Showsight Presents The Irish Wolfhound


Let’s Talk Breed Education!


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.”



General Appearance: Of great size and commanding appearance, the Irish Wolfhound is remarkable in combin- ing 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 min- imum height and weight of dogs should be 3 2 inches and 1 2 0 pounds; of bitches, 3 0 inches and 1 0 5 pounds; these to apply only to hounds over 1 8 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

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 fet- locks; 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.

to firmly establish a race that shall average from 3 2 to 3 4 inches in dogs, showing the requisite power, activity, courage and sym- metry. Head: Long, the frontal bones of the fore- head 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.

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. Page 2 of 2 8. Body, long, well-ribbed up, with ribs well sprung, and great breadth across hips.

Neck: Rather long, very strong and muscu- lar, 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

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.

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,

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



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