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The Irish Wolfhound: King of Dogs and Dog of Kings
By Michael Russell

The Irish Wolfhound is known as the King of Dogs. It's stately grace and long easy loping strides are deceiving, for it has sufficient strength and power to hunt and kill a wolf. The jaws of the dog are large and punishing, the massive shoulders and rear should have good musculature, a dog that is in condition is an impressive sight.

Illustrations portraying the ancient Irish Wolfhound have been found in Greece and Cyprus, where the continental Celts had their home. It is said that they took their dogs with them when they went to Ireland around 1500 B.C. They were as prized as valuable possessions. It is said that King John gave a gift of an Irish wolfhound to the Prince of Wales in the thirteenth century. This dog--Gelert--was immortalized in the poem by William Robert Spencer. Hence the phrase: "King of Dogs and Dog of Kings", which is a popular slogan of the Irish Wolfhound fancier. These dogs were used by the Irish to hunt wolves, wild boar and deer. It is a historical fact that for over 100 years Ireland has had no wild wolves and this has been attributed to the hunting skill of the Irish Wolfhound.

This is a giant breed and has certain problems associated with its growth and development. They grow very fast and can do damage to their young bones during these growth periods. This same sort of thing can happen to a Newfoundland or a Saint Bernard or any of the Giant breeds which go through accelerated growth spurts. Care must be taken that they are not allowed to play too hard as puppies with dogs that are larger, body slams by the "big boys" can cause serious damage. They are not generally known as a long lived breed, but if care is taken during their rearing they can give many happy years to their owner.

The Irish Wolfhound has a wiry stiff coat and a bearded face with great long jaws . The ears are small, not hanging close to the face as in many hounds. The body should be strong and deep of chest. The dogs are quite tall, with a minimum height of 31 inches for a male and 28 for a female. The dog is longer in the back but the length should come from the rib cage and not the loin. The impression when looking at the dog in profile is one of tremendous "depth" to the body. The front shoulders should have a good "layback" and the rear legs be well angulated, as this will allow for greater freedom of movement and length of stride.

The character of the Irish wolfhound should be stable and docile, this is far too large a dog to allow for any poor temperament. A good disposition is typical of this "gentle giant" and seldom will one find an Irish Wolfhound that is not a perfect gentleman.

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Dogs

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