Irish Wolfhound History

The Twentieth Century Dog by Herbert Compton

Published by Grant Richards, 1904

The Irish wolf-hound (anciently called the wolf-dog, Irish grehound, or Irish greyhound) enjoys the distinction of being the largest hunting dog in the United Kingdom, and suffers the inconvenience of having nothing to hunt. Its ancestry has been the cause of considerable argument and dispute of recent years, but that it is a "resuscitated" breed admits of no doubt. The honour of its restoration to a place of dignity in the roll of British dogs is due to a few enthusiasts, who set themselves to work to "recover" the practically extinct breed - notably Captain Graham of Dursley. It was in 1863 that he first turned his attention to the matter, instituted inquiries, made researches, and satisfied himself that three distinct strains of the ancient hound, though much deteriorated, still existed - namely, those of Sir J. Power of Kilfane, Mr. Baker of Ballytobin, and Mr. Mahoney of Dromore. From bitches obtained from two of these kennels, from a cross between the deerhound and the Great Dane, from a dash of borzoi blood (the noted Karotai), and from an out-cross with a huge shaggy dog, stated to be a Tibetan mastiff (though I doubt the description being correct, having seen a photograph of the dog in question), the modern breed has been literally built up.

 Wolfe Tone and Cotswold
 R. Parsons, photo

Sentiment goes a long way in the dog-world, and Irish wolf-hound devotees have more than once displayed indignation at the sneers of the detractors of their favourites, when they have described the modern breed as "faked up". But the b est and most crushing retort to such criticism is the hound itself. "If it had emanated from under a gooseberry bush", said a lover of the breed to me, "I should not love and admire it less; and I could not love and admire it more if it traced its pedigree from the hound that issued from the ark!" To paraphrase Shakespeare, in an argument of this sort, "the hound's the thing," and, speaking personally, its "ancient and historic" derivation, and its "Royal associations" do not appeal to me a tithe so directly as the sight of such noble, commanding creatures as are seen on the modern show bench.

At the same time there is much in the history of the Irish wolf-hound to fascinate the fancier, and to make the wish father to the though, "Our hounds are descended from those of Caesar's days." Possibly - nay probably, they are, through a thin streak of female descent; and if Royal pedigrees are contingent on such a delicate link to connect them with the demigods and heroes of the early ages (as we know they are), I think the Irish wolf-hound fancier may take comfort from that precedent. A pedigree is a priceless thing, especially in the dog-world; but few dog-pedigrees go back fifty years. And if you want one to go back a thousand years you must be imbued with something of the spirit of Lootfullah, a Mohammedan gentleman who published his autobiography some forty years ago, and prefaced it with his family tree, which was carried back to Adam by way of Mohammed and Noah, - all in perfect seriousness, as those who refer to that very original and entertaining book may convince themselves.

For the purpose of this section I will assume that the modern Irish wolf-hound, though the Kilfane and Ballytobin strains, indisputably has, if it cannot actually trace, a connection with the historic hounds of the dimmest past. Which brings me to the history of the wolf-hound. That it existed in the times of the Roman dominion is asserted by many writers. Our old friend Strabo, who must have been something of a dog-fancier in his classic way, describes them as having been used in the chase by the Celtic and Pictish nations, and that specimens were imported into Gaul. There are references in other classic authors to dogs, both of war (mastiffs) and of the chase (wolf-hounds), that were taken to Rome to display their prowess in the gladiatorial ring. We can only surmise what these breeds were, but then the surmising field is limited, and collateral evidence and facts point to the two species named. In the Welsh laws of the period there is reference to the Irish greyhound, or Canis Graius Hibernicus, as it was styled. And all writers on the subject of dogs agree that there was a shaggy-coated greyhound in existence, and greatly prized in Ireland, in the earliest days of the history of that composite kingdom.

Coming to later times, we have ample evidence, not only of the breed itself but of the esteem in which it was held, and the uses to which it was put. In the middle of the sixteenth century a writer describes it as "similar in shape to a greyhound, bigger than a mastiff, and tractable as a spaniel." In 1562 the Irish chieftain, Shane O,Neill, forwarded a couple to Queen Elizabeth through the Earl of Leicester; a little later another couple were sent to the Secretary of State, Sir Charles Walsingham, "one black and one white." Coming to the seventeenth century, we find that no less a personage than the Great Mogul desired Sir Thomas Roe, the British Ambassador, to obtain for him some Irish greyhounds. It is a far cry from Dublin to Delhi, and one wonders how that potentate came to hear of the breed. In Cromwell's days the Irish wolf-hound was legislated for, as the following edict by the Protector, dated "Kilkenny, April 27, 1652," proves: "Declaration against transporting wolfe dogges - Forasmuch as we are credibly informed that wolves do much increase and destroy many cattle in several parts of this dominion, and that some of the enemy's party, who have laid down their arms and have liberty to go beyond the seas, and others do attempt to carry away several such great dogges as are commonly called wolfe dogges, whereby the breed of them, which are useful for destroying wolves, would, if not prevented, speedily suffer decay, these are therefore to prohibit all persons whatsoever from exporting any of the said dogges out of this dominion."

Twenty years later Evelyn, in his Diary, mentions what he saw at an entertainment at a bear-garden, where, in a dog-fight, "the Irish wolf-hound was a tall greyhound, a stately creature indeed, and did beat a cruel mastiff. The bulldogs did exceedingly well, but the Irish wolf-dog exceeded."

Cromwell's protection policy seems to have succeeded, for the last wolf was killed in Co. Kerry in the year 1710. But what was protection against the wolf was not protection for the dog, and thereafter, its occupation gone, the Irish wolf-hound sank rapidly into decadence. Nor is this to be wondered at, when we come to consider the enormous quantity of food these huge creatures eat, rendering them far too expensive to keep when they had ceased to be necessary. Their history from 1710 to 1870 is all on the down grade, until it verged almost into the mists of absolute extinction. By the end of the eighteenth century it had become "extremely rare", and certainly degenerated in size. Lord Altamont is reputed to have had eight Irish wolf-hounds in 1780, "tall, noble dogs, the largest of whom measured 5 feet 1 inch from the nose to the end of the tail, which itself was 1 foot 5 inches long. Its height from the top of the shoulder to the ground was 2 feet 4½ inches." The modern fancier woulkd not look at such a specimen nowadays, when it is categorically recommended that anything below 31 inches at shoulder should be debarred from competition, and when 7 feet from nose to tip of tail is a measurement often exceeded. But it is specially noted of Lord Altamont's dogs that they had "degenerated in size".

 Irish Wolf-hound (1803)
 After Reinagle

Goldsmith, in his Animated Nature, published in 1774, says: "The Irish wolf-dog is now almost quite worn away, and very rarely to be met with in Ireland. The wolves being destroyed, the dogs also are wearing away, as if Nature means to blot out the species when they had no longer any service to perform." In 1803 Reinagle depicted an Irish grey-hound, and the splendid animal he left us is one that any modern fancier might be proud to breed, as may be seen from the outline sketch of it which I reproduce. About this time the wolf-dog frequently figures in Encyclopaedias and books dealing with dogs, as being an interesting illustration of a fast dying race. By the middle of the nineteenth century we read, "No pure, unmixed specimens now exist, even in Ireland," and with that the colophon might have been set to the history of the breed, but for the endeavours of Captain Graham, Major Garnier, and others, who rescued it almost at the last moment from an extinction as complete as that of the great auk. To a most interesting brochure compiled by Captain Graham I am indebted for much of the information contained in the foregoing paragraphs.

To the Irish Kennel Club belongs the distinction of having been courageous enough to establish a class for the resuscitated breed at its show in 1879, thus affording scope for the somewhat crude specimens that were then being fashioned on the traditional lines. One prize was awarded to a cross-breed between a Great Dane and a deerhound - a dog that stood 33 inches at the shoulder, and displayed "much wolf-hound character"; the other prizes went to dogs that had a strain of the "old blood" in them. From this date forward the breed progressed steadily. In 1886 the Irish Wolf-hound Club was founded, and soon afterwards the Kennel Club granted the breed recognition and registration. In the 'Nineties it was awarded a tolerable space on the stage of the dog-showing world, and, what was more to the point, some very fine hounds were born, such as Ch. O'Leary, Ch. Dermot Astore, Ch. Wargrave, Ch. Ballyhooly, and others, who have engraved tehir mark deep on the modern race. But it was reserved for the twentieth century to see the breed literally galvanised by one of those curious waves of enthusiasm which sometimes arise to push forward a good cause. One or two fortuitous circumstances conduced to this sudden popularity, but the wonderful "levelling up" of the type of the breed had probably more to do with it than anything else. The beautiful hounds that had been gradually perfected out of the chaos of the past, with care, veneration, and devotion, pleaded their own cause. In 1902 it is no exaggeration to say that Irish wolf-hounds were one of the principal attractions at Cruft's, the Dublin, the Richmond, and the Kennel Club Shows; and at the latter, where Captain Graham judged the breed he had done so much to save from extinction, he was complimented with a bench of thirty-six as fine hounds as have ever been brought together in the history of dog-showing. Throughout the year the consensus of expert opinion was unanimous that the breed had come through its difficulties (the greatest of which was to eliminate the Great Dane character and smooth coat which that cross introduced), and was on the threshold of breeding true to type. This really wonderful result has been due to the patience of a few ardent fanciers in the pat, who have found worthy successors in Mr. Crisp, of Playford Hall; Mrs. Gerard, of Malpas (the owner of that splendid bitch Cheevra, of whose death I hear with great regret as I write these lines, for she was the dam of more living Irish wolf-hounds, including several championship winners, than any other half a dozen bitches); Mr. Martin, of Dublin, to whom the native land of the wolf-hound owes a deep debt; and last, though by no means least, Major Shewell, of Cotswold, Cheltenham, who has brought together or bred a pack of Irish wolf-hounds that is a prize-bench in itself, and in whose magnificent kennels it may be safely predicted the breed will work out its own further perfection.

Before I proceed to quote the contributions I have received upon this breed, it may not be uninteresting to give a few notes I gather5ed during my short personal acquaintance with it. And more particularly in regard to breeding, of which I have had some experience, and in which, besides the difficulties of rearing whelps, there arises one danger which calls for attention. The whole of the present breed of show Irish wolf-hounds are practically descended from two sires, Brian II and Bran II. Of the thirty-six specimens exhibited at the Kennel Club Show of 1902, eighteen were in the first, second, or third generation descended from Brian II, sixteen from Bran II, and only two from other sources, which could not be described as clear out-crosses. In 1903 there were twenty-five hounds benched; of these seventeen were descended from Brian II, five from Bran II, and of the remaining three, two were of the former sire's blood on the dam's side, and the third was not a distinct out-cross. So much for the figures relating to the sires. Of the sixty-one dams of the exhibits at these shows I cannot speak with equal confidence, but twenty-five at least were bitches of the strain of Brian II or Bran II, and I doubt not several more, with whose pedigree I am unacquainted. I think these figures prove that an outcross is highly essential in this breed, and in my own mind I have little doubt that the awful mortality that exterminates whelps in a wholesale way is in some measure due to inbreeding. The loss of a whole litter is no unusual occurrence - the survival of four whelps a very rare one. Although the wolf-hound is generally a magnificently strong, hardy, and healthy animal when it is grown up, it is one of the most delicate of dogs in its growing stage, and personally, from my knowledge of the holocausts that have followed distemper contracted at dog shows, I would never exhibit a youngster under twelve months old. To my certain knowledge distemper contracted at shows within the last two years was the direct cause of a dozen as good hounds as any one could sorrow to see lost to a breed that cannot afford diminution in its numbers.

The following records from my kennel book, relating to the "weights and measures" of growing wolf-hound whelps, may be relied on as accurate, and are informatory:-

In the most successful litter I reared, by Wolfe Tone ex Kyltra, of which nine out of ten survived, the aggregate weight of the litter at birth was 23½ lbs., and the weekly weights of the best and weakliest pups are as follows:-

   At birth  1 week  2 weeks  3 weeks  4 weeks  5 weeks
   lbs.  lbs.  lbs.  lbs.  lbs.  lbs.
 Best  3¼  5  7  8½  12  16
 Worst  2¼  3¾  5¾  7¼  10  13

I attributed the stamina of this litter to the fact that the dam was a perfect out-cross, she being by a dog unrelated in pedigree to Wolfe Tone for several generations, and a deerhound bitch. Of another litter of eleven born about the same time, and treated in the same way as regards foster-mothers and food, every single one died.

The following tables show the growth of a couple of Irish wolf-hounds, month by month, from weaning to a year old:-

Age   Height  Girth  Weight  Height  Girth  Weight
 Months  Inches  Inches  lbs.  Inches  Inches  lbs.
 2  16  -  28  15  -  30
 3  22  25½  47  19  24½  41
 4  25  29  64  22½  27  53
 5  27  31  75  24  28  64
 6  28½  33  90  25½  30½  87
 7  30  33½  96  27½  32½  97
 8  31  34  103  28¾  34  107
 9  31¾  34½  107  29½  35  117
 10  32½  35  112  30¼  36  125
 11  32¾  35½  116  30¾  36½  129
 12  33¼  36  120  31  37  133
 2 years  33¾  38  133  31¾  37½  136

The comparative "pauses in the proceedings" of Wolfe Tone at six months old and of Wolfe O'Brien at four months were caused by attacks of distemper; the 23 lbs. the latter dog put on between his fifth and sixth month was a record in my kennel. The heaviest dog on the wolf-hound bench was the late Finn, belonging to Mr. Walter Williams, weighing 148 lbs.; the tallest hound was one exhibited at the Richmond show, which measured, it was said - and he looked it - 35½ inches; unfortunately he was not perfect otherwise. The tallest champion hound I have seen, and probably the best, is Cotswold, the property of Major Shewell, and the subject of my illustration; he can touch the scale at 34½ inches, I believe. There are several dogs measuring over 33 inches, but the clear 34 is very difficult to obtain, and 32 inches is about the average of the breed. Princess Patricia of Connaught and Juno-of-the-Fen - both 33 inches at least - are the tallest bitches.

I now come to my contributors' notes, which read as follows:-

CAPTAIN GRAHAM - Some of the best specimens of the present day are satisfactory, but, generally speaking, there is a want of size and substance. Also evidence of the Great Dane cross is too pronounced in some specimens.
MR. GERARD - I am satisfied with type, but I consider that action and all-round good movement are not sufficiently taken into consideration.
MR. I.W. EVERETT - The type is rapidly getting more regular. Great care should be exercised in selecting sound, big-boned, typical sires (not necessarily tall), and raking, long dams with body and limb formation of the best. There does not seem to be anything like sufficient importance attached to heart and lung room, and if no decided move is made in that direction, there can be little chance of improvement in that almost vital point. I think we should take a very much firmer stand on the subject of sound and well formed legys, feet, loins, and hind-quarters generally, as the breed is essentially a galloping one, and derives most of its speed from its hindquarters. In point values more should be given to sound-limbed dogs (both sexes), as there are both dogs and bitches, well up in the prize lists, that, in my opinion, owing to unsoundness and bad formation of limbs, should not rightly be there. Dogs of this breed should be made to both walk and trot when being judged, which unfortunately is very often omitted.
MR. WALTER ALLEN - In my opinion the chief fault is the want of uniformity in type, which time will remedy. Some of the best specimens are lacking in coat, and breeders should give this point more thought when selecting a sire.
MR. WALTER WILLIAMS - There are too many types. Owners should endeavour to breed from sires and dams of the approved type only.
MISS AITCHESON - I think the breed still lacks uniformity - so many are either too shaggy, or show too much of the Great Dane in type and coat.
OTHER FANCIERS (who desire to remain incognito) - I consider the question of type a difficult one to answer, as it varies so much under different judges. I think we now go in too much for size, instead of insisting on soundness and freedom in action. Dogs with crooked legs are awarded prizes, and half-bred boarhounds, with short bodies and out at elbows are passed, if above the average height. - I am not quite satisfied with type. I think a great deal more attention should be paid to shape of head, which is too often inclined to be Roman or snipey; and the ears require much more careful attention. The ear is a great beauty when it is small and carried lightly. In point values I do not think enough is given for legs and hindquarters, which are very bad in some winners. - Heavy leathers spoil a lot of hounds, and the greyhound carriage of the ear is the exception, not the rule. Many of the hindquarters are as bad as in St. Bernards. But the youngsters coming on are distinct improvement upon the older generation, and when judges have the courage to put down some of the patriarchs, and put up some of the young 'uns that are much their superiors, we shall have breeders going to these young dogs, and the logical result will be an improvement in the pups born. The judge who gives a championship to an unsound dog probably does more harm to a breed at large than he can be conscious of. It is hopeless to expect the average exhibitor and breeder to go to the dog that suits his bitch; he must go to a champion if he wants to sell his stock, and he does so in the face of the miserable wastrels that are often produced by such unions. There are many better dogs for breeding than some of those at stud, and not until breeders are guided solely by soundness in the first instance (of course avoiding mongrels) will the breed assume the place those who love it ought to desire to see it in - namely, amongst the sound breeds of dogs. Breeders should go steady for a generation or two, and get the breed sound before they seek to elaborate points. And for height, I consider that the struggle after it is the curse of the breed at present. The taller some of them grow, the more wobbly they become.

Personally, I am inclined to think some of the above strictures a little hard, though I agree with the last writer that, as a breed, the present generation is superior to the last one. But with regard to diversity in type, to which so many make reference, I consider that the Irish wolf-hound has reached a development wherein there is less diversity than in most other breeds, and that you could parade the leading specimens in a pack, and create a conviction in the eyes of people, not expert, that they were not only all of one breed, but that they were unlike any other breed. The sternness of the judicial note has been pleasantly counterbalanced by the sympathy of the remarks that apply to the breed from the dog-lover's rather than the dog-fancier's point of view. Here everything is in its favour, as witness: "The Irish wolf-hound combines the best characteristics of all the large breeds of dogs. He is gentle, forgiving, plucky, most faithful, gifted with a wonderful memory, whilst his keen sense of humour and almost human intelligence makes him a perfect companion and guard." - "The noblest dogs living. They are the largest, and at the same time combine size with gracefulness. Most affectionate and quiet, with perfect tempers, they are perfect gentlemen in every sense of the word." - "Why do I prefer it to other breeds? Because I am an Irishwoman, and an Irishwoman cannot but love the Irish hound." - "They extort admiration, confer distinction, are invaluable to a lady unprotected, and cannot be stolen." - "To me the great fascination of the Irish wolf-hound lies in the nobleness both of his disposition and appearance, and his absolute single-mindedness in his devotion to his one human friend, though courteous, even friendly, to all well-behaved specimens of humanity. He is courageous, but not quarrelsome, with nothing small or mean about him; marvellously intelligent in understanding the speech and actions of so-called superior beings (ourselves), and has a very keen sense of humour. A perfect companion, faithfully shadowing, yet never obtrusive. His good traits are innumerable, and I don't know a bad one. His natural sense of honour and obedience render him, with all his strength and keenness, very easy to control." - "The great pleasure in keeping this breed is, to my mind, derived from its beautiful and majestic appearance, and its affectionate and companionable disposition. Usually peaceable, it can acquit itself with courage, and in foreign countries to which it has been exported, has proved itself a fine hunting hound." - "The king of all dogs, and in disposition there is no other to equal it." - "It has always been my idea of the grandest dog known to mankind for almost every reason, and has had the whole of my attention for the past forty years."

It has been objected to the modern wolf-hound that he is not sufficiently agile and active. This is certainly true of him in the show-ring, where he has not room to stretch himself. But those intimately acquainted with the breed are perfectly satisfied with his speed, jumping powers, and endurance. Major Shewell's pack (he tells me) put up an inconsequent buck, irrelavantly browsing in the suburbs of Cheltenham, whither it had strayed from a contiguous park. The hounds sighted it, ran it close for 6 miles, when it had the bad taste to disappear over some park palings about 8 feet high, which obstructed the hounds that had taken several five-barred gates in their stride. Mrs. Gerard mentions an instance when her life was probably saved by her beautiful hound Rajah of Kidnal and his brother Rashleigh. During a country walk one day she was attacked and thrown to the ground by a savage sow; her hounds immediately tackled it, and made it very sorry for itself, whilst their mistress effected her escape. Finn, the heaviest dog in the breed, was a demon to cats and rats, and old Bran II was a famous ratter, and killed on in his kennel the evening before his death. I do not instance these as acts of prowess, but as acts requiring agility. My own dogs accounted for many a rabbit, and I never observed any lack of activity in them; but the quick turning incident to such chases is risky, and I know of two hounds which met their death by overreaching themselves in awkward twists and breaking their backs. Wolfe O'Brien, although he hated being weighed, was so consumed with a sense of duty that he always elevated himself, with an injured look on his face, on the luggage-weighing platforms at the railway stations he visited, long after his first year's monthly record was completed. More than once I have missed him, only to find him glued to a machine, appealing to the crowd around to weigh him quick and get it over. He was an adept at shamming, and conscious, I am sure, that indisposition led to better fare; for he often used to pretend to be feeling "a bit off", with a view to a treat for dinner. The reference above to Rajah of Kidnal reminds me that I ought to mention he was an Irish wolf-hound presented to the Irish Guards by the Irish Wolf-hound Club, as a regimental pet, at the Kennel Club Show of 1902. He now proudly precedes the regiment on the march and has an uncommonly good time of it.

In the following description I have attempted to depict

AN IDEAL IRISH WOLF-HOUND - He was born, christened "Wolfe Terror", and died at the early age of six months. Many tears were shed over his premature departure to that other land, wherein I trust he will experience the consolation so touchingly predicted by Luther in the apostrophe - "Be comforted, little dog! Thou, too, in the Resurrection shalt have a golden tail!"
I used to picture what he would grow into; it is all cut and dried in my recollection. As a puppy he was as near perfection as he could be, and dowered so often with the following good qualities in anticipation that I can recall them as if they had been facts.
He was that puppy "Perfection", which, alas, we have nearly all bred and buried, loved and lost once in our kennel experience. A giant in size ("gentle when stoked, fierce when provoked" - as the old couplet runs), standing almost 36 inches at the shoulder, measuring 8 feet from the nose to the tip of the tail, girthing 40 inches, and weighing 150 lbs.
His colour was the grey of a thunder-cloud, shading to black on the ears and paws, and with a black muzzle. There was not so much as a white hair on chest or toes. His coat was strong, harsh, and rather rough, the hair about three nches in length, but longer on the hackles, which, when erected, gave the suggestion of a mane, adding greatly to his apparent height and imposing figure.
His eyebrows were long and shaggy, curving over the eyes, but without obstructing the vision; he had workmanlike beard, not too long; and plentiful strong hair on his muzzle. His nose was large, and his mouth and teeth positively alarming when he yawned.
His eyes were dark, and in his gentler moods moist and tender in expression. His ears were small and velvety in substance; in repose carried neatly tucked back, close to the head; but cocked elegantly and well above it when alert. Their different carriage, combined with the flash of his eye and the uprearing of his hackles, absolutely changed him in an instant from a lamb-like to a lion-like being.
His head (which had a comical similarity to an Irish terrier's when he was a baby) was over 14 inches long, but that was because he was so tall. The head must bear artistic proportion to the body, and a 14-inch head on a 32-inch dog would be altogether too exaggerated. Wolfe Terror's head had not the slightest suspicion of dome or peak; the skull followed the configuration, on a massive scale, of a deerhound's; the stop was sufficiently indicated to avoid plainness; the muzzle very full and strong. In this particular he was totally free from snipeyness, and from the weakness of the borzoi, the coarseness of the Great Dane, and the lack-power of the deerhound.
His neck was muscular, moderately long, well-arched, and his throat clean. His body long, the ribs grandly sprung, the belly tucked up, but not so much as to suggest slenderness, yet enough to announce agility. His tail was very long - it could touch the ground when perpendicular - well-covered with hair, yet avoiding suspicion of feather, set rather high than low, and carried slightly below the level of his back, with a half-twist and the extremity curving out to the left.
His shoulders sloped like a race-horse's, and were well-supplied with muscle; his chest was very deep, and his breast presented a broad front. His loins were strong, full of substance and slightly arched. Everywhere he avoided straight lines and angles, and revelled in curves that suggested grace, suppleness, and harmony of anatomy.
His forelegs were straight, well set under, big-boned, and parallel as Corinthian pillars; his hind legs carried a long second thigh, with sound, set-apart hocks, well let down, which, taken all round, was perhaps his strongest point in comparison with the breed as it exists to-day, for it is inclined to be woodeny behind. The muscles on the fore arm (which girthed 10 inches) and the thighs were as hard as a prize-fighter's. The feet were compact, and tending to cat-like, but the springy pastern carried this rigidity off. The strong, curved nails were black and even. His bone all over was enormous, and he was well-furnished, but did not carry an ounce of fat.
His trot was a long, swinging gait, and he had a sideways action, as though he meant business with his shoulder if you got in his way. He did not lift his legs high, but accomplished a grand stride; extended at full gallop, he travelled low to the ground, but, when necessity required, negotiated a five-barred gate like a Grand National winner.
His temperament was courteous, yet reserved to strangers. He must have a formal introduction; this accorded, he behaved benignly, but with a proper dignity. In private life he possessed every good quality of a gentleman, and the acutest sense of humour. Nothing delighted him more than a little private joke with any one he was fond of. Pin pricks had no effect upon him, and he equally ignored the snap of a small dog, the scratch of a cat defending her kittens from intrusion, and the irritating remarks of small, facetious village boys.
But when duty called - which it too seldom did for his taste in our peaceful England - he proved himself as gallant as he was gigantic, as unconquerable as he was noble, and as dangerous as he was daring. And there ran in his veins - thin though it might be - an indubitable streak of that ancient blood which, in his distant ancestry, protected him from proprietorship by any but the Kings of Ireland.
And lest any one should suppose this magnificent creature is only the creation of fancy, let me confess I manufactured him out of the following ingredients. He borrowed his noble head, long body, and fine lashing tail from Cotswold, his aristocratic appearance from Marquis of Donegal, his small ears, straight legs, perfect feet, and sound constitution from Wolfe Tone, his kind, dark eyes from Ballyhooly, his height from Brian Asthore, his solidity of body and savage temper (when arouses) from Finn, his graceful action from Felixstowe Emo, his coat from Artara, his castiness from Nuala, his speed from Juno-of-the-Fen, his sense of duty to his generation from Cheevra of Kidnal, his Irish humour from Wolfe O'Brien, and his affection from Dermot Asthore.

The interests of the Irish wolf-hound are well looked after by the Irish Wolf-hound Club, which numbers about sixty members, and has done a great deal for the breed. The entrance fee is a guinea, and membership entitles subscribers to compete for a forty-guinea challenge shield and five ten-guinea challenge cups, besides special prizes, in apportioning which the club is very liberal. Financially there is no similar institution so soundly, not to say opulently, established, for it has a reserve fund of a hundred pounds. Another club, the Northern Irish Wolf-hound Club, is a kindred institution, whose aim is to cater for fanciers in the north of England. With the strides that the breed is making in popularity there seems room for the existence of a third club in Ireland, where a considerable body of fanciers have lately sprung into existence.

The following are the Irish Wolf-hound Club's Standard of Points of the breed:-


1. GENERAL APPEARANCE - The Irish wolf-hound 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 lbs.; of bitches 28 inches and 90 lbs. 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.
2. 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.
3. NECK - Rather long, very strong and muscular; well arched without dewlap or loose skin about the throat.
4. CHEST - Very deep; breast, wide.
5. BACK - Rather long than short; loins, arched.
6. TAIL - Long and slightly curved, of moderate thickness, and well covered with hair.
7. BELLY - Well drawn up.
8. 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.
9. HINDQUARTERS - Muscular thighs and second thigh long and strong, as in the greyhoiund, and hocks well let down and turning neither in nor out.
10. FEET - Moderately large and round, neither turned inwards nor outwards; toes, well arched and closed; nails, very strong and curved.
11. HAIR - Rough and hard on body, legs, and head; especially wiry and long over eyes and under jaw.
12. COLOUR AND MARKINGS - The recognised colours are grey, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn, or any colour that appears in the deerhound.
13. FAULTS - Too light or too 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 fore legs; overbent fetlocks; twisted feet; spreading toes; too curly a tail; weak hindquarters and a general want of muscle; too short in body.

 Head  12  
 Ears   7  
 Beard and brows   3  
 Eyes   3  
 Height at shoulder  12  
 Substance and girth   7  
 Length of body and symmetry   6  
 Loins and hocks   9  
 Fore legs   9  
 Feet   7  
 Coat  10  
 Neck   7  
 Tail   5  
 Nails   1  
 Teeth   2  

I am able to present my readers with a very fine illustration of Irish wolf-hounds, thanks to the kindness of Major Shewell and the perseverance of Mr. F. Parsons of Cheltenham, who took more photographs than I should like to commit myself to numbering, before he obtained the absolutely perfect one of two unleashed-up hounds, in an alert attitude, which I reproduce. Unfortunately, owing to their great size, they are out of proportion to the "scale" adopted for illustrations in this volume, and would require a double page to do their dimensions justice.

Ch. Cotswold was bred and is owned by Mrs. Percy Shewell. His sire was O'Leary and his dam Princess Patricia of Connaught, and he was born in March 1902. He weighs 142 lbs., stands 34½ inches at shoulder (being the tallest dog figured in this work), and is a wheaten colour, with a long head, great bone, hazel eyes, and long tail, well carried; good coat, and lots of it; straight on his legs, and with great freedom of movement; a long body and good girth, but is not yet fully filled out. He has won three championships, and is, without doubt, the most typical hound in the breed.
Wolfe Tone, also the property of Mrs. Percy Shewell, is by Ch. Wargrave ex Wolfe Colleen, and was born in August 1900. He is a black and grey dog, weighing 139 lbs., and standing 33¾ inches at shoulder. His owner describes him as "a fine upstanding hound, with lots of courage, splendid legs and feet, good bone and perfectly straight; good coat and lots of it; has a wonderful nose and hunts well; small ears and carries them well; wants length of head and tail, and his eyes are somewhat light. Winner of a championship and many prizes, and sire of Cotswold Desmond and Cotswold Paddy, and many other whelps."

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