The Irish Wolfhound is one of the tallest of the breeds and one of the oldest. Its history can be traced to pre-Christian times when the Legions of Rome used it as a war dog. The Irish Wolfhound originated near Rome and was then brought to Ireland during an invasion by Roman troops. In Ireland it gained in popularity and is now their national dog. They are coveted for their hunting prowess; particularly for the pursuit and take-down of the Irish Elk, an animal that can be six feet tall at the shoulders. To develop a better understanding of the Irish Wolfhound Standard some background concerning his origin may be of use. Pedigree dog breeding as we know it today dates only from the 19th Century when Irish Wolfhound Breed Standards were first written down with the advent of Dog Shows. Irish Wolfhound Breeding for excellence of function, on the other hand, is thousands of years old.
|Irish Wolfhound Highly and Big Dogs|
To fulfil the roles for which the breed was developed, the Irish Wolfhound is unique in being a dog of great size and strength. Today, however, in the totally unreal world of the show-ring, there seems to be little thought given to the original purpose of this breed. Many of the desired and cultivated points, so highly praised in the show-ring, were considered unimportant by our ancestors and the early breeders. In the 20th Century when hunting for survival is no longer a daily reality for the Irish Wolfhound, the Standard must our guide to the ideal hound. It describes the breed in a word picture. The living animal must conform to this as closely as is possible.
The Standard describes the great historical Irish Hound which was the hunter, companion and protector. It is not open to change or interpretation by anyone who objects to any of the points in it. The Standard is, and should always be the specification in detail of what is correct and what is wrong. The Standard is the safeguard protecting the Irish Wolfhound for what it was and still ought to be. It is far too easy to deviate from the Standard in both appearance and in character and the show rings today are ample proof of this. Recent years have seen the emergence of very pretty "chocolate box" Irish Wolfhounds with soft coats, over angulation and close moving hind action. Unless we call a halt, we will see this breed divided into two types, the working type, which is described by the Standard; and the show type, which is fit only to perform in the show ring.
Our Standard was drawn up in 1885 by Capt. Graham, Major Garnier and MR. J.F. Bailey. This Standard with a few minor additions, is the Standard which is used by the Irish Wolfhound Club of Ireland and therefore the FCI, the Standard with which most of you are working. In 1950 the Irish Wolfhound Standard was amended in America, the reference to the Great Dane and the Deerhound were removed. The only other differences in the current American Standard apply to height and a slight difference regarding faults of pigmentation. Besides these exceptions, the two Standards are identical and while I do not believe that these changes were necessary, they have not fundamentally altered the intent of the authors of the original Standard to the extent which prevents intelligent breeding and judging the historically correct Irish Wolfhound.
The Standard used in Great Britain was revised in 1985 by the Kennel Club in a more drastic manner. So many changes were made that it no longer paints the same word picture, some characteristics are now required or preferred which never were in the past. For example, ears are now preferably dark in colour which wrongly penalises self coloured wheaten hounds, for no reason of function or historical tradition. Other items which had previously been part of the Standard are now gone. Judges and breeders in Great Britain are required to follow this Standard so that it cannot but impact on breeding in some manner.
My recommendation is for Irish Wolfhound food with a high fiber, carbohydrate, and fat percentages. Horse meat seems to provide the best amino acid profile for this breed's requirements. I also think the Irish Wolfhound should avoid foods that contain fish, poultry, white rice, and soy. Nutrients of the Irish Wolfhound's native areas were very high in carbohydrates and fiber from grain sources. The best carbohydrate food sources for the Irish Wolfhound should come from wheat, barley, and potato products. Foods with carbohydrates from sources like white rice seem to be difficult for this breed to assimilate. Irish Wolfhounds also have a lower overall protein requirement per Kg. of body weight when compared to most other breeds of dogs. Therefore, I recommend that the bulk of energy producing ingredients in this breed's diet come from fat carbohydrate sources.