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

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Dogcraft: being a study of the various breeds of dogs; their care
by Albert Frederick Hochwalt - 1920.
Irish Wolfhound, Scottish Deerhound

The real Irish wolfhound is practically an extinct breed, the last traces of him having passed away about a quarter of a century ago. A few enthusiasts, however, have been endeavoring to build it up since that time. The idea was to produce-a dog that was larger than the Scottish deerhound in size, bone and substance.

The line of breeding that was followed principally to produce this modern'Irish wolfhound was a cross between the Scottish deerhound and the Great Dane, although many other crosses were resorted to which were likely to produce the desired results. Thus the Russian wolfhound, the Siberian wolf or sheep dog and many other crosses between large dogs were tried.

There is no question but the gentlemen interested in_the rejuvenation of the Irish wolfhound are deserving of much praise for their efforts, for they made their standard and had their ideal in view, and did not fit the standard to the dog, as has been done with other new breeds.

James Watson, in his excellent work, “The Dog Book,” speaks of the present day wolfhound as shown in England and Ireland, as “Typical of what one would imagine the dog that was lost must have been as is possible to conceive.”

Up to the spring of 1907 no classes had ever been provided for the Irish wolfhound at bench shows in America, but that year the Buffalo Kennel Clubopened classes for them and obtained a large entry, principally from Mr. George S. Hull, who has taken up the breeding of this new dog.

If type has been obtained in England and Ireland, the same cannot be said of the dogs that were shown here,_ and as most of them were importations, one is led to believe there is a great diversity among them. In my- report of this show, I wrote as follows about these hounds:

“This is a breed that has hitherto had no classification at bench shows, but owing to the large entry from Geo. S. Hull, classes were provided for them. It cannot be said that the dogs exhibited were a sorty lot, for they proved a heterogeneous group with great diversity of type. The breed was new to the judge, also, as is quite natural, and he disregarded type and selected his winners among the sound dogs, showing bone, muscle and substance generally, with quality and character always in view. Donneybrook proved the winner in novice dogs and bitches. He is a big, sound one, with every appearance of being a useful dog. Winners went to Thaddy O'Flynn, a long-headed, strong-jawed dog with tapering head of good proportions. His coat is of good texture and he is well muscled up. Gray Norah, first in limit dogs and bitches and reserve winners; she does not seem to be quite the same type in head, and lacks some of the substance of the winner. Unfortunately, the dog Sampson, belonging to Gen. Roger Williams, did not arrive in time for the judging, hence his place among the lot cannot be determined. He is, however, a big, strongly-built dog, with shaggy coat of good texture, and has every appearance of being able to cope successfully with a wolf.”

No scale of points has been adopted by the Irish Wolfhound Club, but according to the ideas of that organization, and a standard published in Count de Bylandt's “Dogs of all Nations,” the Irish wolfhound should be “not quite so heavy or massive as the Great Dane, but more so than the deerhound, which in general type he should resemble. Of great size and commanding appearance, very muscular, strongly, though gracefully built; movements easy and active; head and neck carried high; the tail carried with an upward sweep, with a slight curve toward the extremity. The minimum height and weight of dogs should be 31 inches and 120 pounds; of bitches, 28 inches and 90 pounds. Anything below this should be debarred from competition. Great size, including height at shoulder and proportionate length of body is the desideratum to be aimed at, and it is desired to firmly establish a race that shall average from 32 to 34 inches in dogs, showing the requisite power, activity, courage and symmetry.”

The coat should be rough and hard on body, legs and head; especially wiry and long over the eyes and upper jaws. The recognized colors are gray, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn, or any color that appears in the deerhound.

(Since the above was written, the Irish wolfhound has gained new admirers and now it is quite a common thing to see from six to a dozen at the important shows and nearly every club provides classes for them. The type, also, seems to have become more fixed, which indicates that breeders are hewing to the lines in their breeding operations. At the New York show of 1912, some exceptionally good specimens were shown.)

A scale of points has since been published in “Dogs of all Nations”


The early history of the Scottish deerhound is interwoven with that of the Irish wolfhound, and in scanning the early records of the two breeds one readily comes to the conclusion that they were one and the same. The Irish dog, however, was allowed to become extinct, while that of Scotland, after having been bred on somewhat different lines and thus gradually become a distinct breed, he was continued to be bred pure, hence he-has the priority over the Irish wolfhound, since he comes down in an unbroken line from the days of his origin.

Size has always been the desideratum in the breeding of the Scottish deerhound, but the stories we hear from some of the early writers regarding the great size of these dogs are surely overdrawn; some writers saying that occasional specimens were as large as a yearling calf, others four feet at shoulder, etc. Actual measurements, however, do not substantiate these claims, for the average size seems to be about 28 or 29 inches.

The dog Chieftain, shown by Mr. John E. Thayerj, of Boston, some years ago, measured 31 inches. He was no doubt the largest of the breed shown either in England or America in recent years.

Since Mr. Thayer has gone out of the fancy the entries in this breedhave been cery light; in fact, for\the last year or two only the larger Eastern shows have been providing classes for them.

B. F. Lewis brought over a very good specimen of this breed when he returned from his visit to England in December, 1905. This dog, Lansdowne Lucania, was shown at all the principal shows, and where there were no classes provided for the breed he usually succeeded in capturing first in the miscellaneous class. He was an exceptionally good specimen of the breed, good in bone, substance and conformation. His coat, also, was all that could be desired. I never measured this dog myself, but he was said to be more than 30 inches at shoulder, and from the appearance of the dog there was no reason to doubt the statement.

There is such a similarity in the conformation between the greyhound and the Scottish deerhound that the same standard may be applied to both breeds, except, of course, that the latter must be larger in stature, heavier in bone and must have a rough or wiry coat. The deerhound's coat should be about three inches in length and as harsh as possible to the touch, particularly along the back and ribs. It is softer on the under part of the body and is shorteron the head than on the body, though it should not be smooth. To obtain the correct expression it is especially necessary that the eyebrows be shaggy and the mustache somewhat long compared with the hair on the skull. There should be a beard from the lower jaw, and the ears should be small and carried like those of the greyhound. The weight of dogs should be from 85 to 105 pounds; for bitches, 65 to 80 pounds.

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