Irish Wolfhounds are native dogs of Ireland. They were bred to hunt wild boar and other game animals. Their ancestors have been used for hunting since ancient times. The name “wolf” comes from the word “wulf”, which means “bear”. The term was first applied to them in the 12th century when they were brought over from Germany, where they had been extinct for centuries before their arrival.
The breed of dog known as the Irish Wolfhound originated in County Meath, Ireland. The first record of one being owned by a man named John Molyneux dates back to 1662. At that time there were only four or five wolves left in Ireland and they could not survive without human intervention to keep them alive. The original breed of the Irish Wolfhound was a cross between a greyhound and a mastiff. These dogs were called “mutt” because they looked like mummies with their long bodies and thick fur coats.
In 1831, two brothers, James and Thomas MacMillan, started breeding greyhounds in England. By 1836, they had crossed these dogs with mastiffs to create what became known as the Irish Wolfhound. The dogs were used to hunt wolves and were very successful in doing so. By 1876 the wolves were extinct in Ireland and the use of Irish Wolfhounds was starting to decline. There were many breeds of dog known as Irish Wolfhounds.
Many of the large estates in Ireland kept these dogs for hunting. They also became popular with the gentry who hunted by horseback.
The first Irish Wolfhound to arrive in the United States was Finn McCool, which was named after an Irish giant of the same name. He was owned by John P. McConnell of the New York Police Department K-9 unit. He was a huge dog when he arrived in the US and weighed over 100 pounds. His weight was later reduced to 85 pounds because handlers felt he would be more effective if he was thinner.
In 1894, John P. McConnell took three of his Wolfhounds with him on a visit to Ireland. One of these dogs, Bran, was one of the main ancestors of the modern breed.
During the First World War, the US National Guard used Irish Wolfhounds to guard their camps. In 1916, an Irish Wolfhound named Domhualain showed up at a British army camp in Alexandria, Egypt. He was very friendly and the troops fed him. In 1917, he showed up in a mail depot and was adopted as the camp dog. He caught the attention of a soldier from New Jersey named James Connell who was serving in the US Army Veterinary Corps.
James fell in love with the dog and adopted him, renaming him Conny. On his way to Paris with his new dog, they made a stop in Ireland to visit his family. While there, they visited the kennels of James’s cousin, Lord Walter Pippet. The kennel master was so impressed with Conny that he asked if he could use him to establish a new line of Irish Wolfhounds.
Irish Wolfhounds remained popular into the late 20th century. In 1994, there were an estimated 200 of these dogs in the United States.
In recent years, the popularity of the breed has declined. There are an estimated 50 of these dogs alive in the world today. The heaviest one ever recorded weighed 180 pounds.
Irish Wolfhounds need a lot of exercise. If they do not get enough, they can become destructive. They are not recommended for people who are inactive or elderly. They do well in rural areas where there is plenty of space for them to run around. Wolfhounds are generally friendly with people they know, but are cautious around strangers.
Irish Wolfhound Trivia:
The Irish Wolfhound is the tallest breed of dog.
The Irish Wolfhound was once used to hunt wolves.
The average litter size for the Irish Wolfhound is six puppies.
The Irish Wolfhound is also known as the Celtic Tiger.
Sources & references used in this article:
Dog bite injuries to humans and the use of breed-specific legislation: a comparison of bites from legislated and non-legislated dog breeds by N Creedon, PSÓ Súilleabháin – Irish veterinary journal, 2017 – Springer
Industry effects and strategic management research by GG Dess, RD Ireland, MA Hitt – Journal of management, 1990 – journals.sagepub.com
A review of official data obtained from dog control records generated by the dog control service of county cork, Ireland during 2007 by EN O’Sullivan, AJ Hanlon – Irish veterinary journal, 2012 – Springer
Genetic diversity among Campylobacter jejuni isolates from pets in Ireland by E Acke, K McGill, A Lawlor, BR Jones… – Veterinary …, 2010 – veterinaryrecord.bmj.com
Democratic Socialism and Sectarianism: The Northern Ireland Labour Party and Progressive Unionist Party Compared by A Edwards – Politics, 2007 – journals.sagepub.com
Prisoners, the agreement, and the political character of the Northern Ireland conflict by K McEvoy – Fordham Int’l LJ, 1998 – HeinOnline