BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY : We
know the continental Celts kept a greyhound probably descended
from the greyhounds first depicted in Egyptian paintings.
Like their continental counterparts, the Irish Celts were
interested in breeding large hounds, but theirs seem to have
been even bigger than the more ancient variety. These large
Irish hounds could have had smooth or rough coats, but in
later time, the rough coat came to predominate possibly because
of the Irish weather. The first written account of these dogs
was by a Roman Consul in 391 A.D. but they were already established
in Ireland in the first century A.D. when Setanta changed
his name to Cu-Chulainn (the hound of Culan). Mention is made
of the Uisneach (1st century) taking 150 hounds with them
in their flight to Scotland. Irish hounds undoubtedly formed
the basis of the Scottish Deerhound.
Pairs of Irish hounds were prized as gifts by the Royal houses
of Europe, Scandinavia and elsewhere from the Middle Ages
to the 17th century. They were sent to England, Spain, France,
Sweden, Denmark, Persia, India and Poland. The change of name
to Wolfdog probably dates from the 15th century when each
county was required to keep 24 Wolfdogs to protect farmers’
flocks from the ravages of wolves. The Cromwellian prohibition
(1652) on the export of Wolfhounds helped preserve their numbers
for a time but the gradual disappearance of the wolf and the
continued demand abroad reduced their numbers almost to the
point of extinction by the end of the 17th century.
It was probably part of the surge of Romantic nationalism
which helped to revive interest in the breed. The Wolfhound
achieved a true strain only through fairly frequent inbreeding,
but the results were ultimately accepted as a legitimate revival
of the breed. A club for the Irish Wolfhound was formed in
1885 and the Irish Kennel Club scheduled a class for the breed
at their show in April 1879. The Wolfhound now enjoys once
again something of the reputation it had in the Middle Ages
and excites the most interest because it is a living symbol
of Irish culture, a remembrance of the Celtic past. Wolfhounds,
lambs at home, lions in the chase, are now bred in fairly
large numbers outside Ireland.
GENERAL APPEARANCE : The Irish Wolfhound should not be quite
so heavy or massive as the Great Dane, but more so than the
Deerhound, which in general type he should otherwise resemble.
Of great size and commanding appearance, very muscular, strongly
though gracefully built, movements easy and active; head and
neck carried high; the tail carried with a slight curve towards
HEAD : Long and level, carried high; the frontal bones of
the forehead very slightly raised and very little indentation
between the eyes. CRANIAL REGION : Skull : Not too broad.
FACIAL REGION : Muzzle : Long and moderately pointed. Jaws/Teeth
: Scissor bite ideal, level acceptable. Eyes : Dark Ears :
Small, greyhound-like in carriage.
NECK : Rather long, very strong and muscular, well arched,
without dewlap or loose skin about the throat. BODY : Long,
well ribbed up . Back : Rather long than short. Loins : Arched.
Croup : Great breadth between hips. Chest : Very deep, moderately
broad; breast wide. Ribs : Well sprung. Belly : Well drawn
TAIL : Long and slightly curved, of moderate thickness, and
well covered with hair.
LIMBS FOREQUARTERS : Forelegs heavily boned, quite straight.
Shoulders : Muscular, giving breadth of chest, set sloping.
Elbows : Well-set under, neither turned inwards nor outwards.
Forearm : Muscular. HINDQUARTERS : Thighs : Long and muscular.
Stifle : Nicely bent. Second thigh : Well muscled, long and
strong as in the greyhound. 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
GAIT / MOVEMENT : Movements easy and active. COAT HAIR :Rough
and hard on body, legs and head; especially wiry and long
over eyes and under jaw. COLOUR : The recognized colours are
grey, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn or any colour
that appears in the Deerhound.
SIZE AND WEIGHT : The minimum height and weight of dogs should
be 31 inches (79 cm) and 120 pounds (54,5 kg); of bitches,
28 inches (71 cm) and 90 pounds (40,5 kg). Anything below
this should be debarred from competition. Great size and commanding
appearance (bold type), 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 inches (81 cm) to 34 inches (86 cm) in dogs, showing the
requisite power, activity, courage and symmetry.
FAULTS : Any departure from the foregoing points should be
considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault
should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.
· Too light or too heavy a head.
· Too highly arched frontal bone.
· Nose any colour other than black.
· Lips of any other colour than black.
· Very light eyes. Pink or liver-coloured eyelids.
· Large ears, hanging flat to the face.
· Short neck; full dewlap.
· Too short in body.
· Back sunken or hollow or quite straight.
· Chest too narrow or too broad.
· Tail too curly.
· Bent forelegs; overbent fetlocks.
· Weak hindquarters and a general want of muscle.
· Twisted feet.
· Spreading toes.
N.B. : Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles
fully descended into the scrotum.