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"The Irish Wolfhound”
A re-discovered article published in 1896
by Harry Walker
IWT wishes to express our thanks to Silvan Urfer ( Link to Silvan's Website in Switzerland (http://www.wolfhound.ch/) for the kindness and generosity in providing an English language version of this historic article and for permission to publish the article here.
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The Irish Wolfhound” – Introduction to a re-discovered article published in 1896
Back in 2005, I was doing some pedigree research in the library of the Swiss Kennel Club in Bern and was reading through the early Swiss Stud Books (SHSB). Imagine my surprise when I not only found evidence of Wolfhound breeding in late 19th century Switzerland, but an exhaustive article on the breed written by one Harry Walker from Bern and St. Moritz, who had been breeding these dogs in the 1890s after having encountered the breed on a visit to England.
Mr. Walker, obviously a prosperous and well-read man, fell in love with the breed while visiting the Crystal Palace dog show in 1894 and imported a breeding pair of Irish Wolfhounds from Mr. Crisp’s kennel shortly afterwards. Consequently, he registered three litters in the Swiss Stud Book between 1894 and 1896. Afterwards, his traces are suddenly lost: The later stud books show that ownership of his dogs was transferred to a Dr. Hartmann in Steckborn in north-eastern Switzerland, who did not register any litters. Given that Mr. Walker sounds both enthusiastic and knowledgeable about breeding in his article, I can only assume that he died or encountered financial hardships that prevented him from continuing his breeding program. In any case, no direct descendants of his dogs survive – even though their immediate ancestors are widespread throughout the modern Irish Wolfhound population – and apart from the pedigree entries in the SHSB, all that we have to document early Wolfhound breeding in Switzerland is Mr. Walker’s essay and the photographs that were published in the Swiss Stud Books. Nevertheless, his article serves to establish a strong claim of Switzerland being the first country to see Irish Wolfhound breeding outside the British Isles in the breed’s modern history.
Much of Walker’s writing on breed history in the first part is quoted from Graham’s and Hogan’s books and thus well known. What makes his article interesting from a breed history point of view, however, is the discussion of Hickman’s views in the second part of the text, which are nowadays practically forgotten and of which Walker presents an important source. The photographs of Walker’s own hounds and those of Crisp’s Crufts winners have, to my knowledge, not been published anywhere else. Additionally, the detailed observations made by Prof. Studer concerning the old Irish Wolfhound further add to the article’s importance as a historical document.
The original German version as well as a French translation were published in the Swiss Club magazine a short time afterwards. Until now, there was no English version of the article available, which, given its probable importance to the documentation of Wolfhound history, is something I would hereby like to correct.
So, without further ado, I present the English translation of Harry Walker’s article on Irish Wolfhounds.
The Irish Wolfhound
By Harry Walker. Originally published in the Swiss Stud Book VI, 1896. Translated from the original German by Silvan Urfer.
"Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked“
If I endeavour to publish the following lines on a breed that has been almost unknown on the Continent until now and only recently been brought back to daylight in England, it is because I firmly believe that Irish Wolfhounds deserve to become more popular by merit of both their brilliant qualities and their imposing appearance. I believe that our mountainous country and our wet and rough climate are suited particularly well to this breed, which easily tolerates weather changes, and that these dogs could be bred to a perfection and size in Switzerland that would be hard to reach elsewhere.
Given that I have only owned this breed for a year and only have bred one litter, I cannot contribute a lot out of my own experience and therefore have to primarily follow what I have read in the English literature on these animals and what I have been told personally by outstanding English breeders.
Despite the fact that Irish Wolfhounds are one of the most ancient breeds of dogs, differences of opinion still exist as to their outward shape and notably as to their coat. The reports merely agree unanimously on the point that they were colossal animals, of extraordinary force and courage; a dog that was held in high esteem for his ability to protect humans and their belongings as well as his ability to hunt wild animals in particular.
I shall now take the liberty of further discussing the opinions of the two foremost experts on the topic, by summarising the most important points of their writings.
It is Captain Graham who has acquired the merit of having saved Irish Wolfhounds from becoming entirely extinct and who has since twenty years ago endeavoured to rationally breed these dogs and to contribute to them becoming more widespread. It is also thanks to him alone that an Irish Wolfhound Club has now been formed in England and that these dogs are now allowed to compete in English shows. The following remarks are taken from Captain Graham?s brochure (The Irish Wolfhound by Captain G. A. Graham, Rednock, Durzley, Aug. 1879), which has been accepted by the Irish Wolfhound Club as the foundation of its breeding endeavours.
Graham starts by stating that he has written his work on Irish Wolfhounds with a certain reluctance, as the breed was generally thought to be extinct. Even though he did not want to claim that we are still in the possession of the original blood, he believes to be able to assume as certain that there are still lines in existence which, when tracked back, can be more or less derived from the original breed.
“Therefore”, Graham says, “no one will want to contest that the modern Deerhound is descended from the old Irish Wolfhound, even though lacking in size and power as compared to the latter.”
Graham continues: “The 1840s saw several very instructive treaties on the breed. The two best ones of these were written by A. McNeill Colonsay in 1838 and Mr. H. D. Richardson in 1841. Both authors have shown extraordinary sharpness in their arguments, and their writings certainly deserve attention. Nevertheless, Richardson may have fallen victim to many an error, even though he was correct in the general sense of his writings. He certainly was entitled to judge the evidence, given the thoroughness with which he treats nearly every known breed, both from England and from abroad.
“It is more than probable that we can see the representative of the Irish Wolfhound in today?s Deerhound. Even though the latter is smaller, less strong and skinnier, the other attributes of both breeds are entirely identical, and there are many specimens in today?s litters that are obviously reminiscent of their original line. It is improbable that our ancestors were looking for nobility and beauty; rather, strength, good build and speed were sought as primary qualities. The only remarkable circumstance is that while we have reports on many breeds including Irish Wolfhounds, nowhere do we find allusions to the Deerhound. Only in more recent writings do we find the Deerhound, described as today?s representative of that extinct species.
“It is historically proven that our breed was already known to the Romans, since they used it for their animal combats, for which these dogs were particularly well-suited due to their considerable size, strength and agility. The question of whether the Irish Wolfhound was more of a sighthound or whether his looks more approached those of a Mastiff was always controversial.
Richardson states that according to Pliny, dogs that were much stronger than Mastiffs and that had a sighthound build were used in fights against lions and Elephants in Epirus. Richardson considers this sufficient evidence to identify the Irish Wolfhound as identical to the famous Epirian hound. After a long historical consideration, he reaches the conclusion that Ireland was populated by the Belgians and that the old Belgian dog was the origin of our Irish Wolfhound.
Strabo describes a great and mighty sighthound that had been brought from the land of Picts and Celts to Gaul by merit of its performance as a hunting dog.
Silius tells us of a great sighthound that has been brought to Ireland by the Belgians, which may prove the identity of the famous Belgian hound with the Irish one. He then states that it was known that these Belgian hounds had been brought to Rome to take part in animal fights.
Older writers tell us that Scotland was populated from Ireland, that Scotland was then called Scotia minor, while Ireland was known as Scotia maior; and that a common language was spoken in both countries. If we therefore assume that the immigration led by Benda really took place, we can assume with equal certainty that a dog that was as valuable for hunting was taken with the immigrants; namely with regard to the fact that all peoples lived from hunting during this period. Earlier on, the dog was called Wolfhound due to its primary use for hunting wolves; later, it was renamed to Deerhound due to the change of its predominant prey.
Gara (born 1892, out of Myshall X Jonah). Breeder: E. Crisp, GB; owner: H. Walker, CH. First Prize Zurich 1894 and Stuttgart 1894.
Myra (f, 1891) and Gara (m, 1892), belonging to Harry Walker. Photo from 1894.
In Ireland, we still find wolves during a period when they had long since vanished from Scotland; with their extinction, the breed gets increasingly rare. In Scotland, however, the situation was different, for when the wolves vanished from this country, other tasks remained for our breed to do. Deer in particular abounded, and the breed was not less useful in hunting these than it had been in hunting wolves.
In the 9th century, the laws of what is now Wales contained many paragraphs threatening harsh punishments to whoever harmed the Irish Greyhound – called “Canis graius hibernicus” back then – in any way.
Camden, around 1568, states that the Irish Wolfhound resembles a sighthound in shape, but was stronger than a Mastiff and more docile than a Spaniel.
In 1560, Stainhurst gives the following description in his History of Ireland: “Ireland harbours many cows, excellent horses, falcons, fishes and many kinds of bird. Furthermore, the country has wolves and sighthounds to hunt the latter; the body and legs of these are stronger than a colt?s.”
In an article on the Irish Wolfhound, written in 1879 in the September issue of Beley?s “Magazine”, we read the following facts:
“In November of 1562, Irish chieftain Shane O?Neill sent a gift to Queen Elizabeth through Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. It consisted of two horses, two falcons and two Irish Wolfhounds. In the year 1585, Sir John Perrott, Irish deputy from January 1584 to July 1588, sent a couple of Wolfhounds to State minister Sir Francis Walsingham in London, of which one was black and the other one white.”
When Sir Thomas Rowe was ambassador at the court of the Great Mogul in 1615, the latter asked him for two Irish sighthounds, which would be the most precious gift he could give to him.
Ware (1654) is one of the few old writers who say something on the Irish Wolfhound. He states that “even though we do not have wolves in England, it is certain that we used to have immense numbers of them in earlier times, as is still the case in Ireland. There, they breed a kind of sighthound, which is very swift and strong and has an inborn enmity to wolves.”
Evelyn (around 1660-70) wrote: “The Irish Wolfhound was a very tall sighthound, which had a stately figure and could defeat a fierce Mastiff. Bulldogs accomplished extraordinary feats in battle, but were surpassed by the Irish Wolfhound.
Ray (around 1697), as he describes the Irish Wolfhound, states: “The tallest dog I ever saw, surpassing even the Molossus (Mastiff) in height, was similar to the ordinary sighthound in all parts. These dogs were used to catch wolves.”
Buffon (around 1750-1760) says on the Irish Wolfhound: “He is much stronger than our Mâtin and exceedingly rare in France. I have only seen one single specimen which, when sitting in front of me, seemed to be almost five feet tall. A similarity to the great Danish dog was apparent, but he was considerably higher. He was entirely white and docile.
Goldsmith (around 1770) mentions the following: “The last species and the most beautiful of all those which I have to mention is the great Irish Wolfhound, which to a degree may be designated as the original dog. This animal, which is rare even in the only country in which it can be found, is kept more for luxury than for an actual purpose, as there are neither wolves nor any other wild animals to be found in Ireland today that would require as formidable an enemy. The wolfhound is thus only bred in the houses of the “Great” or of those gentlemen who wish to keep him as a curiosity, as he cannot be used to hunt neither hare nor fox nor deer. He is exceedingly beautiful and of majestic appearance, probably the biggest dog in the world. Of all those I have seen – about a dozen – the tallest one must have been around four feet tall (1 English foot = 0.3 m; 1 English inch = 2.54 cm), about the size of a yearling calf. He resembled a sighthound, but more powerful and comparable to the French Mâtin or the great Danish dog.”
Brooke reports in his “Natural History” in 1772: “I agree with Ray on the point that the Irish Wolfhound is the tallest dog to be seen; he is stronger than the Mastiff, but resembling a sighthound. Similarly, Smith, in his “history of Waterford” states i n 1774: “the Irish Wolfhound is gradually becoming extinct, even though his numbers were high in the past. He was taller than the Mastiff, but his shape was the same as in the common sighthound.” From Bewick (1792), we learn that the Irish Wolfhound is the tallest of the dogs and has a beautiful outline. He could only be found in Ireland, where he had been used for the extinction of wolves in the past.
“Today”, Bewick states, “the breed has become very rare and is kept more for representation than for the hunt, for it is neither suited to hunt foxes nor hares. Their common height is three feet, and the most common colours are cinnamon and white. Their expression is benevolent, their character peaceful; yet they have sufficient force to defeat both Mastiff and Bulldog in fight. In general, they take their adversaries by the back and shake them until they are dead.” In 1794, several dogs of Lord Altamont?s were described as Irish Wolfhounds; however, it is proven that they were merely degenerated specimens of the great Danish dog. They have been described as having a short coat, brown and white or black and white in colour. A sketch of one of them has appeared in the 1816 issue of the “Encyclopaedica Brittanica”, which we can identify as a badly bred Dane with a sleepy, docile impression. Richardson, who first described these dogs as being of Irish Wolfhound type, later admits to having been wrong after a detailed investigation and states that the Irish Wolfhound had been a mighty rough-coated sighthound of extraordinary strength. “Sportsman?s Cabinet”, an old and very valuable book on dog breeding, which published some very good images from life by Reinagle in 1803, gives the following account: “The Irish Wolfhound is of very old origin, but can still be found in some remote parts of the kingdom. He considerably surpasses the Mastiff in strength, and his fierceness knows no boundaries when he is attacked.”
The included sketch by Reinagle shows us what the animal looked like in general, even if some details may be slightly wrong. From this sketch, it is clear that the Irish Wolfhound was a rough-coated sighthound. Nevertheless, we still find assertions stating that he is identical to the Dane.
Sketch by Reinagle.
E. Jesse states on “Sportsman?s Cabinet” that it is a work that distinguishes itself more through the truth of its sketches than through the quality of its text.
In 1838, McNeill writes on the Irish Wolfhound: “Wherever his name may hail from, we nevertheless are certain about the age of the breed, whose similarity to the modern sighthound is undeniable – even though it vastly surpasses the latter in terms of strength, courage, nobility.” He furthermore states that these dogs must have been stronger, more fierce and with a rougher coat than our present-day sighthounds due to both the raw and uncultivated nature of their native land and their fierce prey.
In the interesting book “Anecdotes of Dogs”, published by E. Jesse (1846), we find the following part: “The Wolfhound was very popular in the time of the old Irish kings. We find him amongst the emblems of the country together with the harp and the Shamrock. Back in these times, the Irish Wolfhound was shown on the arms of the Irish kings, accompanied by the motto „gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked?”.
The well-known Mrs. S. C. Hall gave the following account to Jesse: “As a child, I used to have a real old Wolfhound by the name of Bruno for company. He belonged to a friend of my grandmother?s who, after his own words, hailed from the line of Irish kings and was named O?Toole. O?Toole and his dog always occupied the same room, and nothing would have moved Bruno to lie down on something other than naked rock. Bruno was very grave, reliable and attentive; he liked the children a lot and played with them very gently; however, he would only show true affection towards his master and only obeyed his commands. Bruno had a rough, but not long coat.”
According to Richardson, Sir W. Betham, an expert in Irish history, has stated the following in a 1841 speech to the society of Natural history in Dublin: “I have no doubt that the Irish Wolfhound, which by now lives on only in legend, and about whom an old man now covered by the soil told me, was a sighthound of huge dimensions. The said man had seen such dogs in Neal, County Mayo in the ancestral seat of Sir John Browne and described them as enormous sighthounds with curly hair, and very friendly.
The late Hamilton Rowan from Dublin possessed several dogs that were falsely called Wolfhounds. Mr. Betham, a son of Sir W. Betham, reported to us that his father had been a close friend of Hamilton?s and that he had often seen the dogs as a boy. Mr. Rowan had been very jealous of the breed and had never given away a specimen without castrating it beforehand. Rowan was in Paris during the time of the French Revolution, where a dog and a bitch were given to him as Danish dogs. They had been wolf-coloured, blue and white or brindle. Their height had been around 70 to 76 cm. Given that it was told to Hamilton Rowan in Denmark later on that these dogs were Irish ones, they were later described as such repeatedly despite having probably been Great Danes. Richardson at least claims that Mr. Rowan possessed several Great Danes, but also a true Wolfhound, a tall, rough-coated, iron grey sighthound of whom he used to say that he were the last of his breed. Given that Mr. Betham had only seen these dogs in his early youth and admits himself to not knowing the Danish dogs, his claims should not be considered to carry a lot of weight.
Youatt (1845) tells us about the Irish Wolfhounds: “The breed is almost extinct; it may possibly still be found in a few castles, where it is only kept for representative purposes; for the prey that it once caught is long since gone from the kingdom. The beauty of the breed as well as its ancient history at present constitute the reasons why it continues to be kept. They cannot be used to hunt neither deer nor fox and hare, as they are not interested in these kinds of animals. If they need to defend their master and his property, however, they do their duty to the fullest at all times. Their height can vary, often around four feet. In general, they resemble the Greyhound, but much stronger.” Youatt then tells us that his grandfather used to have an Irish Wolfhound, who once saved his mother from a wolf. She was on her way to visit someone, accompanied by her faithful Bran. The dog threw himself at a wolf that was just about to attack his mistress and, after a fierce fight, laid it dead at his mistress? feet.
According to some dog skulls that were found with Surgeon Wylde of Dunshaughlin and which are considered to be from Wolfhounds, Richardson concludes that the skull length of 27.9 cm (11 inches) indicates a shoulder height of 102 cm following his measurements of a Deerhound whose skull measured 25½ cm and whose height at the withers was 74 cm. Richardson gives a length of 7½ cm for the non-bony parts (nose, hair and skin), which would have resulted in 35½ cm in the living dog. Nevertheless, Richardson overestimates the length caused by non-bony structures, and then there are Deerhounds measuring 74 cm that have a head 30 cm in length. Using these numbers, this would result in 86 cm for these Irish Wolfhounds.
A domestic dog that is intended to hunt predators must necessarily be stronger than them, as the struggle for survival, its savage habits and its food render the wild animal superior to the domesticated one. While a Mastiff would certainly be able to kill an already cornered wolf, it would also need the Greyhound?s speed in order to capture it. These circumstances make the combination of the sighthound shape and the Mastiff?s strength an absolute necessity. The latter?s height is usually around 76 cm, and when considering the above statements, the smallest possible size to reach the necessary speed in combination with the necessary strength in our dog is 84 cm.
Around May 1878, the “New-Yorker Country” wrote “It is ridiculous to explain the indifference which is presently displayed towards the Irish Wolfhound through the disappearance of the wolves. Such a noble breed should never have been neglected while common curs are pampered and bred with great dedication. In our country in particular, the Wolfhound would be very valuable due to its strength and courage. In the West, at the frontier of civilisation, it could be positively invaluable, given its hunting abilities as well as sharp senses of sight and smell, which are superior to those of most other modern breeds; but it is second to none as a companion and a faithful friend of man as well. All the testimonies that we have from old times witness to its intelligence, strength, courage, swiftness and size, even though there are differing opinions on the latter point. Assuming a size between 80 and 90 cm, it is still taller than any modern breed, and one can very well do without the alleged height of 90 to 120 cm.”
During the past few years, we have been able to observe how breeds that were once assumed to be extinct have re-emerged through rational breeding programs. When comparing today?s St. Bernard to the old “Barri” [sic], we should immediately realise the advantages of the modern representative of the breed in both size and nobility of form. The same happened to the English Mastiff, which also had almost perished. Through diligence and calculation, and using very mediocre material, intelligent and resourceful breeders have regenerated a breed that is at least equal, if not superior to its ancestors in both beauty and quality. Why should one not also try the same with the Irish Wolfhound?
The former Earls of Caledon owned Wolfhounds for a long time, about which Graham was told the following by the current head of the family: “In its build, the dog occupied a middle ground between the Mastiff and the Deerhound, yet lighter and more nimble than the former, but more massive and stronger than the latter. Its height surpassed even the strongest Deerhound. The coat was wiry, not long. The colour brown, grey or leathery. Some old inhabitants of the manor mentioned a white spotting.”
The seal of the Caledon family shows a Wolfhound carrying its tail upwards, like it has been painted by Reinagle.
Graham first addressed the Wolfhound question in 1863 and gives the following report: “We instituted very searching inquiries after any specimens of the breed. For some years we did not meet with much success; but about twelve years ago (1867) three distinct strains were brought to our notice – viz., those of the late Sir J. Power, of Kilfane, the late Mr. Baker, of Ballytobin, and Mr. Mahoney, of Dromore – alas! Now all believed to be lost, save some of the descendants of the first two strains, which are at the writer?s and one or two other hands. Isolated specimens were also heard of, but none came under the writer?s personal notice. It is believed that the Kilfane strain owed their origins partly to dogs bred by Richardson, who, not content with writing, actually set to work to discover the breed; from him Sir John Power had more than one specimen. Richardson obtained bitches from Mr. Carter, of Bray (whose strains he mentions in his essay) and crossing these with a grand dog, of great height, produced some remarkably fine dogs. It is also believed that this strain was descended from Hamilton Rowan?s dog “Bran”.
“Of this strain also were the Ballytobin dogs. Mr. Baker was an enthusiast regarding all old Irish institutions, and having built himself a castle, he did all he could to increase the size of the deer in his park, also to restore to their original form the Irish Wolfdogs. To this end he procured the best specimens, wherever to be had, regardless of cost, and at his death, some twelve years ago, he left a kennel of really fine dogs. The pick of these – bequeathed to a friend – a bitch, eventually came into the possession of the writer, and from her and from dogs of the writer?s own breeding his present strain has sprung. The strain of Mr. Mahoney was originally procured from Sir John Power, and Mr. Mahoney thus speaks of them: –
“The pedigree I had, but I do not think I could now find it. I remember that the grandsire or the great-grandsire was one of the last old Irish dogs which I have an idea belonged to the famous Hamilton Rowan; but of this I am not certain. (…) The colours were dark brindle, bluish-grey, and fawn. The bitch was usually lower, and therefore looked stouter than the dog; indeed, she was so in proportion. Distemper was my great difficulty; but the wider the cross got over this much better than the close breed, as might be expected. (…) I had one which was more remarkable for character than any dog I ever saw. He had a kind of moral force among other dogs that made them yield to him without fighting, though stronger in appearance. He cared for nobody but me, though others fed him more frequently, and his attachment was very extraordinary. His hair would bristle over his back towards the head when he was angry, and he would walk quietly up to his enemy?s face, whether dog or man, with a determination that neither could face.”
Graham continues: “Two of Mr. Mahoney?s dogs were given to a lady who resided on the Isle of Wight. The writer has their photographs. The dog is stouter and wider in head than any Deerhound; but they have a strong look of that dog.”
“The writer has not only studied the subject carefully, but has bred extensively, with more or less success, though death and disease have hitherto robbed him of the finest specimens. Dogs have been bred approaching his ideal closely in looks, though wanting the required height and power; also dogs of very great height, &c., which were somewhat wanting in character. Yet the very certain knowledge has been gained from these efforts that it is perfectly possible to breed the correct type of dog in the course of a few years – bar losses from death and disease. It has been the steadfast endeavour of the writer to get crosses from such dogs of acknowledged Irish Wolfhound blood as were to be found, in preference to simply crossing opposite breeds to effect the desired object.”
“The Irish Kennel Club was courageous enough to establish a class for the breed of Irish Wolfhounds at their show, April, 1879 (…) Scot, the subject of the illustration bleow, was from a Kilfane sire out of a fine red bitch. He is a powerful dog of strong red colour, deficient in coat, notably on head, and loses much in appearance thereby. Taken on the whole, however, he gives a very fair idea of the breed as to form and bulk; but instead of standing only 29½ inches (75 cm), as he does, he should be at least 33 inches (84 cm), and be enlarged in proportion. The blood can be traced back for forty years. His dimensions are: – Height, 29½ inches (75 cm); girth of chest, 33½ inches (85 cm); length of head, 12 inches (30½ cm); girth of head, 18¾ inches (47½ cm), fore-arm, 8½ inches (21½ cm); weight, 110 lbs (49 kg).
Scot (Oscar X Juno); owner: Captain G.A. Graham
Captain Graham oversaw the construction of a life-sized model of an Irish Wolfhound after his ideal Irish Wolfhound. It is 89 cm in height. He says that “[the model] presents to the vision a most striking and remarkable animal of a very majestic and beautiful appearance, far, far beyond any dog the writer has ever seen in grandeur of looks.”
Graham?s essay was revised and completed by the Irish Wolfhound Club in 1885, and I present a few citations from the appendix here:
“Since this article was written – In the Live Stock Journal of 20th August, 1880, “A practical farmer”, writing on some other subject, thus concludes his letter: “Now I am on the subject Canine, I will relate an incident that occurred to me in 1840, or with in a year of that date. Staying with some friend in a Southern County, I was taken to see an old Irish Wolfhound belonging to a gentleman of means, he was then said to be the last of his breed in England: was old, perfectly white, and much after the style of a Scorch Deerhound, but larger and considerably more powerfully built, and he had the deepest toned and most melancholy bark I ever heard.”
Thus another proof of the breeds existence as late as the 1840?s!
“In the World newspaper, late in 1880, it was asserted that Mr. Parnell, M.P., has in his house some banners, carried by the Regiment of Militia commanded by one of his immediate ancestors that was “out” in 1798, on which is depicted the Irish Wolfhound. The writer took the trouble to make inquiries from Mr. Parnell personally, and found that the fact was true, and that the dog depicted was similar to a Scotch Deerhound, but much larger and more massive (apparently), and very rough.”
“Mr. Ronayne Conron, of Lewisham, saw a brace of Irish Wolfhounds about 1847, fierce looking, with piercing eyes, shaggy brows and rough dark grey coats, yet so kind a child could play with them.”
“On the 31st August, 1884, an impression was sent to the writer of an old seal, by a gentleman residing in Clonmel. It was the property of an old gentleman to whom it had been given when young, by another old gentleman, a friend, in whose family it had been for generations. (…) There is little, in fact, no doubt in the mind of the writer that the animal shown is an old Irish Wolfhound! Is corresponds with the writer?s firm conviction of what the dog was – save and except the tail which hangs too much and is too bushy. It is opined from the spelling and style of the motto “Gentle when strok?d,” “fierce when provoked” – that the seal was engraved about the commencement of the 18th century, at which period wolves were existing in “England” as well as in Ireland? as was certainly the case to a much later date.”
“In “Fores” window (the great print-seller of Picadilly) was exhibited in June 1883 an oil painting by James Ward, R.A., of a Wolfhound, evidently done from the life. It represented a very powerful dog, red in colour, hard rough coat, ears cut off at the ends. (…) the form was that of a very strong deerhound, but considerably thicker.”
“Mr. Watson, of Ballydarton, Bagnalstown, in Ireland, a well-known Master of0 Hounds, has informed the writer that the Hounds for the pursuit of the wolf were kept there in the time of his grandfather, and that the last wolf was killed at “Myshall”, close to Ballydarton, about 1786 of 1787. The hounds were described as coarse powerful animals, running by scent.”
Graham concludes as follows: “The fact that the Irish Wolfhound was a rough dog (which some people seem to doubt), has been handled down from generation to generation in Ireland, and all breeders have invariably and firmly adhered to this characteristic. (…) A great deal of interest has been excited both in England and Ireland, of late, regarding the breed, and if good specimens are forthcoming within the next few years, no doubt it will again take its place as “King of Dogs.”
The Irish Wolfhound – Part 2
Having explained the views of Captain Graham and the Irish Wolfhound Club to a sufficient extent, and in order not to treat the subject one-sidedly, I shall now expound on the views of the other foremost authority in this matter, Mr. Hickman, who has himself researched the breed very intensively and who is considered one of the greatest dog experts in England. His conclusions are entirely different from Graham?s:
Mr. Hickman writes that he went into the Wolfhound question without any pre-existing beliefs on the matter, and that he feels compelled to present his conclusions precisely for that reason. In his opinion, there is not a trace of probability in the assumption that the Irish Wolfhound is identical to the Deerhound, and that his own assumptions lead him into precisely the opposite direction. Up to the beginning of the 1830s, every naturalist treated the Irish Wolfhound simply as a distinct species, and it was only about then that a certain Mr. Haffield, who apparently wished to destroy traditional opinion and establish new theories, started to divulge a differing view on the topic.
Richardson, who himself had adhered to the “old” ideas beforehand, was quick to accept this extended Deerhound theory and became one of its foremost defenders.
“The practice of Richardson and his successors”, Hickman says, “was simply to establish a theory and then to adapt their views to it, instead of deriving their theories from the existing records. They included the passages that supported their views, often using more or less false citations, drew their own conclusions from them and ignored all the authorities that contradicted them.
The original source that caused the identification of the Irish Wolfhound with the Deerhound was doubtlessly MacPherson?s Ossian and the accounts of the marvellous deeds of the “white-breasted, hare-feeted Bran” and other dogs in the legends of Fingal. Through Irish society claiming these legends as its own, Irish amour propre embraced the idea of merging their already extinct, almost mythological Wolfhound with the whole splendour and poetic complexion of Ossian?s hounds. Given that it is doubtful “that Fingal lived and Ossian sang”, this kind of argument does not bear any weight at all, and if we nevertheless concede that there is some kind of historical base for these legends, it would still be absurd to use them as a base for definite conclusions regarding the dogs? physical characteristics, based on mere poetic exaggeration. Ossian?s evidence may therefore be discarded!”
“Another reason that seems to have caused the identification of the Irish Wolfhound with the Deerhound is a quote from Taylor?s “Water Poet”, in which he describes a battue organised by the Earl of Mar in the Highlands in 1618, during which 100 braces of strong Irish greyhounds are said to have been used. These were doubtlessly Deerhounds, and the passage would thus prove at first view that the Deerhound and the Irish greyhound or Wolfhound were identical. However, McNeill himself testifies that the description of the highland hounds as “Irish” was probably used due to the fact that during these times in England, everything Celtic used to be called “Irish”, since Ireland was better known than Scotland, and the expressions
“Celtic” and “Highland” were unknown during these times.” Hickman then uses some quotes from older authors to prove that the expression “Irish” was indeed frequently used to refer to “Highland”. “It is very probable”, he continues, “that the Wolfhound was always rare even in Ireland and was only given as a gift to princes, and that Wolfhounds could only be obtained through considerable personal influence. Is it thus credible that the Earl of Mar alone could have 200 of them at his disposal? Is it credible, or probable, that, had these dogs been as common in Scotland in 1618, they would have been rare enough in Ireland in 1652 for Cromwell?s governing council to outlaw the export of the great Wolfhound?”
Myra, out of Myshall X Jonah, whelped September 1891.
Breeder: Mr. E. Crisp in England; owner: Mr. H. Walker in Bern.
II. Prize Zurich 1894; II. Prize Bern 1894
“In 1623, the Duke of Buckingham wrote to Lord Falkland in Ireland and asked him to obtain two white Irish greyhounds for him. Given that this Duke of Buckingham was a great minion of James I., who never refused him anything, he could have, through his royal master, simply obtained an arbitrary number of these dogs from the Scottish “Nobles”, had the Deerhound been identical to the Irish Wolfhound – which, however, does not seem to have been the case.”
“One matter that brought more confusion to the Wolfhound question than anything else is the incorrect translation of “Mâtin”1 to “Irish Wolfhound” in the English translation of Buffon; a mistake that was repeated in a parrot-like way by everyone who only superficially treated the subject and accepted anything they were presented with.
“The reason for this mistake may be that the translator, who was unable to recognise any of the breeds he knew in the word “Mâtin”, suspected that it may have referred to the rare, if not extinct Irish greyhound, which he did not know. Very probably, he saw a superficial similarity in colour to the dogs drawn by Schreiber and Ridinger (the colours of Buffon?s “Mâtin” and Ridinger?s “Irish Greyhound” are indeed entirely identical). The mistake in the translation can be demonstrated by the following: Buffon writes about the “chiens d?Irlande” (he never calls them “greyhounds”) that they are bigger than even the biggest Mâtin. Had the translator rendered “Mâtin” as “Irish Greyhound” in this particular sentence, Buffon would have made the preposterous claim that the Irish Greyhound was bigger than itself. However, the translator prevents this by translating “Mâtin” as “Mastiff” in this case, which he never does anywhere else. Additionally, the picture of a Mâtin which Buffon provided was subsequently described as showing an Irish Wolfhound in all English translations, and given that this dog seems to have a rough coat, this was used as the foremost proof that the Irish Wolfhound was a rough-coated breed. This resulted in the 1797 edition of the “Encyclopædia Brittannica” rendering the portraits of Buffon?s Great Dane and Mâtin, the latter being described as an Irish Greyhound and being considerably taller than the former, while the opposite is actually stated in Buffon?s work.
“Buffon himself describes the Mâtin as “originaire ou plutôt naturel de France” and adds that as far as he knows, it does not surpass 64 cm in height. Buffon considers the Mâtin to be the original ancestor of all dogs, whose rather imaginative pedigree history he presents to us. The English translation again renders the Mâtin as an “Irish Greyhound”, resulting in the latter being listed as the original ancestor of all dog breeds. In reality, Buffon treats the Great Dane as derived from the Mâtin and shows the “chien d?Irlande” at a further distance from the Dane and says: the Mâtin, when transported north, became the Great Dane; the latter, when brought to Ireland, became the “chien d?Irlande”.
“How can we wonder about the mistakes made and theories established, when for almost a century, writer after writer perpetuates the faulty identification of the Irish Wolfhound with the French Mâtin? This is caused by the fact that people always take their authoritative sources second-hand, instead of reading the originals!” Hickman continues: “Buffon states that his son brought some dogs from Petersburg – following his drawings and exact description, they were Russian Greyhounds – being an entirely different breed from everything he had ever seen before. If, however, there is one dog resembling the Russian Greyhound, it has to be the Deerhound; they both are tall, rough sighthounds of the North, and the Russian has also been chosen as the nearest in type to be cross-bred with the Deerhound and is, in my opinion, the only breed that can possibly be used in this way without losing quality and character. Even though the Russian greyhound is predominantly white in colour, it is still known that many of these dogs are of an iron-grey colour similar to the Deerhound. Had the Irish Wolfhound thus been similar to the Deerhound, Buffon would have immediately noticed the similarity to the Russian greyhound. We therefore see that the latter was an entirely different breed from what he had described.
“If we furthermore consider that Bufffon describes the “chien d?Irlande” as similar to the Great Dane, but nevertheless did not notice any resemblance to the Russian greyhound, it becomes clear that the Irish Wolfhound as it was known to Buffon was entirely different from the Deerhound type.”
Hickman then states that all sources agree that the breed had become entirely extinct by the beginning of the 19th century, and that therefore, only persons old enough to actually have seen the breed before its complete extinction should be considered authentic sources.
“Therefore”, he continues, “the dogs bred 50 years ago have as little of a right to be called Irish Wolfhounds as the modern ones have to claim to be descended from them.”
Myshall (Dhulart X Sheelah), whelped September 1888. Owner, Mr. E. Crisp in England.
First prize Birmingham 1890 and first prize Crufts 1891 and 1892.
According to Hickman, amongst all the authors writing about Irish Wolfhounds, only Ray 1697, Buffon 1750, Goldsmith 1770 and Pennant 1776 were authentic, as they alone had seen the animals in person. “However, all of them”, he claims, “ have described the Irish Wolfhound as short-coated and differing in body type from the modern one. The two authentic naturalists that left us with images of the dogs are Ridinger and Schreber, who both lived at the beginning of the 18th century and whose abilities as animal painters are beyond any doubt (Hickman proves this through various quotes from older writings). These images, of which Ridinger?s is a copperplate engraving and Schreber?s is a painting, show two externally very similar dogs that art not seen any more today [sic!]. The arched loins, the long legs and the pointed muzzle recall a sighthound at first glance, while the thick skull, the cloddish limbs, the thick neck and the heavy shoulders lend it an unpleasant aspect and take the greyhound character away from it. Both images show the colour to be white with light brown spots and the coat to be soft, as it is described in the text. The eye and general expression are sleepy and dull.” Hickman thinks that the whole aspect of the dog exactly matches the descriptions given by Ray, Buffon, Goldsmith and Pennant.
Considering the dogs of Lord Altamont, Hickman finds it curious that the followers of Richardson always seem to mention only one kind of them, the greyhound form, while Altamont himself states that he owned two kinds, a mastiff form and a greyhound form, as well as five crosses between them.
“I have thus demonstrated”, Hickman continues, “that according to these great authorities (Ray, Goldsmith etc.), the dog was short-coated and predominantly white (which is not a Deerhound colour), that it was furthermore described as gentle, phlegmatic and clumsy, which is the exact opposite of the Wolfhounds which Captain Graham?s friend, Mr. Ronague Conron of Levisham in Ireland, saw in the 1840?s and which had wild, piercing eyes, bushy brows and a black-grey, rough coat, a description which corresponds to the Deerhound very well.”
Hickman further tries to prove that the dogs being called Wolfhounds at the beginning of the 19th century had no right to be called by that name, as the Wolfhound-proper had become extinct by the end of the 18th century. Therefore, neither Hamilton Rowan?s dog “Bran” nor O?Toole?s dog had been Wolfhounds – according to their descriptions, the former had probably been a Newfoundland, the latter Great Danes. Reinagle?s image from “Sportsman?s Cabinet” should not be given much weight, as the drawing does not correspond to the description in the text and the Reinagle probably only drew an animal according to his imagination. Additionally, Wolfhounds were already degenerating and rapidly becoming extinct by Reinagle?s time.
Richardson first had considered the Deerhound as being identical to the Wolfhound; however, upon having realised that the former could not be bred to grow to the desired height, he declared them to be degenerated Wolfhounds and subsequently reduced his estimates of the original Wolfhound?s size considerably.
In the end, Hickman concludes that if Richardson were correct in assuming that the old Irish Wolfhound was a rough-coated dog resembling the Deerhound, all the older writers would have been incorrect; for the two theories cannot exist besides each other. –
As we can see from the above considerations and conclusions, both Graham and Hickman have thoroughly studied the Wolfhound question and were industrious in searching out those quotes from the older writers that they considered suitable and that corresponded to their views. Graham thus wants a big, rough-coated dog as embodied in the modern Wolfhound, with more or less Deerhound character, and the products of his breeding, which I had the occasion to observe at last year?s dog show
in Crystal Palace in London, correspond to the ideal he envisions. – Hickman, on the other hand, claims that the original Irish Wolfhound was a short-coated dog resembling a sighthound at first glance due to its long legs and pointed muzzle, but that upon closer observation, the thick skull and cloddish limbs, the thick neck and heavy shoulders lent it an unpleasant aspect and took away from its Greyhound character; a dog no longer existing today.
If Hickman now accuses Richardson, Graham and their followers of one-sided views and of only including quotes they like, the same can also be said about him. He takes his main arguments from a painting and the renditions of Ridinger and Schreber. Thanks to the help of Prof. Studer in Bern, I was able to read through Schreber?s book (“Die Säugetiere in Abbildungen nach der Natur mit Beschreibungen von Dr. Joh. Christian v. Schreber 1841”) and found the following description of the Irish Wolfhound or, as it is called in the book, Irish sighthound:
“The great Irish sighthound, Canis grajus hibernicus or Irish Greyhound (see Ridinger’s “Thiere”, Tab. 8).
The size of the English boarhound and corresponding strength render it distinct from the common sighthound.”
This is the whole description. By English boarhound (“Englische Dogge”), he means the Mastiff, and by the common sighthound (“gemeines Windspiel”), the Greyhound. I would like to add that Ridinger calls the sighthound “Windspiel”, while Schreber uses the word “Windhund”. His article about the Wolfhound seems to be entirely taken from Ridinger, in the same way that he refers to the latter?s drawings in almost every other animal description.
However, the quoted Tab. 8 in Ridinger?s book simply shows a big sighthound, white with brownish-red spots. I cannot see anything in it other than an extremely strong, muscular and tall sighthound, which nevertheless has a somewhat broad skull and a very strong and muscular neck and shoulders; still, the legs are not overly thick, even though very strong, and the whole dog appears to be well proportioned and leaves an enterprising and courageous impression. If Hickman indeed refers to this dog – and it is quite improbable that he does not – I have to assume that he either saw a bad copy of Ridinger?s drawing, or that the dog is incorrectly labelled in the book that I read, which I altogether doubt, given that the whole description is otherwise correct. This dog, however, does not look unusual in the slightest; Prof. Studer also could only describe it as a big, strong sighthound. Apart from its coat, it would thus be in favour of Richardson?s theory. –
Navan (Myshall X Iona), whelped September 1891. First and special prize Crufts Dog Show 1894. Owner: Mr. E. Crisp.
If Hickman, then, is correct in stating that the drawings and descriptions coming from Ridinger and Schreber correspond exactly to the statements coming from Ray, Buffon, Goldsmith etc. can best be assessed by reading these authors? original writings. Ray 1697 tells us about the Irish sighthound that it was the tallest dog he ever saw, similar to a sighthound in its general character. Goldsmith 1770 states: “It was of very similar form as the sighthound, but quite stronger and in its figure tending towards the Great Dane or the French Mâtin.” Pennant 1776 had seen two of them and writes: “They were of the kind that Buffon calls Great Danes and probably imported from the Danes.”
The description as given by Ray thus corresponds entirely to our image, i.e. the sighthound type. He does not, however, mention the coat, and neither does he mention anything about the dog having an unusual external appearance.
Goldsmith?s writing is too unclear and leaves a lot of room to our imagination, as the three breeds, sighthound, Dane and Mâtin are quite different from one another. Nevertheless, if we take the average of his description, it would best suit the dog as painted by Reinagle, and thus be in favour of the Richardsonians.
Pennants Dogs apparently were merely Great Danes, for there is no other possible conclusion from his statement.
Hickman further claims that Buffon describes the Irish Wolfhound as being similar to the Great Dane, but that he saw no resemblance to the Russian Greyhound. – Buffon literally writes the following: “The dogs that we call Chiens d?Irlande are of an old origin and have been conserved in their country of origin, albeit in small numbers. The old ones called them Epiric hounds, hounds from Albania, and Pliny describes one of these dogs fighting a lion and then an elephant in both elegant and energetic words. These dogs are much bigger than our biggest Mâtins. Given that they are exceedingly rare in France, I only have been able to see one, which, while seating, seemed to be almost five feet tall and whose form resembled that of the dog that we call the Great Dane; however it was distinct from the latter through its enormous size. It was entirely white, gentle and calm.” – Buffon thus only speaks of a similarity of form, and indeed, the Irish Greyhound is said to have ranged between a Deerhound and a Great Dane in its figure. –
This description thus does not correspond to Hickman?s at all. Likewise, I fail to comprehend the argument that Buffon should have been able to see a similarity between the dogs that his son had brought from Petersburg (allegedly Russian Greyhounds) and the Irish Wolfhound, as the latter would have been identical to the Deerhound. He describes the dogs as entirely different from all the breeds that he had seen. Had these dogs indeed been Russian Greyhounds, he should immediately have seen a resemblance to the English Greyhound, as the former are but long-haired Greyhounds. He would, however, have been able to see even less of a resemblance to the Wolfhound, as, according to Graham, the Deerhound itself is merely a modification of the Wolfhound which, due to its change in prey, i.e. deer, needs speed rather than size and force for the hunt and thus gradually became a lighter, more Greyhound-like dog. In any case, the argument that the Duke of Buckingham would not have needed to get Wolfhounds from Ireland in 1623 if they (Deerhounds) were as common in Scotland in these times seems quite far-fetched. Indeed, there were still wolves aplenty in Ireland in 1623, and these dogs needed their size and strength to hunt them – which was why they were kept in their original might and force, and even later, following the wolf?s extinction, the “Nobles” of the kingdom were trying to keep the original appearance and beauty of their esteemed animals.
Prof. Studer was so kind as to give me some of his notes regarding the dog skulls that were found near Dunshaughlin in County Meath and are now at the Museum of Science and Art in Dublin as I mentioned earlier, which he has seen and measured himself. The following is a table comparing one of these skulls to that of a Great Dane that measured 82½ cm at its withers at three years of age:
Irish Wolfhound Great Dane Length of skull 25.4 cm 22.8 cm Width of anterior skull 8.3 cm 7.6 cm Length of muzzle 11.4 cm 10.9 cm Width of palate at the first molar 7.1 cm 6.6 cm
Prof. Studer believes that these skulls belonged to a very distinct breed; however, following his observations, they most resemble Deerhound skulls. The sagittal and lamnoid crests were more prominent in the Irish skulls than they were in the Dane?s case, the muzzle was wider; also, the molars were bigger and more similar to a wolf?s than in the Dane. –
Bendja (or Bendscha), SHSB 1387, out of Gara X Myra, whelped June 15th, 1894.
Height at shoulder 83 cm, brown-grey and black brindle.
First prize youth class Basel 1895. A male from Harry Walkers’s second litter.
Prof. Studer saw, in 1869, a specimen of an Irish Wolfhound in the Dublin Zoo, which seemed to be very old and which was claimed to be the last of its breed. He had been fascinated by the animal and taken some notes, in which he describes the dog as follows: “Height at withers 90 to 100 cm, pointed muzzle, profile gently rising, eyes brown. Ears hanging from the roots, not long, pointed. Body slim, belly tucked up. Legs extremely powerful and feet strong. Hanging tail, with bushy coat. Coat, rough. Long, coarse fur hangs from the back up over the head. Fur on the head, parted and somewhat hanging into the face. Face itself short-coated, but rough. Legs with not very long fur and no furnishings. Colour wolf-like, black and grey brindle. The whole animal strikes me very as alien and savage; only the eyes have the expression of an entirely domesticated dog. The animal is very shy and difficult to coax out of its cage.”
In a brochure on the “Irish Wolfsdog” that appeared in 1885 and was written by the director of the Dublin Museum of Science and Art, Mr. Ball, I found, amongst other statements, the following: “It is assumed by some authorities that the Irish Wolfhound in its general appearance was similar to the rough-coated Scottish Deerhound, and a living specimen of these dogs is currently exhibited in the Zoological Gardens of the Royal Society of Ireland. However, it is very probable, confirmed through a newspaper article by A.B. Lambert, F.R.S., and a letter addressed to him by Lord Altamont, both of them published in the “Linnean Transactions for 1797”, that there were two breeds of Wolfhounds existing in Ireland in former times, one of them a sighthound, the other one a mastiff, somewhat similar to the Great Dane. The image that Lambert provides possibly represents a cross-breed between the two, but shows more of the mastiff character.”
Should this view be the correct one – and I would tend to agree with it based on everything that I have read about the breed – all the contradictions and confusions that we encounter could be easily explained. –
Is it not possible to assume that the Irish Wolfhound originally was a cross-breed between the Canis Molossus2 (Mastiff) and the sighthound, i.e. between the Bellicosi and the Celeres? Given that we know both breeds to be ancient, this hypothesis is not inappropriate and is made more probable by the many contradicting descriptions of the dog sometimes more resembling a Greyhound, sometimes a Mastiff. Why should one not have tried to cross the two breeds in order to obtain an animal disposing of the necessary force and speed for the hunt of wild animals? Additionally, we know that the cross-breeding of two different breeds usually results in progeny that is considerably taller than its parents. I myself have, on several occasions, seen dogs that were crosses between St. Bernards and Newfoundlands and also between the former and Great Danes, and in both cases, their progeny, once fully grown, was significantly taller than either parent; often, the results could only be described as colossal. This would in turn easily explain the colossal size of Irish Wolfhounds, which in turn was also influenced and further increased by selection through their work, i.e. the hunt of wild animals, and a corresponding way of feeding. It is clear that there have been many exaggerations concerning their size, and when someone writes of four to five feet, they very probably mean the distance between the anterior toes and the top of the head.
We know from ancient sources that both short- and rough-coated sighthounds used to exist (see Aryan, 2nd century, Dr. Cajus 1576, Holinshead 1560). If we thus assume a cross between the sighthound and the mastiff to have taken place, we may as well assume that the rough-coated sighthound was used in order to make the progeny less susceptible to the weather as well as protecting them against the enemy?s weapons. These crosses could obviously result in two kinds of progeny, one tending more towards Mastiff type, the other being more sighthound-like, and at the same time produce both short- and long- and rough-coated dogs.
It is certain, however, that during the past 100 years, the rough-coated form has been bred almost exclusively, and that the present type has been more or less constant since Richardson. Given that this dog is entirely capable of doing the work that it is – or can be – expected to do; that it is better protected against the weather as well as its opponents by its rough coat than the short-coated mastiff form; and that it also surpasses the latter in speed and notably in beauty and elegance, the Irish Wolfhound Club is entirely correct in following Richardson?s views by considering the Deerhound type to be the only one that corresponds to its ideal of the breed. – The most important consideration is and always will be that in every breed, once a certain type is chosen, it should be followed and rewarded according to the defined point system; and not that every judge considers the dog under a different aspect – this would merely hurt the cause, given that an ever-changing judging system would discourage the breeders trying to follow the ideal from continuing to breed.
I will now list the standard of the breed as established by the Irish Wolfhound Club:
General Appearance: The Irish Wolfhound should not be quite so heavy or massive as the Great Dane but more so than the Deerhound, which in general type he should otherwise 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 towards 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 firmly to establish a race that shall average from 32 to 34 inches in dogs, showing the requisite power, activity, courage and symmetry.
Head: Long, the frontal bones of the forehead very slightly raised and very little indentation between the eyes. Skull, not too broad. Muzzle, long and moderately pointed. Ears, small and Greyhound-like in carriage.
Neck: Rather long, very strong and muscular, well arched, without dewlap or loose skin about the throat.
Chest: Very deep, breast, wide.
Back: Rather long than short. Loins arched.
Tail: Long and slightly curved, of moderate thickness, and well covered with hair.
Belly: Well drawn up
Forequarters: Shoulders muscular, giving breadth of chest, set sloping. Elbows well under, neither turned inwards nor outwards. Leg: forearm muscular, and the whole leg strong and quite straight.
Hindquarters: Muscular thighs and second thigh long and strong as in the Greyhound, and hocks well let down and turning neither in nor out.
Feet: Moderately large and round, neither turned inwards nor outwards. Toes, well arched and close. Nails, very strong and curved.
Hair: Rough and hard on body, legs and head; especially wiry and long over eyes and under jaw.
Colour and Markings: The recognised colours are grey, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn, or any colour that appears in the Deerhound.
Faults: Too light or heavy a head, too highly arched frontal bone; large ears and hanging flat to the face; short neck; full dewlap; too narrow or too broad a chest; sunken or hollow or quite straight back; bent forelegs; overbent fetlocks; twisted feet; spreading toes; too curly tail; weak hind-quarters and a general want of muscle; too short a body; pink or liver-coloured eyelids; lips and nose any colour than black; very light eyes.
I had the opportunity of seeing a collection of Irish Wolfhounds myself at the Crystal Palace dog show in London last year, which showed how dedicatedly the Irish Wolfhound Club has worked to improve the breed. It was there that I became so enthused with the commanding appearance of these animals as well as the description of their brilliant qualities that I decided to purchase a breeding pair.
The character of the Irish Wolfhound is, similar to the Deerhound, very good-natured; but when attacked, they stand their ground and make most unpleasant adversaries, due to their power and nimbleness.
I believe that these dogs, if trained from an early age to hunt wild animals, would be perfectly capable of the task, as they possess all the qualities required. At the same time, they are excellent house and companion dogs, and their breeding and further distribution should be commended for these reasons. Their good nature and attraction to children is particularly noteworthy, and I have never seen more reliable animals in these circumstances. They are very attached to their master. Being calm and demure at home, lying around for hours at a time, they nevertheless are more lively and alert outside than any other dog of the same size. Their movement is very elegant, and their steps long. Contrary to many accounts, I find their sense of smell to be excellent.
As is the case with the Deerhound, Irish Wolfhounds must be treated with love and gentleness; they reciprocate through being extraordinarily attached to their master. Beatings and rough treatment ruin their character, as they have a very sensitive nature.
Unfortunately, the prices for Irish Wolfhounds are currently very high, as only a few breeders are to be found, and the English are willing to pay enormous sums for impeccable specimens; but I hope that in a few years? time, when there will be more breeding material at our disposal and specimens will be more easily and cheaply available, the breed will enjoy a more widespread and certainly well-deserved distribution and popularity!
Appendix – Pedigree Information on Harry Walker’s Dogs
Gara (male, May 24, 1892) and Myra (female, Sept. 22, 1891), the two Wolfhounds that Walker imported, were full siblings from separate litters out of Mr. Crisp’s kennel. Myra was probably imported pregnant from an unidentified UK male given as “Hektor (?)” in the SHSB, resulting in the first registered litter on January 15, 1894 (alternatively, this might have been a puppy Walker imported separately, though he is listed as the breeder in the SHSB). The other two litters from June 6, 1894 and June 20, 1895 were both matings of Gara X Myra, whose pedigree is provided below: .
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