Irish Wolfhound Times
(Irish Wolfhound Database and Breed Information Exchange)

About IWTLibraryBreed OriginsReserved For FutureAfghan Hound TimesReserved For FutureBreed StandardEphemera

The complete dog book By William A. Bruette
Deerhound and Irish Wolfhound


Th1s magnificent breed of dogs has occupied a prominent place in the romantic history of Scotland, and looks well the part they have played as companion to Highland Chieftains. They have a most noble presence, and are at once docile, sagacious, and undeniably courageous. As companions and guards they are unsurpassed, for they never forget their friends, and their attachment for their owners is a blind devotion that will lead them to fight for their protection with the utmost desperation.

In the field the Deerhound not only has a very keen nose, but can run down the deer, jackrabbit, coyote, or wolf, and can kill them alone and unaided. He will tree a mountain lion or a black bear, and would not hesitate to fight a grizzly if in protection of his master. No dog combines more beauty, strength, and utility than these aristocrats of the canine world.

The chief points to look for in the selection of Deerhound puppies at from two to four months old and after, are: A long, level head, dark eye, long neck, well-placed shoulders, great bone, deep chest, well-sprung ribs, big hindquarters, short body.


It is clearly attested both by history and tradition that there existed in Ireland in early times a large, rugged hound of Greyhound form, used to hunt the Irish elk, the wolf, the red deer, and the fox. This dog was known to the Romans, who carried them back after their invasion of the island, and there are records of them being presented to Norwegian kings. In course of time the wolves disappeared, the elk became extinct, and with them all but passed away a noble breed of dogs. In fact, it has been claimed that the real Irish Wolfhound became extinct about one hundred years ago. This was vigorously denied by others, who, while they admitted that the breed had deteriorated, asserted that there was still existent enough of the old blood to restore the breed to a resemblance of its original type. The leader in this movement was Captain Graham, who for a score of years devoted himself to the resuscitation of the breed with conspicuous success.

There have been many theories advanced as to the origin of the Irish Wolfhound, but the opinion of Captain Graham is probably nearest the truth, for it is his belief that the Irish Hound that was kept to hunt wolves never became extinct, but is now repeated in the Scottish Deerhound, only altered a little in size and strength to suit the easier work required of it, that of hunting the deer. The old Irish Wolfhound was called upon to hunt the wolf and the Irish elk, an immense animal standing six feet high at the shoulder, with a spread of antlers of ten or twelve feet, and it required a much more powerful hound to cope with these animals than the deer which are now existent.

One thing is certain: the chief factor in the resuscitation of the Irish Wolfhound has been the Scottish Deerhound. In building up the breed Captain Graham secured bitches from three strains, which it was believed were direct and pure descendants of the old line, although they were not nearly as large as those mentioned in early writings. These were crossed on the Scottish Deerhound and the Great Dane. Later on Borzoi blood was introduced through a dog named Koratai. These matings and the mixing of the blood of these breeds resulted in progeny with both size and bone, but unshapely in form. By careful elimination and selection they were eventually graded up to a fixity of type, and for the past thirty-five years they have been among the most attractive dogs seen at shows.

There is naturally a great deal of similarity between the Scottish Deerhound and the Irish Wolfhound, for much of the same blood is in their veins. The Irish dog is larger, more powerful, and less elegant in outline. His coat is also harder in texture and his jaw more powerful.

As in the case of most big dogs, the great difficulty in breeding the Irish Wolfhound is to insure straight forelegs and sound hindquarters. Of course, a great deal depends upon the rearing of the dogs in this particular connection. A puppy may be found sound and straight in limb and become incurably defective by his faulty bringing up. This is the tendency, and such faults as cow hocks (which are very prevalent in the breed), crooked forelegs, or splay feet, once established become hereditary, and should be carefully avoided. A little white on the chest is perfectly immaterial, and color is but of secondary importance, the favorite color being grizzle or wheaten.

Library Of Articles