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Irish Wolfhound German Shepherd Mix: Info, Pictures, Characteristics & Facts

Kristin Hitchcock

By Kristin Hitchcock

irish wolfhound and german shepherd

Height: 25–32 inches (or more)
Weight: 70–120 pounds (or more)
Lifespan: 8–12 years
Colors: Various
Suitable for: Families with plenty of time
Temperament: Energetic, devoted, family-oriented

As a mixed breed, the Irish Wolfhound German Shepherd varies widely in both appearance and temperament.

When you combine two breeds, you never quite know what you’re going to get. This breed could be pretty similar to a German Shepherd or more like its Irish Wolfhound parent. There can be huge variations even amongst littermates. One thing is for sure, however, this is almost always a large dog.

This mixed breed does seem to have some generally similar traits. We’ll discuss these overarching traits below, as well as a few traits your dog may have.

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Irish Wolfhound Shepherd Mix Puppies


The main difficulty of purchasing an Irish Wolfhound German Shepherd mix is finding one to begin with. While some mixed breeds have become increasingly popular over the last few years – this isn’t one of them.

German Shepherds are relatively common dogs. They have remained one of the most popular dogs globally for the last 100 years or so. They were one of the first breeds to become “official” with a breed standard and registry. However, the Irish Wolfhound is another story. While they are an ancient breed, they aren’t all that popular in our modern world—likely because of their giant size.

Therefore, while German Shepherd mixed breeds may be common, Irish Wolfhound German Shepherd mixes precisely are not.

There are very few breeders that specialize in this mixed breed—if any. For the most part, you’ll likely need to happen across one of these puppies at an animal shelter or through a classified ad. Most of them are the result of an “oops” litter.

However, puppies found at animal shelters tend to be affordable, as these are not-for-profit organizations. The puppy’s cost is usually meager and covers the medical care the puppy has received since they arrived at the shelter.

3 Little-Known Facts About the Irish Wolfhound German Shepherd Mix

1. Irish Wolfhound Shepherds can be huge—or not.

Irish Wolfhounds are known for their massive size. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that this mixed breed is always massive. It depends mainly on what traits the puppy inherits from what parent. In some cases, they may not be that much bigger than a German Shepherd.

The size of the parents does matter, as does the puppy’s gender. Either way, you shouldn’t expect these dogs to be quite as big as their Irish Wolfhound parent, though there are exceptions to this rule.

2. They aren’t the healthiest mixed breed.

Mixed breeds are usually known for being extremely healthy. They don’t inherit a lot of the genetic problems that their parents have. However, this isn’t necessarily the case with this hybrid.

Most of the health problems experienced by the German Shepherd and Irish Wolfhound are due to their larger size. When you have a giant dog, more weight will be placed on their joints, which can cause all sorts of problems.

This mixed breed will likely be significant in size, and therefore, have these same joint problems. For this reason, caution should be taken when feeding puppies and exercising your dog.

3. They aren’t necessarily good protection dogs.

The German Shepherd is one of the best-known protection dogs around. They were initially bred to herd sheep and protect them, which led to them developing severe protection instincts.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that this mixed breed will have those same instincts. Some may be just as protective as the German Shepherd, while others won’t be at all. It depends on the traits that they inherited, as well as how they are raised.

The parent breeds of Irish Wolfhound German Shepherd Mix
The parent breeds of Irish Wolfhound German Shepherd Mix: Left – German Shepherd (Anna Dudkova, Unsplash) | Right – Irish Wolfhound (DragoNika, Shutterstock)


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Temperament & Intelligence of the Irish Wolfhound German Shepherd Mix 🧠

The overall intelligence of these canines varies widely. Some of them are just as smart as German Shepherds, known as being one of the most intelligent dog breeds around. Others are closer to the Irish Wolfhound. While Irish Wolfhounds aren’t the dullest dogs, they also aren’t the smartest. They were bred to hunt big game, and they didn’t need to listen to commands to accomplish that.

Therefore, their training intelligence tends to be a bit lower. It just wasn’t their purpose historically.

You can likely expect your mixed puppy to be somewhere in the middle. Your puppy will probably be able to pick up most commands with ease, but they may not need the extensive mental stimulation that German Shepherds need. These dogs may or may not be super eager to please. Most of them are pretty people-oriented, but others couldn’t care less about listening to commands. You may find that your dog isn’t quite as responsive as a German Shepherd.

Most of the time, this breed will be aloof and reserved with strangers. A well-socialized dog will never be aggressive towards strangers without some provocation. However, you can’t expect your Irish Wolfhound German Shepherd mix to trot up to strangers and ask to be pet happily.

They are far more focused on their family and owners than random people on the street. This makes them somewhat easier to train than other dogs. They won’t easily get distracted by strangers, especially if they are well-socialized.

Are Irish Wolfhound Shepherds Good for Families? 🏡

As long as you can meet their needs, these dogs are an excellent choice for many families. However, they need to be socialized, trained, and exercised regularly, which busy families can have difficulty doing.

Their larger size makes them an excellent option for homes with smaller children. They are not likely to be scared of children, and even the most exuberant child likely won’t hurt them. Most child-aimed dog bites are caused by fear or injury on the part of the dog, so their large size lowers the chance of biting considerably. If these dogs are kept around children from a young age, they tend to do very well with them.

Irish Wolfhound German Shepherd mixes are also good with older children. They are family-oriented and tend to get along with everyone equally. They will happily go for a jog or settle down on the couch for a cuddle session (despite their large size).

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets? 🐶 😽

They can get along with other pets, but it depends mainly on how they are socialized. They can be somewhat territorial, which can make housing other dogs with them difficult.

However, socialization starting at a young age can typically teach these dogs to behave well with others. If meeting and playing with other dogs is a normal part of your dog’s life, they likely won’t feel threatened. Most of them do fine with dogs they are raised with. They aren’t suitable for homes with cats and similar pets, though. This breed has an extremely high prey drive and will chase just about anything.

Their larger size often makes this more troublesome than other breeds. Could you imagine a 100-pound dog chasing a cat through your house? There is no scenario where that ends well. Not only can they easily injure the cat, but they may destroy your house in the process.

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Things to Know When Owning an Irish Wolfhound German Shepherd Mix:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

These dogs eat a lot—as you can probably imagine. Their large size and appetite can quickly put a dent in your wallet, so be sure that you can afford to feed them before you adopt one. Because they eat so much, you may be tempted to reduce the quality of the food you purchase. However, this is not recommended—especially with this breed. Their predisposition to joint problems and higher activity levels translates to more intense nutritional needs.

If there is any breed that needs high-quality dog food, it’s this one. You should be particularly cautious when feeding Irish Wolfhound German Shepherd puppies. As large breed dogs, these canines have specific nutritional needs when they are growing. Just any puppy food won’t work. You need one specifically designed for large-breed dogs.

It is especially vital to watch the amount you feed them while they’re growing. Too much food can cause them to grow improperly, leading to conditions like hip dysplasia. Of course, you don’t want to feed them too little, either.

Be sure you keep up with their current weight and adjust their food appropriately. If they seem to be growing too fast, you may be feeding them too much. It is best to work alongside a vet to determine the perfect amount of food for your puppy.

Irish Wolfhound Shepherd Exercise Requirements 🐕

How much exercise these dogs need can vary. Typically, the German Shepherd and Irish Wolfhound have higher exercise needs, so their puppies are likely to follow suit. You should plan on moderately exercising your canine for at least 2 hours per day. This doesn’t have to be intense exercise. A game of fetch in the backyard is often plenty. In fact, due to their large size and predisposition to joint issues, lighter exercise is often best.

You never want to force a dog as big as an Irish Wolfhound to exercise. These canines are very good at listening to their body. If you force them to exercise, you could injure their joints and cause growth problems in puppies. Instead, always follow your dog’s lead. If they seem tired and uninterested, you should allow them to rest—even if they haven’t reached their exercise requirements for that day.

Like all animals, these canines may have to work up to 2 hours a day of exercise. You should preferably spread this out throughout the day—not try to accomplish it all at once. Puppies significantly benefit from concise exercise sessions.

Irish Wolfhound Shepherd Training Requirements 🦮

This mixed breed is likely going to be easy to train. However, Irish Wolfhounds are not typically considered obedient dogs—and for a good reason. Irish Wolfhounds are hunting dogs. They used their instincts to chase down larger prey, and they didn’t need to listen to commands. They were bred to make their own decisions while hunting, and many of them still have this tendency in the modern age.

Therefore, the Irish Wolfhound German Shepherd can have varying trainability. Some may be very people-oriented and eager to please. However, others may be just as likely to ignore you as they are to listen to you. Either way, training should start early and be practiced often. Due to their large size, these dogs can’t be aggressive. They could seriously injure someone.

We highly recommend puppy obedience classes. Choose group classes, when possible, as these provide both training and obedience. Due to their territorial behavior, this breed often needs socialization just as much as they need training.

You shouldn’t rely solely on puppy classes to socialize this breed, however—plan on taking them out in public as soon as they are up-to-date on their vaccinations. Take them to the park, dog-friendly stores, and friend’s houses. The more they’re out and about as puppies, the better behaved they will be as adults.

Grooming ✂️

You can expect this breed to shed quite a bit. They often shed throughout the year, but shedding may increase during the spring and fall months. They will have a double coat. The outer coat will be rougher and waterproof, while the inner coat is soft and used for insulation. When they shed, it is primarily this undercoat.

You should plan on brushing them at least once a week. This brushing session removes dead hair, as well as dirt and debris. If you keep up with their weekly brushing, you won’t have to bathe them nearly as often. Because of their large size, this should be reason enough to brush them regularly.

Brushing also helps keep their coat healthy. It spreads out their natural skin oils, which are vital to protect their coat from the elements. It may also help limit skin problems since too much oil on the skin can be a bad thing. You may have to increase these sessions to two or three times a week during the heavier shedding periods. Your goal is not to remove all the dead fur from their coat – that would be impossible. Instead, you want to remove the large majority of it.

Like most dogs, they will also need their nails regularly trimmed. You can do this yourself or pay a visit to a groomer.

While these dogs don’t typically need to be trimmed, it is often in their best interest to remove some of the hair from their ears and the bottom of their paws. Their ears can become infected if the hair traps dirt and debris inside. The fur on the bottom of their paws is largely unnecessary and can make it difficult for them to grip slippery floors inside the modern home.

Even in the winter, furry paws are more of a hindrance than a helper. Tiny bits of snow can get lodged in the fur and stuck between their toes, creating sores.

Irish Wolfhound Shepherd Health and Conditions ❤️

Minor Conditions
  • Other skeletal disorders
Serious Conditions
  • Arthritis
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy

Mixed breeds are typically healthier than purebreds. They are less likely to inherit genetic conditions from their parents since they are bred from a larger gene pool. In other words, the traits of one parent seem to balance out the traits of another—assuming that both parent breeds are different enough to do so. If both breeds are prone to the same issues, then their puppies will be as well.

The Irish Wolfhound German Shepherd mix isn’t one of the healthiest mixed breeds out there, though. They are prone to a variety of health problems that owners should be aware of.

Hip Dysplasia

Out of all the conditions listed here, hip dysplasia is the most common. This condition affects nearly all large and giant breed dogs, including the German Shepherd and Irish Wolfhound.

Hip dysplasia starts in puppyhood. For one reason or another, the ball and socket of the hip joint don’t grow at the same rate. This improper growth leads to a poor fit, which causes excess wear and tear. This nearly always develops when the dog is a puppy, as that’s when they’re growing. However, symptoms may not occur until much later.

Genetics does play a role in this condition. However, diet and other factors contribute, too. Puppies that are overfed are more likely to develop this condition. Overexercising puppies may also cause hip problems.


Arthritis is another common problem in both parent breeds, likely due to their larger size. Because they are bigger, more strain is put on their joints. Over time, these lead to extra wear and tear that can create arthritis.

Hip dysplasia typically creates arthritis later in life, but dogs don’t have to have hip dysplasia to get arthritis.

Typically, this condition has to be treated with medications.

Degenerative myelopathy

This condition is less common in this mixed breed. However, it is a significant problem in German Shepherds, so it may also affect their puppies. A test is available for this disease, and breeders are encouraged to perform it before breeding any dogs together.

Before buying a puppy, you should ask if they have been tested for degenerative myelopathy.

Dilated Cardiomyopathy

This heart condition is the leading cause of death for Irish Wolfhounds. It is likely to affect their puppies, though not to the extent that it affects purebred dogs.

Your dog should be tested for this disease as they grow older. It often doesn’t produce any significant symptoms until it has progressed significantly. Catching it early and treating it before it becomes severe is essential.

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Male vs. Female

The males and females of this breed are very similar in terms of temperament and overall appearance. Males are typically larger, sometimes by quite a bit. This difference is often less noticeable in mixed breeds, though. The genes determine a dog’s size they inherit from their parents, which tend to vary more when the dog has different breeds as parents.

Therefore, differences based on gender alone are rare.

There are some misconceptions that one gender is more aggressive than the other. However, this is not true. Generally speaking, how a dog is raised and socialized is more important than their gender.

Which gender you choose is essentially a matter of personal preference. However, we do recommend not getting too set on gender. These dogs are rare, and it may be significantly challenging to find one to adopt if you’re set on a specific gender.

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Final Thoughts

The Irish Wolfhound German Shepherd mix is a usually huge dog that tends to vary in appearance and temperament. As a mixed breed, they can inherit any trait from either parent, leading to unpredictable puppies.

They are typically less territorial and protective than German Shepherds, though they still require extensive socialization. This breed is usually pretty trainable but less so than the German Shepherd. Not all of them are incredibly eager to please, which can make training take a bit longer.

We recommend this mixed breed for families, as long as you have the time to meet their needs. They require quite a bit of exercise and some degree of mental stimulation as well. They are usually very people-oriented, which means that lots of attention is required.

When these needs are met, they can make excellent companion animals.

See Also:

Featured Image Credit: Left – Lutz Prager, Pixabay; Right – liaoxh1981, Pixabay

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