Approximately 30% of Irish Wolfhounds will develop some cardiac abnormality by age 6 (source: IWF Lifetime Cardiac Study). Heart disease is a major health concern in the breed, and a subject of many studies as the IW community strives to learn how to identify disease earlier and treat it more effectively, enhancing both quality of life and lifespan for affected dogs.
Screening for heart disease is recommended for all adult Irish Wolfhounds (age 2 or older). At present both an EKG and echocardiogram performed by a board certified canine cardiologist is the best form of screening. If possible, IWs should be rescreened annually, as the risk of heart disease increases with age. The Irish Wolfhound Foundation offers subsidized cardiac screening at IW specialties in the US and Canada every year, and is conducting several studies on IW heart issues. Results of these screenings are available on the IWF website (in 2013, for example, 39 of 88 IWs tested had some abnormality, ranging from normal degenerative valve disease to atrial fibrillation to dilated cardiomyopathy), as are news postings announcing scheduled screenings and information on current studies.
This page was last updated 07/14/2021.