The Irish Wolfhound Archives


Probably the earliest description of  Type

“Eyes of sloe, with ears not low,
A horse’s  breast, with depth of chest,
A breadth of loin, with curve of groin,
And nape set far behind the head:
Such were the dogs that Fingal bred. 

Oisin, son of Finn.  5th Century,

From the writings of Oisin, who lived at the time of St Patrick,  we learn how important hunting was to the Fianna
Oisin’s words to Patrick

“Patrick of the true crozier, did you ever see, east or west, a greater hunt than that hunt of Finn and the Fianna? O son of Calphurn of the bells, that day was better to me than to be listening to your lamentations in the church”.

(OISIN’S  LAMENTS, Part 11  Book X1)  

(St Patrick came to Ireland as a Bishop in 432 A.D.)

Classical Articles on Type

 Reproduced  by kind permission from  Irish Wolfhound Club (UK)  YEAR BOOKS.


When researching for her book RAISING  SHOWING  AND  BREEDING  THE IRISH  WOLFHOUND Betty found the following articles very informative on type. They were included as appendices in the first edition.   They are included here to make them more widely available.  Their value does not diminish with age.


by John Baily

by I. W. Everett

by Miss M. S. Kearns

by Phyllis Gardner


Extracts  from

My Interpretation of Irish Wolfhound Type
by John F. Baily
The Irish Wolfhound Club Year Book 1927

I confess to a feeling of consternation and dismay at having to say anything on this subject, the one word ‘type’ being the trouble. Now this word is a standing cause of argument and discussion, generally futile, simply because we cannot agree as to the meaning we attach to it. As it is a subtle and elusive term just like ‘style’ and ‘quality’ its definition is extremely difficult and its acceptance by us all doubtful. It is not to be confused with ‘points’ or ‘character,’ though to differentiate between the latter and type is not always easy. Coat gives character though its absence does not deprive its owner of type, it may be possessed by a dog with the build and outline of a Mastiff.

If we look round at our domestic livestock we will see a number of life-forms (types) differing in our eye one from another. For example, a horse and a cow are both typical life-forms belonging to different species (types). If we eliminate the bovine element and substitute a horse, a race horse and a Clydesdale, we find two life-forms (types) of the same species (type) belonging to different varieties (types). If we agree to this we have type reduced to the one word ‘form’ and we can realise that a life-form possesses more than one type and that type itself is ephemeral.

careful of the type,’ but no;
From scarped cliff and quarried stone
She cries: ‘A thousand types are gone,
I care for nothing—all shall go.’

I take it the dominating factor in producing type is selection. Nature does it by natural selection, man by artificial, and makes himself the arbiter of type. There are other factors. As all life, including man himself, is the product of the earth, and as all such products vary with their habitat, we see the enormous influence of climate, food, soil etc. In a word, type tends to conform to its environment.

The subject under discussion being a life-form, possesses in common with other life-forms several types, but it will be sufficient if we refer to two: species, dog; variety, Irish Wolfhound. It is with the latter I shall attempt to say something. Before doing so it may not be out of place to allude to those parrot cries which we have heard ad nauseam of a made breed, artificial breed, etc., which are the hysterical vapourings of an unbalanced mind wanting force of intellect.

The contention that an outcross is illegitimate in this breed, while legitimate in others is reductio ad absurdum. The object of the outcross being to revive a type not to make a breed. To revive that type has been the object from the start and it is manifest that to do so we have no better guide than the history of the dog himself, as it clearly shows the work he was called upon to do and his apparent ability to do it.

It would be needless to review in detail the historical data—that can be read elsewhere—proclaiming that he was the most valuable and most sought after hunting dog for the capture and destruction of large and fierce game until fire-arms became more perfect and took his place. To do this work it was essential he should possess two predominant characteristics, great speed to get on terms with his quarry and enormous power to finish the job. To possess this speed his form (type) must have been that of a greyhound, indeed he is generally alluded to as Irish Greyhound, while to possess the necessary power his Size must have been gigantic. Of his power we have documentary evidence from the memoirs of Rinucini the Papal Nuncio in the seventeenth century and from the Rawdon Papers and Evelyns Diary we gather he was more than a match for a Mastiff.

To contend that a fighting Mastiff was unequal to the despatch of a wolf is a strain on ones credulity.

Having established the fact that he was a greyhound, it follows his other characteristics must be in keeping, and greyhoundlike. Beginning with the head, which includes the jaws, and which someone describes as the residence of type it should be as greyhoundlike as is compatible with power or as powerful as is compatible with the greyhound conformation. The square muzzle with a whisker at either nostril after the style of a modern wire-haired terrier, is to me an emetic.

The head should be lengthy, fairly well covered with hair, not so heavily coated as the rest of the body, and having no resemblance to the shagginess of a Bob-tailed Sheepdog or a Kerry Blue.

The ears should be small and greyhoundlike in carriage and set rather high.

‘An eye of sloe with ear not low,completes the picture.

It is unnecessary to refer to limbs, hindquarters, feet, tail etc.; as we are agreed upon what they should be, besides they come rather under the head of points with which we are not dealing. There remains the coat.

The apostles of bosh who preached the doctrine that the old dog was smooth-coated like an ordinary greyhound must have abandoned it, as their voices are silent. Their doctrine has now received the coup de grace from the very powerful, indeed unanswerable, argument put forward by Mr. Everett in Our Dogs of the 19th November last, that the climate of Ireland requires a water-resisting coat, and he seems to favour what he calls a good undercoat, or what is sometimes called a double coat. This supports what has already been said of the effect of climate, soil, etc.

‘What is a water-resisting coat?

He seems to place too much reliance on the undercoat. That it keeps its owner warm is very probable, that it keeps out the water doubtful. It is generally woolly, absorbs damp like blotting paper and is kept from drying by the outer coat. Otter hunting convinces one that it is density of coat keeps the water out, but I shant labour the point.

The shaggy or sheepdog coat is objectionable as it is foreign to the breed, and was introduced in the nineteenth century by using heavy-coated dogs as an outcross. Glengarry did it; so did Captain Graham and probably others besides. Reinagles picture does not depict a shaggy dog, neither does Ridingers plate, or the stuffed head in the Dublin Museum, and it is interesting to note, according to McNeill* that the Highlanders regarded a hard wiry coat as a criterion of breeding in his Scotch brother and doubtless the Irish held the same view. While on the subject of coat, a trifle which is significant and interesting and probably not well known is that Wolf in Irish means Wild Greyhound cu allaid also called faol-chu.

If I may presume to advise the new recruit I would say study the Clubs Standard, it cant be improved upon; study Reinagles picture, and add perhaps a trifle more coat and substance and a mind picture should be the result which ought to be a guiding star. To produce a dog of great power built on galloping, i.e. Greyhound lines, has been the difficulty so far, but it should not be insurmountable.

This may be somewhat outside the scope of our present discussion and may be pardoned.

MacNeill and others quoting Buffon regard this dog as identical with the Albanian dog of the ancients and on the authority of Professor McKenzie the Albanians maintain that the Scots (Irish) are the descendants of the Albanians**  Whether he came from the Mediterranean or not, the word Greyhound seems to be of Nordic or Germanic origin.

If I have peptonized my remarks for the intellectual dyspeptics; if I have helped to stimulate my fellow-countrymen to remove the stigma so often and so deservedly cast at them of neglecting this, their national dog; if I have afforded any interest and relaxation to my numerous friends, and above all if I have infused into those able and astute breeders of this noble hound, an enthusiasm to turn out more and more good specimens instead of turning their present ones into cash, I have not written in vain.

                                                                        JOHN F. BAILY.

  *Scropes: Deer Stalking.

  **Races of Ireland and Scotland. 

John Baily lived in Rathfarnham, Co Dublin.  He was a founder member of the Irish Wolfhound
Club of Ireland (1925) and Vice President of the Irish Wolfhound Club (UK) 

 The Typical Irish Wolfhound
 By  Mr. I.
W. EVERETT.  (Felixstowe Irish Wolfhounds)
Reprinted from the Irish Wolfhound Club (UK) YEAR BOOK  1933-4-5. 

In looking at our present-day notabilities we see many very fine animals and which appeal to us in many, though varied, ways; some possibly from the point of size, others by reason of possessing some other very desirable and even more treasured points in our particular opinion, and there is much to be said in favour of all these various causes of admiration; and yet it is possible that each of these specimens in their entirety are by no means good typical specimens of the breed.

Is there not a very grave possibility, if this sort of approval continues and possibly increases, for the breed to deteriorate even from its present degree of good type?

It appears that the foundation of an improvement in this direction lies in those who judge the breed; they should know, and be willing, to uphold those animals they judge, giving more value to the right type.

Do I hear some saying: “That argument cannot stand,” because “I know that typical hound So-and-So, when standing still, is a very typical animal”; move him and he is all wrong, and that is no good to a galloping hound. Well, fellow-fancier, before you “open out,” just make sure that the animal is typical, because I very much doubt that when you go through that specimen carefully you will find some essentials lacking. To my mind, I consider a typical Irish Wolfhound needs a lot of very careful scrutiny before deciding he belongs to that category. This opinion of mine may lead to an expression of something like this: “Judges cannot be expected to know anatomy to this extent.” Well, if not, why take on a job and. only be able to less than half do it? It is very nice to have the compliment paid one of being invited to judge, but it is up to that one to refuse, if in one’s own conscience one does not feel capable.

Now as to the production of these typical animals. We can~ in my opinion, only help on the good work. It is a continuous job, and can only be done at a very slow pace, as often to build up one part it partly appears to pull down something else. The very greatest assistance lies in personally knowing much of the ancestors we breed from, and our assistance invariably comes from using the animals who carry in their breeding a pre­dominance of those points we are wanting to establish and fix. We also must very vividly remember selection in connection with this type-fixing problem.

I have experienced that two heads of hounds with good length and even, narrow skulls, which some would think would seriously help on that point of heads, would in that fusion produce the most untypical heads, possibly heads not at all resembling their own, and that I found out when too late. The explanation was that although their heads were long, and something very nice about them, yet no real good heads had been the dominating factor in their composition for five generations or longer, and this was one of the instances which set me thinking of ancestral influence.

I wonder if I can make myself understood (if not, I am sure the fault will be mine) as to what I consider goes to make a typical Irish Wolfhound, in height
dogs from about 34 inches upwards, and bitches from about 31.5 inches upwards.

The late Captain Graham, in talking over Irish Wolfhounds one day with me, drifted on to type, and on my asking him his description of it, he described something of this sort : 

An Irish Wolfhound should not be either like a Great Dane nor a Deerhound, although he would lean more to the Deerhound than to the Dane. His head should show greater proportion of strength to the size of him than the Deerhound. His ears should be carried in repose tucked behind him, as a Greyhounds, and when looking at objects in the distance should be semi-erect. His eyes should at least harmonize with his general colour, a usual preference being given to dark rather than light eyes. His muzzle, distinctly not square; it should have the appearance of being undercut rather than square, until the teeth are inspected, when it is seen the teeth are level. The head should be of good length in proportion to the hound, with a very small drop before the eyes and frontal bones little raised. His throat should be clear of loose skin or dewlap. His skull, although not coarse, should give one the impression of strength. To finish up a nice typical head, a reasonable amount of eyebrow, muzzle hair, and beard, com­pleted by the neck being set into the head nice and high up and showing a reasonable crest. The neck should be of fair length, but too long a neck gives an impression of weakness rather than strength. The body should give an impression of nice length rather than the idea of a short-coupled-up body; brisket down to elbows and nicely wide at the bottom; the ribs reasonably sprung, but not to the extent of a Great Dane, so as not to resemble a barrel-like appearance. The loin should be a little full, but not so exaggerated as to give the hound the appearance of being dipped behind the shoulder, but just sufficient to give a nice gradual sweep right down to the set-on of the tail, which should connect fairly low down. This all adds to the lines of a nice set of curves beginning with the crest of neck and finishing with the bend of the tail.

As to the legs, a fair amount of bone is needed to make a typical hound, and it is essential that the shoulders should be nicely laid back, not upright. The forelegs should be set in line with their shoulder points. The hindquarters are respon­sible for about two-thirds of his movement, continued move­ment that is, given the hound is fit internally. He needs good strong hindquarters, well muscled up, as separated from a superabundance of fat; his heels nicely low to the ground, nicely bent stifles and second thighs, and in action his hind legs should come just past the forelegs, outside of course. Tail of good length, but certainly not thick and fleshy. His body just in front of hindlegs fairly drawn up, of course, for he is a galloping hound and does not need much encumbrance there when he is called upon for work. His coat should be dense next his skin, and longer and more wiry on the outside. It should be a double coat, and would more frequently be so if not so much over-groomed.

Colours in various shades are recognised. Personally, I am very fond of orange-fawns and the various shades of brindle. I do not so much like the fainter shades unless accompanied by good black toenails and muzzles, and dark shadings round the eyes and under edges of tail.

Quite likely some may ask, What can you point out to as the most typical Irish Wolfhound of to-day, and to my mind it is Ch. Galleon of Ouborough (Mr. Ranks) and Miss Watsons bitch, Felixstowe Graine. I know full well some will say, Whatever is there outstanding in these two? My reply is, in my humble opinion, they, more nearly than any others, represent the ideal. I very fully realize they are just over possibly their brilliancy of youth, but I cannot find better models of Irish Wolfhounds.


Irish Wolfhound ‘Quality’
by Miss M. S. Kearns
Reprinted from The Irish Wolfhound Club Year Book 1928—29 

With great surprise I heard it suggested at the last General Meeting of the Irish Wolfhound Club that soundness is a part of Irish Wolfhound type. I always. understood that type was that combination of points and qualities which distinguished a member of one breed from the members of all other breeds. if that is so, how can soundness be a part of type? Soundness is an essential attribute of  all breeds of dogs and not only of dogs but of all animals, including the human.. It is a formation of body and a state of health in that body which enables the animal to live a happy life and do the work for which it is intended.

In my opinion, type and soundness are equally important in a show dog, and the combination of the two gives, what I like to call, Quality. Some seem to think that soundness is really the only point that matters, and suggest that the Judge should turn out of the ring every hound that is not absolutely sound. We should be equally emphatic that hounds of imperfect type should never receive an award, but how many today would, in that case, be left to divide the prize money? The quality of an Irish Wolfhound in the show ring can only he judged by the appearance of the hound in the eye of the judge. The most important point in the type of a show hound is the head, as it is the index to the breed, but it is not wise to lay too much emphasis on this, as many breeds have been ruined by too much attention being paid to one point or group of points. Our Club Standard gives a very good description of what the type of an Irish Wolfhound should be, and yet it seems capable of being interpreted in entirely different ways. It has been suggested that the points of merit should be numerically valued, but it is interesting to remember that when our Type Cups were first offered, I think it was at the Kennel Club Show in 1904, the hounds competing were judged by points. This method was found to be most cumbersome, and eventually the hound awarded the most number of points was certainly not the most typical. Type is not a quality that can be defined. This, in my opinion, is because type is not only physical but also mental. A proof of this is the fact that environment, general treatment and management of the hound has a great influence on its type. Also expression plays so large a part in Irish Wolfhound type, and this is certainly mental.

                        Many breeders say it is the colour and formation of the eyes that make or mar the expression. Light eyes are very objectionable in a dog of almost any breed, and no amount of nonsense talked about the colour of the eyes blending with the coat, put forward to excuse light eyes, can ever make me like them any better. The colour of the eyes, however, does not determine the expression. How often do we see two hounds with exactly the same coloured eyes, one hound having the correct expression, the other quite wrong? I have seen Irish Wolfhounds with beautiful dark eyes and quite the wrong expression in them. The expression has nothing to do with colour, but is a reflex of the mind and character..

Ears have much more influence on the type of the head than breeders seem to realize. A heavy or badly carried ear can quite spoil the appearance of a good head, yet exhibitors will let their hounds stand in the ring ‘with ears hanging anyhow and if the judge does not care, or feel an interest in every dog that comes before him, many good heads must sometimes be passed over.

Passing on to the hind quarters, we are getting far too many hounds with straight stifles and hocks and the objectionable square look behind instead of the graceful curve that a hound should have. But these are faults of type, not soundness as many people seem to think. I cannot think that straight stifles are unsound because in some breeds, the Chow for instance, they are correct and typical and there could hardly be a sounder breed than the Chow. In a hound they are a very serious fault and cause a stiff, awkward movement but I think it is very doubtful whether they can be considered a weakness. A judge once remarked to me at a certain show that he wished Ch. Cotswold had been entered under him that he might have put him down for his straight stifles. Cotswold was about the best dog of his day and unbeaten and though of course not perfect, quite able to hold his own. But apart from this the remark struck me as a strange one for a judge to make. This was twenty years ago but I always remember it as it opened my eyes to the way judges often ‘down’ a dog for one particular fault. Today, several bitches, descended from Cotswold, transmit this fault, so it has persisted. None the less it seems to me that however bad a fault a hound may have, the judge has no right to put him down for that fault whenever he meets him, unless of course it amounts to a disqualification. Surely one has to weigh the faults and qualities of the hounds against each other and often the best hound in the ring has the most glaring fault, and then he still remains the best when one has summed up the good qualities of the others.

The tail is another point that is generally supposed to be unimportant. The first Irish Wolfhound I owned had a badly set on tail and he curled it rather badly. I showed him at the Richmond Show 1902, and he won first in the Novice class. Fired with ambition I entered him at the next Kennel Club Show under Capt. Graham. The hound he had beaten at Richmond—Kilcullen—took the Challenge Certificate and my dog was commended! I joined the Club at that Show and Capt. Graham kindly told me where my dog failed. Of course there were many faults—too light in build, not enough coat, not good hind quarters—but Capt. Graham laid particular stress on the tail. He told me a long, heavy, well-carried tail was necessary to the dog as it helped him to guide himself and turn quickly when galloping. So that a curly, badly carried tail is not only unsightly but a real handicap to the dog.

Great size is of course a very important point of type but it is not the most important to which all other points must give way. No one point is important enough for that. I am quite sure it must be disappointing to have one’s giant beaten by a very moderate sized hound, but if after taking into consideration all the qualities and faults of both hounds one finds that allowing plenty for the gigantic size of the one, the smaller hound is still the better, i.e., sounder, more typical, in better condition, it has to take precedence. And, if you please, a judge who places a good little one over a moderate big one does not necessarily like small hounds better than large. What that judge does want is a giant with the qualities of the smaller hound. Very difficult to get, I grant, but we have a few now and I know of some youngsters coming along who combine this huge size with the necessary type, and soundness—real quality. They should make history.

The True Successor
by Phyllis Gardner  (Coolafin Irish Wolfhounds)
Reprinted  from
The Irish Wolfhound Club Year Book 1930
by kind permission of The Irish Wolfhound Club (UK)

It has recently struck me that we who keep and breed Irish Wolfhounds ought not to take it lying down when we hear such statements as that made in a standard work on dogs, by someone who should have known better, that the Irish Wolfhound has no relation to Ireland, and is simply a blend of Deerhound with Great Dane.

Having made a fairly thorough study of the origin of the modern Irish Wolfhound, I will now lay before my readers a few of the general conclusions I have reached on this subject.

To begin with, let us consider the question of actual descent.  Before the founding of the Irish Wolfhound Club in 1885, Capt. Graham and some others had been at work collecting and breeding our noble breed, but one of the chief difficulties was that they were not only very rare, and somewhat delicate owing to too much inbreeding, but not completely standardized. One of the avowed objects of the show held in 1879 was to try and select the materials from which the old breed could be rebuilt. The winner and third in this show were actual descendants of the original Kilfane and Ballytobin strains, which were the la~ survivors of a long line of hounds bred in Ireland, and whose pedigrees extended to over a hundred years ago. The second prize went to a first cross of Dane and Deerhound.

Capt. Graham himself never actually used a Dane cross: what he mainly used to cross in with his Irish strains were Deerhounds of Glengarry’s and Macneill of Colonsay’s strains. In his book on ‘The Irish Wolfhound,’ first published in 1879 he states that, in looking for fresh blood for his strains, it had always been ‘his steadfast endeavour to get crosses from such dogs of acknowledged Irish Wolf hound blood as were to be found, in preference to simply crossing opposite breeds to effect the desired object.’ Mr. Rawdon B. Lee complained, in an article on the Wolfhound of 1894, that some of the Dane and Deerhound crosses were ‘undignified in manner.’

Further light on this matter is thrown by the following extract from Graham's original Standard of Excellence.

‘Neck, thick in comparison to his form, and very muscular; body and frame lengthy; head, long, but not narrow, coming to a comparative point towards the nose; nose rather large, and head gradually getting broader from the same, evenly up to the back of the skull, and not sharp up to the eyes, and then suddenly broad and lumpy, as is often the case with dogs bred between Greyhound and Mastiff.’

In 1888, Graham stated that about six or seven, out of twenty Irish Wolfhounds that were shown, were Dane and Deerhound crosses, but in others there was no Dane blood ‘for certainly many generations to my positive knowledge’ though there was Deerhound blood.

It is possible to trace the pedigrees of practically all the Irish Wolfhounds we now see, as far back as the time when these breeding experiments were being made, and to make a rough table of percentages of foreign and of genuine blood.  The Dane percentage, though there were several different crosses of  Dane, does not come out very high; it averages less than one-eighth of the whole. The hounds of genuine Irish blood were very much bred into, and permeate all the other strains, and their proportion, although springing from but one or two indivi­duals, adds up to rather over half of the whole. The rest is mainly Deerhound, with a small fraction of other blood.

Graham’s original Irish breeding stock were not as large as our modern champions. His ‘Scot’—the third prize winner abovementioned—was only 29 ins. at the shoulder. His Ballytobin red bitch, ‘Old Donagh’, was 28 ins. His largest hounds did not exceed 33 ins., though in 1879 he wrote, ‘There’ is no reason why the Irish Wolfhound should not be restored to its original height of 33 to 35 inches.’ Many natural histories and other works of the late 18th and early 19th centuries give a height of about a yard. But this had been allowed to degenerate, and it is not till after the beginning of the 20th century that we begin again to get recorded heights of 36 ins. This size was obtained through crosses of outside blood, of Dane and other breeds, that were introduced about that time, I have given a brief account of this manner in my book, The Irish Wolfhound.*

A photograph has come into my possession, through the kindness of Mr. Baily. It represents Graham standing beside a figure of a dog which has been worked over in the photograph with a paint-brush, and was apparently taken from a life-size model. On the back of it the following is scrawled in pencil, but unfortunately with no date:—

    ‘Type of old Irish Wolfhound. Exact height 35 inches to shoulder blade. Probable girth, 42 inches or more, Weight about 140 lb. G. A. Graham.’

Graham also had a picture painted in oils of his ideal Irish Wolfhound, but I have so far failed to trace its present whereabouts. Lord Massereene tells me that the model in the photograph reminds him of an old drawing, dated 1810, that used to be at Antrim Castle before it was burned down.

Graham and others who were interested in the Irish Wolfhound definitely took as their model the painting by Reinagle of which an excellent engraving is reproduced in ‘The Sportsman’s Cabinet (1803)’. The original painting is in the possession of Mr. Montagu Scott. Graham considered the ideal hound to be rather longer in the back than this picture, and to have rather more hair about the head and face.

This brings us to our second important point. Having definitely established that our modern breed carries a well-authenticated line of descent from Irish stock, we find we have now to answer those critics who maintain that the real old Irish hound was not of this type at all, but smooth haired and pied in colour, and that it died out well before the end of the 18th century.

Certainly, this type did exist, and there are a number of pictures of it. In fact, there seem to have been a good many different types, some rough and some smooth, some heavy and some greyhound-like, all used against wolves and described in old days as Irish Wolfhounds or wolfdogs, or Irish greyhounds. Wentworth’s hound, whose picture was painted by Van Dyck, was mentioned as ‘the last of his race’ as early as the 17th century. In fact, they began to become rare as wolves were gradually exterminated in Ireland. The first record I have of a ‘last wolf’ is in 1654 (Ware), but the actually last recorded killing of a wolf was not till 1786, at Myshall, by Mr. Watson’s hounds.

Graham remarked, in 1879, ‘It will have been noticed that several persons owning Irish Wolfhounds in former days were in the habit of styling “the last of their race.” It appears tolerably certain that the breed was gradually being merged into the present breed of Deerhounds, and each successive owner jealously claiming for his specimen the honour of being the last.’

Mr. Richard Mahony wrote, ‘There was no inducement to extenuate the old powerful dog into the swifter but sparer Deerhound, and the few specimens that remained preserved the original characteristics. In Scotland, the cause that preserved the race from extinction tended to change its qualities and older heroic proportions.’

There were a good many Irish Wolfhounds who were called ‘the last of their race.’ A few of these were ‘Windsor,’ belonging to Mr. Massey’s pack, near Limerick, about 1820, who once ran a stag, and killed him, alone; The O’Toole’s ‘Bruno,’ about 1823; Hamilton Rowan’s ‘Bran,’ some time before 1834; the one painted by Mrs. Fairholme at Garriricken in 1847; and Nolan’s ‘Oscar’ in 1841.

Rowan’s ‘Bran’ and Nolan’s ‘Oscar’ are among those to whom the modern strains ought to be traceable. A pedigree showing the descent of the Ki1fane, Ballytobin and Dromore strains back to the beginning of the 19th century was one time in the possession of the Mahonys or O’Mahonys, but it has been lost for a good many years.

Another claimant to the title of ‘the last wolfhound’ is ‘Granua’ who belonged to the late The O’Mahony of Kerry, who died in 1930. She was alive till quite recently, but the last I heard of her was that she was failing, and by now she has probably followed her master. He claimed to possess a strain undiluted with any blood more extraneous than Deerhound, and the type is of great interest. It is very heavy in bone for its height, bearing less resemblance in build to the modern Deerhound than does the modern Irish Wolfhound. It is muscular and very active, and the head, which as a rule is large gives an excellent example of the ‘gradual widening’ that we noticed earlier.

‘Windsor’ was white, with lemon patches, and slightly broken hair. ‘Bruno’ was dark grey, and ‘rough, but not long-coated.’ ‘Bran’ was also dark grey and rough-coated. The Garriricken one was described as ‘like a Deerhound, only larger. ’ Nolan’s ‘Oscar’ was deerhound-like in type, rough haired and dark with a white breast ‘Granua’ is dark grey, and pretty heavily coated.

Other pictures than Reinagle’s support the claim of our present type. Most of the 17th century pictures, and some of the 18th century ones, show smooth pied hounds, but nearly all the late 18th and early 19th century ones give a somewhat broken or quite rough coat The rough-haired Irish Wolfhound or greyhound is mentioned by various writers at different times, the earliest one I can lay my hands on being Gervaise Markham in the 17th century, who mentions ‘long, shaggy-haired, great-boned greyhounds for hunting the wolf.’

Our present breed was at one time looked on as ‘non-sporting,’ in fact, it was only recognized by the English Kennel Club as sporting in 1925, though it has always been a practical hunting breed. Graham found there was a good demand for his Irish Wolfhounds in Australia, and some of these distinguished themselves by their great power and courage: I have a letter from Mr. Corfield, who tells of one who was the only dog, out of a mixed or ‘bobbery’ pack, that dared stand up to the Old Man Kangaroo, and, though badly slashed, held on till Mr. Corfield ended the matter with a bullet through the Old Man’s head. More recently, three Irish Wolfhounds faced up to a pair of lions in Kenya in defence of their mistress, Mrs. Beynon, and drove them off.

 Since this time, the breed has been exported to many places where big game abounds, and has shown itself both physically and morally more able to deal with its quarry than other breeds.

 The Irish Wolfhound has always kept up his character of courtesy and gravity as well as boldness, as described by ‘Orinda’, in the 17th century, who said of an ‘Irish Greyhound’ (when she calls a lion of another kind), that

                                       ‘... hunger cannot make him rude
                                      And his behaviour doth confess
                                      True Courage dwells with Gentleness,’

 so that he is as much at home in the drawing-room, the nursery or the show-ring as on the mountain-side or in the jungle.

* * * *

t*Betty republished Phyllis Gardner's book on THE IRISH WOLFHOUND in 1981
 it is still available from E C Murphy;
 see home page
 or email

  By  post E C Murphy, Carrokeel Lodge, Peamount Lane, Newcastle Co. Dublin,  Ireland.
 If ordering from bookshop, the ISBN Number is;  0950 4816 29