Irish Wolfhound History

Early Dog Shows (1859-1900)

The first dog show ever held in the U.K. was in 1859 at Newcastle and the only breeds scheduled were Pointers and Setters. Later that same year, a show held in Birmingham scheduled Pointers, Setters, and Spaniels. In 1860, also at Birmingham, hounds were first scheduled. In 1863 the first London show was held, in Chelsea.

It appears that there were two main dog show bodies - The National Dog Club and the National Dog Society, which was based in Birmingham. In 1870, the M.P. for Ettington, Warwickshire, Mr. S.E. Shirley, called a meeting of the Committee of the National Dog Club to discuss the setting up of a body that would control the dog scene. Following this meeting, twelve gentlemen met in London in 1873 to found The Kennel Club.

The Kennel Club first published a Code of Rules for the guidance of dog shows in the first volume of the Kennel Club Stud Book published in 1874, which covered the records of the shows that had been held from 1859 to 1873. The Stud Book listed the winners at the shows and was considered the important thing, but it became obvious that problems would occur in mixing up the dogs entered therein, because there was no registration system to differentiate between names. This is also the problem with the Irish wolfhounds in this period, which was in the early stages of the breed's revival. They were known simply by name and it was all too easy to mistake one Lufra for another, for example.

In 1880 the Committee of the Kennel Club introduced registration, to which there was strong resistance at first but it later became accepted because it was so clear that being able to differentiate between dogs was so important. At this time the pedigree of the dog was seen as of little importance, and, in fact, many were registered as pedigree unknown or with one parent unknown.

The first issue of the Stud Book also contained the first Kennel Club Calendar, which listed the shows for each year and for the next ten years this was just two shows per year. After that, more and more shows started up each year. For example, by 1901 there were 44 shows during the year.

In the very earliest days of dog showing, it was seen that the general public were keen to enter their animals but had only the haziest ideas of what constituted different breeds. It is very probable that, in most cases, breeds as we know them hardly existed with any continuity of type and it took some time for the blueprints for different breeds to be brought into the public domain. The following report (from the Kennel Gazette, July 1887 under the heading The Summer Show at The Ranelagh Club) describes the problems:-

"The recollections of the earliest London shows may be contrasted with a good deal of interest with the great doings of last month. It will be recollected that nearly every division of the early shows comprised a mixed medley of breeds - to suggest that many people had no cognisance at all of what might be called tribe or kind. It was by no means uncommon for exhibitors to come in frantic haste to the secretary's office to acquaint him that their dogs had been entered in altogether wrong classes; but when entry papers had been looked to it was generally made pretty clear that the owner had possessed some hazy ideas about, perhaps, retrievers and Newfoundlands, but that he was not quite sure about either. It was still much more frequently seen that the most wretched apologies of a breed were entered in the seveal classes provided that might have puzzled the judges, or anyone else, to decide upon the sorts to which they did belong, and at the same time there were some famous specimens of many of the principal breeds that were picked out to serve as landmarks of the future. Too much veneration cannot be felt for these old heroes of the past, and for the good men who selected them, as these were the earliest lessons in teaching the public all the necessary distinctions of type and characteristics. The mastiff Rajah, the Gordon Kent, the pointer Brockton's Bounce, the bull terrier Nelson, or the fox terrier Jock, cum multis aliis, stood out more by themselves at the time, but their positions were of greater importance than those of more modern show winners, as they were looked to as the types of the future for people to breed up to. If mistakes had been made in those days dog shows and dog breeding might have collapsed. But in the main the judgment bestowed upon dogs has been correct, and if types and the nicety of points have altered in some breeds more than others, the correct lines and true characters of class have been wonderfully preserved. This has been done in most cases with the most visible signs of improvement, as how different the collie is now to what his ancestor was of twenty years ago. He is a much handsomer and a better animal altogether, and yet the first show champions can be traced to him. There are few breeds that have not improved, and old sorts that were known to exist but in great scarcity and in very remote quarters have been brought to light in a marvellous manner, such as, for instance, the Irish terrier, and the interesting report in our present number on this particular breed might fill people with wonder as to all that has been done.
"How different a report reads nowadays also to what it did eighteen or twenty years ago; and yet there were good men in those days, of whom, perhaps, the pioneers were Stonehenge and Idstone; but the materials they had to handle were so different. At the same time, a great deal that was written about dogs in the days we refer to was of the greatest value, but the notions would appear crude by the side of all that is known to-day. The public, who take a keen interest in dogs, have been educated up to a very high pitch in canine lore, and perhaps to express opinions about points and character of dogs forms nearly the best or most racy portions of sporting literature. We can admit freely that the old pioneers had a great deal to do with this, but the progress has been as marked here as in other canine matters, and it will be acknowledged, we think, by many who will read the report we publish to-day from the pens of the judges, that the style in which many express themselves on dogs and their merits can scarcely be improved upon. Some of the reports are essays on the various breeds, telling us all that is wanted or could be dispensed with, and one might easily feel after much of such reading that it would be the pleasantest pastime in the world to breed St. Bernards, or the most attractive of amusements to get wire-haired terriers to their present standard of excellence."

There were few judges in these times and frequently the same judges officiated at several shows each year. For example, in 1900 Fred Gresham judged Irish wolfhounds at four of the nine shows which scheduled the breed, as he did in 1901, and in 1902 he also judged at four shows of the reduced number scheduling the breed, which was eight.

As far as the Irish Wolfhound Club was concerned, judges for shows were elected in the same way as Club Committee Members and a list of only 12 elected Judges was kept by the Club Secretary and sent out to Show Managers of those Dog Shows that the Club supported by guarantee or special prizes. Those judges that had already judged that year would be marked on the list by the Club Secretary, (as can be seen from the examples given above, not much notice was taken of this) but this would not apply to the Club show itself, where the judge could have already judged at another show that year but would, anyway, have to be elected by a majority of the Club members at the previous Club Show Meeting (not by postal ballot of all members as is now done). Any Club Member could submit the name of a person they considered qualified to judge the breed, and the twelve candidates receiving the greatest number of votes would be on the Judges' List for the following year.

Not much has changed in other ways in the years since dog shows started. There were complaints early on that dogs were entered but did not turn up at the show, and very few of the judges wrote reports on their class winners, or even sent in a list of prize winners.

When Irish wolfhounds were first shown, it was as Foreign Breeds and this heading was what they were registered under. They were first entered in the Kennel Club Calendar and Stud Book for 1880 (Cooper's Brian and Graham's Scot) and the first actual registrations appeared in the Kennel Gazette of June, 1881. They were first registered under the heading of Irish Wolfhounds in the July, 1886 Kennel Gazette.

The first Crufts show in that name was booked into the Royal Agricultural Hall, Islington in 1891. This was the first in a long series of shows there. During this era it was possible for individuals to run shows for personal profit, an aspect that appealed mightily to Charles Cruft, and he ran his shows with considerable profit to himself.

In the early days shows were not held as they are today, and the classes were held in what to us would be the wrong way round, with the Open Class being held first and, where there were more than just that one class, the other classes going down through Limit, and Graduate to Novice. Very often dogs were entered in every class for which they were eligible. In the very early days, there might only be Open and Limit classes, but at some shows there would be more classes such as Special Limit, Graduate and Junior. Showing puppies was frowned upon, although it was occasionally done. It was around 1911 that the classes were turned round to go up to Open rather than start with Open. There seemed to be no rings as such, and the dogs were simply stood around in a semi-circle in their breed groups.

 The wolfhound class at Richmond
 The wolfhound class at Richmond Ch. Show

Rule 9 in the early Kennel Club Code of Rules stated: "In estimating the number of prizes a dog has won with reference to whether it should compete in a champion class or not, the number of prizes won shall be calculated up to the morning of the show".

There was, however, nothing in the Code of Rules to state what constituted a Champion Class or qualified a dog to be called a Champion. In 1877 the Minutes of a General Meeting of the Kennel Club, held on July 5th, state that the proposal "a champion must win three prizes at shows held under Kennel Club Rules" was carried by a majority. However, this resolution does not appear to have been put into force and no alteration was made to the Code of Rules until the publication three years later, in Volume VII of the Stud Book, of the revised Code to come into force as on June 1st, 1880.

The new Rules included Rule 13 - "No dog or bitch shall be entitled to be called a champion that has not won four first prizes at shows registered in the Stud Books, one of the four first prizes being in a champion class." This Rule remained in force for five years, during which more and more shows were being held, and there was much controversy in the canine press about whether it was far too easy to make up a champion.

The Editor of The Kennel Gazette wrote a leading article on this subject in the issue of October, 1884, in which he pointed out that, if gaining championship honours was too easy when there were only about twenty recognised shows, it became "somewhat alarming" when there were fifty or more shows being held.

At a General Meeting of the Kennel Club in January, 1885 the Rules were amended, and Rule 16 provided that no dog be entitled to be called a champion that has not won seven first prizes at Shows in the Stud Book, and that three of these prizes must have been in Challenge Classes, while several types of classes were debarred from counting for eligibility. And the following year the Rule was made more stringent by stating that at least one of the Challenge Class wins must have been either at a Kennel Club Show or a Birmingham Show.

In January 1889 amended Rules came into force, as a result of the recommendations made by a special Sub-Committee set up the previous year. These Rules read:-
"15 - The Committee of the Kennel Club shall publish as early as possible in each year in THE KENNEL GAZETTE a list of Shows selected by them as being worthy to rank as Two-point Shows. A First Prize at any one of such shows shall for the purposes of a Challenge Class qualification count as two points. A first prize at any other Show under Kennel Club Rules shall count one point. No dog shall be qualified to compete in a Challenge Class that has won less than ten points, etc."
"16 - No dog shall, in future, be entitled to be called a Champion that has not scored six points in Challenge Classes, two of which must be either at the Kennel Club's Shows or at the Shows of the National Dog Society, Birmingham."

This "point" system lasted just over four years, and in 1892 the question of the Rules again being revised was considered by a specially appointed Sub-Committee. At the Annual General Meeting held in February, 1893 the Sub-Committee's recommendations were passed into revised Rules which came into force in July, 1893. This brought about the system of "Championship" Shows and the Rules were as follows:-
"17 - The Committee of the Kennel Club shall select and publish in THE KENNEL GAZETTE a list of Shows which shall be called Championship Shows. The Committees of the selected Shows shall provide in such breed or varieties of a breed as the Committee of the Kennel Club may determine, championship prizes, which prizes shall be awarded without any extra entry fee to the best dog of its breed or variety in the Show, in addition to any other prizes the dog may have won at the Show when competing in its right class. A dog having won three of the above mentioned championship prizes shall have the title of Champion."

The wording of this Rule seemed to imply that only one Championship Prize would be awarded for the best in the breed, but in the Stud Book, Vol. XXIV, published in 1897 and covering the awards made in 1896, there are several instances of two Championship Certificates (as they were called) being awarded in the same breed or variety at the same show - one for the best dog and the other for the best bitch.

In December, 1900 it was felt that the words "Championship Prizes" or "Champion Certificates" could all too easily be misunderstood to mean that the winner of one such prize was then a Champion, and a proposal was made by Mr. Edgar Farman that the name "Kennel Club Challenge Prizes or Certificates" should be substituted for the name "Championship Prizes" in Rule 17 and this was carried unanimously at the Biannual Meeting of the Kennel Club.

This alteration first appeared in the Stud Book, Vol. XXVIII, and remained the same until January, 1904, when the proviso was added that each of the three Challenge Prizes must be won under a different judge. No official "Certificate" had yet been supplied by the Kennel Club, even though such a system had been proposed by Mr. Farman ten years previously, and it was not until January 1905 that an actual Certificate was issued from the offices of the Kennel Club. However, the Kennel Club Calendar & Stud Book for 1902, listing the shows for 1901, also lists the winners of Challenge Prize Certificates in 1901, and this continues annually thereafter.

In 1909 a further amendment was brought in that in Gundogs all exhibits born on and after June 1st, 1909 must obtain a working qualification in order to become a champion. The Rules for qualifying a Champion have remained the same ever since.

Early judging reports were printed in The Kennel Gazette, the Kennel Club's monthly publication. In many cases there were no reports and no list of prize winners, either. The earliest judging report for the breed that I have been able to find is for the Crystal Palace Dog Show, 1881 (Printed in The Kennel Gazette of June, 1881) and reads: "A small class, and a disappointing one, for the winner is nothing more than a big Deerhound with bad ears. Captain Graham, who has taken a great interest in trying to reproduce the old breed, was second with Clutha, but we liked the same owner's Scot much better, and think he would have won first easily, if he had only been sounder on his legs."

Graham's Scot
Graham's Scot

M.B. Wynn, the judge at the Kennel Club Show, 1886, says at the end of a long report "The Irish wolfhound has ever been described as "a great rough greyhound, very tall and stately", in possession of sufficient speed to course down both wolf and deer; "first catch your wolf", speed being, therefore, the first requisite. At the same time the taller and stronger the specimen the better, with vast bone, "as large as that of a colt" says an old writer, in which respect Sheelah was the only animal in any way coming up to that description. In a general way all the specimens were deficient in height and bone. Foyle and Rathlin are fairly characteristic specimens, but want more size. MacMahan with more size and power is, however, uncharacteristic in head and deficient in coat. Cuculain is characteristic enough except for his short body. Sheelah is very good in head and bone, but hardly tall and active enough in her build. Hecla and Lufra of Ivanhoe too smooth in coat and deficient in bone for their height, in which respect both are very good. The class taken altogether was a good earnest that in a few years we shall see restored one of the noblest and largest of the canine races."

Graham's Sheelah   Graham's Sheelah
 Two drawings of Graham's Sheelah, neither of which seems to fit Mr. Wynn's description of her as good in head, although the one on the right (by Mills) would fit the "good in bone" and better fits the "hardly tall and active enough in her build" than does the one on the left.

W.A. Tomlinson, the wolfhound judge at the Kennel Club Show in 1888 said of Sheelah "Sheelah (first) is well known. She is far too small....." Captain Graham, judging at the Kennel Club Show in 1889 (by which time Sheelah was owned by Mr. G.E. Crisp), said of her "In the Challenge Class the very typical Sheelah was alone. Dhulart, being the property of the judge, was not shown. The old bitch was in capital condition, and so far as head is concerned, certainly has no rival save Dhulart. Still, she is not on a large enough scale."

Following the Kennel Club Show in 1887, the Irish wolfhound judge, Mr. R. Hood Wright, wrote at the beginning of his report: "This was rather a difficult class to face, but, thanks to Captain Graham, his Dhulart (first) very soon showed what a wolfhound ought to be. He is an immense puppy, aged eight months, and if he acquires a good coat can certainly show wolfhound fanciers the standard to which they must breed."


At the Kennel Club Show in February 1888, judge W.A. Tomlinson said: "The competition in the Dog Class lay entirely between Capt. Graham's Dhulart and Col. Garnier's puppy Merlin, the latter is by far the largest of the pair, and stands I should say fully three inches higher. Some people thought he should have won outright instead of being second, and no doubt it is fairly a matter of opinion. That he will beat the winner in six months' time should they meet again is I think certain provided of course he goes on all right in the interval. He is a very fine puppy of the deerhound type, with good shoulders, legs and feet. Like so many big dogs he is rather cow-hocked, and wants making up in body, and I should like him with more bone, in this respect Dhulart beats him very easily and has also the better head."

 Dhulart  Merlin
 Dhulart  Merlin

At the Kennel Club Show in July 1888, the judge R. Hood Wright was not much impressed: "Challenge only: Dhulart (first), looking by no means at his best, had a walk over. Garryowen (first and shield), an immense youngster with good coat, fair head, and great bone. He is rather cow hocked but looked so well that he just beat Dhulart for the Challenge Shield, as the latter was soft in coat and looked anything but smart. Skibbereen (second) was beaten in all respects - bone, coat, head, and size. Herbert (r) : Third withheld; small and short of character. Bitches: Nene (third) very small and weedy. Other prizes withheld. Considering the money given, this class was most disappointing, and I conclude that the Irish Wolfhounds must be like some of the patriots, languishing in prison for their country's sake."

At the Kennel Club Summer Show in July the following year, judge S.E. Shirley was even less impressed: "Six entries in four classes hardly looks as if the efforts of the Irish Wolfhound Club to manufacture dogs of the pattern of bygone days had been so far successful. There was one nice bitch, however, Fintragh, the property of Captain Graham and bred by him out of his Sheelah. She won easily enough in her class, and I subsequently gave her the challenge shield. She is a good-sized bitch, two inches, I should say, taller than her dam (the challenge winner), and weighs, I was informed by her owner, 110 lbs. Starno had virtually a walk over in Open dogs, for Corrib is such a dreadful cripple that I withheld the second prize."

It was following one Show in 1889 that the publication The Stock-Keeper carried this letter from Robert Hood Wright:-

"SIR—As I have always looked upon the STOCK-KEEPER as being a sort of champion of fair play and no favour, I was sorry to see in your report of the above show such a scant measure of justice given to these classes. As an actual fact these classes in point of general quality and type were a decided advance on former exhibitions. There were two new faces, at any rate, of the right sort, and had our worthy secretary been showing instead of judging, his kennel representative would have been there, so making a decided advance in both quality and numbers of previous exhibitions. To begin with, that grand old bitch, Sheelah, was in the challenge class, and as there is only another one, Dhulart, the property of the judge in the challenge class, we could not expect more. Then in the open dogs there was an immense brother to Merlin, the dog you gave such a good illustration of in your paper, the issue after the KC show at the Agricultural Hall. He stands nearly 33 inches at the shoulder, grand body, head, and type, but badly crippled in front through rickets. His was a fresh face of the proper type, great depth of chest, and good hard coat. Garry Owen, also a very good one of the same style as Merlin, and winner of Challenge Shield at Barn Elms. Last, but not least, there was my own dog, Starno, winner of first prize, showing as much distinct type as his dam, Sheelah, or any dog in the show. Then in the bitch class there was a beautiful daughter of the old bitch, first time before the public, who won first, good coat, feet, and style, and my own bitch, Mask, standing over 30 inches, great length, good feet and bone, a litter sister to Merlin and Corrib second prize here, and winner at Birmingham, and Greefa; third prize, coat and colour like a good Die-hard Terrier, but wanting size. With these dogs in, were not the classes worth a little more notice than your reporter gave them? Then, with regard to the interest of the public dying out, when I was there it was just the reverse, and our two evening Liverpool papers in their London news draw special attention to them for their size and character. The Irish Wolfhound Club are doing good work in reviving this most ancient of breeds, and before long hope to turn out as good classes, both in style and quality, as either Deerhounds or Great Danes.

Irish Wolfhound Club"

At Birmingham Dog Show later the same year, all the judge, Arthur Maxwell, could find to say was : "Surely Captain Graham with all your experience is it not high time you gave up breeding (or at least exhibiting) such things as these? I at least cannot say anything in their favour, so I must leave it in your hands to sing their praise." He did not, at least, withhold all prizes and his PRIZE LIST was as follows: Dogs: 1, Captain G.A. Graham's Dhulart; reserve, G.E. Crisp's Shamrock; hc, G. Maidment's Raglan. Bitches: 1, G.E. Crisp's Sheelah; reserve, Captain G.A. Graham's Fintragh.

By the following year (1890) and the Kennel Club Show, with R. Hood Wright again as judge, things had improved somewhat: "Challenge Dogs: Dhulart had a walk over, being the only dog eligible for this class; but I hope and expect from the exhibits here that in a year or two we may see all the I.W.H. classes as fairly filled as any of the large breeds, with the exception of St. Bernards and Newfoundlands. Dhulart is considerably heavier in body than I have ever seen him, but was not in good coat. Bitches: Sheelah, looking older, also had a walk over. All the other competitors are descended from this grand bitch. Open Dogs: Fingal (first), a really grand youngster, with immense bone and substance, over 32in. at the shoulder. He stands on good legs and feet, with well let-down hocks, and without the tendency to being cowhocked, which is the present bane of the I.W.H. breeder. His colour is a good red fawn, with black markings. His head is long and lean, with powerful jaw, and full of character. The coat is dense and hard. At present he is rather jumped up, and does not cover enough ground, but he ought to improve in this respect with age. Cuthullin (reserve), litter brother to above, but showing a lot more of the deerhound type. Myshall (second) a youngster much on the same lines as Dhulart, his half-brother. He has plenty of length, is full of character, and stands on good feet, but with a tendency to being cowhocked. Colour very dark blue, with rather ugly pale fawn markings. Odin (hc), a large upstanding dog, but straight on his stifles, and shows too much of the Great Dane in head and eyes. Bitches: Tara (first), a very good bitch on good lines. Ina (second), much like winner, but weak in hocks. The Irish Wolfhounds, judging from the classes, have made a decided advance in point of character, and show distinct type of their own. The Great Dane or Deerhound types are disappearing and the mongrel element was entirely absent in the exhibits. I may here state that this breed of dogs is very much enquired after for their original use - wolf and coyote hunting in different parts of North America and Canada, especially in the Rocky Mountains.

 Lindsays Tara
 This is the Tara (the Rev. Lindsay's) which won the Bitch class.

One show in 1892 produced the following: "IRISH WOLFHOUNDS,—As usual, rather a small entry, and notwithstanding the generosity of the Irish Wolfhound Club at all our large shows, where they generally guarantee some of the prize-money, this grand and imposing breed fails to become popular. In the challenge class, Garry Owen, the winner, is a great big, powerful hound. But he was not in proper condition on Saturday, and the kennel sores on him were disfigurements. In the open class Brian is rather large and "loppy" about his ears, but he owns a good body and a grand coat, and Keltair is just a little short and light in body, but he stands well in front. His head is powerful, but it could do with more quality, and his ear is rather large. In bitches the Rev. Lindsay won with Tara, a nice quality one, and quite a good sort." (name of judge unknown)

On to 1893 and the Kennel Club Show has moved to October, again with R. Hood Wright judging: "Niall Caillie, vhc and special for Best Novice never having won a prize, is well-made, good colour, and of the proper type, but too small generally. Fingal was shown in bad condition and suffering from chorea or a nervous trembling. He used to be a grand dog, but in his present condition not fit for the show bench, so I passed him over, in condition he was as good as anything in the Class, but under these circumstances I could not insult him with a commendation card. Navan, vhc, is on capital lines, but wanting in size. Myshall, reserve and special for best third in Open Class, is full of character, but wanting in height. Gara, 1st and special for best in Open Class, is an immense dog, good coat and grand in front. He is straight in stifles and moves stiffly, otherwise he is about the ideal Wolfhound. Garryowen, 2nd and special for 2nd in Open Class, does not wear well, having gone wide in front and not in his usual fettle. Bitches: Open Class - Kathleen, 2nd and special for 2nd in this Class, is very tall and symmetrical but light in bone. Winona, hc, is too short in head. Princess Oona, 1st, winner of the much-coveted shield and special for Best Bitch in the Open Class and Challenge Prize, is the best one brought out for some time. She stands on grand feet, has a head that does not remind you of either a Great Dane or a Deerhound, but has what we require, a head with a character and individuality of its own. She has size, bone and colour, she is on the smooth side. Zarah, reserve, dam of the winner, is beaten all round by her daughter. Princess Nora, hc, is much on the same lines as the winner but smaller, and has a ring tail."

 Princess Oona
 Princess Oona

At the Kennel Club Show, October 1895, Walter Evans was judging: "Open Dogs - First and Championship, Kincaid, a dog with immense bone, hard coat, a good head, and moves well. His son, Dysart, was 2nd. This is a very promising young dog, and will some day run his sire much closer. He has a good outline, and is straight on his legs. He only requires time. Third, Brian II, a big hound with a good head and coat, but standing badly in front. Flanagan, reserve, is a dog of good size, with good body, legs and feet, but his pricked ears lost him a more prominent place. Open Bitches - Princess Oona, a big raking bitch, straight on her legs, with good coat and head, took 1st and Championship. Second, Kathleen, shown in very bad condition, her frame and outline warranted her position. Third, Lu Lu, a bitch erring on the small side, but with many good qualities. The reserve went to Cheeroa, a very nice bitch, straight on her legs, with good ears on a nice head, but out of coat. (Note: Cheeroa should read Cheevra)

Kincaid   Brian II
 Kincaid  Brian II

Cheevra wasn't "out of coat"; she was simply smooth coated.

Of the Dublin Show in 1898, judge John F. Baily wrote: "This was quite a record show of Irish Wolfhounds for Dublin, both as regards numbers and quality, which must have been very pleasing to their admirers. In Dogs, Brian II was so lame behind (hurt on the boat crossing, I was told) that I refused to judge him at all, which I think, perhaps, was the fairest thing to do. Had he been himself, I think I should have put him first. I could not decide between Dermot Asthore and Thiggum Thu, and therefore awarded them equal firsts. As there was the question of championship and a challenge cup to be decided, I thought the best thing to do under the circumstances was to call in a referee, and I accordingly asked Mr. Gresham, who gave the championship and cup to Dermot Asthore. In stature there is nothing to choose between them, so far as I could see when placed side by side. Dermot is the younger and more active dog of the two, and he moved the better; indeed, Thiggum was very dull and listless in the ring, as if he were sick. Dermot possesses great stature, a long head spoiled by heavy flat ears, a good neck and good back, fair arch of loin, and wonderfully good hind legs and hocks. He has not, however, the best of forelegs, is inclined to be flat sided (this perhaps is not so great a fault in a dog required for speed), is short in body and light in frame, though his limbs are large and muscular. As he comes of a giant family, his blood ought to be of immense service to the breed. Thiggum Thu is tall and typical, his head is a trifle short, but his ears and coat are particularly good; he stands well in front, and his ribs and girth are good. His defects, as compared to one's ideal of what a wolfhound should be, are want of arch of loin and muscular hind quarters. He is undoubtedly a grand dog.

 Dermot Astore Thiggum Thu 
 Dermot Asthore  Thiggum Thu

I had no hesitation in placing King Dathy second. He is a tall powerful dog, of a taking grey colour, possessing good legs and feet, a strong and well arched loin, and well developed and muscular hind quarters. His chief defects are a heavy skull, which takes from his length of head, and a rather short body. Bann III is not so tall as any of the others just mentioned, but he has got a nice and typical head, rougher than any of the others, and well-carried ears. A strong and active dog, spoiled lby a rather light eye. In Bitches, Shilela II, with her long and characteristic head, well covered with bristly hair, good ears, legs, and feet, and shaggy coat, I put first. She is small, but this I think was always a feature of the breed. That it was so in 1653 we can see from a letter of Dorothy Osborne to Sir Wm. Temple, in which she asks him to procure for her an Irish Greyhound, and says she has one which was Cromwell's, "but 'tis a bitch, and those are always much less than the dogs." Agala, second, is a nice tall bitch, with a long head, which, however, is spoiled by ears which are large and flat, set too low, and lying close to the head, which gives her a houndy appearance. She wants substance and could do with more coat. Third, Cheevra, I thought a beautifully-framed bitch, with lots of quality, but as she is totally deficient in coat, had to put up with third. Her daughter, Wanda, was quite the largest and most powerful bitch in the class, but her head and ears are bad. As a brood bitch she should be of great value. Comely Colleen, r, is typical, but much undersized.
Captain Graham, in his admirable brochure on the wolfdog, thinks it probable that formerly this breed was often crossed with the Great Dane. That such crossing did take place we have absolute proof from a letter of Lord Chesterfield, who had been Viceroy of Ireland.

Wanda of Kidnal   Wanda of Kidnal
(daughter of Cheevra)

In conclusion, perhaps I may be allowed to say that I think the breed has made great strides, not only in the specimens themselves, but also in popular favour. Size - the main point - has been obtained, but I think we still want more character and more uniformity of type. I hope I am not presumptuous, but I think these can be obtained if a little more attention was paid to pedigree, the value of which depends not on the number of winners it contains, but in the knowledge it should supply of the antecedents of an individual, of the crosses that have taken place, and of the power of a sire or dam to transmit its likeness to its offspring."

At the Kennel Club's October, 1898 show, the judge, Walter Evans, was greatly impressed by the hounds shown: "The first class which presented itself was Irish Wolfhounds Open Dogs, and I must say that it was very gratifying to find so many really first-class dogs in the ring. My greatest difficulty was that I had only one first prize to present, and so many really deserved it. There is no doubt that the Wolfhound Club has done a great deal to improve this breed. Some years, when judging them, half the dogs were nothing better than cripples. Now we find dogs with immense bones and bodies, upright, and good movers. Mrs. Williams's young dog, Wargrave, is one of the finest dogs I have ever seen; he simply requires a little more time to furnish; he is of immense size, strong head, with good ears; a hard coat, and moves well. I had no hesitation in placing him before her champion, which was shown in exceedingly good condition, but has not the powerful head or size of his young kennel companion. Kenmare is another dog of the right type. I should like to see a little more coat, but at the same time he is one that Mr. Crisp must be proud of. His kennel companion, O'Leary, gave me more trouble than any one in the ring. He showed signs of shaking, which the keeper distinctly informed me was only nervousness; had he not exhibited this I should have put him higher. He has a beautiful coat, good head, and plenty of bone. Cathbarr, vhc, is another of the large size, but lacks the quality of the winners. Open Bitches were not such a large class, but lacked the quality of the dogs, with the exception of Pomona, which is an exceedingly good one. In judging her against the dogs, I should place her first, simply because she was more furnished, which is accounted for by her being an older dog. I should like to see her with a little lmore coat, but was informed that she had lost it after breeding a litter of puppies. Gra-ma-Chree is a nice young bitch, but I should like to see her a little larger, she moves well, and will no doubt improve as she has youth on her side. Felixstowe Mavourneen is another nice bitch with a good coat and a nice expression. She, like the previous one, is a little on the small side.

Wargrave   O'Leary
 Wargrave  O'Leary

At the Ranelagh Show in June 1899 (the Ranelagh Show was held in the grounds of the Ranelagh Club at Barnes, on the Thames between Chelsea and Richmond and at that time just outside London), Major and Mrs. E.H. Richardson were photographed for "Country Life Illustrated" with their wolfhounds, Knight of Kerry and Ormonde. The director of this show was Mr. Charles Cruft and the Hon. Secretary was Mr. Hood Wright (who had deerhounds and wolfhounds). For the full article, click here.

Major & Mrs. Richardson 
 Major & Mrs. Richardson with Knight of Kerry (on the left) and Ormonde

Knight of Kerry was by Goth II out of Sheelah (I haven't been able to find his registration details but it seems possible he was bred by Angelo and was a littermate to Steyning Nell); Ormonde was by Dermot Asthore out of Cheevra and was bred by Mrs. Gerard of the Kidnal House Kennel on January 31st, 1898. The transfer of both dogs to the Richardsons appeared in the KC records for June 1899, the month of this show.

The report for this Ranelagh Show was the last of the 19th Century and was, fittingly enough, by Capt. Graham who was the judge: "This show, regarding which the anticipations were very sanguine, proved quite the success that was hoped for, so far as the gathering of Irish Wolfhounds went, though to the great regret of the judge several specimens of great merit were not entered. About noon eleven dogs went into the ring in open class; of these, O'Leary, a very handsome brindle, selected for first prize, is a dog of the greatest merit, being, so far as head properties and forehand go, almost perfect, though falling away somewhat behind. His shape would be more perfect if he stood rather higher on rump, and was a trifle more lengthy; coat capital, and temper evidently thoroughly good; a slight tremble in right hind leg was not considered of sufficient importance to interfere with his chances; on this point I was backed up by Mr. Shirley, whom I consulted. Here I would desire to draw the attention of all Irish Wolfhound breeders to the fact that the nearer they can breed their specimens to this dog (or, if possible, excel him) the more correct and typical they will be - in his opinion. Second went to Cathbarr, a fair dog, rather below the desired size; long in lower thigh, but with none too much substance, and not a good mover. Kenmare, third, is a fine dog, red in colour, of large size and fair coat, suited to good bitches of substance and coat. Ballyhooley, reserve, is a fine young improving dog. The vhc's were Trargus, a nice dog of capital shape, good coat, and colour, but not so large and massive as he should be considering the sire's great size; also his head is hardly as correct as it should be. Here he will probably improve, being only fourteen months old. Tyrone, rather too short in head, and a very well-shaped dog, of greater length than is usually present in this breed, but hardly large or massive enough, coat too soft. Brian II, a large, cream dog, too well known to need comment. Goth II, a giant, rather short in head and body, ears poor, coat changing, giving the dog an unkempt look; a poor mover; for slight, long-headed bitches, weak in coat and wanting size, this dog should be very useful, being of great size and power; his white legs would not appear in his progeny. Marquis of Donegal is a young dog of immense size (which will probably increase); coat hard, but will get stronger; unfortunately the bones of this dog's forelegs are considerably curved, or he would be of more value to the breed, being both tall, massive, and of good length of frame. Lancenor, a large dog, with bad limbs. In Limit Class, Rory O'More, a fair cream dog, of no great size or merit; Rasselas, a pale fawn dog, better in size, good ears, fair head; and Jimmy O'Grady, a stumpy dog of great power, with a good shaped head, were the only three beyond those that had appeared in Open Class. Novice dogs brought Larry Dugan, a nice little dog; Conaire, a moderate dog, rather upright behind; and Dathy, nearly smooth, rather snipey in head, which is black, body brindle. These two dogs, being only fourteen months old, will no doubt improve much. Fenlake Gelert, reported to be good, was absent. The rest of the class had appeared before, except Knight of Kerry, a fairly tall dog, too slight, red, fore feet much twisted out. There were no new faces in the Maiden Class. In Open Bitches, Pomona was first, though by no means perfect; ears poor, coat weak, size good, but rather wanting in length. Rosee Ruaidh, second (her first appearance), is an excellent bitch, her greatest fault being a too short head, character, coat, and ears good, size and substance capital. Had the head been longer, the position of this bitch and Pomona would have been reversed. Daireen, a fine young bitch, third, will improve, head good, ears poor. Gra-ma-Chree, reserve; a capital bitch, good head, ears, and size. Sportella, well-grown, well-shaped, good coat and size, but poor in ear and head properties. These five fine bitches were so near in merit that for a time I was puzzled how to place them. Felixstowe Mavourneen, a tall bitch, fairly good, but snipey in head. Princess Patricia was perhaps the tallest bitch present (or known), but, besides being too slight in build, her forelegs are badly twisted. Lady Urith, a smallish bitch, hollow in back, is well known. In Stateleigh Marna (second in Novice) and Stateleigh Runa (third Novice) we had two smallish, well-limbed bitches, brindle, that will improve, being young. This was an excellent class. In Limit, Lavagh of Dundella (reserve), litter sister to Stateleigh Marna and Runa, and about their level; Gillian, a coarse dark brindle bitch, smallish; and Cheevra, a nearly smooth, well-known brood bitch, were the ones not in previous class. In Novice, Grace O'Malley, a moderate bitch, and Colleen, a small bitch of little substance, were the two fresh faces. There were no new ones in the Maiden Class. The Brace Prize was taken by O'Leary and Pomona. Leash, by O'Leary, Pomona, and Feargus. The number of dogs entered was thirty-two, of which one was absent. Up to the present time, no such muster of Irish Wolfhounds has yet taken place, and I was extremely pleased, both with the strength of the entries and the general merit of the exhibits. It is most gratifying to me, after nearly forty years of close attention to and earnest endeavours to recover this grand breed, to note the comparative uniformity of types and size that has been attained. Especially has this been noticeable during the last two or three years, and I cannot refrain from expressing a very decided and earnest hope that breeders will pay the strictest and most careful attention to the proper mating of their dogs, and by so doing will attain still more excellent results."


PRIZE LIST Open - Dogs - 1 and special 56, 57, 58 and 70, G.E. Crisp's O'Leary, '96; 2 and specials 64 and 71, Hon. Miss E. Dillon's Cathvarr; 3 and special 65, G.E. Crisp's Kenmare, '96; r and special 66, F.M. Birtill's Bally Hooly; vhc and special 74 and 78, G.E. Crisp's Feargus; vhc and special 75, G.L. Arthur's Marquis of Donegal; vhc, G. Vidal's Tyrone, F.M. Birtill's Brian II, Mrs. M. Johnson's Goth II; hc, Mrs. L. Logan's Lancior; c, Mrs. H. Richardson's Ormonde. Limit - 1, G.E. Crisp's O'Leary, '96; 2, Hon. Miss E. Dillon's Cathvarr; 3, G.E. Crisp's Kenmare, '96; r, F.M. Birtill's Bally Hooly; vhc and special 79, Mrs. A. Gerard's Rasselas; vhc, Mrs. S. Leslie's Rory O'More, Mrs. F.M. Birtill's Jimmy O'Grady, G.E. Crisp's Feargus, G. Vidal's Tyrone, Mrs. Johnson's Goth II, G.L. Arthur's Marquis of Donegal; hc, Mrs. L. Logan's Lancior; c, Mrs. H. Richardson's Ormonde. Novice - 1, G.E. Crisp's Feargus; 2, G.L. Arthur's Marquis of Donegal; 3, G. Vidal's Tyrone; r, Mrs. S. Leslie's Rory O'More; vhc, A. Baker's Larry Dugan, '98, G. E. Crisp's Conaire and Dathy; c, Mrs. H. Richardson's Ormonde. Maiden - 1, G.E. Crisp's Feargus; 2, Mrs. A. Gerard's Rasselas; 3 and r, G.E. Crisp's Dathy and Conaire; vhc, A. Baker's Larry Dugan, '98.
Bitches - Open - 1 and specials 59, 60 and 72, G.E. Crisp's Pomona, '96; 2 and specials 6, 67, 73, 76 and 80, R.B. Townshend's Roseen Ruaidh; 3 and special 68, Mrs. F.M. Birtill's Daireen; r and special 69, Mrs. S. Leslie's Gra-Ma-Chree; vhc and specials 77 and 81, Mrs. P.L. Gregson's Stateleigh Runa; vhc, Mrs. P.L. Gregson's Stateleigh Morna, Mrs. Lane-Jackson's Sportella, I.W. Everett's Felixstowe Mavourneen, '96; hc, Mrs. H. Richardson's Lady Urith. Limit - 1, G.E. Crisp's Pomona, '96; 2, R.B. Townshend's Roseen Ruaidh; 3, Mrs. F.M. Birtill's Daireen; r, Mrs. S. Leslie's Gra-Ma-Chree; vhc, R.T. Martin's Lavagh of Dundella, Mrs. L. Jackson's Sportella, I.W. Everett's Felixstowe Mavourneen, '96; hc, Major and Mrs. H. Richardson's Gillian, Mrs. A.E. Gerard's Cheevra, Mrs. H. Richardson's Lady Urith. Novices - 1, R.B. Townshend's Roseen Ruaidh; 2 and 3, Mrs. P.L. Gregson's Stateleigh Runa and Stateleigh Morna; r, R.T. Martin's Lavagh of Dundella; hc, Major and Mrs. H. Richardson's Grace O'Mally and Gillian, Mrs. A.E. Gerard's Cheevra. Maiden - 1, R.B. Townshend's Roseen Ruaidh; 2 and 3, Mrs. P.L. Gregson's Stateleigh Runa and Stateleigh Morna; hc, R.N. Allen's Colleen. Brace - Special 62, G.E. Crisp Leash - Special 63, G.E. Crisp.

Interestingly, the report on this Ranelagh Show appearing in Country Life of June 17th, 1899, said: "Irish wolfhounds were a grand lot; but here the judging was not quite satisfactory." (For the full Country Life article, click here)

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