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Irish Wolfhound vs Great Dane – Giant Dog Breeds Comparison

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Picture this: two towering dogs side-by-side, both magnificent, yet distinctly different. As a seasoned dog enthusiast, I’ve always been fascinated by the contrast between the gentle giant Great Dane and the noble Irish Wolfhound. They’re true titans of the canine world, but each brings its own charm and challenges.

If you’re drawn to the idea of living with a larger-than-life dog, it’s crucial to understand what sets these two breeds apart. Let’s delve into the world of Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds!

These dog breeds belong to the giant dog breed group. But which one is bigger? And which one is more suited to your lifestyle? The Irish Wolfhound vs Great Dane might seem like a simple and easy question. But it is not easy to answer.

If you want to know which one is bigger, it might mean which one is heavier or taller. While the Irish Wolfhound is a little bit taller, the Guinness World Record belongs to a Great Dane named Zeus.

These two are different in everything. For starters, the Great Dane is a Mastiff-type dog, while the Wolfhound is a sighthound.

Their ancestry is different as well, Great Dane is German, while Irish Wolfhound is Irish. The former has a short coat, and the latter has a shaggy rough coat.

Between the two, the Great Dane is a more playful dog, and the Irish Wolfhound is a bit more laid bag.

With that in mind, let’s take a look into the Irish Wolfhound vs Great Dane debate.

Which Is The Bigger One?

This is the first question people have when they want to compare these two giant dog breeds. Well, it is not a simple question to answer.

Does big mean tall? If being tall is the only requirement, the Great Dane wins. After all, a Great Dane named Zeus holds the record for the tallest dog in the Guinness Book of Records. Before him, another Dane, Giant George, held the record.

But if big means heavy, then neither of these two is the biggest dog. That would be the English Mastiff, with the world record holder named Zorba at 343 pounds.

If you want to compare only these two, the Great Dane is the heavier dog on average. So, the Great Danes tend to be heavier and taller than Irish wolfhounds.

Breed History

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These two have a completely different histories. They are in no way related. The Irish Wolfhound is one of the oldest canines in existence. It was developed by monks who needed an animal that can hunt down and kill wolves.

The Wolfhound is about 1,000 years old. Nowadays, it is still used as a hunting dog, but one who also enjoys being part of family life.

According to history, it was bred on the island of Inishowen in County Donegal. These hounds were owned by the high-born at the time. They were used as gifts to emperors and ambassadors, kings, cardinals, and so on.

The Great Dane is another giant breed. It originates from Germany, and it has been around for more than 400 years.

These dogs descent from mastiff-like dogs that were bred by German nobility. For example, according to some historians, it was bred from the English Mastiff.

In the 18th century, they served as guard dogs of estates and carriages. Danes were quite popular with the upper class for sport. Not many dogs at the time, or nowadays, could bring down a wild boar.

The ones we know nowadays were developed in the 1800s. They serve as family pets despite their size. Fun fact: they are quite popular among city dwellers despite their giant size.

The American Club recognizes both breeds nowadays.

Appearance Breed Comparison


When we talk about the difference in breeds, we have to talk about appearance. As we said before, both of them can be classified as a large dog breeds.

But the Great Dane is bigger, weighing between 120 and 200 pounds, compared to 90 to 150 pounds for the Irish Wolfhound. The Dane also grows taller, between 30 and 34 inches at the shoulders, while the Irish Wolfhound grows between 28 and 35 inches.

Size is not the only difference in appearance. They have a completely different coat. According to The American Kennel Club, the Great Dane has a dense coat with accepted colors like blue, fawn, white, brindle, merle, and black. The Wolfhound has a wiry and rough coat in colors like cream, red, wheaten, blue, gray, silver, white, and black.


When you want to get a dog as a family pet, temperament is one of the biggest factors. With that in mind, let’s talk about the Irish Wolfhound versus Great Dane temperament comparison.

Starting with the Danes. Do not be fooled by the large size of this dog. While the size might suggest an intimidating personality, this canine is a gentle giant. Danes are loyal, kind, and happy. They are needy, and always want to be near their people.

You can forget about eating alone if you own a Great Dane. This puppy prefers to keep you in its line of sight.

Sometimes, these dogs come off as shy, aloof, or reserved. But with socializing you can solve that. They are not aggressive dogs. Yes, they were bred to be hunting dogs. Yet, they no longer have that hunting prey instinct. Instead, this puppy will happily serve the role of a lap dog.

The Irish Wolfhound breed is another gentle giant. Kind, loving, and more loyal than ever, the Wolfhound puppy is an amazing family pet. Just remember, they are sighthounds, and their instinct might sometime get in the way. They are prone to chasing small animals like squirrels.

In the household, they can easily adapt to living with other pets. But their instinct may be less trustworthy around cats. If they grow up together, they live in perfect harmony.

The breed has a calm demeanor and is not aggressive. They do love to run. Despite their size, the Irish Wolfhound breed is quite athletic.


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Wolfhounds are very trainable, but you have to remember they have a bit of an independent nature. They will not wait for you to tell them what to do. When trained properly, they can adapt to different levels of activity.

Positive reinforcement works perfectly with an Irish wolfhound puppy. Prepare lots of treats. Also, do not forget about mental stimulation.

One thing to have in mind. This dog can also be very stubborn. Implementation of commands might take a longer time.

On the other hand, the Great Dane doesn’t have an ounce of stubbornness in it. They are very easy to train. But you have to remember, their sheer size might be a challenge. The big challenge with a Great Dane is its laid-back nature. Simply put, these dogs love nothing more than napping at times. It will be hard to get them to work.

Usually, treats work well for motivation.

Exercise Needs

Of these two big dog breeds, the Irish Wolfhound is the more athletic. It is also the dog that needs more exercise.

Great Danes are more laid-back, and they enjoy filling the role of a lap dog. Simply put, they are not aware of their large size.

If you want a dog that will follow you more on hikes, walks, runs, or sports in general, the Irish Wolfhound is a much better option.

Great Danes need just 30 minutes of medium exercise per day, and they are good to go.

Health And Lifespan

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Size is not the reason why not many people opt for a large breed like Great Dane or Wolfhound. Health and lifespan are.

Because of their size, these two are susceptible to quite a few health issues. For example, the Wolfhound is prone to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, osteosarcoma, hepatic shunt, progressive retinal atrophy, stomach torsion, cardiomyopathy, and more.

On the other hand, Great Dane is prone to bloating, cardiomyopathy, hip dysplasia, Wobbler syndrome, osteosarcoma, allergies, cataracts, and skin issues.

In regards to the breed’s lifespan, of the two, Irish Wolfhound is the healthier breed. And one that lives longer. Its average lifespan is between 6 to 10 years. For a Great Dane, the average lifespan is between 6 and 8 years.

Which Is Better For You?

So, which one to get? Well, Great Danes are best for experienced parents who will be home most of the day. Because they are so needy and want to spend time with their owners, Danes can develop serious separation anxiety. Despite their size, they do well in small homes and apartments.

Irish Wolfhounds, on the other hand, need plenty of space to move around. They are better suited for families with older children and owners who understand the challenges of gigantic dogs.

If you want a more loyal and easy-to-train breed, go for the Dane. If you need someone who will be out more with you, the Wolfhound is the better option.

irish wolfhound vs great dane infographic

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