Thoughts, which are an absolute must, before the acquisition of an Irish Wolfhound!!!

The Irish Wolfhound is not a dog for everyone. I really don't want this to sound arrogant, but the possession of such a large dog is connected with much responsibility, can also bring some problems and really must be well considered. One should make oneself a picture beforehand of how living together with such an enormous dog looks in the reality. According to my opinion this can be done by visiting breeders, where the dogs are living in the house or possibly visiting nice people, which already have an Irish Wolfhound.

Also the raising of an Irish Wolfhound puppy is not quite simple. There is much to know and to consider, for example the puppy food should not contain too much protein or should not be too rich in content, the puppy should grow as slow as possible. Also the puppies, until they are approximately 1 year old, should only go for walks very limited (starting at 3 months only approx. 10 minutes daily; the length of the walks increases with increasing age), in order not to harm bones, joints and tendons. Playing in the garden or with other dogs should also be controlled.

Veterinarian costs are also rather high (I know that by own experience), because the Irish Wolfhound needs everything in larger quantities. An exception are anesthetics, where they can react very sensitively (measured after their weight for "normal dogs", it can kill them). Some anesthetics they can't stand at all. I also asked my veterinarian whether he would come to our house if necessary. When my old Tubby (Golden Retriever) became so ill that he could not rise any more, my husband carried him to the car (and some days also up and down the stairs). Tubby weighed approx. 35 kg. Bailey now already weighs approx. 75 kg and is not "carrible" any more.

And last but not least - one has to be able to live with the thought, that this breed - like all giant breeds - doesn't have a very long lifespan.

I absolutely recommend to purchase the book "The Irish Wolfhound" by Mary McBride. The topic "Irish Wolfhound" is extensively treated there and can not be sufficiently described here.

The Irish Wolfhound in the house

In the house, the Irish Wolfhounds moves very carefully. But they are definitely standing "above things" and have - because of their size - a tremendous range. Everything they really are not to get to, must be stowed away at a considerable height. If they have access to the kitchen, it is not enough to place table-ware with irresistibly smelling leftovers in the sink. Our Bailey does not even have to stretch, in order to get what's on the plates. An open pot on the stove is also no problem for him. Once we left tea glasses on cork coasters on our dining room table. In about 10 unobserved minutes he had all the tea glasses finely knocked over (none of them were broken) and the coasters chewed up in little pieces on the floor. Now I always go through the procedure of an "IW-CHECK" of all the accessible areas of the house, before I leave in the morning.

Irish Wolfhounds have a nice hairy muzzle, actually it is more a beautiful beard. This beard is dipped properly into the water dish when drinking - they drink very much -  and shows up again violently dripping like a waterfall. This effects the floor around the drinking dish a lot. Strangely enough just then they often feel the need to joyfully welcome visitors again, which are comfortably sitting at the dining table, thinking of nothing bad, or feel like cuddling a little with their humans. Remedy can bring a towel which is stationed besides the drinking dish and with which the "snout" is immediately dried off after drinking.

Last but not least I made the following "experience" during my years with dogs: "Small dogs = small amount of dirt, medium sized dogs = medium amount of dirt, large dogs = lots of dirt"!!! Since Bailey has free access to the garden almost all day long, he brings in - particularly in the autumn and winter - a lot of dirt with his large paws (see picture below). We laid out tiles in the whole house, which makes the cleaning easier, but is still costing some time. Nevertheless, at some rainy days it is hardly worthwhile to clean up after Bailey constantly, so sometimes the floor in the house doesn't look the cleanest. At that point one shouldn't be too timid.

The Irish Wolfhound in the garden

Our garden is surely too small for playing and raving with a full grown Irish Wolfhound, however we do undertake expanded daily walks. Nevertheless Bailey loves to be outside, in order to see if everything is ok outside or to do his business. The evenings he likes to spend on our terrace, but - if possible - the door must be open, so he can still hear us. In the summer I tried to induce him to stay outside in the shadow because it was very warm in the house. But I had to be with him. As soon as I rose, he also rose and followed me back inside. He didn't want to be alone in the garden. He wants to be where we are.

Who attaches much importance to a perfect looking garden, should take caution and fence in the areas, on which special value is put. Particularly in the autumn and winter, when it rains much and the soil is soaked, no more grass grows on the regularly used trails. We can exactly pursue Baileys favorite ways (pure mush). Out of my artful stacked up hedgehog winter quarters he gradually pulled out branch by branch to chew them up. My passionately loved forest flower bed became Bailey's best lookout point, in order to observe neighbor's cat. I am already wondering now, which of my favorites are going to survive his weight. I guess Spring will show. My birdbath, created with love (with aquatic plants etc.) also looks rather hopeless. Bailey loves to cool off his feet in it during summer and also has a lot of fun, bringing the plants "to the shore". I guess he also loves the sound that occurs, when he pushes the river rocks from the sides into the water with his nose. No matter how often I had pulled them out again and put them back on their place - the next day they were gone again. But that really doesn't matter to me.

Going for walks with an Irish Wolfhound

I nevertheless recognized that very many people are afraid of Bailey because of his enormous size (those, who know him, of course not). Since I endeavor the ways, which are also used by pedestrians, joggers, horseback riders and cyclists, we are trying very much, to show the necessary consideration. When people are approaching us on the footpath in town, Bailey must heal and I hold him briefly, because it has already occurred that  - when the person was exactly beside us - he took a fast step towards this person to take a fast sniff, which naturally startled them. If I realize that someone is approaching us hesitating and fearfully, we are changing over and pass them on the road. 

While walking outside of the town Bailey can run freely. But during the whole time I am however looking out for pedestrians and cyclists (and naturally also for the sake of cats and rabbits, so I can put him on leash real fast). If someone approaches, I call Bailey to me, until I can detect whether we know this person or not. If not, we evade to the edge of the way, I put two fingers through his collar (to give them the feeling they are really safe) and let him run again when they have passed us. Nowadays I only need to call "Bailey - bicycle!" and he comes to my side, however beforehand he has to turn around, in order to see from which direction it comes. This way I have never had any trouble with others and many of them have thanked me for my consideration when passing us. 

Where do I get my Irish Wolfhound ?

If one is really interested in this breed, one should assume the possibility of visiting exhibitions. Here I would  recommend the gazehound specialties which take place outdoors and are aligned by the regional gazehound clubs all over Germany. Here one can make oneself a picture of the dogs and the individual breeders and also form first contacts. One should however consider not to address to the exhibitors when they are just getting ready to enter the ring. Because then it could happen, that the response could fall out somewhat briefly. I also always found it very interesting, to follow what dogs came out of certain matings. In addition one must buy the catalog created for the certain exhibition, so that one knows who is who.

One receives places and dates for the exhibitions as well as breeder lists by the German Gazehound Club DWZRV - see "Books and Links" in this homepage. Some breeders in Germany (more abroad) already present their kennels in the Internet. I am working on arranging a "Link list".

In no case one should support a puppy mill or the dog trade by getting a dog through them - and this doesn't only count  for Irish Wolfhounds, but for all breeds. Good breeders go through a lot of work selecting the parents for a litter, the raising and socialization of their puppies and the search for a suitable home (don't be mad, if the chosen breeder wants to know quite exactly, to whom they are giving away their puppies). The only thing the puppy mills are concerned about is fast cash. The bitches are partially held under awful conditions as pure bearing machines. The puppies are usually separated much too early from their mothers and litter mates, are usually ill and often also psychologically disturbed by the lacking of socialization. One should support this practice in no case by the purchase of a puppy in the dog trade, even if here puppies are immediately available and cheaper.

With a good breeder one will be well looked after and can always turn to when questions and problems are occurring and will always get competent advice.