Top 10 Common Irish Wolfhound Health Concerns

Irish Wolfhounds are majestic and gentle giants. With their tall stature and friendly nature, they make fantastic companions. However, like all breeds, they have certain health issues that owners should be aware of. Let’s explore the top 10 common health concerns for Irish Wolfhounds.

Hip Dysplasia

Imagine trying to walk with a misaligned hip joint; that’s what hip dysplasia feels like for dogs. It’s a condition where the hip joint doesn’t fit together properly, leading to pain and arthritis. In Irish Wolfhounds, this is quite common due to their large size. Regular vet check-ups and maintaining a healthy weight can help manage this condition.

Bloat (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus)

Bloat is a serious and life-threatening condition where the stomach fills with gas and twists. This can happen quickly and needs immediate veterinary attention. Symptoms include a swollen abdomen, drooling, and restlessness. Feeding your Irish Wolfhound smaller meals throughout the day and avoiding vigorous exercise after eating can reduce the risk of bloat.

Heart Disease

Irish Wolfhounds are prone to heart problems, particularly Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). This is where the heart becomes enlarged and can’t pump blood effectively. Regular heart check-ups are crucial. Signs of heart disease include coughing, lethargy, and difficulty breathing. Early detection and treatment can improve your dog’s quality of life.


Osteosarcoma is a type of bone cancer that is unfortunately common in large breeds like Irish Wolfhounds. It usually affects the legs and can cause lameness and pain. Early detection is vital. If you notice your dog limping or in pain, consult your vet immediately. Treatment often involves surgery and chemotherapy.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA is an inherited eye condition that leads to blindness. It starts with night blindness and progresses to total blindness. There is no cure, but dogs can adapt well to vision loss with your help. Regular eye check-ups can help diagnose PRA early. Keeping your home environment consistent and safe can aid your dog’s adaptation.


Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones, leading to a slow metabolism. Symptoms include weight gain, lethargy, and a dull coat. A simple blood test can diagnose this condition, and it is easily managed with daily medication.

Von Willebrand’s Disease

Von Willebrand’s Disease is a bleeding disorder caused by a deficiency in a specific protein needed for blood clotting. Symptoms include prolonged bleeding from cuts and excessive bleeding during surgeries. There is no cure, but with proper management and precautions, dogs can live normal lives. Genetic testing can help identify this condition early.

Liver Shunt

A liver shunt is a condition where blood bypasses the liver, preventing it from detoxifying the blood properly. Symptoms include stunted growth, seizures, and behavioral changes. Surgery is often required to correct this condition. Early diagnosis through blood tests and imaging can lead to better outcomes.

Elbow Dysplasia

Similar to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is a developmental condition where the elbow joint doesn’t form properly. This leads to arthritis and pain. Regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, and sometimes surgery can help manage this condition. Look out for signs like limping and difficulty moving.


Pyometra is a serious infection of the uterus that occurs in unspayed female dogs. It can be life-threatening if not treated promptly. Symptoms include lethargy, loss of appetite, and vaginal discharge. Spaying your female Irish Wolfhound can prevent this condition entirely. If you notice any signs, seek veterinary care immediately.


Owning an Irish Wolfhound is a rewarding experience, but being aware of these common health concerns is crucial for their well-being. Regular veterinary check-ups, a balanced diet, and attentive care can help manage these issues effectively. Remember, early detection and treatment are key to ensuring your gentle giant lives a happy and healthy life.

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