Various articles/discussions about the "Extinct" Irish Wolfhound (Compiled by Steve Tillotson, Jan 2013, updated May 2017)
One of the "issues" in our breeds history is did the Irish Wolfhound go extinct? Richardsononions argue not, others argue that it did. We have collected on this page various miscellaneous articles on the subject
ARTICLE 1. Dublin University magazine: a literary and political journal - Volume 18 - 1841 by Dr. Molyneux
Dr. Molyneux was Professor of the Practice of Medicine at the University of Dublin
In the 261st number of the Philosophical Transactions,Dr. Molyneux provides "an Essay concerning giants,
occasioned by some further remarks on the large human os frontis, or forehead bone, mentioned in the
Philosophical Transactions, &c."
This learned article, if not the most reasonable of the opinions advanced by Dr. Molyneux, is certainly
one of the most accurately drawn up papers that appeared at that time and exhibits a vast fund of
information and research. It is, moreover, written in rather a better style than some of his other and
earlier productions; and shows that its author was far in advance of his contemporary physiologists both
in this country and on the Continent.
He subsequently introduces a subject on which we much regret he did not write more fully, that of the
Irish wolf dog, the cards graius Hibernicus, regarding which so much has been affirmed of late years,
but, of which so very little is known; most of the opinions regarding it having been founded on the
description of it given by Mr. Lambart, the president of the Linnaean Society, in the Philosophic
Transactions in 1797, but who had, it plainly appears, never seen the animal he attempts to delineate.—
Read Dr. Molyneux on this question.
"And we may give another more domestic instance as remarkable in its kind, that is, a sort of dog
peculiar to this country, the Irish wolf dog, aptly called by M'Kay, 'Canis graius maximus Hibernicus' in his
Synopsis Animalium, being of the greyhound hind, and of so beautiful and large a make that for its
curious form, as well as goodly size, it far surpasses all other dogs of the creation, and if compared to
a common greyhound shews itself of a truly gigantic breed; and we may further add concerning it, at the
giants stock of old is extinct, as least in these countries, so this gigantic dog is now so rare that in
a few generations more, I doubt not, but 'twill be quite lost in these parts, and the species perish, for
ought I know, off the face of the earth."
As the doctor predicted, it is but too true, that the species has perished off the face of the earth and
left not one single specimen of its remains, either of skeleton, of skin, or of good representation
behind. There has, however, come to light within the last year, some of the skulls of this truly noble
animal, found in that astonishing and incomprehensible collection of animals and antiquities discovered
at Dunshaughlin, in the county of Meath. These heads which are now in the possession of the author of
this memoir, and which are the only remains of the true Irish breed of wolf dog, and which were very
likely buried about the year 1000, prove it to have been, as Molyneux affirmed, a gigantic greyhound; and
measuring as they do eleven inches from the insertion of the incisor teeth, to the point of the occipetal
protuberance, prove the animal to have far exceeded our modern race, and that it must have stood at least
(if not above) three feet high.* This slight notice of it by Dr, Molyneux has been completely passed over
by writers on the subject, when any fact, however slight, should have been laid hold of, especially from
the pen of such a writer, and who must himself have been well acquainted with the creature.
ARTICLE 2. The dog in health and in disease: including his origin, history etc, Wesley Mills - 1895 -
The Deerhound.—A coarser, larger animal than the Greyhound, with a rough coat, once used for hunting
deer, but, like the wolfhound, not now bred for any special kind of work
The chief points of difference are the greater coarseness of head and neck. The head is heavier and the
neck not so long or so graceful.
This breed of dog stands higher, and, being more heavily made, weighs more than the greyhound; but,
though not so perfect a model of symmetry, the latter is still pronounced.
Colors.—Those most preferred are dark-blue, fawn, grizzle, and brindle, which has something of a blue
Coat.—Whole body covered with a rough coat, coarser on the back than elsewhere. "Intermediate between
silk and wool" is the description given by some breeders.
This variety of the greyhound tribe has been used successfully to run down the prairie wolf or coyote of
The Irish Wolfhound,—The animal that was known under this name is now extinct; but a breed greatly
resembling it is cultivated by a few enthusiastic admirers in Britain
Of the deerhound type, he is more massive and far taller, and, though more commanding in appearance, he
does not compare in symmetry with either of the two preceding.
Coat.—Rough and hard.
Colors.—Much as in the preceding.
ARTICLE 3. "The young man's best companion and guide to useful knowledge: By John Dougall, 1815 (Wolfdog now very rare, resembles Great Dane)
Animals. These are generally the same as in England, unless H be true that the viper is unknown in Ireland, which is the orthj poisonous animal in Britain. Deer of a peculiar kind must have once inhabited Ireland, as may be judged from the horns found buried in the bogs, some of which measure 14 feet from tip to tip. The great wolf dog is now very rare, as their use in hunting the wolf has not been wanted for a century past. This dog resembles the great Dane, and was probably carried by the Danes into Ireland during their invasions of the country.
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