Irish Wolfhound History


Captain Graham and the resuscitation of the breed

Captain Graham

Captain George Augustus Graham was a Scot, born in 1833. Early on he became interested in the Scottish Deerhound and started collecting their pedigrees (he collected over 800, which were published in 1894) but it was through this that he became interested in the old Irish wolfdog. It was in 1859, at the age of 26, whilst living in Rednock, Dursley, Gloucestershire, that he became the owner of his first "Irish wolfhound", Faust. From that date he devoted his life to the resuscitation of the Irish wolfhound. He felt that the breed had not died out, but had simply not been kept up to its original standard due to lack of its natural prey, so he searched out any he could find that went back to the original wolfdog and obtained as many as he could and then bred from them if at all possible. He felt that the Scottish Deerhound was the Irish wolfhound in all but size and substance and bred with them, mainly those of the Glengarry strain. As he writes in his monograph, compiled in August 1879, "That we are in possession of the breed in its original integrity is not pretended; at the same time it is confidently believed that there are strains now existing tracing back, more or less clearly, to the original breed; and it also appears to be tolerably certain that our modern Deerhound is descended from that noble animal...."

Whether this was actually the case was the basis for prolonged argument. Richardson had considered it so, (at least, after hearing a talk by a Mr. Haffield in Dublin on the subject) and so did several other writers besides Capt. Graham, but others begged to differ and sometimes quite strongly. Though no-one at this time carried the argument as far as one translation of Buffon had in claiming that he wrote "The large Dane, the Irish greyhound, and the common greyhound though they appear different at the first sight, are nevertheless the same dog; the large Dane is no more than a plump Irish greyhound; and the common greyhound is only the Irish greyhound, rendered more thin and delicate by care; for there is not more difference between these three dogs than between a Dutchman, a Frenchman, and an Italian." Although in this piece, Buffon was actually talking about the Mâtin, which name was given different meanings by different translators. Buffon considered the Irish wolf-dog to have been similar to the Great Dane and not to have been a greyhound at all, although the Great Dane of his time was not unlike a Greyhound.

Father Edmund Hogan, writing in 1897, says: "A race has started which claims to be a lawful representative of our celebrated hounds. They are acknowledged as such by the English Kennel Club, and their breeders and supporters have formed themselves into "The Irish Wolfhound Club" of Great Britain and Ireland.
But is this "Claimant" "the Real Roger"? - that is the question; or is he of the same strain and form and mould? This problem has been passionately debated for many years, and may find its solution in the evidence, which I am about to produce without pressing such evidence into the service of any preconceived theory. The reader will draw conclusions for himself; but I may be allowed to say that I agree, on the whole, with Captain Graham, of Rednock, and I apply to the modern wolfdog the proverbial saw of Maccombich in Waverley, "Mar é Bran, is é a bráthair," if it be not Bran, it is his brother."

Hugh Dalziel, on the other hand, in his book British Dogs, writes "Captain Graham states that he has dogs of Irish Wolfhound blood whose pedigree can be traced for forty years. I take it that these go back to Richardson's strain; but, as Richardson fails, in my opinion, to show that he had genuine material to work upon, and as I consider it undeniable that, if he had any pure Irish Wolfhound blood to start with, he greatly diluted it; and, further, as I presume that Captain Graham must have carried on the diluting process, I find it difficult to understand how any thing more than infinitesimally allied to the original Irish Wolfhound can remain.

That a gigantic rough-coated dog of the Deerhound type may be produced by judicious breeding I do not doubt, but it must be by a still further large addition of foreign blood.

I have ventured, in my own mind, to come to, not a conclusion, but a compromise, that the immensely-powerful, yet tolerably fleet, dog used for the destruction of wolves in Ireland, and otherwise famous in her history, must have been raised by a cross between a variety of the pugnaces, or bellicosi, and the species of the celeres known as the Celtic Greyhound. This is, of course, mere speculation; but, if there is any truth in it, the Irish Wolfhound Club is in the right way to reproduce another such animal, although I cannot say it will be - what I at one time hoped was possible - a resuscitation of an ancient race."

On June 27th, 1885, The "Field" commented on Captain Graham's Monograph on the breed, saying that, whilst considerable pains had been taken with the work, and most of the facts brought together were interesting if not original, they could discern no attempt to claim any survival of the old strain, "which, so far as our impressions went, had been extinct for some time, a century probably." The pamphlet had contained photographs of 'Scot' and 'Colin', which the "Field" took to be typical portraits of the author's favourite animals. "The appearance of neither is elegant," is their comment, "and with so many pure-bred dogs more handsome, and quite as useful, we are sadly afraid the hobby of the promoters of the Club will scarcely be ridden to a successful issue."

The following week, Captain Graham replied to this letter thus:
"The Modern Irish Wolfhound - July 4th, 1885
"Sir, - With reference to your obliging notice of my brochure on the Irish wolfhound in your issue of the 27th ult., permit me to point out that your deduction that it is not claimed that there is any pretension to a true strain still being in existence, will, I hardly think, be found to be the case on reperusal. If so, I have failed to express my meaning. Though I by no means assert that we still have a pure strain, yet I distinctly contend and affirm that more or less true and authentic blood does exist - quite sufficient, indeed, whereon to rebuild the old breed, with the aid of analogous crosses, in its correct form. Whilst I freely allow that the Great Dane is an extremely fine and imposing animal, I fail to perceive his claims to elegance of form or beauty, and though the deerhound has in most cases both elegance and beauty (closely resembling the Irish wolfhound in all but stature and massive build), yet he has not the great size, power, and majestic look of the old Irish dog. The members of the Irish Wolfhound Club hope to produce a dog that shall have the stature and power of the Great Dane combined with the looks and beauty of the deerhound. Excuse my so saying, but I hardly think the breed will be any more manufactured than has been the case with many that are now looked on as 'pure'. Recovered would strike me as a more appropriate term, and had it not been for this 'recovery', many of our best national breeds would have disappeared altogether, and, believe, me, Sir, it has not been accomplished without reverting freely to outside crosses. On this head my evidence is positive.

"G.A. Graham, Hon. Sec., Irish Wolfhound Club."
To which the Editor replied "(The question in dispute is whether the 'recovered' breed of Irish Wolfhound can be traced in any line to the original breed. We do not dispute that many other breeds have been crossed to arrive at their present form, but, as far as we know, there has been a foundation of some kind to commence with, reputed to be of the particular breed. Can this be fairly said of the modern Irish Wolfhound? - Ed.)"

Whether or not Captain Graham did resuscitate or merely manufacture the Irish Wolfhound hardly seems to matter to us in the twenty-first century; we can just be grateful to him for having given us such a magnificent and delightful breed.

We do not have all that much detail on Captain Graham's work, or on that of his colleagues who worked on building up the modern strain of Irish Wolfhound. Captain Graham's notebook survived but Phyllis Gardner's drawings or woodcuts of some of the early hounds, done from photographs, are all the representation that remains of most of them. Captain Graham's notebook was an ordinary exercise book, with a kennel book at one end and at the other a numbered list of hounds with Captain Graham's comments on them in some cases. This notebook was donated by Captain Graham's son, Mr. Malcolm Graham, to the Irish Wolfhound Society (England) with the written wish that it should be made available to breeders. On the dissolution of the Irish Wolfhound Society the book was given to the Irish Wolfhound Club of Ireland. It was edited first by Phyllis Gardner, who had checked every pedigree given. Mrs. C. Groverman Ellis of the Killybracken kennel in the U.S.A. saw Phyllis Gardner's version of the notebook when visiting Ireland in 1956 and, when she returned home, set about raising funds to have it published in book form and it was published by the Irish Wolfhound Club of Ireland in 1959 under the title Irish Wolfhound Pedigrees 1859-1906. Copies are still available.


Perhaps it would be helpful here to look back at the past. Buffon, in his l'Histoire Naturelle stated that the Irish wolf-dog was like le Grand Danois, which was quite different to the Great Dane we know today, but very much like le Mâtin, as pictured by Buffon:-
le Grand Danois le Matin
Le Grand Danois Le Mâtin
Buffon did not give a picture of the Irish wolf-dog. His l'Histoire Naturelle was published in 1740. In 1792, Barr published a Natural History, which he called Buffon (that having become a synonym for a natural history) in which he gave the following picture of the Irish hound (on the left), which is somewhat but not greatly unlike the picture given three years earlier in Bewick's History of Quadrupeds (on the right):
Irish Hound Bewick's Irish Hound
Lord Altamont's Irish wolf-dog  This was said to be one of Lord Altamont's Irish Wolf-dogs, the last of its race. (1794)
The Irish Gre-hound from the
Encylopaedia Britannica, 1797 
 Irish gre-hound
Irish wolfdog   The Irish Wolf-dog by W.P. Smith, 1835

Captain Graham's first dog, Faust, was bred by the Rev. W. Lane Fox, Rector of Delamere Northwich, Cheshire but his pedigree is unknown. Faust was born in 1859, grew to 29½ inches and is said to have weighed around 115-120 lbs. and to be a very powerful red dog. Mated to Ella (by Valiant ex Norna) he produced Ethel, born October 1862, the dam of Graham's Colin. Valiant belonged to Colonel Frazer of Penarth and was by Lord Saltoun's Bran ex Seaforth's Vengeance.

Among other hounds owned by Captain Graham was Old Donagh which was bred by Mr. Baker of Ballytobin in 1862. She was said to be descended from hounds bred by Richardson and was left in Mr. Baker's will to Reverend H. Milward, and sold by him to Graham. Her height was 27¾ in. and she was red brindle. She was mated to Graham's Ettrick, which was by Marquis (a cream dog by Garnier's Lionex Garnier's Lufra) out of Carrac (a dark brindle bred by Lord Henry Bentinck). Lion's sire was Adam, which was bought in Leadenhall Market as a Mastiff but was said by Col. Garnier to be "slim, long on the leg". Adam is said to have been registered with the Kennel Club as an Irish wolfhound with a made-up pedigree,but no "Adam" appears in the KC registrations.

At this time, the deerhound formed the basis of the breeding project, while the Great Dane was used to give more size and substance. It is interesting to note that, when the Irish Wolfhound was first shown, quite a few of them had previously been shown as Deerhounds, and others had littermates that were shown as Deerhounds.

Deerhound Great Dane
A Glengarry Deerhound (from The Dog in
Health & Disease by Stonehenge, 1887)
The Great Dane (From The Dog in Health &
Disease by Stonehenge, 1887)

Dr. Lamon-Hemming's bitch, Linda (picture below), was whelped in 1871, by Keildar ex Brenda. Keildar belonged to Captain Graham and was whelped in 1863. His ancestry was said to be from the old Irish wolf-dog strains on his sire's side but his dam was part Borzoi. Linda's progeny went on to be important in both the Irish wolfhound and Deerhound breeds. Mated to Swaran I, she produced Cooper's Brian, sire of Bhoroo.

Dr. Lamon-Hemming's Linda   Linda, from Hugh Dalziel's
British Dogs, 1880

Graham found that there were still what were said to be the old Irish wolf-dog strains in Ireland and he obtained from one of these lines, that of Sir J. Power, Kilfane, Co. Kilkenny, a dog called Oscar, whose pedigree was not known, although he was said to be by a son of Scot and Old Donagh. Oscar mated to G. Sharpe's Juno produced Graham's Scot, born in June 1877. Scot mated to Ch. Sheelah produced Shawn, born 8th December, 1884 and exported to the U.S.A, but Scot's line did not continue in the U.K.

Graham's Scot
Graham's Scot

Irish Wolfhounds were first shown in 1879 in Dublin, and then again in 1881 at the Kennel Club show. It was around this time that hounds were first registered with the Kennel Club under the heading "Foreign Breeds".

The pedigrees of quite a few of the early hounds were either unknown or doubtful. Brenda was bought at an auction near Waterford, pedigree unknown, and was later owned by Dean O'Brien of Adare. Wolf (not to be confused with the Tibetan of the same name), owned by Capt. Butler of Limerick, was possibly of Kilfane breeding. Wolf and Brenda together produced Rev'd O'Brien's Fionn, said by Graham to be "the very dog we wanted, if he were larger" (he was 29 ins.). J.F. Baily's (Dublin) Cuchullin was another of unknown pedigree, although Mr. Baily said that the strain had been kept up at Kilcrea since before 1848.

 Cuchullin (Cuchulain)

Mrs. Digwood's Billy, born in 1896 is said in Graham's Pedigrees to be of unknown pedigree but also to be the Deerhound Shakespeare II! It should be borne in mind that, not only had it not been usual to bother about keeping pedigrees, but also many of these early hounds seemed to switch between Deerhound and Wolfhound, and the pedigrees of some early "Irish wolfhounds" could be found in Graham's collection of Deerhound pedigrees. There were no kennel names at this time, either, so it was (and still is) difficult to tell which hounds of the same name were which in many cases. Graham's Pedigrees shows this quite clearly, although some of the problems were in erasures and unclear listings in the original.

Graham did some very close breeding in his efforts to fix type. For example, his famous bitch Sheelah was from a litterbrother/sister mating (Swaran II-Moina). Sheelah was whelped 26th September, 1882. The first drawing of Sheelah is by R.H. Moore, done for All About Dogs, published in 1890, but in Gazehounds: The Search for Truth Constance Miller shows a drawing done by Mills for The Dog in 1892, which gives a quite different picture, being much shorter on the leg, much more heavily bodied and more mastiff than greyhound. Constance Miller points out in her book that many of the drawings of dogs done at this time were often artistic rather than accurate depictions of the animals, and also says that Moore's drawing of Sheelah would appear to be pure fabrication.

Graham's Sheelah  Ch. Sheelah by Mills
Drawing by Moore of Ch. Sheelah from
All About Dogs, published 1890
Drawing by Mills of Ch. Sheelah from 
The Dog, published 1892

She was described as being a very heavy bitch (100 lbs), massive, with wiry, hard coat, and very powerful, which would seem to fit Mills' rather than Moore's drawing. She had two litters when with Graham and was later owned by Mr. G.E. Crisp of Ipswich. Mated to Bhoroo for her first litter, she produced The Rev. W. Lindsay's Tara, and Tara certainly has much more the look of the Sheelah in Mills' drawing than that in Moore's.

 The Rev. Lindsay's Tara  The Rev. W.J.C. Lindsay's Tara

In 1885 Mr. Ralph Clifton visited Captain Graham's kennels and reported thus: "I went especially to see Captain Graham's breed. His fine stud dog, 'Brian', is a splendid fellow, of dark brindled colour, about thirty-one inches high, as straight on his legs as a terrier, and of immense bone. He seemed too heavy to be active, but I changed my opinion when I saw him clearing fences six feet high without any trouble. His head is very long without any of the weakness of the deerhound about it. He has also immense girth of chest, and a body well proportioned for speed. But, I think, he lacks quantity and quality of coat, especially on the head. 'Wolf', the dog of our Zoological Gardens, cannot compare with Brian, though, I believe, there was never a more typical wolfdog head than that of Wolf.
"Sheelah, the best bitch in Captain Graham's possession, is too heavy in bone for her height, which is about twenty-seven and a half inches at the shoulder. This is a grand fault in her, for as a rule, it is quite the reverse, as is seen in my own dog Runa. Runa's head is as good as Brian's, but she is also wanting in coat, both on body and head. The texture of her coat is A1, body of great length, with a really good foot, and colour iron-grey. I saw a litter of puppies three months old, by 'Scot' out of Sheelah - all of immense bone, evidently taking after the dam, as Scot was a very heavy dog, I believe. Their coats were of better texture than anything in Captain Graham's kennels, being as hard as the best-coated Irish terrier, and of a dark-red colour." (The litter referred to was born December 8th, 1884, so Mr. Clifton's visit was early in 1885 - HJ)

On August 2nd, 1889 a letter to the Editor appeared in the Stock-Keeper on the subject of Sheelah. It read as follows:- "Sir - you and your readers have doubtless all many times read that fine old poem, "Llewellyn and His Dog." I myself have read it many times, and always with increasing pleasure, and I have often wished to possess another such noble hound as Gelert.
I have gazed upon the picture of the Irish Wolfhound in "Our Friend the Dog", and, better still, on the splendid print of Merlin which appeared in the Stock-Keeper some time ago, and have pictured to myself a majestic animal, combining great strength with activity, a monster Deerhound, grandly massive, yet with a sweeping racy outline.
I had been contemplating acquiring a specimen of such a noble breed, when - shade of Gelert! - what is this I see depicted on the front-page of the Stock-Keeper as a "splendid specimen of this handsome breed?" Is this the animal of my dreams? Is this clumsy, mongrelish-looking one-third St. Bernard two-thirds Collie the same breed as Merlin? Say, oh ye members of the I.W.H. Club, is the animal depicted in the Stock-Keeper of July 19 the type you are breeding for? Is this a "splendid specimen" of the ancient and noble breed which you are trying to resuscitate? Tell me, oh tell me, which is the correct type, Merlin or Sheelah?


To which the Editor replied "To continue faithful to our principal of "a clear stage and no favour" for everybody, we publish the above, although the criticism is of a very rasping description. In justice to Sheelah we must say that circumstances have combined to make the illustration not as satisfactory as we could wish. The bitch is of a curious type that neither photograph nor drawing is fully able to reproduce. It must also be taken into consideration that the resuscitation of a breed is a tedious process, and though Sheelah may be wanting in points compared with the ideal type, being the dam of Dhulart and Harno entitle her to pictorial honours." (Presumably the picture of Sheelah that had been printed was the Mills' one, since Moore's drawing of her is not unlike the illustrations of Merlin available from that time. HJ)

In 1885 the Irish Wolfhound Club was formed. This was reported in The Kennel Chronicle of March 30th of that year. In 1886 the Standard of Points was compiled by Captain Graham and Colonel J. R. Garnier, adopted by the Irish Wolfhound Club, and accepted by the Kennel Club. Also, it was suggested that Irish wolfhounds, which had up to this time been registered in the section on Foreign Breeds, should be given their own separate registration section, which was passed by the Kennel Club and in July, 1886 twenty-four Irish Wolfhounds were registered in this new section. These events attracted more attention and devotees and set the breed on the road to recovery.

A book printed in Belgium in 1897, Races de Chien by Count Henri de Bylandt, in the chapter on Lévrier Irlandais, states that at that time there was, besides the Irish Wolfhound Club, a Northern Irish Wolfhound Club, based in Liverpool, with President F.N. Birtill and Secretary J. Trainor. The subscription fee was one guinea, whereas that for the Irish Wolfhound Club was two guineas. This is the first time I have seen any mention of another club prior to the setting up of the Irish Wolfhound Association in 1925.

Graham made no secret of his use of outcrosses, including some Borzoi and one Tibetan Mastiff

borzoi dog Tibetan dog
A Borzoi from the late 19th century A Tibetan similar to that used by Graham

The Tibetan, called Wolf, was mated to Lindsay's Tara (by Bhoroo ex Ch. Sheelah) and produced in the litter (whelped 16th June, 1892) two bitches which are the ancestors of all modern wolfhounds - Vandal and Nookoo.
Graham did not himself use a Great Dane (in 1885 he wrote “Whilst I freely allow that the Great Dane is an extremely fine and imposing looking animal, I fail to perceive his claims to elegance of form and beauty”) but he did acquire the progeny of such crosses, mainly from the Earl of Caledon, who used a harlequin Dane called “Earl of Warwick”. He also used Garnier's Scythian at stud. Scythian was by Cedric the Saxon, a Great Dane, out of Lufra, of mainly deerhound breeding.

Graham had constructed a scale model of what he considered the Irish wolfhound ought to be. The height of the model is 35 inches to the shoulder, girth around 42 inches, weight about 140 lbs. A photograph was taken of the model with Captain Graham standing behind it, but the photograph was not dated, so it is not known when it was done:-

Capt. Graham & his wolfhound model

Captain Graham wrote of his model that it "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".

It has to be borne in mind that at this time there were no kennel affixes. Hounds were simply known by their owner's name and their own name (e.g. Graham's Sheelah, Garnier's Scythian) but in many instances just the hound's name was used and, since several hounds had the same name, it can be difficult sorting out who was who in a pedigree. For example, there are eight Brans (plus a Bran II), and ten Lufras listed in Graham's Pedigrees. Also, names could be, and were, changed completely. For example, a bitch bred by Mr. Lindsay was first given the name of Norah Creina but at a later date that was changed to Princess Fendabar. Two littermates of Graham's Diarmid had their names changed, one from Groa to Laragh, and the other from Derreen to Lufra. It was not until about 1900 that kennel affixes began to be used and, although this helped to keep track of some hounds, if one was sold to another kennel the whole name was usually changed, rather than the new kennel affix simply being added to the original, as occurs now.
There is, for example, some doubt about Merlin. According to Graham's Pedigrees he was born in 1886, sired by Bhoroo out of Hecla (litter sister of Lufra of Ivanhoe who was by the Gt. Dane, Cedric the Saxon), but Phyllis Gardner, in her Irish Wolfhound Portraits, says of Merlin "Date about 1890. It is difficult to find out how this dog was bred, some authorities saying that he was sired by a Dane, others that his great-grandam was sired by a Dane. His type has been remarked as similar to that of Ch.Dhulart." However, in the Kennel Club records Merlin's registration details are given as MERLIN, d, Colonel J. Garnier's, R.E. by Mr. Cooper's Boru - owner's Hecla, Nov. 21, 1886. Boru (Bhoroo) by Brian out of Lufra.

 Garnier's Merlin
owned & possibly bred by Col. Garnier
(died from distemper caught at K.C. Show before he could be bred from)

Merlin's litter sister, Mask, was owned by Mt. Hood Wright. In Graham's Pedigrees she is described as "Very long bitch. Small head, good tail, poor ears. Poor coat. Good bitch. 29½-ins." She was the dam of Hood Wright's Selwood Doreen.

 Champion Mask
 Champion Mask in 1895

The registration of Merlin's dam, Hecla, appeared in the Kennel Gazette, July 1886, with her listed as a dog, by Mr. G. Thornton's Cedric the Saxon ex Miss de la Pole's Lufra, and whelped April 20, 1885, but in the Kennel Club Calendar & Stud Book, 1887 Lufra is stated to have been owned by Lt.-Col. Garnier and Hecla to have been whelped on April 28th, 1885. However, early Kennel Club records were not very reliable and, as far as the whelping date is concerned, that given for Hecla's littermates is April 28th.

 Hecla from the Journal L'Acclimatation

Bhoroo's litterbrother, Hydra, owned by W. Jessop, mated to Graham's Sheelah produced Ch. Dhulart, said to be black, grey and tan or black and tan, who had quite an effect on the breed. Mated back to Sheelah, he produced G.E. Crisp's Myshall; to Lufra (littersister to Scythian) he produced R.B. Townshend's (Oxford) Dark Rosaleen (born 15th February, 1890).

 Ch. Dhulart Dark Rosaleen 
 Ch. Dhulart  Dark Rosaleen

In August, 1890 J.B.Waldy's (Hereford) Keltair was born, by Shakespeare II (no pedigree, unless he was Mrs. Digwood's Billy, as mentioned earlier, except that Shakespear II appears in Graham's Pedigrees of Scottish Deerhounds as being owned by Gibbins and being by Hood Wright's Buscar II out of Gibbins' Lucy, wh. 29th August 1888. Graham said of him "very large dog, coarse head, bad ears, very woolly, brindle [reddish], 32 inches, un-deerhound-like") ex Moina II (by Dhulart ex Brenda - by Nero, a fawn brindle Gt. Dane), according to Graham's Pedigrees. However, Phyllis Gardner in Irish Wolfhound Portraits says of him that he "had some admixture of Deerhound blood, but no other discoverable outcross." Keltair was dark grey and tan according to Graham's Pedigrees but black and fawn according to Portraits. Keltair mated to Mrs. Williams' Kathleen (by Garryowen [Scythian ex Spencer] ex Lindsay's Tara) produced Teufell, who, despite being described as being large and stout and nearly smooth, was the dam of Ch.Wargrave, Ch. Daireen, and Tea Tephi (dam of Connaught, sire of Ch. Leinster).


Vandal and Nookoo have already been mentioned as the daughters of the Tibetan, Wolf, and Lindsay's Tara. They were born 16th June, 1892, bred by M.K. Angelo of Brighton. Vandal was described as "Red. Rough. Stout made. Poor ears." Nookoo was described variously as "Brownish. Very hairy. Big poor ears. Capital countenance, short curly tail. Good limbs." and "Yellow brindle, slightly brindle. Very shaggy." Mated to Brian II, Nookoo produced Ch. Dermot Astore and Diarmid, and mated to Dysart she produced Nualla, dam of Ch. Shournagh, Ch. Leinster, and Ch. Dhudesa. Vandal mated to Bran II produced Ch. Earl of Antrim, and to Auster she produced Sheelagh, the dam of Ch. Hibernia (granddam of Sulhamstead Pedlar)

 Nookoo  Brian II
 Nookoo  Brian II
Dermot Astore 
Ch. Dermot Astore 
Above from a drawing by Phyllis Gardner,
below from a photograph
Dermot Astore 

I have not been able to find a picture of Vandal, apart from the one in Irish Wolfhound Pedigrees, which is not of much help as she is lying down. Bran II, to whom she produced Earl of Antrim, is pictured here:

 Bran II
 Bran II (by Balor ex Hilda)

Bran II was bred by Angelo, whelped 27th June, 1893. Captain Graham said of him "Very good dog. 31½ inches. Dark brindle. Good coat, ears fair, capital long head. Tail curls, good feet and legs". He was the sire of Ch. O'Leary and of Finn, who was the sire of Wickham Lavengro (out of Wickham Sheelah) and Felixstowe Dromore (out of Juno of the Fen), who, mated to Ch. Cotswold, produced Ch. Felixstowe Kilronan.

 This oil painting from some time in the 19th century shows what is presumably a Scottish deerhound of the time, given that he is beside a Scottish Terrier, but he shows how it could have been possible for hounds to be shown as both deerhounds and wolfhounds, and looks more wolfhound-like than many of the hounds shown above:
 oil painting of hound

On June 29th, 1892 Cheevra was born. She was bred by Miss Aitchison, by Garryowen (by Scythian [son of the Great Dane, Cedric the Saxon] ex Spencer[Deerhound]) ex Raheen (by Brian ex Lufra of Ivanhoe, Scythian's littersister). Cheevra was owned by Mrs. Gerard and Captain Graham's comments on her were "Blue brindle. Poor coat. 28½ ins. Good bitch, rather Great Daney. Nearly smooth." Cheevra produced 74 puppies. In 1902 she saved Mrs. Gerard from a savage pig, which was reported in the newspapers and was said to have had a good effect on the popularity of the breed. One of Cheevra's puppies, Rajah of Kidnal, was to become the first mascot of the Irish Guards. For more details on Cheevra, click here.


On to 1893 and on June 27th, Luath was born, by Fingal (Dhulart ex Carrac) ex Banshee (littersister to Merlin). Captain Graham's comments on him were "Good coat, legs and feet, good head and ears. Red brindle". None of Luath's progeny continued the line.


On September 2nd, 1893 Brian II was born. Bred by Graham, by Gara [or Fingal] ex Zarah III. Besides the Nookoo litter already mentioned, he sired Chs. Wargrave and Daireen, and Tea Tephi (out of Teufella), and Sheila and Nancy of Kidnal (out of Cheevra). Tea Tephi was the dam of Ch. Connaught.
In August, 1895 Liverpool vet, J. Trainor, bred a litter by Brian II out of Kilda (bred by Angelo, by Garryowen ex Norah [a Deerhound]) in which was Thiggum Thu, said by Graham to be "Red brindle. 33-ins. Very short body, ears fair, head very short, cow-hocked. Coat fair."

 Thiggum Thu
 Thiggum Thu

In March, 1896, O'Leary was born, by Bran II out of Princess Oona (littersister to Kincaid), and bred by Mr. Crisp. Graham said of him "32¼ ins. Very good head. Good dog. Rather cow-hocked." Ch. O'Leary was the sire of, among others, Acushla (dam of Aughrim), Tynagh (owned by A.J. Dawson and the heroine of Dawson's book Finn The Wolfhound), and Ch. Cotswold. When O'Leary died in 1906 he was stuffed for the Natural History Museum, South Kensington. Phyllis Gardner says of him "His pedigree shows a small Dane percentage a good many generations back, but is chiefly notable for its close breeding to the most authentic strains, especially on the dam's side."

 Ch. O'Leary
 Ch. O'Leary

O'Leary at times in the show ring would start to shake, like some form of chorea. It was put down by other fanciers to his having been severely beaten by the kennelman at the age of about nine months for getting into a field of ewes and lambs and bringing a large lamb in his mouth across a stream back to Playford Hall, but, in fact, this shaking was passed on to several of his progeny (and on for several generations), notably Ch. Cotswold.

It was about 1896 that Mr. Isaac Everett of Felixstowe entered the scene and started buying in a number of hounds as the basis for what was going to become his world-famous Felixstowe Kennels.

On June 13th, 1896 Captain Graham's Erin was born, bred by Mr. Angelo, by Goth (Karo ex Nookoo) out of Daisy (by the Borzoi Korotai ex Hilda). Erin was black and tan, became a champion, and was the dam, by Wargrave, of Wickham Sheelah - another black and tan and dam of Wickham Lavengro and Ivo Drogheda.

 Ch. Wargrave Ch. Wargrave 
 Ch. Wargrave (picture on the right from a postcard)

Mrs. Williams's Wargrave was born in January, 1897, bred by Liverpool vet, J.J. Birtill, by Brian II ex Teufella. Graham said of him: "33-ins. Good make, large ears well carried, not much coat, very massive long head." He was the sire of Wolfe Tone, Felixstowe O'Carroll, Aughrim and Artara. Graham said of Artara "Grand bitch, good coat, head excellent." Born in February, 1899, out of Laragh (litter sister to Dermot Astore), Artara won 1st and special at the Kennel Club's 46th Exhibition in 1901.


Also in January, 1897 was whelped Mrs. Jackson's Sportella, bred by Mrs. Gerard, by Dermot Astore (Brian II ex Nookoo) out of Cheevra. Sportella became a champion. Her litter sister was Major Shewell's Princess Patricia of Connaught, dam (by O'Leary) of Champion Cotswold and (in a different litter) of Ailsa, Captain Graham's companion until his death.

 Champion Sportella
 Ch. Sportella

On April 29th, 1898 was whelped Colleen, by Earl of Antrim (Bran II ex Vandal) ex Lady Kathleen (Garryowen ex Cruiskeen), and bred by Mr. Allen. Except that in Graham's Pedigrees R.A. Allen's Colleen was said to have been whelped in February, 1898, by Bruin (also known as Earl of Antrim) ex Lady Kathleen, and was later sold to Mrs. Compton, at which time her name was changed to Wolfe Colleen. Wolfe Colleen was the dam of Wolfe Witch and Juno of The Fen. Except that Wolfe Witch is listed in Graham's Pedigrees as being out of Roseen! Juno of The Fen was the dam of Felixstowe Dromore, who, mated to Ch. Cotswold, was the dam of Ch. Felixstowe Kilronan.

 Ch. Cotswold
 Ch. Cotswold

Cotswold was bred and owned by Major Shewell, born March 7th, 1902, by O'Leary ex Princess Patricia of Connaught. He is described in the Pedigrees as "wheaten, 33-ins. at shoulder. Mrs. Shewell said Graham found no fault in him. One judge said he had straight heels." He won 17 C.Cs.

Wolfe Tone was bred by Mrs. Compton of Brasted Chart, by Wargrave ex Colleen (mentioned above with the controversy about her pedigree), born August 3rd, 1900. He was black (or grey) and tan and 33 ins. to the shoulder. He was later owned by Major Shewell and was the sire of Cotswold Patricia. Phyllis Gardner said of him "Carried the Tibet cross in the fourth generation, but also carried a high proportion of the truest blood. His colour was black."

 Wolfe Tone
 Wolfe Tone

I have a copy of the pedigree form (printed by "Our Dogs") for Pat Sligo, born on September 24th, 1902. He was by Ch. Mike (Ch. Dermot Astore ex LuLu) out of The Duchess of Sligo. In Graham's Pedigrees there is a question mark beside his breeder as Mrs. Galton but the pedigree form is signed by what seems to be Mrs. L. Cella as breeder, although this name is not listed in the list in Pedigrees of people involved in the breed. Ch. Mike was the sire of Brian Boru from Felixstowe Roseen.

F. Howard of the 8th Hussars bred a litter on July 8th, 1902, by Connaught (Marquis of Donegal ex Tea Tephi) ex Nualla (Dysart ex Nookoo), in which there was Mrs. Gray's Ch. Shournagh and R.J. Martin's Ch. Leinster. Phyllis Gardner says of Leinster "Was considered 'the best Wolfhound of his day'. He and Lufra Rhu were the parents of a remarkable litter comprising Silver King, Lindley Tyrant, and Ch. Felixstowe Gweebarra. Leinster was also mated to his own sister, Shournagh, and produced Breac, sire of Donnybrook Nora.....This breeding (Connaught/Nualla) carries the Tibet cross in the third generation back, but also derives from the best and purest strains." The photograph dates from around 1912.

 Ch. Leinster
 Ch. Leinster

Another well-known son of Wargrave was Aughrim, who was out of Allen's Acushla, who was by O'Leary ex Lady Kathleen. One of I.W. Everett's earliest purchases, Emo (later Felixstowe Emo) was a littermate of Acushla. Aughrim was owned by Miss M. Kearns of Hove and, according to Phyllis Gardner, was "one of the most admired hounds of his day, being a very fine type. His blood descends to the present day through Sulhamstead Pedlar and his descendants, especially Ch. Sulhamstead Conncara."


A.J. Dawson (author of Finn The Wolfhound and Jan, Son of Finn) bred a litter on May 31st, 1903, by Dermot Astoreex Tynagh(mentioned above, by O'Leary ex Lady Kathleen) from which came Mrs. Hall's Ch. Gareth, said by Graham to be a "very fine dog." Phyllis Gardner said of Gareth "Pedigree contains a cross of Great Tibet Dog in the third generation back, also infusions of Dane blood in the fourth and fifth generations. Ch. Gareth was much admired and his name recurs with great frequency in modern pedigrees." His name is often mistakenly given as Caretti.

 Ch. Gareth
 Ch. Gareth

Mr. Hamilton Adams's Ivo Dhulart was bred by Mr. Everett, by Ivo Brian ex Felixstowe Sheelah (by the Great Dane Felixstowe Bob ex the Deerhound Felixstowe Lufra). Dhulart sired Ivo Drogheda out of Wickham Sheelah, and Ivo Bridget (and a puppy that was stolen) out of Mountfield Biddy. Mountfield Biddy was owned by E.A. Henderson and in Graham's Pedigrees it says of her "pedigree and age unknown", although it has been added that her sire was Brian (Wild Boy) and dam Runa. A puppy of about four months old was bought for a few shillings from a man tramping in Surrey (according to Phyllis Gardner in The Irish Wolfhound). This puppy was registered as an Irish wolfhound, with a made up pedigree, in the name of Hy Niall, although it was wondered if this could have been the puppy that was stolen. However, Phyllis Gardner says the stolen puppy was of a different colour to Hy Niall of which she says "He was cream with a black mask, and of a beautiful type."

Hy Niall 
 Hy Niall -
Phyllis Gardner's woodcut from a photo

On September 6th, 1904 Mrs. Marshall of Bolton-le-Moors bred a litter by Zarko (Earl of Antrim ex Lady Kathleen) out of Brenda (Chamus ex Nancy of Kidnal) in which was a bitch Lufra Rhu, who, mated to Leinster, was the dam of Silver King, Lindley Tyrant and Ch. Felixstowe Gweebara, and mated to Wickham Lavengro, of Killabeg Lass.

Silver King 
 Silver King (by Leinster ex Lufra Rhu)

Captain Graham worried that breeding only for size, which some breeders seemed to have made their sole criterion, would have disastrous effects and wrote in Turner's Kennel Encyclopaedia of 1907: "An all-round sound dog of medium height is far preferable to an overgrown badly-shaped, crooked-legged giant; for size, though most important, cannot in any way make up for unsoundness. In the past the use of crooked-legged dogs was pardonable, but now it is absolutely inexcusable."

 Captain Graham
 Captain Graham outside his home at Rednock, Dursley

Captain Graham died on October 21st, 1909 at his home in Gloucestershire, having ensured the future of the breed he had spent his life rebuilding from almost nothing.

His obituary in the Kennel Gazette, October, 1909 read as follows:-

"We regret to announce the death of Captain George Augustus Graham, who died at his house in Gloucestershire, Rednock, Dursley, on October 21st, at the age of 76. The credit of the restoration of the Irish Wolfhound to recognition as a distinct breed is due to Captain Graham, Sir John Power, and a few other enthusiasts. This was in 1863, and the Irish Kennel Club provided a class for the breed at their own show in 1879. In 1885 the Irish Wolfhound Club was founded, and the Kennel Club added the breed to their classification in the same year. At the Kennel Club Show in 1902, a competition in Irish Wolfhounds was instituted and from the hounds then shown by breeders of the variety in all parts of the country a young dog, Rajah of Kidnal, was selected for presentation to the Irish Guards as a regimental pet. Re-named Brian Boru the hound remained with the regiment till early this year. Though deposed by a younger hound, Brian Boru is still alive, and still continues a favourite with both officers and men."

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Updated 1/5/2016