Irish Wolfhound History

Annual Breed Reports from The Kennel Gazette

The pictures were not with the originals but have been added for these pages.

January, 1890


Have not made much progress at present, although Captain Graham, who has taken so keen an interest in this breed, believes that the coming year will show a considerable advance on former years. Readers will learn with regret that this gentleman is at present very unwell, and will join in the hope that he may be speedily restored to health and strength.

January, 1891


Unhappily but comparatively little progress has been made in the fuller development of this noble breed. I can only record one litter in the spring, bred by Mr. Townshend, from Champion Dhulart - his Lufra. They promised well, but got a chill, and, though they recovered, yet they are hardly so large as they might reasonably have been expected to be. One bitch, though low on the legs, is, I understand, extra good in frame and character. At the Kennel Club's Show in April, several fine young dogs of 1889's rearing were shown, notably Mr. Beynon's Fingal and Cuthulin, also Mr. Crisp's Myshall, all by Champion Dhulart. A large dog, also by Dhulart, was shown by Colonel Phillips, but he was deficient in character of head and weak in hocks.

At Dublin nothing new came forward, the prizes being secured by Mr. Beynon. The Irish, alas! do not appear to be making the smallest effort to recover their National dog, which is extremely disheartening, to say the least of it! The Crystal Palance Show in October brought out two really good classes, Mr. George's Garryowen re-appearing and carrying off first honours. This dog has much improved and furnished; has a good head and ears, a hard coat, and now stands 33 inches, though his limbs are still faulty. Mr. Beynon was here beaten for 2nd Prize by a newcomer, Faugh-a-Ballagh, bred by Mr. Townshend, by Champion Dhulart-Raheen (by my old Brian), a darkish grey brindle, only 14 months old, good coat, but short in make and wanting the winner's "style", measuring, however, 33 ¼ inches - a marvellous height for his age. The head is somewhat weaker than desirable, but in a year's time he is likely to furnish into a grand dog of 34 inches, and the head will doubtless get more massive. His litter brother, Benduff, is also a remarkably fine dog, standing then 32 inches, and more fully-furnished dog than Faugh, head more massive also, but coat merely wirey. In this respect, though, he is likely to improve. His colour is that of a wolf. A grand brace of dogs, indeed! The remainder of this litter, I am told, have also turned out remarkably fine dogs.

The efforts of breeders, sad to say, have been futile this year. Mr. Crisp tried three or four bitches, but all failed. Three bitches were put to Champion Dhulart (a sure sire) in the summer, and all failed! Mr. Waldy succeeded in getting a litter, now 3 ½ months old, from his Moina (by Champion Dhulart) by Shakespeare II, seven of which were black and tan. They are doing fairly well as yet. A very fine litter was got from my Fintragh by Benduff early in November, but the inclement weather carried them all off at three weeks old. Col. Garnier had two litters from Iona and Norah, by his Scythian, which are likely to make fine dogs, although, strange to say, having grown extra well up to seven months of age, they then almost stood still, and have progressed but slowly since.

On the whole, considering the disasters and disheartening failures experienced, the breed has "come on" in a very decided manner. The type arrived at is much more uniform, and the size much more nearly approaching what it should be. There are now in existence a fair numbe4r of really fine, though not quite perfect, specimens, from which, no doubt, grand animals of size and character will be bred during 1891. I may mention that old Champion Sheelah, the first correct example of the breed exhibited, died in the autumn, both her last "heats" having been productive of no results.

Hon. Sec. T.W. Hd. Club

January, 1892


Though the progress of this breed has not been all that could be wished, yet a fair number of new specimens have appeared at the shows of 1891, where classes have been given for the breed. Doubtless a more even type is to be desired; but, until they are more freely bred and even more care is taken in breeding only from suitable specimens, this end will hardly be arrived at. Some dogs of good size have been shown, but the type varies considerably, and a want of coat is too prevalent.

At the Bath Show, in March, there was a fairly representative athering, new faces appearing in Tigernach, a large dog by Captain Graham's Brian ex Lufra of Ivanhoe, savouring far too much of the Great Dane, and entirely wanting in coat, Argus, a small but good dog, well coloured, but short of coat, and Faol Cu, a nice dog of quality though undersized. In Bitches, Ulva, litter sister to Benduff, a very moderate bitch, bad ears, poor coat, and wanting in size and power. Dark Rosaleen, another small one, almost the deerhound, though from the gigantic Lufra of Ivanhoe, good in coat and colour.

 Dark Rosaleen  Dark Rosaleen

At Bristol, in Dogs, Fineen, a grey and tan, small, quite too deerhound-like, and Zarah, a fine 29½ in. bitch, cream colour, from Leon-Fly 2nd, were the newcomers.

At the Kennel Club Show, in April, Cromlech, a puppy of much merit, about 30½ ins., of power and good frame, was purchased at once to go back to Ireland. Brian Bhoroo, a dog of extraordinary stature, staning 33¾ ins., but short in body, badly down behind, and cowhocked, of the same litter as the sensational Merlin, and a fine young dog of 32 ins., Fion 2nd, cream colour, short of coat, not too good in limb, but powerful and of good stamp, had not been shown before.

At Kilkenny, Mr. Murphy's Oscar, a small dog, Lady Eva Fitzgerald's Ossian (bred by Colonel Garnier) were novices.

At the Crystal Palace Show, in October, Mr. Foster's Brian (from the Bhoroo-Hecla, second litter), a dog of fair quality, though somewhat wanting in power, standing 33 inches, too short of coat, but good in colour, dropping curiously behind like a giraffe. Col. Garnier's young dog Goth, a good son of Iona's, and like her; characteristic, coat very shaggy, 31½ inches, unfortunately lame behind from an accident; and a young and somewhat small dog, Mick, by a brother to Foster's Brian, were the fresh ones, together with a tall deerhound-like bitch, Blackmoor Stella, got by a brother to Scythian, fawn, rough coat.

On the whole, considering the paucity of breeders, and the great drawbacks that have attended the rearing of these dogs hitherto, there is reason to be fairly satisfied.

The promise for next year, if there is good luck with the present puppies, is decidedly good, there being a good number of young ones that from their parentage should make fine dogs, though whether this promise will be fulfilled remains to be seen. It is considered that further crosses for size are to be desired.


January, 1897


Before alluding to the principal dogs representing this grand breed during the year 1896, I propose to make a few remarks on the very decided progress that has been made in the last few years in the development of the correct type of Irish Wolfhound. As many as 35 years ago I commenced the recovery of the breed, and, with slight aid from one or two others, re-established a distinct race, of good character, but wanting the necessary size. In 1886 the first regular classes for the breed were instituted at the Kennel Club Show, and a fairly good and full entry assembled, though the feature of size was mostly absent. Since then steady progress in this and other respects has been made, and during the last three or four years great strides have taken place, both character and size becoming each year more fully established, as well as much greater unanimity of type. Indeed, the advance has been so decided and satisfactory that there is every reason to hope that we may see a race of Irish Wolfhounds, averaging near 33 inches (beyond which it is hardly likely we shall go), that shall combine all the desired characteristics, within the next few years, if breeders will exercise a careful discrimination in their proceedings.

Ere I proceed to discuss the merits of the various specimens, I perhaps may be allowed to suggest to Deerhound breedersthat they have produced examples within the last two or three years that, notwithstanding undoubted merit and quality, are yet too tall an animal for the purpose for which he is supposed to be bred. The limit, more or less, fixed by those breeders who largely used this dog for taking deer (some 40 years ago) was about 30 inches, as it was found that a dog beyond that height was too unwieldy for his work. All authorities on the breed are at one on this point, and I would, therefore, urge on the Deerhound breeders (who certainly have much improved their dogs during the last ten years) to keep their animals as near the 30 inch standard as they can.

As there is no reason why the Irish Wolfhounds to be considered should be taken in any special order, I will take them as they occur to me. I would here remark that the largest and most successful breeders of quite late years are Mr. G.E. Crisp and Mr. K. Angelo. The absolutely new comers in 1896 are, I think, as follows:- Mr. Crisp's Sir Brian, Bran, and Queenie; Mr. Trainor's Thiggum Thu; the Hon.Miss Dillon's Gillieflower and Ailbe; also Miss Pope's Shan Van Voght; Mr. Robert's Ballymena, and Mr. Smith's Hurrish. Sir Brian is a fawn brindle, of excellent shape and really good quality, head long and ears good, 32 ½ inches, somewhat too light in bone and general substance, yet a very valuable dog for coarse bitches. Bran is a large dog, fair shape, about 33 inches, darkish brindle, hardly any coat, and showing the Great Dane somewhat, but a useful dog for crossing on small bitches with good coats. He is litter brother to Lord Caledon's Balor. Queenie, an enormous bitch, wheaten colour, 31 ¼ inches, merely hard coated, head long, and strong ears, thick in texture, good in front limbs, but cow-hocked, probably weighs from 120 to 130 lbs. Thiggum Thu, a tall red brindle dog, too short in head, short in frame, good in front limbs, bad behind, 33 inches, coat moderate.

Thiggum Thu Thiggum Thu

Gillieflower, medium brindle, 29 inches, fair specimen but not massive "eno'", coat moderate. Ailbe, a trifle taller, wheaten, coat like wool, and even slighter in build, same parents as Gillieflower, later litter. Shan Van Voght, nice dog, but a Deerhound only in size and other points, dark brindle. Ballymena, a fair puppy of some promise. Hurrish, a red brindle, good coat, excellent frame and substance, might be an inch or so longer in body with advantage, capital limbs and feet, head correct in size of skull, but too short ears, his weak point, large and drooping, about 32 inches, a well-bred dog.

In addition to these new comers we have Mr. Crisp's Kincaid, 32 ¼ inches, long head, fair coat, brindle. Princess Oona, his litter sister, long head, poor coat, 30 ½ inches, brindle. Navan, fawn, good coat, handsome dog, but not large enough.

 Princess Oona  Navan
 Princess Oona  Navan

My own bitch, Nookoo, 29 ½ inches, about 120 lbs., very heavy coat, brownish colour. Mr. Angelo's Goth II, a grand dog, about 33 inches, red brindle, good coat, 140 lbs., active and well set. Bran II, about 31 ½ inches, dark brindle, fair coat, rather short in frame, very good lengthy head, ears fair. Ethel, 28 ½ inches, a very active and powerful bitch, fawn brindle, correct as to massiveness of head, but a trifle short there, ears good. Mr. Trainor's Brian II, near 33 inches, wheaten, a lengthy dog, good coat, fairly long head, ears fair, forelegs slightly bent, but excellent behind.

 Nookoo  Brian II
 Nookoo  Brian II

Mr. Allen's Lady Kathleen, a smallish bitch of good character, coat moderate, brindle. Lord Robert's Una, same stamp and litter as Gillieflower. Lord Caledon's Balor, litter brother to Crisp's Bran, but, I am told, a better dog, brindle, excellent limbs, very active and muscular, about 33 inches, poor coat, bred by Lord Caledon. Mr. Yerburgh's Guleesh, 32 inches, capital limbs and feet, heavy coat, grand head, ears too large, rather short in frame. Mr.Townshend's Roseen, 29 ½ inches, a splendid bitch, in my opinion the best we have seen as yet, head a trifle short, ears good, coat fair; also her litterbrothers, Rory Dhu, dark brindle, good coat, 31 inches, and Brian Boru, dark brindle, good coat, 31 inches of powerful make. The Hon. Charles Alexander's Sambra, Sorley Boi and Brien, all the same litter, powerful and handsome dogs. Mr. Baily's Luath, a handsome, good-headed dog of 31 inches, good in coat, brindle, from large parents. Then we have three black-and-tans (a favourite colour of mine), all throwing back to Champion Dhulart, who was of that colour. Hon. C. Alexander's Colleen, 29 inches, heavy coat. Mr. Waldy's Keltair, about 30 ½ inches, moderate coat, nice dog on the smallish side, and Mr. Crisp's Dysart, 31 ¼ inches, long head, good ears, good limbs, but a trifle short in frame; coat good in quality but hardly full enough.

 Champion Dhulart Keltair 
 Champion Dhulart  Keltair

It may be of interest to Irish Wolfhound breeders to know that a brace of these dogs (litter brother and sister to Sir Brian) have just been sold to go to Russia, to be used for wolf-hunting; also that during the last year or so I have instituted an Irish Wolfhound Pedigree Book, in which I have already entered 275 pedigrees, many going back as far as 1842.


January, 1899


I am pleased to be able to report continued progress in this breed. The new faces of the past year have more than held their own with the winners of former years, the championship in dogs being won at the Kennel Club Show by a fifteen months' puppy, who also made a good fight for the challenge shield, and the second prize in the Open Bitch class being awarded to another new face in Gra-ma-Chree. There is a steady improvement in soundness of limb and in size and carriage of ear; the average size has increased, heads are certainly longer than was usual a few years ago, and more evenness in type is noticeable. With this improvement has come a decided advance in popular favour, and the breed seems likely to be as much in demand as it used to be before that demand drained Ireland of its best specimens and led to its almost entire extinction. The alien blood which had to be introduced to prevent such a catastrophe is being gradually absorbed, and few traces are now visible, but the good effects of its introduction remain in the increased size and stamina of the hounds of the present day. There is, too, a great increase in the number of exhibitors, and at our larger shows, when fair classification is given, the classes fill well, and there is keen competition for the leading honours.

The judge at the Kennel Club Show, Mr. Walter Evans, in his report says of the Dog Class, "My greatest difficult was that I had only one first prize to present, and so many really deserved it."

A noticeable feature is the marked success of lady exhibitors during the past year, the championship at the Kennel Club Show going to Mrs. George Williams' Wargrave, whilst at Birmingham both championships were won by lady exhibitors - Wargrave repeating his Crystal Palace win and Miss Pope's Laragh taking the championship in bitches. Miss Dillon has been steadily breeding up a strong kennel, and now shows a team that can always give a good account of itself. Mrs. Leslie, too, has been very successful with Gra-ma-Chree.

 Wargrave  Wargrave

The best classes have been obtained at Dublin, Gloucester, Cardiff, the Crystal Palace, Birmingham and Belfast, but as full accounts of these shows have already appeared in The Kennel Gazette I need not review them.

The chief new face is, of course, Wargrave, already referred to, who came out at Cardiff, and was there bought by Mrs. Williams, for whom he has since won all before him. He is an immense young hound (by Brian II - Teufella, who is by Keltair - Mrs. Williams' well-known Kathleen), silver fawn in colour, with dark ears and muzzle, perfectly straight in front, with well-arched loin, and is a good mover. Ballyhooley and Daireen, the Belfast winners, are his litter brother and sister. Mr. Birtill is to be congratulated on breeding three such good young hounds in one litter.

Marquis of Donegal, by Dermot Astore - Cheevra, has made a good start by winning second at Belfast, and will doubtless be heard of again. Merlin, first Novice at Birmingham, is probably the largest Irish Wolfhound yet shown, he must stand fully 34 in. at shoulder. Gra-ma-Chree, already mentioned, and Felixstowe Mavourneen, completed the list. Among the older hounds, Dermot Astore, Brian II, Kenmare, Thiggum Thu, Garvah, and King Dathy have been most successful in dogs, and Pomona (who has again won the Challenge Shield for Mr. Crisp), Shilela II, Laragh, Lady Urith, and Gillian in bitches.

 Merlin  Pomona
 Merlin  Pomona

The death roll of the past year is luckily not a heavy one, but includes one of the best bitches we have had in Princess Oona, who only wanted better carriage of ear and more coat to be about perfect. Miss Dillon has lost Shamus, and Mrs. Gerard Wanda, both prize winners.

 Wanda of Kidnal Mrs. Gerard's
Wanda of Kidnal 

These notes would be incomplete without some mention of O'Leary, perhaps the most typical hound we have; he is at times given to trembling in the hind quarters when in the ring, which, under some judges, keeps him out of the prize list, though in 1897, in a strong class, he won first and championship at the Crystal Palace. The Irish Wolfhound Club executive, having decided to issue a photo of the hound which they consider nearest to perfection as a guide to breeders, have selected O'Leary for the purpose; they could not have chosen a more suitable dog.

O'Leary   O'Leary

The Club have during the past year suffered a severe loss in the death of their President, the late Lord Caledon, who took a great interest in the breed; the vacancy thus created has been filled by the election of Capt. Graham in recognition of his untiring, and for a long time almost unaided, efforts in resuscitating the Irish Wolfhound. The Club is in a most flourishing condition, having now a total of thirty-three members, an increase of seven since last year; the future of the Irish Wolfhound is therefore decidedly hopeful.


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