Published by Upcott Gill in two volumes.
This is from Volume I, Chapter III of the Second Edition, published around 1896(?)
THE IRISH WOLFHOUND
This historical dog has been the subject of much contention, and of
misapprehension, from the evidently exaggerated statements respecting the size
to which it, in some instances, attained. Oliver Goldsmith, who was not
distinguished as a naturalist, by strict accuracy, was certainly very far wrong
in stating that the Irish Wolfhound attained to a height of 4ft., as we measure
dogs and horses - that is, from the ground to the level of the top of the
shoulders; though a tall, long-necked, and long-headed dog, with his snout held
pointing up in air, might reach very near that height. That, however, would be
a totally misleading way of taking and stating the dog's height. There is a
tendency, in speaking and writing of the far past and the far distant, to
exaggerate, not, probably, from any intention to distinctly deceive or mislead,
but from a natural desire not to under state that which has impressed us by its
greatness, and which we do not possess the material to express in exact
Marco Polo described a breed of dogs he had met with in his travels to be "as big as donkeys"; and, as a proof of how history repeats itself, and how tenacious the mind is of a well-expressed phrase, the Daily Telegraph, in a leader written a few years ago on the researches of the intrepid and successful traveller, Mr. Stanley, in Central Africa, told its readers that that gentleman had met with "dogs as big as donkeys". Reduced to plain facts, we have no doubt that travellers did meet with dogs of very large size, of which they did not take, and could not give, accurate dimensions.
Doubtless the size of the Irish Wolfhound has also been exaggerated by the use of loose expressions; but that he was the giant of his race, so far as these Islands are concerned, there appears to be very good grounds for believing. That there should have been, by many, a strong desire entertained to save from utter extinction so noble a breed, is most natural. The astonishing matter is that so few persons have taken practical steps towards its resuscitation; and those steps, in nearly all cases, have been of a fitful and short-lived kind. Such a work requires long-sustained, intelligent endeavour; but it is one which Captain G.A. Graham has for years been left to carry out almost alone.
The Irish Kennel Club, which bade fair to prove a powerful factor in the work, unfortunately ceased to exist some years ago, and, with its dissolution, all public attempts to foster the breed in Ireland by the offer of premiums at shows ceased.
I am of the opinion the work might still be done by the establishment of kennels on the principle of co-operation, which would make the cost to individuals comparatively light, and give a prospect of eventual profit. Once establish the breed - that is, persevere until a sufficient number of dogs have been bred up to a recognised standard, so as to form a variety possessing features in common, and distinct from other breeds - and there would be every chance of the Irish Wolfhound becoming popular, when, of course, the material for improving, and breeding still closer to, the standard, would be greatly increased, and the demand for the dogs would repay the previous outlay.
Some of the American Kennel Clubs are co-operative in so far as their breeding establishments are concerned, and hence the heavy investments made in stud dogs with a view to improving stock.
Early in 1885 I suggested to Captain Graham the formation of a club to carry out his objects, pointing to the success of the Great Dane Club as an incentive.
The Irish Wolfhound Club has now for some time been an accomplished fact, and special classes for Irish Wolfhounds have been instituted at the Kennel Club's shows in London; so that the world is likely to see and hear more of a breed, concerning which there has been much exaggeration, and very opposite opinions expressed. Consequent on the formation of this Club, Captain Graham has published a Monograph on the Wolfhound, which covers the whole ground of controversy from his point of view.
I confess that the arguments advanced in favour of the existence of a sufficiency of the original blood on which to rebuild the breed "in all its pristine glory and pre-eminence", far from confirming me in that opinion - which I had previously adopted - have, on the contrary, rudely shaken my faith in it. In consequence of this, I have turned my attention to a closer examination of authorities, with the result that I must admit having taken too much for granted, and, too often, opinions at secondhand.
I look upon the subject as one peculiarly open to variance of opinion, and, in order to do justice to it, I propose to give pretty fully the views of Captain Graham and Mr. Hickman, both of whom have devoted special attention to it, and whose ability is without question; yet, as a proof of the difficulty of the subject, these gentlemen arrive at widely different conclusions.
In the controversies on this, as on other breeds, reference is often made to the Greek and Latin classical writers. The conclusion I have come to, after such diligent attention as I could give to the subject, is this: In none of the ancient cynegeticas - with one notable exception, the Younger Xenophon's description of the Celtic Greyhound - do we get anything like the minute physical description necessary to enable us to identify any breed, though the descriptions are still clear enough in broad outline to enable us to classify the dogs written of in groups.
That the Irish Wolfhound has been a recognised variety from very ancient down to recent times we have proof in abundance; and I may here introduce a scrap of evidence I met with when on a totally different research, and which, very naturally, has escaped all previous writers on this breed. Dr. James, a celebrated physician of his time, in his treatise on "Canine Madness", published 1733, refers to "an Irish Wolfhound of uncommon size. The dog attacked his owner's child, and would have killed it, but that he wore a garland." Dr. James explains that "a garland is a thing well known to sportsmen, and consists of two hoops crossing each other, and which, hanging before a dog's forelegs, prevent his running after sheep, or being otherwise mischievous."
In the first edition of this book, the chapter on Irish Wolfhounds was mainly written by Captain Graham; but as he therein stated the space at command was insufficient to do justice to the subject, I shall, further on, introduce such quotations from his (since published) Monograph as appear to me important to the full and clear statement and support of his views.
In the previous edition Captain G.A. Graham wrote:-
"To do full justice to this subject is almost impossible, owing to the fact that there has been a generally-received impression amongst modern writers that this noble breed of dog is entirely extinct! That, in its "original integrity", it has apparently disappeared, cannot be disputed; yet there can be little doubt that so much of the true breed is forthcoming, both in the race still known in Ireland as the "Irish Wolfhound" (to be met with, however, in one or two places only), and in our modern Deerhound, as to allow of its complete recovery in its pristine grandeur, with proper management, in judicious hands. It is a fact well known to all modern Mastiff-breeders who have thoroughly studied the history of their breed, that, until within the last thirty or forty years, Mastiffs, as a pure race, had almost become extinct. Active measures were then taken by various spirited individuals, which resulted in the complete recovery of the breed, in a form at least equal, if not superior, to what it was of yore.
"Why should not, then, such measures be taken to recover the more ancient, and certainly equally noble, race of Irish Wolfhounds? It may be argued that, the services of such a dog being no longer required for sport, his existence is not to be desired; but such an argument is unworthy of consideration for a moment, for how many thousands of dogs are bred for which no work is provided, nor is any expected of them; in addition to which, the Irish Wolfhound would be admirably suited to the requirements of our colonies. One after another the various breeds of dogs which had, of late years, more or less degenerated - as, for instance, Mastiffs, Fox Terriers, Pugs, St. Bernards, Colleys - have become "the rage", and, in consequence, a vast improvement is now observable in the numerous specimens shown. Let us, then, hope that steps may be taken to restore to us such a magnificent animal as the Irish Wolfhound.
"That we have in the Deerhound the modern representative of the old Irish dog is patent; though of less stature, less robust, and of slimmer form, the main characteristics of the original breed remain, and, in very exceptional instances, specimens "crop up" that throw back to, and resemble in a marked manner, the old stock from which they have sprung. For instance, the dog well known at all the leading shows as champion Torunn (now for some years lost to sight), although requiring a somewhat lighter ear and still more massive proportions, combined with greater stature, evidently approximated more nearly to his distant ancestors than to his immediate ones. The matter of ear alluded to here is probably only a requirement called for by modern and more refined tastes, as it is hardly likely that any very high standard, as to quality or looks, was ever aimed at or reached, by our remote ancestors, in any breed of dogs. Strength, stature, and fleetness, were the points most carefully cultivated - at any rate, as regards those dogs used in the pursuit and capture of large and fierce game.
"It is somewhat remarkable that, whilst we have accounts of almost all the noted breeds, including the Irish Wolfhound, there is no allusions to any such dog as the Deerhound, save in writings of a comparatively recent date.
"The article or essay on the Irish Wolfhound written by Richardson, in 1842, is, it is supposed, the only one on this subject in existence; and whilst it is evident to the reader of it that the subject has been most ably treated and thoroughly sifted, yet some of the writer's conclusions, if not erroneous, are at least open to question. It is a matter of history that this dog was of very ancient origin, being well known to, and highly prized by, the Romans, who frequently used him for their combats in the arena; and also that he was retained at home, in a certain degree of purity, to within a comparatively recent period, when, owing to the extinction of wolves, and, presumably, to the indifference and carelessness of owners, this most superb and valuable breed of dog was unaccountably suffered to fall into a very neglected and degenerate state.
"From the general tenor of old accounts we have of this dog's dimensions and appearance, it is to be gathered that he was of considerably greater stature than any known race existing at present, and, apparently, more than equal to the destruction of the wolf.
"It is an incontestable fact that the domestic dog, when used for the pursuit of ferocious animals, should be invariably larger, and apparently more powerful, than his quarry, as the fierce nature, roving habits, and food of the wild animal, render him usually more than a match for his domesticated enemy if only of equal size and stature. We know that the Russian Wolfhound, though equal in stature to the wolf, will not attack him single- handed; and wisely, for it would certainly be worsted in the combat.
"The Irish Wolfhound, being used for both the capture and despatch of the wolf, would necessarily have been of Greyhound conformation, besides being of enormous power. A heavy dog, such as a Mastiff, would be equal to the destruction of a wolf when caught; but to obtain a dog with Greyhound speed and the strength of the Mastiff, it would stand to reason that his stature should considerably exceed that of the Mastiff - one of our tallest as well as most powerful breeds. The usual height of the Mastiff does not exceed 30 in.; and, arguing as above, we may reasonably conclude that, to obtain the requisite combination of speed and power, a height of at least 33 in. would have to be reached. Many writers, however, put the stature of the Irish Wolfhound down as far exceeding that. Goldsmith states he stood 4ft.; Buffon that one sitting measured 5ft. in height; Bewick that he was about 3ft. in height; Richardson, arguing from the measurements of the skulls of Irish Wolfhounds preserved at the present time in the Royal Irish Academy, pronounced it his opinion that they must have stood 40 in.
"It is perfectly certain, from these and many other accounts, allusion to which want of space renders impossible, that the dog was of vast size and strength; and all agree in stating that, whilst his power was that of the Mastiff, his form was that of the Greyhound. The 'Sportsman's Cabinet', a very valuable old book on dogs, published in 1803, which is illustrated with very good engravings after drawings from life by Reinagle, R.A., says: "The dogs of Greece, Denmark, Tartary, and Ireland, are the largest and strongest of their species. The Irish Greyhound is of very ancient race, and still to be found in some few remote parts of the Kingdom, but they are said to be much reduced in size, even in their original climate; they are much larger than the Mastiff, and exceedingly ferocious when engaged." A very good and spirited drawing of this dog is also given, which almost entirely agrees with my opinion as to what the Irish Wolfhound was and should be, though a rougher coat and somewhat more lengthy frame are desirable. The dogs described in "Ossian" are evidently identical with the Irish Wolfhound, being of much greater stature and power than the present Deerhound. From these descriptions, and those given elsewhere, we may conclude that, in addition to the dog's being of great stature, strength, and speed, he was also clothed in rough hair. In support of this, we find that in the present day all the larger breeds of Greyhound are invariably rough or long in coat.
| IRISH WOLFHOUND
(From an old Drawing by Reinagle)
"Many writers have incorrectly confounded the Irish Wolfhound with the
Great Dane, though the two dogs vary entirely in appearance, if not much in
build. It seems more than probable, however, that the two breeds were
frequently crossed, which may account for the confusion. The late Marquis of
Sligo possessed some of this breed, which he (erroneously) considered Irish
"Richardson was at very great trouble to get every information as to the probable height of this dog, but the conclusions arrived at by him (chiefly based on the lengths of the skulls he measured) would seem to be decidedly wrong, for the following reasons. He states: "The skull is 11 in. in the bone"; to that he adds 3 in. for nose, skin, and hair, thus getting 14 in. as the length of the living animal's head. The head of a living Deerhound measured by him is 10 in., the dog standing 29 in.; and he then calculates that the height of the Irish Wolfhound would have been 40 in., taking for his guide the fact that the 29 in. dog's head was 10 in. This would appear to be correct enough, though the allowance of 3 in. for extras is absurd. 1½ in. is an ample allowance for the extras, and if the head is taken at 12½ in., the height of the dog will be reduced to 36 in. Moreover, the measurement of 10 in. for the head of a 29 in. Deerhound is manifestly insufficient, as I can testify from ample experience and frequent measurements. A Deerhound of that height would have a head at least 11in.; so, calculating on the same principle, the Irish skulls would have been from dogs that only stood 33½ in. Richardson says that this skull is superior in size to the others, which would prove that the average must have been under 33½ in.; and so we may safely conclude that the height of these dogs varied from 31in to 34 in. In support of this view I would point to the German Boarhound. This dog has retained his character from a very remote age, and, as he is still used for the capture of fierce and large animals, the breed is not likely to have been allowed to degenerate. The height of these dogs varies from 28 in. to 33 in., the latter being probably the limit to which any race of dogs has been known to arrive.
"When Sir Walter Scott lost his celebrated dog Maida (which, by the way, was by a Pyrenean dog out of a Glengarry Deerhound bitch), he was presented with a brace of dogs by Glengarry and Cluny Macpherson, both of gigantic size. He calls them "Wolfhounds", and says: "There is no occupation for them, as there is only one wolf near, and that is confined in a menagerie." He was offered a fine Irish Greyhound by Miss Edgeworth, who owned some of this breed, but declined, having the others.
"Richardson says: 'Though I have separated the Irish Wolfdog from the Highland Deerhound and the Scottish Greyhound, I have only done so partly in conformity with general opinion that I have yet to correct, and partly because these dogs, though originally identical, are now unquestionably distinct in many particulars.'
"As the rough Scotch Greyhound is to the present Deerhound, so is the Deerhound to what the Irish Wolfhound was.
"It may be of interest to mention here, that the last wolf in Ireland is said to have been killed in 1710, but there is no accurate information as to the precise date. The height of the European wolf varies from 28 in. to 30 in., and he is, though of comparatively slight form, an animal of very great power and activity.
"Richardson being an enthusiast on this subject, not content with simply writing, took measures to recover the breed. With much patience and trouble he hunted up all the strains he could hear of, and bred dogs of gigantic size, to which the strains now in existence can be distinctly traced. A gentleman of position and means in Ireland deceased some six or eight years, possessed a kennel of these dogs, on the breeding of which he expended both time and fortune freely. They were, though not equal to the original dog, very fine animals. It has been ascertained beyond all question that there are a few specimens of the breed still in Ireland and England that have well-founded pretensions to be considered Irish Wolfhounds; though falling far short of the requisite dimensions."
Since the foregoing was written by Captain Graham, the subject of the Irish Wolfhound has been occasionally brought before the public, both in this country and in America, but no new and authenticated facts have, so far as I am aware, been elicited in the discussion of it; and so, unless we accept statements unsupported by evidence, we are left in the position that, although there are dogs unquestionably possessing some of the original Irish Wolfhound blood, yet none are known to exist of absolutely pure pedigree.
In March, 1878, a sketch of a supposed scion of this race appeared in the Country newspaper of New York, followed by a fair resumé of historical notices of the breed. A month following, a letter appeared in the same journal, from Mr. Frank Adcock, of Shevington Hall, Wigan, in which that gentleman says: "It may interest your readers to know that this dog (the Irish Wolfhound) is still in existence, and exhibits all the various attributes ascribed to him by ancient writers. Those that I possess are blackish-grey and grizzled in colour, with stiff, wiry coats. In shape they resemble the great Scotch Deerhound, but are somewhat more stoutly made, and very much superior in size and courage; the head, also, although as long, is more massive and punishing in character, and the sense of smell is marvellously acute."
I, through the same medium, expressed my surprise at Mr. Adcock's statement that the pure breed existed, and were in that gentleman's possession, yet that he kept such an interesting fact from his countrymen, giving them no opportunity of seeing, even at a Kennel Club Show, one specimen of this rarity; and I suggested that he should substantiate a statement which had astonished many. Unfortunately, the American Country is now more extinct than the Irish Wolfhound; but in its last issue appeared a letter from Mr. Adcock, in response, I presume, to an editorial article on the subject in which occurred the following sentence: "It certainly seems strange that the first intimation of it (the existence of the breed) should have been published in our columns, but we have no complaint to make on that score if Mr. Adcock will make his claim good by proving that he really owns, as he has stated, more than one of the original breed." The letter from Mr. Adcock, however, is headed "Wolfhounds", says a good deal about Spain, and the Pyrenees Wolf dogs, and distinctly adds: "The Wolfhounds I allude to are not to be confounded with these mongrels, but are, more or less, identical with the dog known as the Irish Greyhound or Wolfhound."
Mr. Tileston started the Country in New York because of his admiration for the paper of that name then published in London, and the discussion on the Irish Wolfhound was really taken up from the English paper by its American contemporary. The London Country, indeed, was the only paper that had advocated attempts to resuscitate the breed, a fact Captain Graham was aware of, and which he should not have overlooked in his brochure.
Captain Graham further wrote:
"With regard to the Caledon breed of Irish Wolfhounds, the present lord tells me that his father kept them, and that he can just remember them in his extreme youth. He very kindly made strict inquiries when on his Irish estates last year, and from the older keepers and tenants he gathered the following particulars, which he filled in on a form containing a series of questions which I sent him. The Irish Wolfhounds kept by the late Earl of Caledon were as tall as the largest Deerhound now seen - if not taller - of a stouter make throughout, broader, and more massive; the ears were similar to a Deerhound's; rough, but not long coated; fawn, grizzly, and dun in colour; some old men have mentioned a mixture of white.
"The late Earl of Derby had a similar breed, I am assured positively by a gentleman (a clergyman) who had a specimen given him many years ago (over fifteen, probably twenty): but from Knowsley direct I have not got any information, though I wrote; probably the old keepers who had charge of the menagerie have disappeared, and knowledge of the dogs has died out. A clergyman to whom one of my dogs was given some nine or ten years ago, told me that the present Lord Derby had seen this dog, and considered him a finer specimen than any he had formerly possessed. I understand this dog grew to be very high (32 in.), and massive in proportion; his sire was only 30½ in., but his grandsire was 32 in., or considered to be so.
"Richardson, in his essay on this breed, says: 'Sir William Betham, Ulster King at Arms, has stated it as his conviction that the Irish Wolfdog was a gigantic Greyhound, not smooth-skinned, like our Greyhounds, but rough and curly-haired.' In the face of this, Sir William Betham's son, the well-known archer, wrote me some years ago to call my attention to a specimen of the Irish Wolfhound which was to be purchased in his neighbourhood; his description of the dog, however, showed him to be distinctly a Boarhound, or Great Dane, of no great size.
"A Mr. Mahon, of Dromore - a large property near Muckross - had, about twenty years ago, a breed of these dogs, but they have been allowed to die out. He had them, however, from the late Sir. J. Power, and the same blood is now in my possession. He described them fully to me as being similar to the Deerhound, but more massive and powerful, and not so high on the leg.
"Two of these dogs of the Power breed were the property of a lady living at Ryde, Isle of Wight, and of them I have photographs; they are, however, dead, and left no produce. I, at great trouble, traced out the Mr. Carter who is referred to by Richardson, but only to find that his breed of dogs had passed into oblivion."
This closes the contribution of Captain Graham to the first edition of "British Dogs". The following quotations occurring in his Monograph I have kept as short as seemed to me compatible with fair representation of the fuller statements. Captain Graham recognises several "very clever essays,....the two ablest written by McNeill of Colonsay (1838) and H.D.Richardson (1841)," and quotes Sir James Ware (1630?), who contends that "'Symmachus, in thanking his brother Flavianus for the present of some canes Scotici, referred to Irish Wolfhounds, and not Mastiffs, as interpreted by Burton and Justus Lipsius' - and reason confirms that view. Ware adds that in his time the Irish Wolfdog had grown scarce, and 'the size seems to have dwindled from its ancient stateliness.'
"In the Welsh laws of the ninth century, the 'canis graius Hibernicus' is specially referred to, and valued at double the ordinary Greyhound.
"Stainhurst (1650), in his description of Ireland, writes: 'They are not without wolves, and Greyhounds to hunt them, bigger of bone and limb than a colt.'
"In 1562, the Irish chieftain, Shane O'Neill, presented Queen Elizabeth with two Irish Wolfhounds, and in 1585 Sir John Perrott, then Deputy of Ireland, sent to Sir Francis Walsingham 'a brace of good Wolfdogs, one black, one white.'
Ray the naturalist, about 1697, describes the Irish Greyhound as 'surpassing in size the Molossus, and, as regards shape of body and general character, similar in all respects to the common Greyhound.'"
Captain Graham here interposes the remark: "There is but little doubt that the ordinary Greyhound of that date was a rough-coated dog." I do not know on what evidence Captain Graham relies for that opinion. Arrian, writing in the second century, describing the Celtic Greyhound, says: "The hair, whether the dog be of the rough or smooth sort, should be fine, close, and soft;" and again, "in figure a prodigy of beauty - their eyes, their hair, their colour....such brilliancy of gloss is there about the spottiness of the parti-coloured, and in those of uniform colour such glistening over the sameness of tint, as to afford a most delightful spectacle to an amateur of coursing."; and, further: "Tails long, rough, with hair supple, flexible, and more hairy towards the tip." Edmund de Langley, in the fourteenth century, appears to me to describe a smooth dog, as does Markham writing at the period Captain Graham refers to; indeed, Markham describes the Greyhound as having "an even grown, long, rat's tail," a peculiarity not seen in rough-haired dogs, so far as I can remember, except in Irish Spaniels; and how far art is accountable for that peculiarity I do not know.
Brook ("Natural History," 1772) seems to have copied Ray, and Smith ("History of Waterford," 1774) to have copied Brook; and the letterpress in Bewick (1792) is a reiteration of what had been written before.
In regard to the "Sportsman's Cabinet" (1803), Captain Graham points out that the author "makes no mention of Scottish Deerhounds, or any breed of dog used for hunting or taking deer, save the Stag, Blood, and Old Southern Hounds." But in Scotland the Deerhound is still often called the Staghound, and at Northern dog shows, such as those of Aberdeen and Inverness, the class for Deerhounds is in the catalogues designated Staghounds.
I do not think I need quote more from Captain Graham, with the exception of one most important statement, on which I wish to comment; but, before doing so, as bearing on the subject, I must remark that I have been greatly struck, in my investigations, by the constant repetition by writers, through several centuries, of lamentations on the decadence of the Irish Wolfhound, and particularly in respect to his greatly diminished size. I have searched in vain for anything like tangible proof that there ever was a dog of the giganctic proportions he has been assumed to have attained. The mist of time appears to have done for the Irish Wolfhound what the mists of Connemara will do now for anyone who travels on her mountains.
One rather amusing circumstance will be sure to attract the attention of those who study such scraps of history and tradition as bear on this subject, and that is the great number of big dogs which have been called Irish Wolfhounds. Each one of these has been declared to be "the last of his race," reminding one strongly of the conventional "positively the last appearance on this or any other stage" in connection with a popular actor.
Captain Graham states that he has dogs of Irish Wolfhound blood whose pedigree can be traced for forty years. I take it that these go back to Richardson's strain; but, as Richardson fails, in my opinion, to show that he had genuine material to work upon, and as I consider it undeniable that, if he had any pure Irish Wolfhound blood to start with, he greatly diluted it; and, further, as I presume that Captain Graham must have carried on the diluting process, I find it difficult to understand how any thing more than infinitesimally allied to the original Irish Wolfhound can remain.
That a gigantic rough-coated dog of the Deerhound type may be produced by judicious breeding I do not doubt, but it must be by a still further large addition of foreign blood.
I have ventured, in my own mind, to come to, not a conclusion, but a compromise, that the immensely- powerful, yet tolerably fleet, dog used for the destruction of wolves in Ireland, and otherwise famous in her history, must have been raised by a cross between a variety of the pugnaces, or bellicosi, and the species of the celeres known as the Celtic Greyhound. This is, of course, mere speculation; but, if there is any truth in it, the Irish Wolfhound Club is in the right way to reproduce another such animal, althugh I cannot say it will be - what I at one time hoped was possible - a resuscitation of an ancient race.
Having, as I believe, fairly placed Captain G.A. Graham's views before my readers, by giving quotations from his Monograph, as well as the matter supplied by him direct to me for the previous edition of this book, I cannot in justice to the subject, and to all interested in it, deny space to the opposite opinions of Mr. G.W. Hickman, who has equally devoted time and ability to an examination of the subject. Mr. Hickman writes:
Having gone most fully into the question of the Irish Wolfhound, and with no
preconceived views on the subject, I cannot avoid stating the conclusions I was
forced to adopt. There is not a particle of direct evidence to identify the
Irish Wolfhound with the Deerhound, and such evidence as we have goes in the
opposite direction. Until some time in the "Thirties" of the present
century, all the naturalists who described or depicted the Irish Wolfhound
concurred in representing it as an animal of a certain kind, both in their
descriptions and their pictures. But about the time mentioned, a Mr. Haffield,
who appears to have been prompted by that desire for starting new theories and
demolishing old-standing beliefs which actuates men of science, read a paper
before one of the Dublin philosophical societies, in which he departed from all
existing ideas, and enunciated views which suggested - as it seems - to
Richardson his enlarged Deerhound theory. Richardson, who admits that he had
previously entertained the orthodox views, in accordance with the existing
evidence, appears to have had an accommodating mind, and to have considered
that evidence equally applicable to "the new departure", which he
hastened to advocate. The theory of Richardson and his followers is merely one
of conjecture and inference. The practice of these writers has been to start
with a theory, and to adapt their evidence to it, instead of deducing their
theory from the existing evidence. They pick out such passages as suit their
views, with more or less of misquotation, draw their own inferences from them,
and totally ignore all the authorities that are opposed to them.
No doubt what first suggested the identification of the Irish Wolfdog with the Deerhound was Macpherson's "Ossian", and the accounts in the Fingalian legends of the marvellous doings of the hero's "white-breasted" "hairy-footed" Bran, and others. As Ireland claimed some common property in this legend, Irish amour propre seized the idea of associating with their already extinct and almost mythological Wolfdog - as harmonising with his traditional gigantic size - all the glamour and poetical colouring belonging to the dogs of "Ossian". But as it is a matter of doubt with some "if" - as Gibbon says -"we can with safety indulge the pleasing supposition that Fingal lived and Ossian sung", there is no value in such an argument; and even granting that there is foundation for those legends, it is absurd to draw any conclusions as to the gigantic character of the dogs from the poetical exaggerations of mere legends; whilst their rough coats would only be an instance of the "local colouring" supplied by the bards from the dogs they were accustomed to, as no one disputes that the Deerhound, or rough Greyhound, was a common dog enough in olden times. The Ossianic argument may therefore be put aside.
Another thing which seems to have suggested the identification of the Irish Greyhound with the Deerhound, is the passage in the works of Taylor, the "Water Poet", who, in describing a hunting battue given by the Earl of Mar in the Highlands, in 1618, says that the valley was waylaid by a hundred couple of strong Irish Greyhounds. These were, no doubt, Deerhounds, and the passage would, at first sight, seem to prove that the Deerhound was identical with the Irish Greyhound, or Wolfdog. But McNeil himself admitted that the term "Irish" was probably applied to the Highland dogs, as everything Celtic was then so designated in England, in consequence of Ireland being better known than Scotland - that is to say, the terms "Celtic" and "Highland" were then unknown, and, as the common origin of the two peoples was well known, our ancestors, instead of applying the epithet "Highland" or "Celtic" to any animal or thing in what are now called the Highlands, used the term "Irish". This is so well known that it is hardly necessary to dwell upon it; but I may as well mention two authorities who conclusively prove the assertion. In Holinshed's "Chronicles" we find this passage: "For in the north part of the region where the wild Scots, otherwise called the Red Shankes, or rough Scots, do inhabit, they speak good Irish, which they call Gaichlet." Again, the Introduction to Pitscottie's "History of Scotland" describes the "wyld Scottis" as follows: "They be cloathed with ane mantle with ane schirt fachioned after the Irisch manner, going barelegged to the knee. All speak Irisch." The term, therefore, as used by Taylor, simply meant that what he saw were Highland Greyhounds, and does not necessarily imply that the animals were the same as the Greyhound that was found in Ireland, and known as the Wolfdog. Indeed, every supposition is against the possibility of this view.
If anything is certain, it is that, even in Ireland, as long as we have any record, the Wolfdog was very rare, was a gift for princes, and only to be obtained by great influence. Is it, then, credible that the Earl of Mar alone could bring into the field a couple of hundred? Is it credible or likely, if they were thus common in Scotland in 1618, that they should have become so scarce in Ireland in 1652 that a declaration had to be issued, by the Privy Council of Cromwell's Government, against the export of "such great dogges as are commonly called Wolfdogges"?
Again, we find that, in 1623, the Duke of Buckingham (not Buccleugh, as Richardson states) wrote to Lord Falkland, in Ireland, asking that nobleman to procure him some Irish Greyhounds as a great favour, and that they were to be white. It is utterly impossible to imagine that Buckingham, the favourite of James I, who refused him nothing, would have gone to all the trouble of sending to Ireland and asking, as a favour, what his Royal master could have procured him any number of by a word to one of his Scotch nobles, seeing that one of these alone could muster so many - that is, if the Irish Greyhound and Deerhound were identical. It is also very unlikely that James, who was passionately fond of the chase, and on that account must have been well acquainted with the Deerhound, should not have introduced such a much-prized breed to England, if it was the same as the Irish Wolfdog. But we never read of any being procured, except from Ireland.
Apart from mere inference, we have proof that the Irish dog was imported at this period to Scotland. Jesse, in his "History of the Dog", tells us that, in 1501, an Irishman, Brian O'Rourke, from Connaught, arrived at Glasgow with six fair Irish Hobbies, and four great dogs, to be presented to the king. After what we have seen in Taylor, that only thirty years later these Deerhounds could be mustered in hundreds, it would have been carryng coals to Newcastle to take them to Scotland, especially as a rare present.
The one thing that has done more than anything else to confuse the question, and which has misled the adopters of the Deerhound theory, is the remarkable mis-translation, in the English version of Buffon, in the passage relating to the Irish dog, a mistake which has been repeated parrot-like by all those who have gone into the subject superficially, and accepted whatever was put before them. The mistake alluded to is the translation of the word "Mâtin" by the term "Irish Greyhound."
The reason for this error may, perhaps, have been that the translator, not recognising in the Mâtin any breed of dog he knew, conjectured that it might be the then rare, if not extinct, Irish Greyhound, of which he knew nothing; but most probably he saw some fancied resemblance, arising from the similarity in the patched colour to the dogs depicted by Schreber and Ridinger. Anyhow, the absurdity of the rendering can be demonstrated beyond question. Buffon says of the "Chiens d'Irlande" (he never calls them Greyhounds), that "they are much larger than our largest Mâtins." Now, if the translator was right in rendering Mâtin as "Irish Greyhound", it follows that Buffon committed the absurdity of stating that the Irish dog was much taller than itself. The translator, however, avoided this by rendering the word in this one place by the term "Mastiff", but in every other as "Irish Greyhound". To suit this rendering, the picture of the Mâtin given by Buffon was appropriated to and became the Irish Greyhound in all the English editions, and, from the animal seeming to have a broken coat, the argument for the roughness of the Irish Greyhound has been chiefly drawn. So far was the mistake carried, that in the "Encyclopaedia Britannica" for 1797 the portraits of Buffon's Great Dane and the Mâtin were reproduced, the latter, under the title of the Irish Greyhound, showing a dog vastly larger than the Great Dane, though in Buffon it was rather the smaller. This portrait Captain Graham adduces as that of an Irish Wolfhound of gigantic size! But the Mâtin is well known to have been a French dog, and is so described by very many writers, Buffon himself describing it as "originaire ou plutôt naturel de France," and making it his constant standard of comparison in height, and from which we gather that the Mâtin, as known to him, did not exceed 25 in. He also, perhaps out of a national feeling, placed the Mâtin as the original of all breeds of dogs, in the rather fanciful pedigree or table he deduced. But in the English versions of the table the same substitution of the "Irish Greyhound" for the Mâtin takes place, and the former figures therein as the ancestor of the canine race. Buffon really puts the Great Dane as one remove from the Mâtin, and the Chien d'Irlande as a step further from the Dane; and his text corroborates this, for he observers: "The Mâtin, transported to the North, has become the Great Dane; the Great Dane, transported to Ireland, has become the Chien d'Irlande." Captain Graham, in his essay on the Irish Wolfhound, quotes five passages from the "Sportsman's Cabinet" relating to the Irish Greyhound. These passages are really taken from Buffon; three of them are instances of the mistranslation already mentioned, and do not relate to the Irish Greyhound at all, but to the Mâtin. Consequently, the argument which Captain Graham deduces, that the mongrel Greyhound - arising, as Buffon said, from the Greyhound and Irish Greyhound - was probably the Scotch Deerhound, is utterly unfounded, as Buffon said nothing of the sort.
Now, how can we wonder at the mis-statements that have been made, and theories formed, on this subject, when we see writer after writer for nearly a century perpetuating this error regarding the identity of the French Mâtin and Irish Wolfhound? Of course, I do not suppose that our eminent naturalists have done so, as they would go to the originals, and not accept their authorities secondhand. It is, at all events, certain and curious that none of our great writers on natural history have accepted the theory of Richardson.
Before leaving Buffon, there is another consideration which I think entitled to great weight. Buffon says that his son had brought from St. Petersburg a dog and bitch (from his minute description and the portraits clearly Russian Wolfhounds just as we know them) "of a different race from all those which I have previously described." Now, if there is a race which resembles the Deerhound, it is the RussianWolfhound; both are the great rough Greyhound of the North, and the Russian dog has been selected as the nearest in type to cross with the Deerhound, and is, in my opinion, the only one possible without entailing loss of quality and character. Although white greatly preponderates in the colour of the Russian dog, as it is liked so in order to render the animal less visible on the snow, yet it is well known that many of these dogs have their bodies all iron grey, like a Deerhound. Had the Chien d'Irlande, therefore, been the same as the Deerhound, Buffon must have been struck at once with the resemblance to the Russian dog; but, as we have seen, he says that the latter was of a quite different race to any he had described. And when we further consider that Buffon described the Irish Wolfdog as resembling the Great Dane, but could see no resemblance to the Russian Wolfhound, it is clear, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the Irish Wolfdog as known to Buffon was a totally different animal to one of Deerhound type.
I have said that all the direct evidence is against the Richardsonian theory. This is so. By direct evidence, I mean that of those persons who saw or described the Irish dog before it had become extinct, or a matter of conjecture, and of historic interest only. After the beginning of this century, all accounts agree in the utter extinction of the breed, and certain people, whose attention had been directed to the subject by the popular works of Goldsmith and Buffon, had begun to cast round and see if they could not revive it - much in the same manner as efforts are being made at the present day - and, not finding anything that would answer the descriptions given of it by all the authorities, they eagerly seized on the Deerhound theory. Consequently, the dogs that were so bred fifty years ago have no more right to be called Irish Wolfdogs than those that are manufactured in modern days will acquire the right to the title fifty years hence.
Now, the only persons who describe the Irish Greyhound, or Wolfdog, from having (as they say) personally seen specimens, are Ray, Buffon, Goldsmith, and Pennant. Ray (1697) simply says that it was the largest dog he had seen, in general character resembling the common Greyhound. Buffon (1730), as we know, never saw but one, "all white, and very gentle and peaceful in disposition, resembling in form the Great Dane." Goldsmith (1770) says: "It was made extremely like a Greyhound, but rather more robust, and inclining to the figure of the French Mâtin or the Great Dane. His eye was mild, his colour white, and his nature heavy and phlegmatic. He seemed more timid than the ordinary race of dogs, and his skin much thinner, and, consequently, less fitted for combat." Pennant (1776) had seen two or three in the whole of Ireland: "They were of the kind called by M. de Buffon the Great Dane, and probably imported by the Danes." As Buffon gives no verbal description of the Great Dane, Pennant must have formed his opinion from Buffon's portrait of it, which is of a smooth dog. It must also be distinctly borne in mind that, when old writers mention the Great Dane, they do not mean a dog like the German Mastiff, which the admirers of the breed choose to term Great Dane; reference to their writings, and to their plates, will show that their Great Dane was a much lighter-framed dog, with far more slender muzzle, and smaller ears - in fact, quite a different animal.
I may just call attention to the fact, that neither Goldsmith nor Pennant fell into the error of confounding the Irish dog with the Mâtin; the former mentions the Mâtin as a different animal, and the latter would have referred to Buffon's plate of the Mâtin instead of to the Great Dane, had the Mâtin been identical with the Irish dog. Of naturalists who have given portraits of the Irish Greyhound, in times when it is pretty certain there must have been some relics of the breed, and before any doubt could be entertained of its identity, are the great German naturalists, Ridinger and Schreber. The former, whose work was published about 1720, and whose experience would date back into the previous century, was one of the greatest depictors of animals - especially dogs - that ever lived. If anyone doubts this, I refer him to "Engravings of Animals," by Thomas Landseer, chiefly after his brother Edwin, where the letterpress states that "Ridinger was an artist of great power, who studied wild animals in their sequestered haunts, and, generally speaking, left little or no room for others to improve;" and also to Bryan's "Dictionary of Painters", wherein Ridinger is credited with having "given to each animal its peculiar character and attitude with surprising expression and exactness." Schreber was also a naturalist of renown, whose work was published about 1785. His picture of the Irish Greyhound is executed in colours, whilst Ridinger's is an engraving; but though there are small points of difference, each evidently represented the same dog - a most peculiar-looking animal, and certainly like nothing we ever see now. The arched loin, extremely long legs, and sharp muzzle, at once suggest a comparison with the Greyhound; whilst the thick skull, coarse limbs, thick neck, and heavy shoulders, give an ungainly look, and take away the Greyhound character. In the case of both portraits the main colour of the dog is white, with light-brown patches; the coat is smooth, and is so described in the text; and the eye and general expression are sleepy and lethargic. It will, therefore, be seen that all these writers evidently refer to the same type of dog. The colour is, in all the old descriptions, white or chiefly so; whilst the descriptions by Buffon and Goldsmith of the mild eye and lethargic disposition, exactly correspond with the appearance of the portraits, the latter showing a smooth coat, which agrees with Goldsmith's observation that the Irish Greyhound had a skin much thinner than other dogs - a remark, surely, that could never be applied to a rough dog of Deerhound type. Lastly, Goldsmith's description - "made extemely like a Greyhound, but rather more robust" - hits the portraits exactly, and corresponds with the almost invariable description, "taller than the Mastiff, but more like the Greyhound."
Amongst other well-known naturalists who have given us portraits of the Irish Greyhound are Bewick (1800), Bingley (1809), and Captain Brown (1829), all of whom adopt Goldsmith's view, and represent a smooth- coated dog. Bewick's dog is more like the Great Dane, and it is probable that he drew it from one of Lord Altamont's dogs. The Richardsonian theorists are very disingenuous on the subject of that nobleman's dogs, pointing, as they do, to the one engraved in Mr. Lambert's account, and never mentioning the explanation I was the first to call attention to, viz., that Lord Altamont had stated that he had two kinds of Wolfdogs - the Greyhound and the Mastiff; and that he was, to within a short time previously, possessed of each kind, perfectly distinct: "The heads were not so sharp in the latter as the former, but there seemed a great similarity of temper." He further said, that the painting was of the Mastiff Wolfdog, and that he had then five dogs bred between the Mastiff and Greyhound Wolfdog. This cross would give just such an animal as represented by Bewick. We thus see that Lord Altamont had other Wolfdogs of Greyhound type, and smooth-coated as the Mastiff Wolfdog in the picture; but the explanation seems to have been curiously overlooked by every writer on the subject.
I now put it to every impartial reader whether the dog described and depicted by the writers cited above could possibly have been an animal like the Deerhound. I have shown, beyond question, that the dog represented by these great authorities was smooth; that it was chiefly white (not a Deerhound colour); and that it was mild, lethargic, and heavy-looking. Contrast the description of the two supposed Wolfhounds seen by Captain Graham's friend (Mr. Ronayne Couron, of Lewisham) in Ireland, in "the Forties of the present century", which had "fierce, piercing eyes, shaggy brows, and very rough, dark grey coats" - which is a very good description of the Deerhound, as these animals no doubt were - with the dog described by Buffon, Goldsmith, Linnæus, Pennant, Ridinger, Schreber, Bewick, and other eminent naturalists, and ask, Is it possible to say the latter could have been the Deerhound, or a similar dog. The supporters of the Richardsonian theory must, therefore, if their theory is to stand, reject all these accounts, and are then left without any detailed historic description at all, and must fall back on conjecture and inference, which is, after all, the essence of their views. Even so enthusiastic a supporter of Richardson as Captain Graham admits that he can produce no evidence from old writers that the Irish Greyhound was rough; and, indeed, the argument that it was so is only supposition and inference. For example, we are told of the Irish harp in Trinity College, Dublin, that it has carved upon it figures of Irish Wolfdogs, and that their coats are rough. Now, I have seen a model of this harp, and also an engraving of it, and I say that to deduce any serious argument from it is absurd. To pronounce the figures dogs at all is mere conjecture, as may be gathered from the remark of Petrie (who started the idea), that "they were not lions" (as evidently had been supposed), "but Wolf-dogs"; whilst to say they are rough-coated is creditable to the imagination; and, in any case, to say they are Irish Wolfdogs is pure assumption. Yet this harp theory is the only testimony from ancient sources that the Richardsonians can bring for roughness of coat, against the positive evidence of the writers I have mentioned.
The modern testimony brought forward to support the rough-coated theory is based upon the supposed character of the dogs of Hamilton Rowan and O'Toole, and the inquiries made by the Earl of Caledon, within the last few years, from people on his estates, as to the dogs kept by his ancestors. Now, the latter testimony cannot go far enough back to be of the slightest weight: for, if anything is clear, it is that the Irish Greyhound was extinct at the close of the last century; and it is equally clear, that people were then seeking to revive the breed, just as has been the case in more recent years. The uncertainty of such hearsay evidence is well illustrated by the case of Lord Altamont's dogs. That nobleman's son, whose experience dated much further back than Lord Caledon's, informed Captain Graham that his father's dogs were rough; but this Captain Graham candidly admits must have been a mistake, as we have Lord Altamont's and Mr. Lambert's accounts to the contrary. In any event, the cases of Rowan's and O'Toole's dogs, which existed about the second decade of the present century, would not be of any value, as they only show that attention was being directed to the question.
But it is curious to note how opposite is the testimony in each case. First, as to Rowan's dogs. Col. Hamilton Smith states that Rowan used to appear followed by two Wolfdogs that resembled Great Danes. Martin denied they were the latter, but said they were Bloodhounds. Richardson, to get over the difficulty, states that Rowan had several Danes and one Wolfdog, which he called "the last of his race;" and, further, says that it was a large Greyhound, perfectly similar to a Scotch Deerhound. But this latter statement disproves itself, as we know that the Deerhound was then far from extinct. To add to the complication, Mr. Betham appears to have informed Captain Graham that he was personally well acquainted with Rowan and his dogs, and that "they were smooth-coated, and not shaggy like the Scotch Deerhound." Mr. Betham is most positive that these dogs were what Rowan considered his Wolfhounds, and, from the circumstances he mentions as to the precautions Rowan used to protect his breed, it is certain that he must have had more than one Wolfdog. There is no doubt that Rowan, whose aim was to make himself conspicuous by adding the romantic associations of the Wolfdog to the singularity of his gigantic frame and yellow club, did not care very much what the animal he had was so long as it was very large and striking. It is possible that, having met with a larger and more striking animal than those he had hitherto considered Wolfdogs - one that was so like nothing else in existence that it was termed the last of its race, as it was also probably the first - he thought fit to change his views; but this is only a suggestion. Certain it is, however, that Hamilton Rowan's smooth dogs must at one time have been held forth by him as Wolfdogs, judging from the writers I have quoted, and Mr. Betham's letter. Whether they had any right to the title is beside the question, as I hold that no true specimen survived the last century. There is no doubt, however, that Rowan had a large rough dog, Bran; but whether he transferred the title of Wolfdog to it from what he had before represented as that breed, or whether other people, knowing that he had reputed Wolfdogs, credited every large dog he was seen with as being of that breed - an extremely probable supposition - cannot be determined. According to both Lady Morgan and Sir Jonah Barrington, Bran was more like a Newfoundland, if it was not actually one. Lady Morgan admits that she took the hero of her novel, O'Donnel, and his hound, from Hamilton Rowan and his dog Bran. The only passage in her novel that affords us any clue to the appearance of Bran, is a question, addressed to the hero by a lady, as to whether his dog is not a Newfoundland. Sir J. Barrington describes Rowan's advent, with his club and dog, into an assembly of young barristers where he was present, on what may be termed a bullying expedition, in the following terms: "He was very well dressed; close by his side stalked in a shaggy Newfoundland dog, of corresponding magnitude, with hair a foot long." It is remarkable that two independent witnesses who had seen Bran should in effect state that he was, to all appearance, a Newfoundland, and proves that he must greatly have resembled that breed to have suggested the idea to the casual observer, though it is utterly impossible that any dog that exactly resembled the Scotch Deerhound (as Richardson stated, without giving any authority) would be thus described by different writers. The coat "a foot long" may well apply to the Newfoundland, but not to the Deerhound. Neither Lady Morgan nor Barrington considered Bran a Wolfdog, and the former's letter to Jesse on the breed shows that she thought it extinct, spoke of its resemblance to the Great Dane of Buffon, and evidently considered Lord Altamont's dogs as the remains of it.
The case of O'Toole's dogs is as doubtful as that of Rowan's, and depends on a lady's recollection of what she saw as a child; and even she says that "they were rough, not long-coated" - a very uncertain description, and quite opposed to the character of the supposed Wolfdog, Bran, with his coat a foot long. O'Toole appears to have been an eccentric old gentleman, who imagined he was of the blood royal of the old Irish kings, and therefore kept what he considered Wolfdogs, as one of the proper old-fashioned appendages of royalty. But though I hold that it matters little whether Rowan's or O'Toole's dogs were rough or smooth, yet it is strange how contradiction crops up even in the latter case, for the tail-piece in Jesse's work is a representation of O'Toole followed by his three Wolfdogs, which are perfectly smooth-coated animals! We may therefore dismiss the evidence as to both Rowan's and O'Toole's dogs, as being so contradictory in nature as to be of no value whatever, and, if anything, more assuredly against than in favour of their being rough-coated.
There remains, then, but one argument of the Richardsonians in favour of a rough coat, viz., that - conceding that the Wolfdog was a Greyhound - it must have been rough-coated because all Greyhounds were originally rough-haired. But this appears to be simply conjecture; and there is positive evidence to the contrary, for Dr. Caius says of the Greyhound in his time: "Some are of a greater sorte, and some of a lesser; some are smooth-skynned, and some are curled." Holinshed uses similar language, as follows: "The fift (hight) a Greihound, cherished for his strength, swiftnesse, and stature, of which sorte also some be smoothe, of sundry colours, and some shake haired."
We therefore have it clearly proved that, three hundred years ago, there were both rough and smooth Greyhounds; so the inference drawn from the belief that all Greyhounds were formerly rough also falls to the ground. Reinagle's portrait of an Irish Greyhound, reproduced in "British Dogs," from the "Sportsman's Cabinet", can carry no value, as it is utterly opposed to the text of the latter book. In such a case, where there is a precise description in the text, and an engraving stuck in without any comment or explanation, and which may be a fancy portrait, Which is to be believed - the author, who has, we presume, studied the subject, or the artist? As the text of the "Sportsman's Cabinet" stated the Irish Greyhound to be extinct, probably Reinagle indulged his imagination; at all events, the statement of its extinction showed that, in the opinion of the author, there was no existing dog of the breed for Reinagle to draw, and, therefore, probably allowed him to draw from his imagination. What value, in any case, could his representation - he not being a naturalist, and living at a time when the Wolfdog is universally admitted to have degenerated into extinction, and become a subject of historic interest only - have against the portraits by Ridinger and Schreber, both of whom were great naturalists, and lived at a time when the breed existed?
Before leaving the subject, I may mention the reckless and audacious manner in which Richardson supported his theory. Amongst other misquotations, he adduced passages from Pliny, Buffon, Ray, and Pennant, which went far to support his views; but as no such passages are to be found in those authors bearing the interpretation given, he must have garbled or fabricated them for his own purposes. Again, we are told that the faithful Gelert was an Irish Wolfdog, presented by King John to Llewellyn - as evidence, apparently, that the Irish Wolfdog was a match for a wolf. Unfortunately, Mr. Baring Gould, and other myth-destroyers, have demolished this pretty legend, which it is well known is, in various forms, still common to several countries in the world. We are also told that the skulls of dogs found in the bogs by Mr. Wylde are "evidently" those of rough Greyhounds. But impartial people would like to know how the skull of a dog of Greyhound type can be, with certainty, pronounced to be that of a rough-coated dog. Assertion goes for nothing. Similar unsupported "authorities" abound in Richardson's essay. The question of these skulls affords a good example of the way the supporters of Richardson adapt the evidence to the theory, and shift their front. Richardson demonstrated, as he was then arguing for a very giant of a dog, that these skulls, which, of course, were assumed to be those of Irish Wolfdogs, belonged to dogs at least 40 in. high. But of late times, as no one could be expected to "swallow" an enlarged Deerhound of that height, the very same premises are found elastic enough to reduce the standard to from 31 in. to 34 in. - within a measurable distance of the Deerhound, which is Captain Graham's conclusion. But if anything is certain on such a doubtful subject, it is that the Irish Wolfdog was of gigantic height - greater than any dog we know; and though we might be disposed to allow some margin off for a general estimate, yet Buffon's dog, "5 ft. high when sitting," and Goldsmith's largest, "4 ft. high, or as tall as a calf a year old," cannot well be reduced to 33 in. or 34 in. The argument that seeks to prove that the Irish Wolfdog was of the same character as the Scotch Deerhound cannot admit any other logical conclusion, if correct, than that in the Deerhound we have the Irish Wolfdog itself. This was Richardson's conclusion in his first essay, thus stated: "I have said that many assert the Irish Wolfdog to be no longer in existence. I have ventured a denial of this, and refer to the Wolf-dog, or Deer-dog of the Highlands, as his actual and faithful living representative. Perhaps I am wrong in saying representative. I hold that the Irish Wolf-dog and the Highland Deer-dog are one and the same." Why, then, did Richardson not accept the Deerhound? Because it was found that no true Greyhound like the Deerhound could be raised to the stated height of the Irish Wolfdog, and it was seen to be necessary to fit in the theory with the reputed stature. Consequently, the probable height of the Wolfdog was reduced as much as possible, and, there still being a large gap, the further theory was propounded that the Deerhound is a degenerate Wolfdog. But I have shown, from its importation into Scotland, that the Irish Wolfdog could not have been identical with the Deerhound; and as this occurred nearly 300 years ago, when wolves were in existence, and the Deerhound existed in hundreds, there can be no pretence for saying that the difference between the Irish Wolfdog and the Deerhound arises from degeneracy. The large Deerhounds of to-day are, as I have shown, in some cases too large for their work. Why, then, should it be supposed they were far larger when kept for work alone? That they were trained as Wolfdogs is probable, but all the accounts we have show they were used in great numbers, which negatives the presumption that they were required to be so large as to be, singly, a match for a wolf. Who asserts that the Russian dog is, singly, such a match; and yet they are used for the chase of the wolf? Why say, because the Deerhound was once used as a Wolfdog, that it was necessarily the same as the Irish Wolfdog, any more than it was the same as the Pyrenean Wolfdog? You may catch a deer with many kinds of hounds, but it does not therefore follow that these are all of a similar breed, or the same as the Scotch Deerhound.
I now finally submit to the judgement of my readers, that the adoption of Richardson's theory necessitates the rejection of all the definite accounts of the greatest naturalists - Ridinger, Linnaeus, Buffon, Goldsmith, Schreber, Pennant, Bewick, Brown, Bell, Bingley, Hamilton Smith, and others - and the adoption of conjecture and inference, which, as I have shown, is more or less unfounded. There is no middle course; for, if Richardson's theory be right, all the above-mentioned writers must have been in error as to the Irish Wolfdog, for the two theories cannot possibly be reconciled.
Having now placed both Captain Graham's and Mr. Hickman's views before my
readers, I think it necessary, before concluding this article, to refer to
several statements and opinions that appear to me to be erroneous. In the early
part of Captain Graham's contribution, he claims the dogs described by Ossian
as evidently identical with the Irish Wolfhound, and as being of much greater
stature and power than the present Deerhound. I can find no passage in Ossian
that warrants such an assumption. No mention is made of Wolfhounds, and the
dogs introduced are described as those used in the work of Deerhounds. It
cannot be fairly inferred that these dogs were larger than their descendants of
the present day because Macpherson, with poetic licence, describes a hunt in
which "a deer fell to every dog, and three to the white-breasted
Again, Captain Graham appears to be entirely wrong in stating that the "Canis graius Hibernicus" is specially referred to in the Welsh laws of the ninth century. These ancient statutes are known as "The Laws of Howell the Good," and the name of Irish Greyhound, either in Welsh or Latin, does not occur in them. The dog referred to, and priced at double the value of the Greyhound, is the King's Buckhound, or Covert Hound. Mr. Hickman evidently had in his mind, when writing his contribution to this Chapter, arguments advanced by Captain Graham in his Monograph; but these I do not think it necessary to quote more fully, as the gist of them will be seen by the references Mr. Hickman makes to them.
Lord Altamont's dogs are frequently referred to by writers on this subject, and special reference made to the drawing of one of them given by that nobleman to Mr. Lambert. It will be interesting to readers to see what he has to say on the subject, and I therefore reproduce here a letter written by him to Pennant, the naturalist, and bound up with Vol. I of that writer's "British Zoology":
"This drawing of the Irish Wolfhound was given me by Lord Altamont, done exactly the natural size of one in his lordship's possession at Westport, in the County of Mayo, Ireland, during my stay there, in 1790. I had frequent opportunities of observing these dogs, Lord Altamont having eight of them - the only ones now in the kingdom. There is a man kept on purpose to take care of them, as they are with difficulty bred up and kept healthy. I took the measurements of one of the largest, which are as follows: From the tip of the nose to the end of the tail, 61 in.; tail, 17½ in. long; from the tip of the nose to the back part of skull, 10 in.; from the back part of skull to the beginning of the tail, 33 in.; from the toe of the foreleg to the top of the shoulders, 28½ in.; the length of the leg, 16 in.; from the point of the nose to the first point of the eye, 4½ in.; the ear, 6 in. long; round the widest part of the belly, about 3 in. from the legs, 35 in. - 26 in. round the hind part, close to the hind legs. The hair, short and smooth; the colour, brown and white of some, others black and white. They seem good-natured animals, but, from the account I received, are now degenerated in size, having been larger some years ago, and their make more like a Greyhound. - A.B.L." (AYLMER BOURKE LAMBERT).
The following is the standard adopted by the Irish Wolfhound Club, and by which the dogs of that name are now judged at our shows:-
1. General Appearance. - The Irish Wolfhound should not be quite so heavy or massive as the Great Dane, but more so than the Deerhound, which in general type he should otherwise resemble. Of great size and commanding appearance, very muscular, strongly though gracefully built, and movements easy and active; head and neck carried high; the tail carried with an upward sweep, with a slight curve towards the extremity. The minimum height and weight of dogs should be 31 in. and 120 lb.; of bitches, 28 in. and 90 lb. Anything below this should be debarred from competition. Great size, including height at shoulder and proportionate length of body, is the desideratum to be aimed at, and it is desired to firmly establish a race that shall average from 32 in. to 34 in. in dogs, showing the requisite power, activity, courage, and symmetry.
2. Head. - Long, the frontal bones of the forehead very slightly raised, and very little indentation between the eyes. Skull not too broad, muzzle long, and moderately pointed. Ears small, and Greyhound-like in carriage.
3. Neck. - Rather long, very strong and muscular, well arched, without dewlap or loose skin about the throat.
4. Chest. - Very deep. Breast wide.
5. Back. - Rather long than short. Loins arched.
6. Tail. - Long, and slightly curved, of moderate thickness, and well covered with hair.
7. Belly. - Well drawn up.
8. Forequarters. - Shoulders muscular, giving breadth of chest, set sloping. Elbows well under, neither turned inwards nor outwards. Leg: forearm muscular, and the whole leg strong, and quite straight.
9. Hind Quarters. - Muscular thighs, and second thigh long and strong as in the Greyhound; hocks well let down, and turning neither in nor out.
10. Feet. - Moderately large and round, neither turned inwards nor outwards. Toes well arched and closed. Nails, very strong, and curved.
11. Hair. - Rough and hard on body, legs, and head; especially wiry, and long over eyes and under jaw.
12. Colour and Markings. - The recognised colours are grey, brindle, red, black, pure white, fawn, or any colour that appears in the Deerhound.
13. Faults. - Too light or heavy a head, too highly-arched frontal bones, large ears, and hanging flat to the face, short neck, full dew-lap, too narrow or too broad a chest, sunken or hollow or quite straight back, bent forelegs, overbent fetlocks, twisted feet, spreading toes, too curly a tail, weak hind quarters, and a general want of muscle, too short in body.
The members of the Irish Wolfhound Club are actively engaged in their object of producing a dog of gigantic size, and corresponding to their idea of the original Irish Wolfhound.
The results of breeding so far are, I understand, considered satisfactory; but, even with a number of breeders acting in harmony, it must take some years to attain the ideal sought for, and to establish fixity of type, as we see it in many of our old breeds.