Why a Purebred
Purebred breeders take the health of their puppies very seriously and in general, most reputable breeders guarantee their pups, should any future health concerns arise. Breeders carefully review pedigrees to chose the stud and dam pairs they will breed in order to eliminate any genetic diseases, hence safeguarding the best possible health for the offspring. This process can also have the advantage of saving you on veterinary costs.
Breeders will inform you about the stud and dam and their lineage, which is extremely important in order for you to be aware of exactly where your new addition came from. They will also introduce you to the dam and sometimes the stud (if on site) so you can interact with them, and will provide you with official pedigrees and pictures of both parents.
- Temperament Predictability
Purebred dogs have predictable temperaments. That’s why it’s so important to meet at least one of the parents so you can experience first hand the breed’s temperament and behaviour. Reputable breeders not only choose their breeding pair for health, but also for temperament and physical standards. This results in the predictability of the traits your puppy will display as he/she matures.
- Ethical Breeding
Reputable breeders are a wonderful source of information and knowledge, which they are always happy to share with you. You become and remain part of the breeder’s extended family throughout the life of your dog. Breeders will always welcome back any of their dogs should your circumstances change and you can no longer care for it. Unfortunately, less reputable breeders breed only for profit, without ethical concerns for health and temperament. Should you encounter any issues, these producers will be all but impossible to contact.
Why Quality Counts, by Jacqueline Carswell
“I’m not interested in a show dog, only a family companion.” After hearing these words over and over again, they have become a trigger point for me. Everyone wants a family companion to live a life as pain free and healthy as possible. I then spend the next 30 minutes explaining why a purposely-bred dog from a true preservation breeder would better fulfill this desire. Why would anyone not want this not only for themselves but for the welfare of the hound?
Each breed of dog has a standard, a blueprint so to speak, which was adopted by its founding breeder members for each breed’s parent club. This standard is what every breeder should study, understand and adhere to when producing dogs for not only the preservation of the breed, but for family companions. Why? So we can have fancy, pretty dogs? No, so the dog can perform the function it was meant to perform and do so with efficiency and without suffering any long-term physical damage. Dog shows are the arena in which breeders come together to have an evaluator assess their dogs, share these results with other breeders as well as the public and compare notes with one another to improve their breeding programs. They do this for the betterment and welfare of the hound. Why should this be important to you, the person who only wants a pet? Because you should also want and deserve a conformationally correct puppy that has been given every opportunity and has the potential to live a long healthy life.
I will mention just a few areas of our breed standard and why they are important when it comes to the health of your dog. Let’s start with the feet, front and rear end. The standard states the following:
- Feet — moderately large and round, neither turned inwards nor outwards.
- Toes — well arched and closed.
- Forequarters — shoulders muscular, giving breadth of chest, set sloping.
- Elbows — well under, neither turned inwards nor outwards.
- Hindquarters — muscular thighs and second thigh long and strong as in the Greyhound.
- Hocks — well let down and turning neither in nor out.
“As long as they have four feet and four legs, why does anything else matter, I’ll love them anyway”? Do you love your giant breed sighthound enough to not want him/her to suffer orthopedic issues and live their geriatric years in pain?
I’m not going to go into specifics as to why the IW needs to be constructed in this manner to perform its job (different audience) but rather how this affects the hounds health. At maturity, a hound that is in fit shape will weight approximately 130 to 180 lbs, female and male respectively. Fit shape being hardened muscle with ribs you can feel but not see, nicely fleshed over. They carry all of this weight on four feet. If the hound has small, flat feet with long toes, it isn’t going to be able to support its weight properly, which will have a domino affect on the rest of the hound’s skeleton. When one area hurts, it’s natural for the body to compensate and use other areas. If the legs are not strong and built correctly then other areas such as the hip, elbow and knee joints take the brunt of the load. Your hound could end up with hip/elbow dysplasia, luxating patellas, HOD, OCD, panosteitis and a host of other joint cartilage problems. Poor or incorrect nutrition as well as improper exercise can also exacerbate these types of orthopedic diseases in puppies. This is where a knowledgeable breeder is crucial, to help you navigate the waters of proper nutrition during the rapid growth phase. Deep chested breeds can be prone to bloat and torsion. If a breeder is breeding dogs that are too fine boned and slight in stature, with a deep, narrow chest lacking spring of rib, with an underline that sharply juts up to a narrow waist (herring gut or wasp waist) this creates a prime situation for bloat and torsion. And of course the spine of the dog, called the topline, needs to be correct with a proper well muscled loin. If the dog doesn’t have a strong topline then it runs the risk of having spinal issues early in life leaving the hound much debilitated in its geriatric years. A topline that is either sagging or roach-backed is weak and structurally incorrect. This could also put unnecessary strain on other parts of the body, which could contribute to the same orthopedic issues mentioned above.
These are the faults listed in the Irish Wolfhound Breed Standard:
- 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;
- over bent 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.
Let me ask you this, you may feel correct conformation is inconsequential and you don’t care what the dog looks like, but don’t you care how your dog feels? Wouldn’t you prefer not to spend your time and money at the Veterinarian hospital with a condition that could have been avoided by making an informed decision concerning the breeding program you supported? Preservation breeders don’t eliminate the above mentioned faults from their breeding program to simply produce a beautiful dog. They do it because it is of great benefit to the hounds’ health both physically and mentally. A hound with no pain is a happy hound.
In the breeding and owning of Irish wolfhounds today, there seems to be a whole lot of “about me and what I want” and not enough about “the hound and what it needs” happening. First, determine if this is the right breed for you and if you can provide what it needs to have a long and healthy life. Do this by visiting several preservation breeders and be willing to make the necessary changes to your home and or lifestyle to provide these needs. Next, obtain your puppy from a knowledgeable well-established breeder or from a breeder under the mentorship of one of the aforementioned breeders. Our hounds deserve our best.