Frequently Asked Questions

While electronic fencing works wonderfully for many, it should be remembered that Irish Wolfhounds are sighthounds, and as such, many of them will have a very strong instinct to chase moving objects like cats, squirrels, or blowing pieces of paper. Wolfhounds intent on the chase have been known to override previous conditioning to electric shock in the drive to reach their prey. Therefore, the use full physical fencing whenever possible is recommended to keep our hounds safe.

Fiona’s Story
Our sympathy goes out to Fiona’s owner, and we thank him for allowing us to use it.

Maybe this is not the right place to tell this story, but I need to do so while the event is still fresh in my experience. This morning, my beautiful hound and gentle companion, Fiona, was killed by a car after she and the Norwegian Elkhound I recently acquired to keep her company romped onto the road. The smaller dog wasn’t hurt. I live on an acreage in the country, and a neighbour came to my door to tell me what happened. I crossed the highway, and she was lying in the ditch, her front shoulder shattered, still breathing and able to raise her head to look at me with the gentle expression I had come to love over the past year and a half that she had been with me. Fiona would have been two in October. A check of her pulse and pale mucous membranes confirmed my fear that she was in shock from potential severe internal injuries. I knew she would never be an active dog again, and I tearfully requested that my neighbour fetch his gun and end her suffering. Over the following five to ten minutes, I stayed with my friend, held her head, and stroked the silky ears one last time as life ebbed from her and she stopped breathing. The pupils in her brown eyes dilated, and she was gone. Randy returned, and we loaded her into his truck; I borrowed a shovel and drove her to a peaceful spot on a country road near some crown land. There I dug a grave and laid her to rest. The autumn morning sun lit up the shimmering aspens as I made my last farewell to this most wonderful of pets. I don’t think Fiona was a particularly smart dog, but she had a wonderful temperament and never showed aggression, despite her awesome size. She was particularly good with all ages of children. I had wanted a Wolfhound for as long as I can remember, and when, at age fifty, I finally got Fiona, I was not disappointed. She was everything I had hoped for.

Could this have been prevented? Yes. Adequate fencing would have worked. Unfortunately, I did not have time to see to this, since moving onto my five-acre site two weeks ago. An ironic twist to this tale was that I had purchased an electric “shock collar & boundary wire” device just yesterday with 1000 feet of wire. I was reading the installation instructions when the knock came on my door. Yesterday I phoned several pet stores and was told that they did not approve of these devices and would not stock them. Yet, after inspecting the package, I see various animal humane groups endorse them. I suspect my wolfhound would have been conditioned quickly to stay off the road, having witnessed the respect she quickly acquired for other types of electric fences on friends’ farms. I never noticed any neurotic traits develop from these encounters.

What more can I say? If you want to avoid an emotional experience akin to the loss of a human family member, I would strongly urge owners to invest the $200 to $400 needed to reduce the chance of a fatal outcome for your pet. Not to mention the prospect of massive veterinary bills in the event of a non-lethal injury. I wish I had acted sooner. Now it’s too late.

As you have experienced, tail wounds are hard to deal with. The area where the skin is broken must be protected until it heals, and then hair grows again, which can take several weeks. Confining the hound is not a good idea; he needs space to wag his tail without hitting it, and breaking the wound open again.

Ask your vet for Furacin dressing ointment, Vetwrap, and sterile gauze pads. You will also need a roll of gauze, some Epsom salts, iodine, and strippable painter’s tape. At least twice a day (more often is better), wash the wound in a solution of Epsom salts and warm water. Then dip the tail tip in iodine. Coat the area with Furacin and wrap in several gauze pads, forming a cushion. Cover this with the Vetwrap, then tape the top end to the tail with the painter’s tape. It holds well but comes off easily without tearing off more hair. Go up the tail a few inches above the end of the Vetwrap covered gauze with this tape but leave the wound area only covered by the gauze and Vetwrap. This cannot be left on for more than a few hours. If you can’t stop the hound from wagging and hitting its tail, then, using the roll of gauze, tie his tail up under his belly. This will have to be removed when he goes outside or when you leave him alone, and it should only be done until the wound has healed.

Alternate Tail Wrap (thanks to Nancy for suggesting this)

Instead of tying the tail up under the belly, you tie the tail to the leg with a loop of gauze that is loose enough to permit the tail to be moved for pottying and won’t slip off over the foot if the dog has a nap on the couch. This bandage is usually on the tail above the injury, and is there simply to keep the tail from striking things while it heals.

If your dog tolerates it, you can tie the loop in a bow on the upper thigh. That way, it can be easily undone when necessary. Taping like this will leave the wound open to the air for healing and preventing more damage. Ensure that any knots will not slip to cut off circulation to the tail. The soft gauze usually doesn’t bother the dog, and the setup is quite convenient, since you don’t have to redo bandages if your dog need a trip outside.

An average purchase price would be $2,500. There are many costs for Wolfhounds over and above the price of a puppy. Expect food bills of about $200–$300 per month, depending on diet choices. Any equipment purchased for giant breeds is more expensive than for smaller breeds. Vet bills for most procedures cost more because larger quantities are required. Also, fencing has to be taller than average and cover a larger area. All these things should be considered before purchasing a Wolfhound.

This has not been a major problem in the breed, but a few hounds have developed HD, and those who believe this could be a problem in their line, or who want to be able to state that a particular hound is unlikely to pass this on, have x-rays done. There is a nutritional component to the development of HD, and any large, fast-growing breed (like the IW) is susceptible. Pups should be kept lean, and fed a diet that meets all their nutritional needs.

Coat variations range from short (a smooth coated, more greyhound look) to quite long and soft. However, the preferred coat for an adult Irish Wolfhound would be one that is harsh and medium length. This type of coat is called for in the Standard, which states, “Hair rough and hard on body, legs and head; especially wiry and long over eyes and under jaw. The recognized colours are grey, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn, or any colour that appears in the Deerhound.”

No, absolutely not. However, Wolfhounds are giants, which is usually enough to discourage the uninvited from coming onto your property. They should never be “trained” to be guard dogs, and training them to do that would be very dangerous — if even possible. The type of training required would break a gentle wolfhound’s spirit before creating a guard dog. Please choose another breed.

Be sure that your young Wolfhound has enough free exercise to burn off his extra energy. Although Wolfhounds shouldn’t be over exercised during their growth, they do need to romp and rest afterward. If they have a secure outdoor area to play in, and lots of toys, they will exercise themselves. To ensure that they don’t get carried away indoors, they must be continuously supervised, or confined to an area such as a laundry room where they can’t do too much harm, until they can be monitored. Note, though, that they shouldn’t be confined for long periods. A rubber Kong for chewing is helpful during teething. Be patient; they will outgrow this destructive stage.

Irish Wolfhounds are generally a sturdy breed. The life-threatening medical ailments most often seen are the typical ones found in large breeds: cancer (osteosarcoma and lymphosarcoma) and heart problems. There is ongoing research into heart disease and the study of canine osteosarcoma at Cornell University, supported by funding from Morris Animal Foundations, which will hopefully help eliminate these.

Bloat is another potentially life-threatening ailment to which deep-chested (greyhound-shaped) dogs such as Irish Wolfhounds are predisposed. Owner awareness of causes and symptoms is necessary for quick action if bloat occurs.

Try introducing your new pup to the older dog on neutral ground, such as in a friend’s yard. After the initial meeting, you return home with your older dog, and your friend brings the pup along a few minutes later. Give your older dog lots of attention and treats so that he doesn’t feel his relationship with you is being threatened. Sometimes older dogs are frightened of a pup and growl or react by attempting to dominate the puppy. Let the older dog display his superior position unless he gets rough, in which case you should use a verbal reprimand. It is sometimes difficult to stand by and let the dogs establish their order, as puppies can scream pathetically when they are actually not being hurt at all. Don’t be too quick to interfere. Also, puppies can get rambunctious and be too much for an older dog, so the pup should get some time on its own for play, and, of course, the older dog should also continue to get its share of individual attention. Usually, within a few days, the new pup will integrate into your home.

Regular brushing and combing, which takes only minutes a day, is all that is needed. Their nails should be cut at least once a month. Grooming for a show involves more, including a bath about two weeks before the show, so some crispness returns to the coat. Striping out the long ear hair, the occiput area, and trimming the neck area as well as the inside thighs and feet should also be done for a show. Excessive removal of neck hair, however, is not correct.

Irish Wolfhounds are about one and a quarter to one and a half pounds at birth. By the time they are six months old, they will weigh around one hundred pounds, and, at one year of age, they should be all but an inch or so of their adult height. During the following year, they will fill out. They will be fully mature at three to four years of age.

It’s not wise to be in a hurry to show an Irish Wolfhound pup. Why would you want to show a puppy? It isn’t fun for the pup, and there are other activities you could do with your puppy that he/she would enjoy more. However, if you are dying to show your baby to the world, an excellent place to start is a local handling class. Your pup will learn to strut around a ring, stand for examination, and become accustomed to other dogs running around with him/her.

Sanction matches are another way for you and your pup to learn, as they allow younger dogs to enter regular CKC shows. To enter a CKC point show, your puppy must be at least six months old. Pick one show and enter only one day. Don’t show a Wolfhound pup excessively; they get turned off quickly. Talk to your puppy’s breeder; the breeder should be able to give you lots of help about showing.

Animal Cruelty

The IWCC Board of Directors voted to add a list of people legally convicted of crimes against animals in Canada’s provincial and/or federal courts.

April Irving (wanted in Alberta and Saskatchewan)
CBC report on April Irving, January 11, 2017
CBC report on April Irving, January 17, 2017

Karin Adams & Catherine Adams (Houston, BC, banned from owning any animals for 20 years)
CBC report on Karin Adams and daughter Catherine, October 16, 2015

This list will be updated with any new or future information on convictions, arrests and/or bans as they become public. For more detailed information and a complete database, please visit the Canadian National Centre for the Prosecution of Animal Cruelty (NCPAC).