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"The Country Magazine"
Resuscitation Of The Irish Wolfhound
April 13, 1876


http://www.irishwolfhoundtimes.com The Country Magazine


Resuscitation Of The Irish Wolf Hound.

There can, we think, be no genuine lover of the canine race existing in the British Isles, celebrated, as they are, throughout their whole history for the excellence of their dogs, who does not, when the subject is presented to him,feel a keen Pang of regret that the Irish wolf hound-the largest and one of the noblest of British dogs, a breed sought after by Roman conquerors, and in more modern times, by Polish and other European kings -- should have been allowed by the apathy of breeders of the past and present century to become extinct, or, at least, to degenerate from ite original purity and pristine glory; and all wno read the very excellent article on this hound by G. A. Graham, Esq., of Rednook, published in our issue of 24th ult., must have been fired as a ray of hope when so experienced a breeder gives as his opinion that sufficient of the original material yet exists to form a basis for the restoration of this noble dog to his former position as the giant of his race.

The question, whether wolves being extinct in these isles and this dog's special occupation gone, it is worth while to revive the original type is scarce worth entertaining so patent is the answer. Our mastiffs no longer set at bay "the savage bull," yet in thousands they exist grander in every point than when merely reared to butchery, a triumph of the modern breeders patient skill.

The slench brache quilke sekyr was and keyne that

On Wallace fute followit so felloune fast, is now the noble bloodhound, as much a companion and a guard of man as the sure tracer of the slot, whilst his work of running down border raiders and modern poachers is at end; yet who would wish to see so fine a specimen disappear, even should modern agricultural improvements so far develop as to make the dispersion of the few remaining packs a necessity?

The last fifty years—aye, the last fifteen—has seen the manufacture of numbers of new varieties, some of them, we fear, rather trashy, and far from improvements on the original stock from which they were drawn ; but, without disparaging the tastes of others, the qqestion may be fairly put whether we have done well in cultivating so many •mere toys, differing from each other only by the most arbitrary shades, whilst we have wholly neglected and suffered to fall into decay the very king of the canines, a dog variously described as from three to four feet high, and that, there is ample proof, must have o'ertopped in stature the largest of our present breeds? When we consider the question, it really appears as if our dog shows had missed their aim or signally failed in a plain duty; and in the light of this neglect our conduct as dog breeders appears frivolous in the extreme. The comparison may appear far fetched, but as we consider the subject, the stirring words of the immortal Byron to the degenerate Greeks force themselves so strongly on our mind we cannnot refrain from quoting them:

Ye have the Pyrrhic dance as yet:
Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone?
Of two such lessons why forget The nobler and the manlier one?

We do not neglect the fox and the otter to hunt the weasel and the rat. Who that has felt the thrill the first mad rush communicates would leave the salmon to tickle a trout? Then why neglect this triton amongst dogs to mess and dabble so exclusively with the minnows and stickle-backe?

Another most important reason for endeavouring to restore this magnificent animal is the great use he would be against the large and fierce game of our colonies and dependencies. The exterminator of the Irish wolf-a dog uniting the speed of the deerhound with the power of the mastiff, and with brain developed by constant contact with man—could cope successfully with any animal, and merely in keeping up size in other breeds—a most difficult thing in some climates — would be of the greatest service : and with such comparatively limited views alone the experiment of restoration is worth making'

But the question here arises, is the restoration of this dog, with his immense and magnificent proportions, possible? We do not for a moment doubt the possibility and practicability of the proposal. To expect immediate results would be transparent folly; but if judicious and well- considered methods were adopted and patiently carried out by a number of breeders having a common object, and, to a considerable extent working in conoert, we cannot doubt but that, in the course of years—and these not so far distant — the Irish wolfhound would again be seen, not only equal to, but superior in all points to the best descriptions we have of his ancestors. A fair con- sideration of the plastic nature of the dog, whom we have already moulded to so many forms we consider justifies us in this conclusion.

There next remains to be considered the means whereby this so desirable end is to be attained We have often offered it as our opinion that our important canine societies might use their immense power for the investigation and settlement of many important and deeply interesting questions connected with dogs whioh they have hitherto left untouched. We have no wish to disparage the work that has been done, but there are many questions wanting practical solution, which it would not be derogatory to their dignity to undertake; but, on the contrary, reflect on them the highest honour, and this we oonceive to be one of them. In what special way this could best be done, we have not space at present to go thoroughly into; but if there can be found a number of private gentlemen possessed of means leisure, and a desire to test practically theories of breeding, who will combine with this object, they wonld in our opinion be entering on a course of most interesting experiments, and one also of laudable ambition, and we feel sure the Kennel Club,_ by far the most important of our canine associations, would lend assistance and encouragement to the project.

The Kennel Club has already two great dog shows in the year; and it is earnestly hoped by many exhibitors that the club may soon have more, and not restrict their efforts to the capital. Suppose, then, from the writings of the past that a standard were drawn up to which all should agree to breed up, a class being made for these dogs at future shows, how interesting and instructive it would be to watch the upward progress!

Before closing our remarks we must make a special appeal in favour of this king of dogs to Irishmen. Dog shows have taken deep root in Ireland, and we can testify to the enthusiasm of many Irish breeders. Is there anything connected with dogs that would redound more to the honour and glory of Ireland than the re-establishment, in all his pristine grandeur, of the Irish wolfhound ?

Related content
"The Country" Magazine Capt Grahams 1876 Article about The Irish wolfhound
"The Country" Magazine Letters and Discussion on Capt Grahams article. about The Irish wolfhound

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