Our Irish Wolfhound, Jasper, is one of our favorite members of the family. We got Jasper from Belle Mere Farms when he was only eight weeks old. Even then, he was huge! Jasper was a big, massive baby. He’s three years old now and 185 pounds. We’re still hoping he gains another 10 to 15 pounds.
Irish Wolfhounds are the tallest dog breed. Males, like Jasper, are usually three feet tall at the shoulder. Jasper is so tall that my 4-year-old daughter, Meryk Elizabeth, can ride him around the house like a horse. Then she curls up and goes to sleep with him as well. Wolfhounds are big, active dogs but they have calm, friendly personalities and are great with kids. All our kids love Jasper.
Thousands of years ago, Irish Wolfhounds were bred for the kings and queens of Europe. They were so prized and valuable that only royalty was allowed to own them. The number of Irish Wolfhounds that someone owned indicated how important they were; lower ranks of nobility could only own two while kings and queens might have hundreds. The dogs were used for everything from protecting their masters and guards for livestock to hunting dogs.
They could defend livestock and people against wolves and were often used to hunt wolves, which is how they got their name. However, the dogs were also used to hunt deer and wild boar. They were also frequently used in battle and were considered so valuable that battles were fought over the dogs themselves.
Today, Wolfhounds make great family pets and show dogs. Jasper comes from a line of champion show dogs and in 2014 he won reserve champion at an American Kennel Club show in Tulsa. However, around our house, it’s our tiny Shih Tzu who runs the show. Jasper spends most of his time running around in the yard and chasing our Wheaten Terrier.