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"The Country Magazine" The Irish Wolfhound Not Extinct
by Frank Adcock.Sherrington Sail, Wigan, England, March 28, 1878 The Country Magazine

Testimony From England.
(by editor of "The Country")

There appeared, as our readers will remember, two articles on the Irish wolf-dog in The Country of the 2nd and 9th of March, which have attracted attention not only in this country, but in England. In one of these it was stated, on the authority of several well-known authors who have given special attention to the canine race, that this noble breed of dogs had become extinct. Indeed, judging from the concurrent opinions of all who were supposed to be familiar with the subject, and who had the best opportunities of acquiring the desired information, there seemed to be no doubt whatever in regard to the matter. As there was no evidence to the contrary, and as nobody seemed to question the correctness of this opinion or to inquire as to the grounds on which it was based, it was accepted as conclusive. Youatt and Stonehenge, and several others, had stated that the last of the breed had ceased to exist many years ago, and that the only dog now alive which bears the closest resemblance to him is the Scotch deerhound.

It now appears that all these authors are in error, and that, whatever may have been their sources of information, they are entirely at fault in their statements. It is with more than ordinary feelings of pleasure that we present the gratifying testimony placed in our hands of the existence of more than one of this magnificent breed, and let us trust that, although there are but very few left, steps will be immediately taken for its complete resuscitation and perpetuation. That such dogs should be in danger of extinction does not speak well for those who claim to take a special interest in the cultivation and continuation of the best breeds. It is admitted by all writers that the Irish wolf-dog has no superior, and although his special occupation has gone with the extermination of his particular prey, the wolf, yet the great qualities with which he is credited should have given him a continued lease of time. But to the proof, which comes to us from England, not on hearsay, but from a witness, who not only knows whereof he writes, but who is the owner of more than one of these grand creatures:

Editor or "The Country":


It may interest your readers to know that this dog is still in existence, and exhibits all the various attributes ascribed to it by ancient writers. Those that I possess are blackish grey and grizzled in color, with stiff, wiry coats. In shape they resemble the great Scotch deerhound, but are somewhat more Btoutly made, and so very much superior in size and courage; the head also, though as long, is more massive and punishing in character, and the sense of smell is marvelously acute.

Fortunately, or, as I sometimes think, unfortunately, there is no chance in this country of giving one a run at a wolf; but I have no doubt of one of these dogs being quite equal to the tusk of catching and killing a wolf singlehanded. Should any of your readers possess a really good specimen of this rare breed, I should be much obliged if he would put himself in communication with me, and, if convenient, send me a photograph, together with a sample of hair, measurements and weight.

Should your readers fail to identify the breed from the description, 1 will send you a sketch for publication if you desire it. Frank Adcock.
Sherrington Sail, Wigan, England
March 28, 1878


The description furnished by Mr. Adcock of the dogs in his possession—and we are glad to know that there is more than one—fully accords with that given by the best informed writers. Some of these represent him as between three and four feet in height, and capable singly of attacking and killing the largest wolf. The dogs were, according to history and tradition, quite numerous in Qreat Britain and Ireland, where they were employed also in the pursuit of the stag, for which they were admirably adapted by their great endurance and speed.

We unite with Mr. Adcock in the request that if any of our readers, or others whom his letter may reach, through the kind services of such papers as may give this notice the benefit of wider publicity through their columns, know, or have heard, of any of these dogs now living, they will place themselves in communication with this gentleman and send him the desired information. We shall be particularly pleased to be made the medium through which so important a result can be attained, and hope that it is not too late to take the necessary steps toward the restoration of this grand race of hounds. As to the kind offer contained in the las1 paragraph of Mr. Adcock's letter, we need only say that all the details which he can give will be most acceptable, and whatever information we may receive from other sources in regard to the special subject of his inquiry will be at once forwarded to his address. We particularly desire that this matter shall receive the most extended publicity, and that the fullest light may be thrown upon the question.

In the meantime, knowing the interest which attaches to the history of the Irish wolf-dog, we have taken considerable pains to collect such further information as we could find in works treating of this and kindred subjects; and among the first and earliest references which we have is contained in a work in our possession, published in London in the year 1697, nearly two centuries ago. It is a rare and quaint old volume, dedicated in the peculiarly obsequious style of the times, "to the Right Honorable Earl of Abingdon, Baron Norreys, of Rycott, Lord Chief Justice and Justice in Eyre of all His Majesty's Forests, Parks, Chases, Warrens, etc., on the South side of Trent; Lord High Steward of the City, and Lord Lieutenant and Custos Rotulorium of the County of Oxford." The style of the dedication may be conceived from the petition with which it concludes, that the author, Nicholas Cox, may have permission to lay himself at his lordship's feet. The title of the work is: "The Gentleman's Recreation, in Four Parts, viz.: Hunting, Hawking, Fowling, Fishing. Wherein these generous exercises are largely treated of, and the Terms of Art for Hunting and Hawking more amply enlarged than heretofore. Also the method of breeding and managing a hunting horse, etc, etc. Printed by J. Dawks for N. Rolls in Petty CanonsHall in St. Paul's Church Yard, 1697." In the portion of the book devoted to the different varieties of hunting dogs he says of the Irish wolf-dog: "Although we have no wolves in England at this present, yet it is certain that heretofore we had Routs of them, as they have to this very day in Ireland; and in that country are bred a race of greyhounds (which are commonly called Wolf dogs), which are strong, fleet and bear a natural enmity to the Wolf. Now in these, the grpyhounds of that nation, there is an incredible force and boldness, so that the King of Poland makes use of them in his hunting of great beasts by force. Wherefore it may well be intended of the great fierceness which these Dogs have in assaulting that when the Romans saw them play they thought them so wonderful violent that they must needs have been Ferreis caveis advecli, brought up in L-on Dens."

In an admirable and most interesting work by G. R. Jesse, entitled "Researches into the History of the British Dog," we find occasional reference to the particular species under consideration. This author, speaking in the highest terms of praise of the noble qualities of the animal, says in words of unfeigned regret that he is now "unfortunately extinct." He adds,- "they protected man and his flocks and herds from the gaunt wolf," and then quotes from Stanihurst's description of Ireland, that "they are not without wolves, and grei-hounds to hunt them bigger of bone and limb than a colt." This corresponds with the sketch given by the Bishop of Ross in his remarks on the dogs of Scotland, of which the first sort is a species of hound "exceeding in size a yearling bullock, wherefor they use them only in pursuing the larger stags or in attacking wolves." Randall Cotgrave, under the word "jaque," gives this explanation: "A jaque, or coat of maile, and thence a jacque for the body of an Irish greyhound, etc., made commonly of a wild boar's tanned skinne, and put on him when he is to coape with that violent beast "-—the wolf.

From the pen of Mrs. Katharine Phillips we have a poetic tribute to the wolf-dog, which Mr. Jesse calls "the most magnificent of all varieties and the most noble of the whole animal creation." Greater interest attaches to it from its being a portrait drawn by a personal observer of "that renowned creature, which has now been totally extinct for some generations." Mrs. Phillips, says our author—who will be delighted to hear that his favorite breed is still in existence, was born in London, and accompanied the Viscountess Dungannon to Ireland in 1647, where she saw the animal which inspired her muse to indite the following glowing and quaint tribute in his praise:

"Behold this creature's Form and State,
Which therefore Nature did create,
That to the World might be exprest
What meen there can be in a Beest;
And that we In this shape mar find
A Lion of another kind;
For this Heroick beast does seem
In Majesty to Rival him;
And yet vouchsafes to man to show
Both service and submission too:
From whence we the distinction have
That Beast is fierce, but this is brave.
This dog hath so himself subdued
That hunger cannot make him rude;
And his behaviour does confess
True Courage dwells with Gentleness.
With sternest Wolves he dares engage
And acts on them successful rage:
Yet too much conrtesie may chance
To put him out of countenance.
When in his oppoesr's blood
Fortune hath made his vertue good,
This creature from an act so brave
Grows not more sullen, but more grave.
Man's guard he would be, not his sport.
Believing he bath ventured for't;
But yet no blood, or shed, or spent,
Can ever make him insolent.
Few men from him to do great things have learn'd
And when th'are done to be so unconcern'd.

It is a fact deserving of mention, that although wolves swarmed in some parts of Ireland a little more than a century and a half ago, no wolf-like dogs have over been found there. Indeed, the destruction of the wolves may be attributed almost exclusively to the noble animals of which we are treating. It is no wonder that he was so highly prized as to be considered a fitting present in those days even for royalty itself. In the reign of Charles the First, the Levant Co., writing from London to the Earl of Winchelsea, ambassador to Constantinople in 1662, said in their letter: "Being some time past minded by your Secretary, and knowing also that such things may be of use there and no unacceptle present, we send by these ships two large and comely Irish greyhounds, to be disposed of as your Exellency mayi see occasion." The Grand Duke Cosmo the Third, who travelled in England at this period, speaks of wolves as common in ireland "for the hunting of which the dogs called mastiffs are in great request". "He must howver" says Jesse, in the work already referred to, "have been misinformed as to the name of the animal, for no mastiff could ever run down or run into such a senewy, swift and long winded beast as a wolf.". Pennant, the same author tells us, described one in his tour of Scotland, though he calls it a Highland dog' yet, as he speaks of its great rarity and large size, it could not have bbeen an ordinary deerhound, noble creature though it is, for that breed was by no means un=comon. Pennant made his tour in 1769 and says; "I saw also at Castle Gordon a true Highland greyhound, which has now became very scarece. It was of a large size, strong, deep-chested and covered with very long and rough hair. This kind was in great vogue in former days, and used in vast numbers at the magnificent stag-chase by the powerful chieftains."

In his edition of Camden, published in 1789, Gough observes; "Under the article of greyhounds, Mr Camden seems to place the wolf-dogs, which are remarkably large, and perculiar to this kingdom. The race is now almost extinct. There are not perhaps ten in the country. The Earl of Altamont, as his seat in Westport, in the County of Mayo, possesses a few of the true Irish wolf-dogs, a species of animal peculiar to this kingdom, and formerly made use of for destroying that fierce animal the wolf, and even considered as worthy the acceptance of kings. They are a large, noble, handsome animal, remarkably quiet, patient in anger till really provoked, but then are truly formidable, their hair standing erect and they never quit their hold but with certain desctruction. They hunt both by scent and sight and are generally about three feet high, sometimes larger."

Such is the animal, as he is portrayed by nearly every writer who has treated of the subject. They all, as we hve said, concur in the belief that he is extinct; that there being no more wolves to hunt in the three countries where he was so far as we have been able to ascertain, exclusively found, he passed away soon after the fierce beasts with which he had to contend were exterminated. Despite, however the generally-accepted impression that the last of the breed had ceased to exist, we ventured, in our article published in The Country of March 9th, to express the belief that as others were seen since those described by Mrs Fremont as having lived at Fort Snelling from 1838 to 1843, there might be on further enquiry some be found living "at the present time."

We trust ere long to have further and more interesting details with regard to this splendid animal, and are not without the hope that the race may still be perpetuated. Besides the Scotch staghound, which resembles him in form, but is inferior in size. There is a dog in Spain, used also in hunting and destroying the wolves of that country, which it is not improbable belongs to the same breed. He is said to be like the Irish wolf-dog, though if he were so large and powerful we would doubtless have heard much more of him.

(From Hugh Dalziel , London, May 17, 1878)

Truly, Mr. Editor, tnere is much pith in the old saying that we must travel if we would hear news of home and of what is taking place around us.

When I turned over the pages of The Country of April 20th I was considerably astonished to find, by a letter from Mr. Frank Adcock, that not only is the Irish wolf-hound not extinct, but that he possesses specimens of the breed.

I had no idea that this breed existed in Lancashire, and I am delighted to hear it, but still I think I have fair reasons for astonishment which even Mr. Adcock will admit.

Mr. Adcock is a well-known breeder of bull dogs; he is a large and frequent exhibitor of various breeds; he must be cognizant of the fact that it is the generally received opinion in this country, by those whose authority is held in most esteem, that the Irish wolf-hound is extinct, and, if he will pardon me saying so, he is not given to hiding his light under a bushel. Now, all these things considered, my astonishment is that he has left his countrymen in ignorance that he possessed specimens of this giant of the canine race, and given no note through the press of a fact which would interest so many hundreds of us, and has never treated us to a glimpse of these wonders at any of our shows.

I have no wish to cast doubt on Mr. Adcock's statement; I am quite sure the dogs he refers to must possess many of the attributes of the old Irish wolf-hound—few men are better versed in dog lore, and therefore he is not likely to be mistaken in applying the old description to the living dog; but he has told your readers nothing of their pedigree, or how or where these pure Irish wolf-hounds were obtained. If, however, he has by judicious crossing reproduced a dog answering to the description of the old Irish hound, he is to be congratulated on a success any one might be proud of. And he has a dog in his kennels yclept "Satan," a magnificent animal, although a demon in temper—a specimen of '' The Great Dane " not unlikely to hnve assisted in such resuscitation; and, indeed, as Satan was bred by the Empress of Austria, there are more unlikely things than that in him there is a dash of the real old Irish blood that the King of Poland imported into his country so freely, and which doubtless became widely distributed among the nobility of that part of Europe.

Of course, all this is mere supposition on my part, and I shall be glad to see from Mr. Adcock's pen a minuter description of and fuller information respecting the dogs he claims to be Irish wolf-hounds.

I cannot, Mr. Editor, agree with you in your estimate of "The Gentleman's Recreations," by Nicholas Cox. The said Nicholas was not only an obsequious lackey, but a vile plagiarist, who did his work very badly, he hashed up Gervase Markham, Dr. Caius and Edmund De Langley in a shocking manner. I have a copy of the book by me as I write, published 1677, twenty years earlier than the one you quote from, and, having perused it pretty carefully, I cannot give Nicholas credit for much originality.

As an instance of this plagiarism, and to change the subject to another breed, let me quote from that very rare book, "Englishe Dogges," by Dr. Johannes Caius, the description "of the Dogge called a Terrar, in Latine Terrarius." I quote from the English translation, by Abraham Fleming, published in 1576, a hundred years earlier than "The Gentleman's Recreations," and you will find, by reference to the latter book, that it is a copy almost word for word, which please signify to your readers in foot-note.

Thus writes Caius: "Another sort there is which hunteth the Badger or Greye only, whom we call Terrars, because they (after the manner and custom of ferrets in searching after connyes) creep into the ground and by that means make afraid, nyppe and byte the fox and the badger in such sort that either they tear them in pieces with their teeth, being in the bosom of the earth, or else bate and pull them perforce out of their lurking angles, dark dungeons and close caves, or at the least, through conceived fear, drive them out of their hollow harbours, insomuch that they are compelled to prepare speedy flight, and being desirous of the next (albeit not the safest) refuge are otherwise taken and entrapped with snares and nets laid over holes to the same purpose."

Again the same close following of the text of Caius appears in the descriptions of "The Lyemmer," which dog Pennant considers identical with the Irish wolf-hound. Hugh Dalziel.

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