Irish Wolfhound Breed Magazine - Showsight

Irish Wolfhound Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.


Let’s Talk Breed Education!

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Official Standard of the Irish Wolfhound General Appearance: Of great size and commanding appearance, the Irish Wolfhound is remarkable in combining power and swiftness with keen sight. The largest and tallest of the galloping hounds, in general type he is a rough-coated, Greyhound-like breed; very muscular, strong 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 32 inches and 120 pounds; of bitches, 30 inches and 105 pounds; these to apply only to hounds over 18 months of age. 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. 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 closed. Nails, very strong and curved. Hair: Rough and hard on body, legs and head; especially wiry and long over eyes and underjaw. Color and Markings: The recognized colors are gray, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn or any other color 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 a tail; weak hindquarters and a general want of muscle; too short in body. Lips or nose liver-colored or lacking pigmentation. List of Points in Order of Merit 1. Typical. The Irish Wolfhound is a rough-coated Greyhound-like breed, the tallest of the coursing hounds and remarkable in combining power and swiftness. 2. Great size and commanding appearance. 3. Movements easy and active. 4. Head, long and level, carried high. 5. Forelegs, heavily boned, quite straight; elbows well set under.

6. Thighs long and muscular; second thighs, well muscled, stifles nicely bent. 7. Coat, rough and hard, especially wiry and long over eyes and under jaw.

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8. Body, long, well-ribbed up, with ribs well sprung, and great breadth across hips. 9. Loins arched, belly well drawn up. 10. Ears, small, with Greyhound like carriage. 11. Feet, moderately large and round; toes, close, well arched. 12. Neck, long, well arched and very strong.

13. Chest, very deep, moderately broad. 14. Shoulders, muscular, set sloping. 15. Tail, long and slightly curved. 16. Eyes, dark.

Note - The above in no way alters the "Standard of Excellence," which must in all cases be rigidly adhered to; they simply give the various points in order of merit. If in any case they appear at variance with Standard of Excellence, it is the latter which is correct.

Approved September 12, 1950


The information provided here is the property of the Irish Wolfhound Club of America and is printed with permission from the parent club.

INTRODUCTION “A National Specialty brings together many dogs from all over the country and even from other countries. It affords a rare oppor- tunity to see dogs across a wide spectrum who in their owners’ judgment represent the best they have. Viewed from a broad per- spective, these dogs enable us to assess our breed’s past, present, and future. Dogs in their prime—concentrated in the Bred-By Exhibitor, American Bred, Open, and Specials Classes—represent the breed’s present state. Also in evidence is our deep debt to the past. We glimpse that past in the Veterans Classes first-hand, and it speaks to us indirectly through the heritage displayed in pedigrees from all classes. We must never forget this heritage in our preoc- cupation with the present. Not only do we see the present and the past, in the puppies, yearlings, and novices is revealed our hope for the breed’s future. They are a gauge to the direction we are going. From them, we can assess to what extent we are fulfilling our custodial responsibility to leave the breed in at least as good a condition as we found it. Attending a Specialty, then, is obviously a valuable opportunity to learn about our breed. But it can be over- whelming, especially to novices who wonder how best to reap the benefits from this experience. In order to help you follow the judg- ing, I have outlined my procedure for deciding where to place the dogs in each class. I have also included some comments about each step. I hope they will give you a little idea of what I am doing and why. Use this guide and commentary not only to follow what I am doing but also to clarify your own ideas. I believe firmly, and urge you strongly, to make your own decisions about the dogs. Every- one has an opinion. We all like some dogs more than others and have a “favorite” dog at the show. Don’t be afraid to take a stand. Compare your decision with mine and consider why you prefer some to others and why one is your choice for Best In Show.” —Joel Samaha, remarks before judging the 1985 IWCA National Specialty PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS 1. Absolute rights and wrongs do not exist. The Irish Wolf- hound Standard defines a range, not a point, on a spectrum of correct type. Reasonable people can and do disagree about the meaning of the Irish Wolfhound Standard. Even if they agree on the general provisions in the Standard, they argue about how to apply the Standard to particular dogs. Don’t let this confuse and

discourage you. Honest disagreement renders the whole experience interesting, exciting, challenging, and immensely pleasurable. Except for direct experience with the hounds themselves, some of my best Irish Wolfhound memories include those of heated discus- sions about the meaning of the rough-coated Greyhound-like dog of great size and commanding appearance that typifies our breed. These arguments immeasurably enhanced my understanding of true breed type. Inform your judgment, but in the end, remember, it is your day to pick the dogs that fall within the range the Stan- dard defines. 2. Simple answers to questions about Irish Wolfhounds do not exist. Some people believe a simple, straightforward, single formula exists for judging, showing, breeding, feeding, rearing, and living with Irish Wolfhounds. Anyone who believes this is simple-minded. Unfortunately, we do not yet know many things; others, we will probably never know. To complicate matters fur- ther, our knowledge may greatly benefit one dog while wreaking havoc on another. To most questions about Irish Wolfhounds we can only answer unsatisfyingly, “We don’t know.” “It might be A, but it could be B or C or even A, B, C and X!” No one likes such vague answers to questions we want answered so desperately. But that does not make the answers wrong. 3. Keep an open mind. Recognize that other judges have reasonable points of view. A different point of view is not always wrong. On the one hand, judges who place dogs in a somewhat different order within an acceptable range are not necessarily either stupid or ignorant. On the other hand, placing the dogs in exactly the order you would have placed them does not automatically ren- der these judges brilliant and knowledgeable. Try to understand why others might honestly disagree with you and look for the merit in their decisions and opinions. 4. Judging requires finding dogs who approximate an ideal. No dog is perfect; no living creature is. Judging, therefore, must always compromise reality and an ideal. In the end, you must choose the best dogs in real life, not the non-existent per- fect one in your mind’s eye. The dogs in living flesh which come closest to your mind’s eye picture of the perfect dog deserve the prizes.



implies. Unbalanced dogs make you feel awkward; even the most skillful handlers cannot bend them into balance, even though they cleverly try. Some examples of imbalance include: a long body on short legs; a very steep shoulder and curving stifles; a short neck set into a long body; longs legs and shallow chest. A dog may pos- sess balance and lack correct type. A dog with a short neck, short body, straight shoulders, and straight stifles has balance; it lacks correct type. 2. In Motion. After you gain an initial impression from the dogs standing still, ask their handlers to take them around the ring all together. At this time do not assess sound movement. That will come later when you examine individual dogs. At this point look for shape, presence, quality, and balance in motion. This step will frequently surprise you. The dogs who look best standing still may not remain so in motion. The straight dog’s shape standing can, in motion, suddenly transform into all the right soft curves. The bal- anced hound standing can, in motion, look as if many parts from different dogs were all stuck together in one animal. Many judges omit this critical step of assessing shape, presence, quality, and balance in motion. Yet, experience will demonstrate to you that dogs standing change substantially when in motion. This occurs not simply because motion uncovers unsound movement but, in addition, because it exposes faults in type. You will find it difficult to choose between the dog who possesses shape, quality, presence, and balance standing but loses them in motion, and one who possesses them in motion but not standing. The best hounds, of course, excel in both.

A large, rough-coated Greyhound-like dog.

The following represents but one of several acceptable approaches to judging Irish Wolfhounds. Experienced judges may wish immediately to alter it to suit their personal style and proce- dure. New judges should find it useful as a start that they might modify as their experience develops. However, all judges should follow its general ideas in order to find the dogs that best conform to the Irish Wolfhound Standard. OVERALL IMPRESSION Gain an overall impression of the dogs as a group at the outset. Most people may think that this includes only an impression of the dogs as they stand in a line. I believe it also encompasses the impression that they create in motion. Hence, I recommend that you gain your overall impression by observing the dogs both stand- ing and in motion. 1. Standing. At the start of every class, look up and down the line of dogs in order to assess four critical features: Shape or Outline. Looking at the row of dogs creates your first opportunity to determine which dogs fit the image of the large, rough-coated Greyhound-like dog the Standard calls for. Look for the curves, depth of chest, length of neck, body, and leg that com- bine to produce an outline or silhouette of a large, strong, gallop- ing hound. Remember, the Standard requires first and foremost a large, rough-coated Greyhound-like dog. Reward it highly when you see it; avoid awarding ribbons to those who do not possess it. Presence. Don’t confuse presence with quality. A dog with presence bears itself as if to say, “I am the one!” This dog does not plead for recognition. It knows it is best and hopes you agree. If you don’t, it’s your loss. This dog has “a commanding appear- ance.” Remember that the Standard demands not only great size but commanding appearance. Equally important, don’t mistake the dog with its head held highest in the air for the one with the most presence. In many cases the head held high may reveal pres- ence. However, it can also reveal a serious fault, the column front. Dogs with this fault, often seen in conjunction with ewe necks, may impress the novice, but their strained, uncomfortable stance and movement belies the more relaxed, proud bearing of the Irish Wolfhound with true presence. Quality. An experienced judge said she could not define qual- ity; it speaks for itself. And so, it does. Dogs who possess it stand away from the others, as if they were cast in a special mold. Look for quality, and reward it. Balance. Lack of balance greatly diminishes shape, presence, and quality. All the parts of a balanced Irish Wolfhound fit togeth- er. Curves and length, breadth and depth, substance and shape hang together. A balanced dog rests there, just as the word balance

Typical Irish Wolfhounds are never weak or refined, such as the one above.

JUDGING INDIVIDUAL DOGS Judges differ in the extent to which they rely on two critical elements in judging individual dogs: (1) looking at the dog and (2) feeling, or “getting your hands on the dog.” What should you be looking and feeling for? Only by looking and touching can you ascertain five basic characteristics of Irish Wolfhounds: 1. Substance. Proper substance means the dog has sufficient bone, muscle, breadth, and depth. Think always of two character- istics of substance: (1) power and (2) speed. Irish Wolfhounds must LOOK strong; they must also BE strong. Typical Irish Wolfhounds are never weak or refined, nor should they even appear to be either. They ought to resemble hunt- ers more than racers.



Shoulders well-laid-back that slope inward at the withers.

Short Neck

A hollow, narrow forechest is a serious fault.


The essence of Irish Wolfhound type lies in the balance between power and speed that produces a dog fast enough to catch a wolf and, once caught, strong enough to kill it. Put your hand around a dog’s forearm at the elbow and run it down through the pastern. You should feel thick bone covered with plenty of hard muscle. Your hand, if it is good-sized, should only just reach around the foreleg immediately above the dog’s wrist. The legs should have shape, somewhat broader near the elbow than at the pastern. They should not curve too much; particular- ly, they should not twist. However, forelegs should not resemble tubes or Coke cans; that is, they should not appear round without any curve. Feel the rib cage to determine both the breadth and the depth of chest. Think of an egg shape or oval when feeling the chest. Avoid rewarding dogs with either barrel chests or slab sides. Take special care to look over and feel the hindquarters. The croup should neither fall steeply away nor run flat to the base of the tail. It should gently slope to the dog’s tail. Judges frequently over- look the importance of the croup. Learn to identify the properly sloped croup. It contributes to the galloping hound look; it enhanc- es the dog’s movement. Make sure that you assess the amount and quality of critical muscle in both thigh and second thigh. (See below for more detail on these points.) Some dogs have too much bone and muscle—they are what we call coarse. Hence, they, like the refined “deerhoundy” dogs, lack correct type. However, coarseness is not a breed problem. Indis- criminate breeding leads to refinement, not coarseness in succeed- ing generations. Dogs with too much substance occur sometimes; refinement appears too often. It is much easier to correct coarseness than refinement in breeding. Therefore, if in doubt, prefer a dog with too much substance rather than one with too little. NOTE WELL: Never take this necessary preference for coarseness over refinement to mean that the biggest dogs with the most bone and muscle should always win. Substance must be reckoned in concert with all other important breed character- istics! Think always of the balance between speed and strength.

2. Structure. Assessing structure requires you to determine whether the dog is properly put together. Dogs with the proper structure feel both good and right; your hands should not encoun- ter improperly placed lumps and bumps of bone and muscle as they move down and over a dog’s body. Instead, they ought to glide smoothly from the head over the neck through the shoul- ders, over the back, to the croup and hindquarters. Evaluat- ing structure also requires specifically examining with eyes and hands: Head. In order to judge heads completely, you must take into account its overall shape, and then more particularly the eyes, mouth, teeth and jaws, ears, and whiskers. We do not want either too refined, narrow heads that resemble too much either the Deer- hound on one extreme, or the chiseled Dane head or the broad, thick, short-muzzled Mastiff head with drooping ears at the other. We should see a Greyhound-like head but stronger, a bit thicker and proportionately larger to suit the Irish Wolfhound’s stronger, larger body. Face furnishings, particularly whiskers, ordinarily enhance a dog’s head; they can also conceal weak and exaggerate strong heads. Furthermore, they can soften the undesirable hard expression in some Irish Wolfhounds. The proper Irish Wolf- hound head, combined with a dignified, soft, almost sad, far-off look contributes substantially to correct type. Don’t overrate it, but give it its due. Unfortunately, you will often find unattractively plain or improper heads on dogs that otherwise excel in type. The reverse is also true: beautiful heads filled with type appear on dogs lacking in other respects. As in life generally, don’t allow the beau- tiful face to mar your judgment. Front Assembly - The Neck, Shoulder, Upper Arm, Foreleg, Pastern, and Feet. Relatively long, powerful, arched necks should set into shoulders laid well-back that slope inward at the with- ers. Some say you should find no more than three-fingers width between the withers. Penalize: hounds with short necks set on too far to the front, stuffed into loaded upright shoulders and short upper arms; hounds with narrow, weak giraffe-like necks set on too high; and the ewe-necked hounds that stand with heads uncom- fortably high and necks that break abruptly into the shoulder.





Narrow, weak, giraffe-like neck.

great Victorian authority Stonehenge’s book, not like those sad specimens too often seen in the conformation ring today. Stifles should bend nicely; not nearly so much as the German Shepherd, however, not should they be straight, the latter a more prevalent and more serious fault. Look for strength, substance, and shape throughout the rear assembly. Penalize the hound with heavily boned and muscled thighs followed by spindly, weak second thighs without adequate muscle to balance the thighs above. Tail. Be sure to consider both the structure and the carriage of tails. Irish Wolfhounds should possess long, thick, full-coated tails. The thin or short, or worse, the thin and short tail detracts significantly from balance and type. An excellent hound a few years back suffered from this problem. He was an impressive, strong hound with a short, thin tail. It seriously detracted from his overall balance and appearance. Tails should set neither too high nor too low. The high-set tail, often accompanying a flat back, inevitably makes the unfortunate Irish Wolfhound that possesses it look more like a Sporting dog than a galloping hound. Irish Wolf- hounds should carry their tails with a gentle sweep. Under ordi- nary circumstances, they ought never to stand or move with their tails either between their legs or over their bodies. Coat - Harsh and Thick. Think of a rough coat, one that repels burrs and other objects that can cling to it. The best coats feel harsh to the touch, they are thick, and grow close to the body. Hard, straight coats are frequently seen although not so desir- able. Soft, long, straight coats substantially depart from correct type. Too little coat also deviates from correct type; Greyhounds, not Irish Wolfhounds, should have smooth, short coats. Howev- er, when faced with the unhappy choice, prefer too little to too much coat. 3. Soundness. Typical Irish Wolfhounds possess both sound minds and sound bodies; that is, they must move properly and exhibit correct temperament. The latter we too often overlook. Perhaps nothing detracts more from the Standard’s requirement of commanding appearance than a huge, timid, frightened Irish Wolfhound. Furthermore, shyness, as a well-respected English breeder once told me, is one step away from viciousness.

Upper arms should balance the shoulder in length and angle; they ought also to balance length and angle of the thigh and stifle. You should penalize Irish Wolfhounds with straight, short upper arms, a fault much too prevalent today. Look for, and reward, shapely, strong forearms, and round, strong, tight feet. Look for well-filled forechests; hollow, narrow forechests, revealed in front legs that do not allow you to get a hand comfortably between them, is a serious fault. Overall, consider the column front, or a line that runs straight down from the base of the skull, through the withers, shoulder, upper arm, forearm, and pastern a fault of the most serious kind in Irish Wolfhounds. Body. The proper Irish Wolfhound body contains a chest with both depth and spring of rib, and a back rather long than short, with sufficient muscle throughout and a topline slightly arched over the loin. Both roached backs, fortunately not frequently seen, and flat backs, unhappily more prevalent, are incorrect. Flat toplines deserve special attention, not only because they appear more frequently but also because they seriously detract from the coiled mechanism necessary for efficient galloping. Flat toplines may please the inexperienced; the judge of Irish Wolfhounds must recognize and heavily penalize the flat back. Even worse, penalize the flat, sloping back that makes Irish Wolfhounds resemble giant Sporting dogs. The Irish Wolfhound’s underline should reveal a long brisket with good tuck-up; however, no wasp-waists, please. Look for dogs well-ribbed back; ideally, the space from the last rib to the front of the stifle should not contain more than roughly four slightly spread fingers. Rear Assembly - The Croup, Thighs, Second Thighs, Hocks, and Feet. The proper Irish Wolfhound croup slopes slightly; penal- ize both flat and steep croups, both of which detract from proper Irish Wolfhound type and which indicate weakness in the power and speed of movement. Heavy muscle should cover both thighs and second thighs, the latter too often not given sufficient weight. Looking at the dog from the rear, its assembly and musculature should resemble the working Greyhound, like that pictured in the



Heavy muscles should cover both thigh and second thighs.

Stifles should bend nicely.


4. Fine Points. Now is the time to consider the “finishing touches.” The following add to quality: • Face (dark eyes, nice whiskers, and expression—that sad, faraway look we have all come to know and love in the Irish Wolfhound; the flame- colored eyes have been praised by some throughout history); • Ears (tightly rosed, small); • Coat (harsh, thick, close to the body); • Feet (round toes tight and well-arched); • Condition (healthy coat, good weight and muscle tone, overall thrifty

Temperament. The Standard and the breed’s well- being demand strong, gentle hounds, never aggressive or shy, not even “edgy” ones. Edgy hounds are presently under control, but without their handler’s constant con- trol would surely at least retreat, or perhaps manifest worse characteristics of the weak temperament. One owner told me once that her shy hound stood at such alert that a judge mistook it for presence. The owner said, “I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the dog was frozen with fear.” PLEASE NOTE WELL: Do not include mis- behaved, untrained, or inexperienced dogs in this category. While all of these may detract from a dog, they do not, without more, bespeak poor tempera- ment. Most important, an Irish Wolfhound with poor temperament possesses neither soundness nor correct type; it cannot possibly show great courage or depict commanding appearance. Movement. Four aspects are critical to judging move- ment. They are: fore, aft, reach and drive or stride, and overall easy and active. All are important, but a long, easy, and active stride takes precedence over the others. Forgive some faulty movement coming toward you and going away in a dog that with long, low strides covers ground with grace and economy. The much over-criti- cized cow hocks and flapping fronts are not nearly so seri- ous as the belabored, mincing, short strides so often seen. Dogs with poor stride lack type because the Standard requires that Irish Wolfhounds move easily and actively.

with a strong constitution. THE FINAL JUDGMENT

After you have examined each dog individually, divide your final judgment into two phases. During the first, tentatively arrange the dogs in the order you prefer them, according to decisions made in your overall impressions and assessments of individual dogs. Keep in mind that the overall impression, while important, is not everything. The beautiful silhouette is sometimes weak, refined, in poor condition, and can suffer from important structural problems. These latter will always discount superior shape and soundness. Second, ask the dogs to go around the ring together one (or sometimes two, and rarely three) last time(s). This is no mere formality; neither is it a staged action to increase suspense and test the exhibitors’ endurance. You will often rearrange dogs on this final go around. Why? Not for movement as such. Instead, in this last go around you will often find the dog who excels in shape, quality, presence, and balance, both standing and in motion. Hopeful- ly, the dog you put tentatively at the front of the line will retain the best shape, display the same quality, possess the same presence, and demonstrate equal balance in motion as it did standing still. If not, another dog may replace it. In the end, the winning dog best fits the description: A LARGE, ROUGH- COATED, GREYHOUND-LIKE DOG, FAST ENOUGH TO CATCH A WOLF AND STRONG ENOUGH TO KILL IT.




The information provided here is the property of the Irish Wolfhound Club of America and is printed with permission from the parent club.

C ongratulations on your new Irish Wolf- hound! To help you enjoy your IW and to promote the well-being of the breed, the Irish Wolfhound Club of America would like to provide you with some basic information. THE INSTINCT TO CHASE IS STILL STRONG, SO A FENCE IS IMPORTANT The IW is an ancient breed of the greyhound fam- ily. He was used to hunt wolves and elk and to accom- pany Irish nobles to war. The instincts originally developed for the chase are still very much a part of the modern hounds. Therefore, for their own protection and to main- tain good relations with your neighbors, it is impor- tant that they not be allowed to roam freely. A conven- tional wood or wire fenced yard is essential. Breeders should insist on it. If you don’t have a fence, you’ll need to be with your puppy every time he goes outside. This can be difficult in a busy household. Puppies can be very destructive when confined to the house, which argues even more strongly for a fenced area. THE BREEDER OF YOUR PUPPY SHOULD BE A VALUABLE SOURCE OF INFORMATION Besides adequate exercise, your IW will need pro- fessional veterinary care, vaccinations, good quality food, and basic training and socializing. The growth patterns, nutritional needs, and treatment for health problems are not the same for a giant breed as for small dogs. Reputable and conscientious breeders are

committed to their puppies for life, and should be willing to help you with advice and support for any problems or questions you may have. If for some reason you lose touch with your IW’s breeder, or you simply want to find others near you who share your interest in IWs, the IWCA can provide you with names of knowledgeable owners in your part of the country. Educational materials are available through the club and in book stores. Some of the better resource materials are listed on the back of this brochure. The club magazine, Harp and Hound , is available through membership in the club.



RESOURCES Copies of the breed standard and other informational materials, breed contacts, membership applications, and rescue assistance and information may all be obtained from The Irish Wolfhound Club of America. Visit the website at: Harp and Hound , semi-annual publication of the IWCA, available through membership only. The New Complete Irish Wolfhound , by Joel Samaha, at bookstores and from Howell Book Company. Playtraining Your Dog , by Patricia Gail Burnham, at bookstores and from St. Martin’s Press. What All Good Dogs Should Know , by Volhard & Bartlett, at bookstores and from Howell Book Company. The Magnificent Irish Wolfhound , by Mary McBryde. The Irish Wolfhound Guide , by Alfred De Quoy A more comprehensive list may be found on the IWCA web site. Copyright 2014, The Irish Wolfhound Club of America, Inc. Reproduction is limited to non-commercial use. measures how closely an IW conforms to the official AKC breed standard. Neutered dogs can participate in obedience competi- tions, lure coursing, tracking, rally, agility, and junior showman- ship (for youngsters between the ages of 10 and 18). Canine Good Citizen is another activity you and your dog can participate in to demonstrate your dog’s good behavior. Not all hounds do well in every one of these events, but if you can find one that both you and the dog enjoy, it can provide you with many hours of rewarding companionship. Of course, even though many IWs don’t excel at the precision exercises necessary for obedience competition, you’ll need to teach your hound man- ners and enough obedience commands to make him or her a com- fortable companion and good citizen.

TO BREED OR NOT TO BREED The decision to breed your IW should not be taken lightly. You should not even consider producing a litter of puppies unless you are prepared to devote the time, energy, and funds to give them a good start in life and to keep every puppy until a suitable home can be found. The expense of producing and raising a litter can be quite large, and proper homes for IWs are not always easy to find. Neuter- ing your IW is a simple and relatively safe alternative that has many health benefits as well. If you decide to take on the commitment of breeding your IW, the IWCA urges you to proceed responsibly. Like every AKC-registered breed, Irish Wolfhounds have an approved standard that describes a model of how the ideal IW should look, move, and behave. Respon- sible breeders strive to produce hounds which conform to this stan- dard. They will not breed animals with serious deviations from it, and certainly not breed any IWs with serious health problems or known genetic defects. They carefully screen potential homes, help educate new owners, and bear lifelong responsibility for the puppies they produce. If for any reason the owners cannot keep the puppy, responsible breeders either take the puppy back or provide help in locating a new and suitable home, regardless of the age of the hound. Unfortunately, these ideals are not always adhered to. The IWCA has an active network of rescue coordinators who help to place IWs needing a new home and rescue abandoned or abused dogs. A COMFORTABLE COMPANION AND GOOD CITIZEN IWs are eligible to participate in a wide variety of AKC-sanc- tioned activities. Conformation showing is open only to non-neu- tered dogs (except the veteran’s class at independent specialties) and



E ver hear the public ask some- one at shows, “Are you a breeder?” and the response, “Yes” and do you wonder about the person giving that response? I have known a few great “breeders” in this and other breeds who have dedicated themselves to understanding their breed standard, their bloodlines, their gene pool and everything else that this encompasses including health issues. They produce, with consistency, great dogs and when problems occur, they know where the problems come from or take steps to find out. This may be something long buried which suddenly pops up when combined with the genetic makeup of another dog and they take steps to correct it. These breeders are few and far between, mainly because the work and dedication involved is so intense. They are the backbone of the sport as their search for knowledge takes them from their own breed into other breeds. These are the people to call when one has questions, as their com- mitment to knowledge is the source of answers to many questions and if they do not know they will often tell you who might know. It is important to ask questions of those with a proven track record. Casual information from

misinformed people can bring one to ruin in a great hurry; just as internet information, while conve- nient, can come from unknown and uninformed sources. The strength of a great breeder is in the understanding of the faults and strengths of dogs of the past and their abilities to pass on those strengths. Understanding that very elusive term “type” is worth a lifetime of study. Being long interested in the effects of coat color on eye color and pigmenta- tion, I met with a breeder of two sight hound breeds to discuss the color dilu- tion in one of the breeds and that effect on eye color. If puppies appear with dif- ferent green, blue or yellow eye colors, what coat colors influence that and does it always relate to coat color? In these two breeds, like ours, the standard calls for a dark eye but that is difficult, if not impossible, to maintain in dogs that are blue factored. In this particu- lar instance, a red brindle was bred to a blue brindle, thus producing blue eyes and more recently seen, green eyes. In Dachshunds, breeders have incor- rectly bred double dapples to same and produced no eyes, blue eyes and small eyes. In reds, breeding for several gen- erations of these colors together and then having an in-breeding resulted in

green eyes and Dudley noses. In Shel- ties, it has generally been the practice to breed Blue merles to black or tri, not to sable. Recently Blues have been bred to sables producing something called a sable merle, which I am told can be dis- tinguished at a young age but when old- er, looks like a sable. This in turn bred to a sable can produce or has produced dogs with one blue and one brown eye. Not something being received well by the responsible breeders. In our breed, we should be alert to eye color and/or pigmentation as dogs with questionable pigmentation bred incor- rectly can result in a color dilution. This blue factor can appear in what seems to be a grey; in reds brindles; and in wheaten brindles but with an underly- ing white with a black brindle and prob- ably others as well. Eye color, rather than being a dark gold or brown, can be a washed out yellow color, which is a color that can occur in the Blue Brindle or blue fawn Greyhounds. These dilute eyes appear flat rather than having depth to them, as you look into them. We see this same flat yellow color in our breed. In Boston Terriers, excessive white sometimes comes in conjunction with blue eyes, which can be related to other health issues. In our breed, pig- mentation may go hand in hand with


Jill Bregy, Wildisle, reg, est. 1966, is the breeder of multiple AKC champions and one International Champion, including Multiple BIS and BISS Ch. Wildisle Warlock.



eye color. The Deerhound Standard calls for the rims of the eyelids to be black. In our Standard, it states under Faults—“…lips or nose liver-colored or lacking in pigmentation.” On several occasions, I have heard people say that they saw a blue Wolf- hound. When questioned, they seemed to be referring to the coat color, not the eye color. On color, our standard says “The recognized colors are gray, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn or any other color that appears in the Deerhound” The Deerhound standard states: “Color is a matter of fancy, but the dark blue-gray is most preferred. Next comes the darker and lighter grays and brindles, the darkest being generally preferred. Yellow or sandy red and red fawn, especially with black ears and muzzles, are equally high in estimation….” As we see, blue-gray appears here, so one should be careful in Irish Wolfhounds to condemn a blue- gray as a blue. While we may not see these or other problems directly in our own breed- ing program, this may only be due to making lucky choices of mates or pure dumb luck. The main point here is hav- ing some knowledge of what can and does happen in other breeds and know- ing that it can happen in ours as well. So, like everything else, as a “breeder” one should be aware of this as well as a myriad of other things in order to avoid the many pitfalls of a gene pool gone wild. It is interesting to note that in Deer- hounds, under Color, it says “White is condemned by all authorities but a white chest and white toes, occurring as they do in many of the darkest-col- ored dogs, are not objected to, although the less the better for the Deerhound is a self-colored dog. A white blaze on the head or a white collar, should entirely disqualify.” I bring this up as one might wonder if the early authors of this stan- dard might be telling us something about the effects of excessive white markings and the problems this might create if left unattended in a breed- ing program. In Rhodesians, excessive white is also addressed and this in a breed that calls for light wheaten to red wheaten in coat color. In Otter Hounds, the standard says that eyes are dark, but may vary with the color of the hound and additionally under color, any color or combination of colors is acceptable.

• AKC judge. Judged 24 Specialties around the world. • Former President IWANE; Former IWANE Newsletter Editor; Former Education Chair. • Show Chair IWCA 1980 and 81. Originated Boutique and Auction. • Education Chair of the IWCA from 2007-10. • Former President and Show Chair Longshore/Southport Kennel Club; developed School Education and Nursing Home programs. • Current Show Chairman of Trap Falls Kennel Club where she devel- oped the show as a venue for five Specialties and 17 Supported Entry Clubs. • Member IWAWC, IWCC, IWANE • Former Director and VP of IWCA; wrote original Code of Ethics. • Active in Connecticut Legisla- tion. Helped create legislation to prevent Inter and Intra-state sale of puppies under eight weeks of age. First State to do so. As Education Chair IWCA and election to Board in 2007, the committee: • Completed the Illustrated Standard with the Illustrated Standard Committee. • Original member. • Completed Power Point presenta- tion, combined with video for DVD. • Completed Judges Pocket Guide. • Developed the “100 years of Wolf- hounds”; submitted to web master articles by Dodds, Van Kruinin- gen; Coen; Trotter, etc; established “Visions of the Breed” series; etc. • Developed Education Fund Rais- ers, Historic Calendar, Tote bag and DVD raising $1700+ in 2009. • Began work on IW University. • Established mailing system to edu- cate new provisional judges. • Established Mentor list of 26 to conduct workshops for Regional IW Clubs and Judges Study Groups. • Provided Education programs at IWCA in 2008, 2009, 2010 and into 2011. • Coordinated booths at “Meet the Breeds” events in Raleigh, NYC and Chicago.

The nose should be darkly pigmented, black or liver, depending on the color of the hound. The late Brig. Gen A.W. DeQuoy who was a master historian in our breed and a man with a brilliant mind, discussed eye color by saying that while the “list of points in the order of merit” called for a dark eye as number 16, it did not say brown, arguing that a gold eye could still be dark. An interesting statement as this is exactly some Greyhound breed- ers have said—30 years later. A study of our standard, and other standards, can only enhance our ability to truly understand the dog in front of us. You must have a vision of the ulti- mate dog in your mind and this can only be done if you actually understand all of the parts and how they create form and function. A desire to learn and understand— not just to breed—is what is what sets the breeders and protectors of the breed apart from those just breeding dogs and calling themselves breeders. The issue of color dilution is just one of many issues that need to be addressed in a breeding program— every point of the dog from teeth to coat to head to eye to balance to feet to croup, topline, neck, tail, front and rear assembly—all encompassing the elu- sive type and soundness—and so many more, all need to be thought about and addressed in your search back through every pedigree that relates to yours. Are you a breeder or just breeding dogs? ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jill Bregy, Wildisle, reg, est. 1966, is the breeder of multiple AKC champi- ons and one International Champion, including Multiple BIS and BISS Ch. Wildisle Warlock. This in addition to All-Breed Best in Show winners; mul- tiple BISS winners and trained the sev- enth IW to receive a CDX. Jill: • Wrote the Illustrated Study of the Irish Wolfhound, published 1988; now in its fifth edition. • Has written articles on color, gait, ethics, breeding programs, etc. • Lectured here and abroad to IW Clubs. • Completed video on “Understand- ing the Standard” used by IWCA. • Completed video on “Evaluating Irish Wolfhound Puppies.” • Former AKC Gazette Columnist.



I nstead of proselytizing on my breeding program and old-style Wolfhounds, I wish to approach this topic differently. That is to offer guidance, helpful instruction and stimulation to both aspiring and approved AKC Irish Wolfhound judges. For the latter, especially, because it is human nature to fall into a pattern and lose sight of the ABC’s of overall dog conformation in the less than two- minutes per dog “get’em in and get’em out” show ring rush. The consequences of doing so, though, can and have been harmful, especially for Gazehounds who possess unique blueprints that dis- tinguish them from other breeds. Inferiority and mediocracy abound in the conformation show ring today. In my considered opinion, of this, there is little ambiguity. Missing is an integral character of the Wolfhound breed essence, that being a fluid, gen- tly curved topline. More often than not, we observe specimens with flat, level backs having no arch nor mus- cling over the loin. These representa- tions, as a rule, are rectangularly shaped and or having a tubular outline usually accompanied by too long a torso, are slack-loined and have insufficient leg length. Without question, shorter legs and a lack of an arc over the loin is the antithesis of the galloping Gazehound. Long legs and lengthy upper arms are symbolic of swiftness, and the arch pro- vides flexibility for bending and fold- ing. This hinge should be broad and

well-muscled, as it is the coupling that attaches and transfers the locomotive’s energy through the torso to the load- bearing joints of the forequarters. Allow me to touch upon just a few other frequently seen failures in engi- neering. Beginning with forward-set, and steep shoulder articulation with a poorly fashioned set-on of the neck, flat withers and straight, short upper arms. All of which invariably produces Wolfhounds with hollow or concave forechests, uncharacteristic narrow- ness and lack of bone throughout, who by and large, I would argue are “shelly” in appearance. Who’d have thought that this term could apply to the Irish Wolf- hound breed? For those unacquainted, this phrase describes a shallow brisket with a narrow or slab-sided body which is lacking the desired correct amount of bone. In actuality, when viewed in profile often the brisket depth, owing mostly to coat, will appear to meet the elbows, but the ensuing hands-on exam of the forechest will detect little depth or even a hollowness usually under an abundance of hair. Naturally, the archi- tecture of forward-set (Stuck-on fronts), steep shoulders, and the critical dearth of development in the forepart of the chest dramatically reduces the area for muscle mass resulting in a shortage of “fill.” Form and function will dictate the desired quantity and quality of “fill” within a dog’s station which effectu- ates performance. Fill is not just skeletal

parts, particularly the prosternum and sternum (breastbone), but muscling that protects the vital organs and is to be plentiful and productive while sur- rounding the bow or keel. The fill or musculature collection includes the serratus ventralis muscle, which is the sling and stabilizer of the thorax as well as the deltoids and brachial muscles. The descending and transverse pecto- rals, which advance the forelegs and draw the limbs in towards the axis or center line of the body, and the super- ficial and deep pectoral muscles which stabilize the forelegs. The cause and effect of a poorly designed forehand with shallow fill on a hunter who dispatches wolves and large game would put that hound at high risk of injury or even death. Consider that the forechest has a multifold purpose. It is part of his bulk to both injure prey plus it absorbs and disperses the force of that impact preventing damage to the frontal portion of the skeletal struc- ture. The hollow-chested Wolfhound with flatter ribs who frequently is not well-ribbed up will have a deficient area for muscling. All conclusively affect the diaphragm, heart and lung capacity that even our novice judges must recognize is a contradiction for a “Wolf killer.” Having said all that; we are not seek- ing a barrel or accentuated ‘spread’ of the chest, as in the Bulldog, as this exaggeration is most unquestionably not appropriate for any galloping Gaze- hound. Mainly because it would prevent



the scapula and elbows from swinging backward smoothly over the ribcage, and at a bare minimum, it would result in “elbow burn,” abrasion caused by friction to the skin. All of the faults mentioned above are discernible on a giant, athletic Wolf- hound, and any qualified AKC Judge should be able to identify these aberra- tions. Regrettably, more often than not these glaring structural faults are being overlooked and awarded. All one has to do is flip through magazine advertise- ments to behold such phenomenon. What is happening? Are not judges edu- cated in the fundamentals of anatomy or is it that they do they not value these elements, any longer? Judges are confronted routinely with Irish Wolfhound entries who lack essential character. For those enthusi- asts seeking to judge sighthounds, one must be able to recognize harmony. The absence of conforming forequarters and a flowing, curving form alters the shape and the design of the archetypical Wolf- hound. Appreciate symmetry as it allows an animal to move efficiently and expe- ditiously. A hound with a steep scapu- la assembly cannot gait as efficiently as one who has an oblique shoulder arrangement, assuming all other things

being equal such as long, smooth mus- cling versus overly developed abduc- tor muscles. Symmetry is functional and practical and not just for aesthet- ics. Symmetry begets beauty based on reasonable goals. As an aspiring all-around Hound specialist, I have attended my fair share of judges educational programs and have asked an uncomplicated question of each breed specialist. In their judg- ment, what points or virtues are more indispensable in connection with the weaknesses of that breed? Admittedly, judges, mentors and fanciers will dis- agree as to how to apply the breed stan- dard to a dog. Even so, I grill mentors about trade- offs because the reality is that while adjudicating, many times we are faced with mediocre and inferior entries cre- ating a circumstance whereas compro- mise will avail. I spoke briefly about several inherent embodiments of the Wolfhound breed already. Facts speak for themselves when identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each entry as compared to the breed standard and yet, subjectiveness seems to win out during the show ring ‘race against time,’ with the standard manner of proceeding always more comfortable than stepping back and pausing for reflection. Though my visual presenta- tion transcends this essay, it will have to suffice. What one seeks is a rough-coated Greyhound-like dog of great size and commanding appearance, a wolf killer. You must value balance and look for strength! We strive for a hound with substance and symmetry, fore and aft, who ‘fills the eye.’ One having slop- ing shoulders and a forechest that fills the hand, over which the ideal blend of neck and topline flow rear- ward over a moderately curved, broad loin on a well-ribbed up torso poised on long legs. This hound retains their shape on the move! The above typi- fies the blueprint and effectuates the hound’s purpose.

Be aware of breeding shortcuts such as a Wolfhound who may appear to have an attractive silhouette of curves but is narrow throughout lacking the requisite substance, bone, who com- monly has an upright shoulder. One tip is to step to the rear of the Wolfhound and view the torso from above. We endeavor to have an elliptical-shaped chest and rib spring. Another frequent- ly seen variation is the hound who has a deceiving “presence” but whose forward-set frontal column and tubular- shaped neck place the skull and ears directly over the footpads of the front feet. Although the hound may have con- tours in profile, he is vertically built and moves with an upward motion versus driving forward with momentum. The flip side is the Wolfhound whose build includes a tolerable shoulder into a flat topline on a long, low-slung, rectangu- lar-shaped body with a shorter leg. All of these physiques are unorthodox and represent the majority of what we see in competition and the uneducated or faint-hearted Judges pick “the best of the similar” ignoring the well-made out- lier if any. Be mindful of the fact that there is no such thing as different types in the Irish Wolfhound breed; just vari- ances in form and anatomy. In conclusion, when you assess the Wolfhounds in your presence consider the following introspections of two highly regarded breed presenters and specialists. The first is Joel Samaha who explains that you are looking for, “A wolf killer in Greyhound form, a large, rough-coated, Greyhound-like dog, fast enough to catch a wolf and strong enough to kill it.” The other, Samuel Evans Ewing III, while musing on dog show judges’ reliance on what they perceived as type and soundness stated, “If you don’t know type then you don’t know soundness for that breed either...If I had to choose between the two, I would go first to type and then to soundness. I think soundness is deter- mined somewhat by the type of the ani- mal and its purpose in life.”


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