On the subject of high-maintenance dogs, the German Shepherd might not be among the first breeds…
The German Shepherd is a reliable breed. These dogs are often used to cross with other breeds to produce offspring with specific desirable qualities. But what if you cross a German Shepherd with an Irish Wolfhound? What is the Irish Wolfhound-German Shepherd mix like?
This article will explore all of the key characteristics of the Irish Wolfhound German Shepherd mix to give you an idea of what to expect with this dog.
About The German Shepherd Breed
German Shepherds are incredibly popular and easily recognized. They are known for their courage, confidence, and fierceness.
Although German Shepherds have a reputation for being fearless, they have another side to them that makes them excellent companions. As pets, they might be aloof to others but are incredibly affectionate with family.
They also tend to be good with children and other pets, although they sometimes might find it difficult to share their home with other dogs.
Whether as workers or as household pets, German Shepherds are one of the world’s best-loved breeds. They have a noble character as well as a dignified stature. Their natural protectiveness and loyalty also make for meaningful, life-long companionships.
About The Irish Wolfhound Breed
The Irish Wolfhound is best known for its height. In fact, it is the tallest breed registered with the American Kennel Club. Because they are so large, they are not typically considered suitable pets for regular households, especially those with small children and vulnerable adults.
Despite their size, however, Irish Wolfhounds are excellent companions. They have a calm nature and are serene in their ways. They are also generally considered to be agreeable and easy to live with.
Seeing how dignified and mild-mannered the modern Irish Wolfhounds are, it’s difficult to imagine their origins as hunting dogs. They were, in fact, courageous big-game hunters that could bring down full-sized wild wolves in combat.
The fierceness of the original Irish Wolfhounds has been bred out of the modern version of these dogs. Nevertheless, just the sight of these giants is usually enough to deter ill-intentioned people.
Why Cross An Irish Wolfhound With A German Shepherd?
There are many reasons to love these two breeds, but they each have traits that some people might want to breed out or alter. Crossing a German Shepherd with an Irish Wolfhound could result in offspring that combines the best traits of each dog.
For example, the Irish Wolfhound-German Shepherd mix is likely to be a more docile version of the purebred GSD. It will still be well-muscled and possibly larger but it could be calmer and more even-tempered.
Alternatively, a German Shepherd-Irish Wolfhound cross could also have the tall yet sleeker build of the hound but the stronger drive and protective instincts of the GSD.
General Characteristics Of An Irish Wolfhound-German Shepherd Mix
German Shepherds and Irish Wolfhounds are similar in many ways. However, they also have many distinct differences that make their crosses unique.
Here are some common attributes to expect when you cross a German Shepherd with an Irish Wolfhound:
If the German Shepherd is known as a large breed, the Irish Wolfhound would be classified as a giant. Here’s how the two compare in terms of height and weight:
|Breed||Height (in.)||Weight (lbs.)|
|German Shepherd Dog||24 – 26||22 – 24||65 – 90||50 - 70|
|Irish Wolfhound||32 (min.)||30 (min.)||120||105|
Given these figures, there’s no doubt that the Irish Wolfhound-German Shepherd mix will be a large dog. Exactly how large will depend on which parent it takes after.
The German Shepherd-Irish Wolfhound mix inherits its double coat from both parents. Because of this, it sheds steadily throughout the year.
Thankfully, there’s a chance it won’t blow its coat and shed heavily twice a year because that only happens with GSDs and not Irish Wolfhounds.
The texture and color of the outer coat will also depend on which parent it takes its coat after. One that dons the Irish Wolfhound coat will have wiry hair that’s typically gray.
Other common colors include black, white, brindle, red, and wheaten. Normally, these will come with black, white, or gray markings.
In contrast, the cross that inherits the GSD’s coat will have medium to long close-lying hair. The most common color is tan with the classic black saddle. However, German Shepherds also come in a wide variety of coat colors, including bi-color, sable, and solid black.
The bulk of the work involved in grooming the German Shepherd-Irish Wolfhound mix is maintaining their coat. They shed steadily throughout the year and so will require frequent brushing—at least twice a week if you don’t want all the shed hair getting everywhere else in your home.
If they take after the GSD, they will experience the twice-a-year shedding seasons that require daily brushing. More frequent baths will also help keep shed hair more manageable.
Apart from coat maintenance, the difficulties of grooming the Irish Wolfhound-GSD mix are mostly a result of its size.
However, if it takes on the more docile temperament of the Irish Wolfhound, it should be easier to keep their nails trimmed, their ears cleaned, and their teeth brushed.
The German Shepherd-Irish Wolfhound cross may have a gentle demeanor, but they are undeniably strong dogs. Their large and well-built bodies enable them to engage in physically demanding work, although they might lack the endurance to work long hours.
Additionally, Irish Wolfhound-GSD crosses are not prone to biting, but they could inherit the GSD’s 238-psi bite strength. They also tend to be playful dogs that are unaware of their gigantic size and enormous strength.
So, it’s safer to keep them closely supervised in the presence of small children as well as adults that might be unsteady on their feet.
Neither the German Shepherd nor the Irish Wolfhound is specifically known for its speed. However, speed is inherent to these breeds because of their history as working dogs.
German Shepherds reach top speeds of 30 miles per hour. As herders, they were required to run fast so they could control the movement of animals in their care. This is a trait that is still valued today, especially in police and military roles.
Similarly, the Irish Wolfhound is also expected to run fast since their job was primarily to catch and fight wolves. Given this ancestry, their longer limbs, and narrower bodies, it’s not surprising that they clock in top speeds of 35 miles per hour.
Given the speed of both parents, you can expect the Irish Wolfhound-German Shepherd cross to at least reach top speeds of 30 mph. Of course, this depends on the drive and conditioning of individual dogs.
Although the Irish Wolfhound-German Shepherd mix is expected to have lower energy levels and work drive than a purebred GSD, tiring them out with daily physical exercise will keep them on their best behavior.
GSD-Irish Wolfhounds also thrive best when they have access to large, fenced-in areas where they can enjoy their zoomies and some independent playtime.
Irish Wolfhounds are smart enough to be effective working dogs. However, they are not considered among the world’s most intelligent dog breeds. They rank among the fourth tier of dogs.
This means, they are obedient only 50% of the time and they require up to 40 repetitions to master a command.
In contrast, German Shepherds belong to the top tier of working dogs. In this group, dogs obey commands at least 95% of the time and only need fewer than 5 exposures to learn something new. Additionally, these dogs are much more eager to please than purebred Irish Wolfhounds, which makes them even easier to train.
Ultimately, the trainability of an Irish Wolfhound-German Shepherd mix will depend on the level of intelligence it inherits and also its eagerness to please. Of course, the bond it develops with its handler will also contribute to its trainability.
The German Shepherd – Irish Wolfhound is generally even-tempered. With proper socialization, they can be good with children and other pets.
However, they could inherit the Irish Wolfhound’s prey drive, so much care must be taken with small children and animals in the household.
The Irish Wolfhound-German Shepherd cross is also very affectionate with family but wary of strangers. They can be playful but they tend to be vigilant because of their intense guarding instincts.
Overall, however, these mutts can be excellent dogs both as household pets and serious workers.
Just like other large breeds, Irish Wolfhound – German Shepherd crosses can be prone to hip and elbow dysplasia.
Their breeding stock needs to be evaluated for these conditions before they are allowed to mate. Otherwise, they could pass along those genetic predispositions to their offspring.
Additionally, the GSD-Irish Wolfhound inherits the large and deep chests of both parents. This makes them more prone to bloat—a painful and potentially fatal condition that occurs in the abdomen.
Owners of these mutts should be familiar with the symptoms of the condition and what to do in case it occurs.
Other than the medical predispositions caused by their anatomy, Irish Wolfhound-German Shepherd mixes are generally healthy dogs.
However, the life expectancy of purebred Irish Wolfhounds is only between 6 and 8 years while GSDs are expected to live much longer at 12 to 14 years.
The best way to increase the lifespan of GSD-Irish Wolfhound crosses is to keep them at a healthy weight throughout their life and feed them a high-quality kibble. It also helps to provide ample opportunities to exercise and stay on top of regular shots and vet visits.
The American Kennel Club does not recognize the Irish Wolfhound-German Shepherd as a breed because it is a cross between two pure breeds.
Nevertheless, these dogs can register through the AKC Canine Partners program, which is the registry for mixed breeds. This will also enable them to participate in various AKC events, including canine sports like Flyball, Agility, and Diving Dogs.
How Popular Is The German Shepherd – Irish Wolfhound Mix?
Although the Irish Wolfhound was recognized as a breed over 120 years ago, it is not incredibly popular. According to AKC, it is only the 76th most popular breed out of the 200 the organization recognizes.
So, even if the German Shepherd is one of the most popular dog breeds in the United States and throughout the world, it’s not surprising that GSD-Irish Wolfhound crosses are quite rare.
It would be difficult to find professional breeders that focus on this mixed breed. If you do find Irish Wolfhound – GSD puppies, they are likely the result of an accidental mating.
Given that both the German Shepherd and the Irish Wolfhound are large working dogs, you can expect their offspring to be the same. Although these mutts might be calmer and more sociable than the average purebred GSD, you will still need to provide good leadership and firm handling. They could also be just as demanding in terms of physical and mental stimulation.
If you’re interested in a German Shepherd cross but still are not sure that the Irish Wolfhound-GSD is your best option, check out other popular German Shepherd mixes.