that dilutes the color of the pigment in the coat, skin, and eyes.
We see this in the Weimaraner dog breed, which goes by the name “Gray Ghost“. Colors of the Weimaraner dog are caused by dilution of a chocolate color gene that ends up in a blue dilute.
Although blue dilute has been regarded as a fault in Irish Wolfhounds, the AKC breed standard makes no mention of this fault, hence it is not a disqualifying one.
Many people hold the misconception that blue Irish Wolfhounds suffer from various health issues that are linked to the blue dog syndrome.
7. Wheaten Irish Wolfhound
Photo from: @threestoogez
The Wheaten Irish Wolfhound closely resembles its white counterpart. And, before we say anything else, the wheaten Irish Wolfhound is not a cross breed — it was not an Irish Wolfhound mixed with a Wheaten Terrier.
Wheaten, which literally translates to “the color of wheat,” is not a single, flat color. Instead, wheaten Wolfhounds come in a variety of shades, just as grays can range from light silver to dark slate. Some Wheaten Wolfhounds have black on the top of the tail or on the legs.
The color comes in any shade of wheat – from pale beige to gleaming gold. When you take a close look at a wheaten Irish Wolfhound, its coat color sometimes looks reddish, on other days it looks white, but it always has some black hairs on the muzzle and ears.
8. Brindle Irish Wolfhound
Photo from: @aino.the_irish_wolfhound
Brindle Irish Wolfhounds inherit interesting coat patterns that are similar to tiger stripes. And yes, brindle is a recessive gene which means that there are not as many brindle Wolfies out there.
Did you know that brindle Irish Wolfhounds have proved to be excellent hunters? So, go on and give your brindle Wolfie a cool hunting dog name!
A brindle wolfhound puppy can have a distinct pattern, but as the dog grows older, its outercoat can become uniform in color and darken.
However, the undercoat of a brindle Irish Wolfhound will remain striped. Base colors range from light gray, red, cream to wheaten.
Brindle coat color is seen in many dog breeds, especially in Mastiff-type dogs, sighthounds, and Boxers!
9. Cream Irish Wolfhound
Cream Irish Wolfhound’s coat has no eumelanin and only trace amounts of pheomelanin. This is due to the presence of ‘dilution’ genes, which inhibit pigment production. In fact, they come in a very pale red color that appears cream.
Cream or white is a relatively common coat color in the Irish Wolfhound breed. but the genetic mechanism underlying this color has yet to be discovered.
Most cream Irish Wolfhounds do not inherit the usual black or white markings across their face, chest, and paws.
10. Red & Brindle Irish Wolfhound
Red & brindle is a fun color combination that adds liveliness to the standard brindle Irish Wolfhound‘s coat.
When someone mentions red and brindle, it immediately reminds me of wonderful Greyhound colors. So, just like their Greyhound cousins, red & brindle Irish Wolfhounds inherit a red base coat that is base combined with dark brindle stripes.
The red & brindle Irish Wolfhound isn’t considered rare, but it still isn’t quite a common IW coat color.
11. Red Wheaten Irish Wolfhound
Red Wheaten Irish Wolfhounds are adorable gentle giants that have slightly different coat colors ranging from golden to ginger red.
The coat of the red wheaten Irish Wolfhound is a wheaten combined with a deep, coppery red with white markings. Its coarse and wiry outercoat sports quite a few black hairs.
12. Gray & Brindle Irish Wolfhound
While most Irish Wolfhounds cost almost the same, some (unethical) breeders put high price tags on the gray and brindle Wolfies.
Gray brindles are also known as “Blue” brindles and they feature stripes that contrast with the light brown background, showing out as blue/grayish. Brown you say? Well, gray color in dogs is just a diluted brown!
When the striped brindle pattern (tiger stripes) is so dense that it hardly allows the bright color to show through, reverse brindle develops. I was surprised when I realized that most Irish Wolfhounds are distinguished by their reverse brindle coat color.
The dark hue can occasionally be so intense that the Irish Wolfhound seems to be almost all black. However, most gray and brindle Irish Wolfhounds inherit specific black, white, and gray markings.
13. Wheaten & Brindle Irish Wolfhound
The Wheaten & Brindle Irish Wolfhound’s coat color pattern is distinguished by a wheaten base color and dark brown to black stripes. These stripes frequently form the above mentioned tiger-like pattern.
Wheaten & Brindle Irish Wolfhounds occasionally display black markings, which are particularly noticeable around the face, ears, chest, and tip of the tail.
Although it may also have white markings on its chest and feet, the wheaten brindle Wolfhound’s most distinguishing feature is its wheaten coat with black stripes.
Other Irish Wolfhound Colors
Besides many AKC Irish Wolfhound colors, here are some that don‘t entirely fit into the breed standards. So, if you are planning to take your Irish Wolfhound puppy (that is colored in some of the following colors) to AKC dog shows, chances are that it will not be allowed to participate.
• Black & Tan
• Silver Brindle
• Gray Wheaten
• Blue Brindle
• Blue Fawn
Most of these colors are different combinations of the main 13 Irish Wolfhound colors. It’s just about mixing and matching similar shades and hues that make the Irish Wolfhound a cool-looking doggo!
Irish Wolfhound Markings
While you were reading about Irish Wolfhound colors, you have probably noticed many light or dark markings that appear on different areas of their body.
Here are some characteristic Irish Wolfhound markings.
1. Black Markings
In the Irish Wolfhound dog breed, black markings are located across different parts of the body. But, we often see black markings across the Irish Wolfhound‘s face.
Light wolfhounds may have dark or even black ear tips, black lips, noses, and eyelids, as well as black tail borders, which only serve to highlight how stunning the Irish Wolfhound is.
2. White Markings
While most have white on the top of the tail or on the legs, a white marking or spot on the feet or chest of an Irish wolfhound is not uncommon.
White spots on the chest, all four legs, and the tip of the tail are permitted according to the standard. However, white color around the neck is considered to be a flaw. Gray and dark colored Irish Wolfhounds often inherit white markings.
Irish Wolfhound’s Coat Maintenance
With the most common Irish Wolfhound coat type being a harsh, wiry, and two to four inches long, it requires a different grooming approach.
The ideal grooming method for such a wiry coat is stripping.
This includes removal of the coarse overcoat after which the soft undercoat is revealed. This grooming method is great because it supports the growth of a new and shinier coat.
The Irish Wolfhound Club Of America does an amazing job providing new and aspiring owners with stripping the Irish Wolfhound’s coat. It may sound difficult, but it’s quite an easy procedure and your Wolfie will love it!
Let’s Wrap It Up
The Irish Wolfhound is undoubtedly the world’s tallest dog breed. Due to its size and agility, the Irish Wolfhound was used in all sorts of dog sports, particularly in lure coursing. This just goes to show that getting this large dog means providing it with lots of physical and mental activity. Not to mention the amount of dog food an Irish Wolfhound can munch!
With large size come health problems. The Irish Wolfhound is known to suffer from hip dysplasia, bone cancer, bloat (GVD), and canine cardiomyopathy.
Most health problems contribute to Irish Wolfhound colors — they change the skin and hair color, making it dull and dry. Moreover, IW health problems contribute to its shortened life expectancy (6 to 10 years).
Introducing your Irish Wolfhound to early socialization is just as important as maintaining a healthy and shiny coat.
Keeping that in mind, it’s important to find a reputable Irish Wolfhound breeder that you can completely trust.