Doodlemania has taken the world by storm over the last 30 years and more. Any other purebred pooch crossed with a Poodle, be it Standard, Miniature, or Toy, is colloquially known in the ‘designer dog’ world as a Doodle. Known for their low risk of shedding (although this is certainly not always the case) and their cute Teddy Bear look what’s not to love about this popular cross?
However, we are now seeing tentative steps taken to add a third purebred to an existing Doodle but is this right? Is it a step too far or are there some valid points behind creating further mixes?
In this article, we look specifically at mixing the purebred Irish Wolfhound with the bouncy and energetic Labradoodle, whether it is currently in any established breeding programs and what kind of mix it will make.
Table of Contents
The Labradoodle is a cross between a Labrador Retriever and one of the three sizes of Poodle (Standard, Miniature, or Toy). While this mix was noted to have occurred as early as the 1950s it was around 1989 that the term Labradoodle became commonplace, and the popularity really increased.
The publicity surrounding the Labradoodle increased in the early 1990s when many guide, assistance, and/or therapy dogs associations realized the Labradoodle would be an option for individuals who experienced dog allergies. Often the addition of Poodle genetics greatly reduced the amount of shedding that would be associated with Labrador Retrievers.
The Labradoodle’s intelligence and often low shedding coat eventually attracted the attention of normal domestic pet owners and there was a meteoric rise in the number of breeders over the course of the ’90s and 2000s. Generally, Labradoodle owners favor the breed’s natural friendliness while their energetic and affectionate nature makes them popular for active singles, couples, or families with children.
Irish Wolfhound History
The Irish Wolfhound is a sighthound built for size, strength, and speed.
There are references as early as the 4th century to large, ancient Irish dogs gifted to and used by the Romans to fight lions and bears. However, an Irish zooarchaeologist dismissed these claims due to a lack of compatible historic bones, concluding that the breed must be a more recent development.
Wolfdogs in 16th century Ireland were likened to larger Greyhounds and their import to European shores, due to their popularity, was monitored to ensure that enough remained in the country to control the wolf population.
When the last wolf in Ireland was killed in the late 18th century the wolfhounds that remained in the country became status symbols as opposed to working hunters. Before the turn of the next century, there were reports of only 3 remaining Wolfdogs in Ireland and by 1836, he was mentioned in a presentation of “Notices of Animals which have disappeared from Ireland”.
Fast forward to the late 19th century and the Irish Wolfhound whom we recognize today was created in Gloucestershire, England as a resurgence of the now extinct Wolfdogs of old.
He is large, in fact, he is huge. Standing at up to 36” at the shoulder and weighing up to 180lbs he is one of the top three largest dog breeds and the tallest recognized by the AKC (American Kennel Club).
But don’t let his size scare you, he is known for his calm, relaxed, and dignified demeanor which oozes grace and kindness. Far too placid to be considered a guard dog yet commanding the presence alone to deter intruders. Whilst he is known for his natural patience around children there must always be supervision due to his size.
He has a double coat that is hard, rough, and wiry with a distinctive beard and hair over his eyes. He displays a variety of colors including black, gray, red, and white.
This easy-going and intelligent dog is not known for being lively, but he is a people dog, forming strong bonds with his master and as such may become destructive if left alone for long periods of time.
FAMOUS IRISH WOLFHOUNDS: The legend of Gelert actually relates to 13th century Wales, not Ireland, and his master Llewellyn, Prince of Wales. Llewellyn returned from a day’s hunting to find the nursery of his infant son in disarray with him nowhere to be found and Gelert with his muzzle covered in blood.
Assuming the worst the Prince plunged his sword into the heart of Gelert as retribution for killing his heir. As Gelert lay dead Llewellyn heard a child’s cry from under the upturned cot. There he found his son, alive and well. Alongside his son was a wolf, dead, slain by Gelert as he protected his master’s son.
It is said that Llewellyn was so bereft he buried his favorite hound outside the castle walls. However, whilst the legend may bear some truth, in all reality, the grave and cairn stones depicting the story only date back around 200 years and were likely laid by an 18th-century Inn Keeper in an attempt to draw sightseers to the village.
FUN FACT: In 1902 the Irish Wolfhound was acknowledged as the official regimental mascot of the Irish Guards.
What do you call an Irish Wolfhound Labradoodle Mix?
We already have the relatively new-to-the-party Irish Wolfoodle which is a cross between the Irish Wolfhound and the Standard Poodle.
Whilst there is some information to suggest that the Irish Wolfhound has been crossed with the Labrador, there are no established breeding programs or fancy names.
That leaves us with a potential mix with no potential name. Without creating too much of a tongue twister should this cross become proven we suggest, simply, the Irish Labradoodle.
Why is the Irish Wolfhound Labradoodle Cross Being Bred?
Whilst the Irish Wolfoodle is rising in popularity there is no hard evidence or recognized breeding programs for the Irish Wolfhound Labradoodle mix.
Possible reasons to cross the two would be to calm the sometimes-excitable nature of the Labradoodle. The Irish Wolfhound’s tranquil nature is the opposite of that of the Labradoodle.
As one reason behind the Labradoodle is to create a dog who doesn’t shed, adding the Irish Wolfhound into the mix would not necessarily be viable for this cause. Although not excessive, the Irish Wolfhound does shed all year round and could therefore have a negative impact on any hypoallergenic properties already created with the Labradoodle.
Size could be a factor if the intention was to create a dog larger than the Labradoodle but with similar personality properties. The Standard Labradoodle can be as tall as 24” and sometimes taller so not a small dog itself. However, this would still need to be bred with a smaller-sized Irish Wolfhound to ensure that the whelping process was safe and to limit growth and variability issues within the litter.
The Irish Wolfhound, in comparison to many other, usually smaller, breeds has a relatively low life span. According to the AKC, the average is only 6 to 8 years. Introducing the Labradoodle with his much more robust expectancy of 12-15 years could be a way of extending the life span of the Irish Wolfhound.
Is the Irish Wolfhound Labradoodle Mix Ethical?
Whilst some may argue that mixing any dogs of different breeds is unethical there is the counterargument that by doing so, predisposed, life-limiting health issues can be reduced. This is known as hybrid vigor.
However, an element of control is required when mixed breeding. Health checks must still be done, and temperament compatibility measures must still be taken if you are a responsible breeder. It is not just a case of choosing your two favorite breeds and hoping for the best.
The Labradoodle and the Irish Wolfhound not only differ in temperament but in size. Whilst the average height for the Labradoodle is between 21” and 24” the Irish Wolfhound’s size range is between 30” and 32” with some being considerably bigger.
This could not only be a practical obstacle in terms of the tie but could cause potential problems in the whelping process if the puppies grew too large. The dame would most certainly have to be the larger of the two dogs.
It would also be impossible to predict the little size, both in terms of the number of puppies and growth rate, and overall final size as the variables are too wide. There is also the risk of skeletal problems in the puppies due to the size difference between the parents.
The Benefits of an Irish Wolfhound Labradoodle Mix
A calmer or taller Labradoodle, an Irish Wolfhound with a longer life expectancy, a rare and unique dog. These are all potential advantages of mixing the two dogs in question.
However, by mixing the two you are entering the world of the unknown. Even with a reputable breeding program, a wealth of knowledge of both the Irish Wolfhound and the Labradoodle (and the variances a Labradoodle can bring itself), and extensive health and temperament testing there are no guarantees about what this mix will bring.
The Cons of an Irish Wolfhound Labradoodle Mix
Due to very little to nothing being researched or recorded about the Irish Wolfhound Labradoodle mix, there are no certainties when it comes to what the two will produce. Litters will be of unknown adult size and temperament and there is a large scope of possibilities due to the differences in the parent breeds.
Considering the size and personalities of the parents is far from an exact science and cannot guarantee the outcome of any puppies.
Skeletal defects can be a risk in any litter due to the difference in the size of the parents. The size and shape of the bones can differ significantly amongst breeds. Any incompatibility of the bone structures can hinder the correct development of the skeleton as the puppies grow. Whilst this is rare it is most definitely something to consider with mixed breed dogs of differing sizes.
Due to the size range possible within a litter, the mom’s health and wellbeing can be at risk during the whelping process, especially if she is the smaller of the two parents. Care should be taken to size match the breeding pair as closely as possible, and the larger dog should always be the dame.
What to Expect from the Irish Wolfhound Labradoodle Mix
As there is no evidence of purposely bred Labradoodle cross Irish Wolfhounds the next section of our guide is based on the background of the Irish Wolfhound and the Labradoodle.
Please do remember that this is not definitive and the variables for the size, temperament, and health of any litters are extensive.
Size and Weight
We need to take a look at the size of both the Labradoodle and the Irish Wolfhound. Some Labradoodles are bred down to miniature size but only the Standard Labradoodle should be used if this cross were to be achieved.
|21” – 24”
|50lbs – 60lbs
|30” – 32”
|105lbs – 120lbs
As we’ve already mentioned, an above-average Labradoodle and a smaller-than-average Irish Wolfhound would be the most ethical way of accomplishing the mix whilst always keeping the health of the dame and the puppies in mind.
Based on the typical dimensions and taking the above into consideration we can deduce that a fully grown Irish Wolfhound Labradoodle cross would, on average, measure between 26” and 28” at the withers and weigh between 70lbs and 90lbs.
Color and Coat Types
Colors are down to genetics and as both the Labradoodle and the Irish Wolfhound come in a multitude of shades the possibilities for the cross are huge. Taking into account the color of the parents will give some idea as to the colors you can expect from any litter but even then, genetics can throw you a curve ball.
Coat type will likely be of a medium length and can range from wiry to curly, again depending on genetics. He is more likely to shed than not so don’t be fooled into thinking he will be hypoallergenic. However, the Poodle influence may reduce the frequency.
He is not prone to be a drooler, but should he inherit the classic Doodle facial furnishings be mindful of food getting caught up in his beard or mustache and water being dripped around your kitchen floor if you don’t keep them trimmed.
He will need a good brush at least a couple of times a week, more if his coat is curlier and we would recommend regular visits to the groomers to keep his coat in both a manageable and healthy condition.
Labradoodles are generally a healthy breed with a life expectancy of 12 to 15 years. However, the Irish Wolfhound, like many large dogs, has a considerably shorter span of only 6-8 years.
The leading cause of death in the Irish Wolfhound is bone cancer and there has been research to suggest that the neutering of male dogs before they reach adulthood can increase this risk. Please speak with your veterinary surgeon in depth before castrating the Labradoodle Irish Wolfhound cross.
Bloat is always a concern in larger, deep-chested dogs. There are various steps you can take to reduce the risk such as feeding more often and in smaller quantities and avoiding exercise at certain times. You can learn about more about bloat and how to reduce the risk by reading What Causes Bloat in Poodles?
Hip and elbow dysplasia are both conditions found in the Labrador and the Poodle. Whilst it can be genetic there is also an environmental impact to consider. Dogs should be hip scored before they are entered onto any breeding program with those not scoring satisfactorily removed from the plan.
As dysplasia occurs as dogs grow it is important to restrict excessive activities such as jumping and longer walks until your puppy is fully grown. Signs of dysplasia to look out for are decreased activity, lameness, and a swaying gait.
A little goofy but always lovable, protective, and loyal. The Irish Wolfhound Labradoodle cross will be your best friend who doesn’t like to be without you.
He should be easy to train as his intelligence, eagerness to please and love of treats makes an advantageous balance. Ensure that training starts the day he comes home and is consistent and reward-based. He won’t respond well to any negative feedback.
He is clever as all three of his parent breeds are known for their intelligence. This will need channeling with mental stimulation games and puzzles or he may become bored and destructive.
Whilst they are an effective watchdog and will alert you to any comings and goings their affable and friendly nature means they are more likely to roll over for a belly rub or greet an intruder with licks and hugs!
Whilst the introduction of the Irish Wolfhound may go some way to calm the excitable nature of the Labradoodle the cross will still need a relatively robust exercise regime. Both physical and mental needs will require input with walks, games, and even agility or tracking activities.
The strong prey drive inherent in the Irish Wolfhound may bring with it a tendency to bolt when in open spaces if he sees something that attracts his attention. Keeping him in a secured area when off the leash is advisable.
Due to his size and exercise needs, he will need to live in an environment with a secure and sizable backyard in order to fulfill his exercise needs outside of those daily walks and play sessions.
Feeding requirements will be based on the size of your Labradoodle Irish Wolfhound cross and their individual exercise needs.
You may choose to feed your dog kibble (dry pellets), canned food (known as wet), or a raw diet. Take a look at our feeding guide What is the Best Food for Doodles to learn about the differences. Do speak with your vet or a canine nutritionist to get the best advice catered individually to you and your dog.
Based on what we would expect the size of an average Labradoodle Irish Wolfhound cross to be they will likely require between 3 and 4 cups of food per day. Whilst treats are not discouraged it is advised that they are kept to a minimum to avoid unnecessary weight gain.
So, there we have it. All about the Irish Wolfhound Labradoodle cross. Much of the information in the article in terms of what to expect from the mix is based on educated presumption due to the lack of knowledge and rarity of the cross.
All that said and as much as there are many qualities of this cross that do sound appealing, we would not advise purposely breeding this pair and to be extremely cautious of any puppies which you come across.
If you do find a puppy that you wish to join your family please do check out the breeder and ensure that extensive health and personality checks have been carried out on both parents.