Irish Wolfhound Puppies & How To Find a Breeder

If you are seeking information regarding a puppy, I first will ask that you take the time to review the Ballyhara Irish Wolfhound website thoroughly, regardless if you have or had an Irish Wolfhound in your life. I receive many inquiries telling me they have owned or currently have an Irish Wolfhound, but as it turns out, some of these people do not have the appropriate acreage and or fencing for such a giant, galloping breed. Unfortunately, these people had obtained their Irish Wolfhound from an indiscriminate breeder who neither required or cared if the sighthound had suitable and secured land to run.

Why bother reading this website?

Of relevance, my site includes facts and information on nearly every Irish Wolfhound topic and provides details and awareness on the ordinary and costly expenses associated with the breed; the sighthound breed traits, required fenced acreage for galloping and stretching, related health issues, to name just but a few. Also, I have found most general inquiries about Irish Wolfhounds are soon answered after the participant peruses the valuable information published on my website. A site which has required a significant amount of time and effort on my part to create to educate the public about this grand breed.

When obtaining an Irish Wolfhound puppy I strongly urge you to do so cautiously and keep handy these invaluable tools during your search. These include the Irish Wolfhound Club of America (IWCA) "Puppy Buyers Guide," and "So You Want to Own an Irish Wolfhound" brochure. You should read through the accompanying codes of conduct. As longstanding members of the IWCA and most importantly as breed custodians, the IWCA Standard of Behavior for Breeders is very necessary and I expect all breeders should ascribe to it as well.

Valuable Tools:

Brochures, Guides, and Breeder's Standard of Behavior

Regrettably, the breeds Parent Club, the Irish Wolfhound Club of America, does not police members to verify if they are abiding by the Standard of Behavior for Breeders, despite that the IWCA Board of Directors had generated this document to educate and guide the public. It is a very necessary Guide which on its merit serves as a basic outline of the fundamental standards of behavior members are expected to abide by while propagating the noble Irish Wolfhound. However, in no way does this limited declaration set forth the high standards that respected, ethical breeders strive to maintain.

As an illustration, this document allows for puppies to be placed at the age of 10-12 weeks. This age is the lower limit but you should know that nearly all reputable, long-standing breeders place their wolfhound puppies at a minimum of 12-weeks of age. In fact, some of our seasoned older breeders may "run on" or hold on to the pups until 15-weeks or later.

What is the correct age to place an Irish Wolfhound puppy and why is the matter of a couple of weeks such a big deal?

It is difficult to believe, but we are aware that many disreputable individuals are placing Irish Wolfhound puppies at 8-9 weeks of age now. As a puppy buyer, you need to understand that these actions are abhorrent, intolerable and are likely to cause problems or have adverse consequences for new owners. Why?

Irish Wolfhound puppies require the constant interaction, socialization, stability and reprimanding that littermates and their Dam provide. Lacking this litter socialization can permanently affect a dog’s behavior. Temperament is one of the most crucial characteristics of a giant, hunting Sighthound, one who is extremely athletic and powerful. Any Irish Wolfhound MUST be well-adjusted, confident and sound in mind, body, and soul. If not, there could be grim consequences in the future. An 8-week old IW pup has NOT yet received all the benefits of these now lost precious influences and processes of learning. The socialization that occurs with the Dam and littermates up to 12-15 weeks teaches the puppy how to play along with meaningful limits of acceptable or tolerable roughhousing, to name just a few invaluable lessons.

If a pup is removed from its litter and placed at an early age of 8-weeks, it can also suffer the consequences of early disconnection, detachment and be prone to separation anxiety and many other serious, behavioral issues. Please read my Blog article "Prospective Wolfhound Puppy Buyers Beware" on this subject to understand more about this utterly unacceptable and very risky practice of placing pups at 8-9 weeks of age.  

You should understand that Irish Wolfhounds mature, physically and mentally, at a different rate than almost all other breeds. Despite their phenomenal physical growth over 18 months, their mental maturity is much slower than other breeds. I do not refer to intelligence, but that of their mental development from puppyhood to adulthood with its wisdom, sensibilities, and discrimination. Just ask any unknowing Wolfhound puppy owner who mistakenly believed their 12-month IW was mature enough to leave loose in the home while they ran errands. Upon entering their home, the drapes are no longer hanging on curtain rods, or the couch is ripped apart, or a hole appears in the Sheetrock wall. These are just a few real-time examples of what can happen.

As a prospective IW puppy owner, consider another illustration comparing a scrupulous breeder to an unethical breeder. The age in which a female Irish Wolfhound should be bred as stated in The Standard of Behaviors for Breeders:

"Breed only those bitches that are in excellent health, generally between the ages of 24 months and 6 years."

An unprincipled breeder whose primary concern is profit will breed an older Irish Wolfhound dam, 7 or 8 years of age, regardless of the possible harm and danger to the female wolfhound. Reflect on the reality that wolfhounds are deemed Veterans at six years of age in the U.S., and in Canada. In foreign countries, the Veteran age is reached at seven years. Breeding an Irish Wolfhound female at such a veteran age is rarely done over the age of six except for exceptional circumstances and only by highly experienced, seasoned breeders. Those would include a Dam who previously whelped a litter (no more than twice in her lifetime), who was a superb instinctual mother, and that she had excellent health and vigor. Even then, doing so at this age is rarely done and only to perpetuate a specific and jeopardized bloodline by the "old-guard" breeder.

Please, do not allow individual(s) to persuade you that breeding a Veteran dam or placing 8-week old puppies is acceptable.

We breeders have recognized that a moral breakdown has occurred in the sport of purebred dogs and the Irish Wolfhound breed has suffered dramatically from the loss of societal moral values.

As a result, sadly, the breed has undergone a notable degradation in overall quality, character, and health. The Wolfhound has become a favorite victim due to its commanding appearance, size, nobility, and gentleness with people. Highly motivated by profit, the Irish Wolfhound has been exploited by indecent profiteers who label themselves as "Breeders" when, in fact, they are people only mating dogs for proceeds. Unfortunately, Buyers such as yourselves are unwittingly supporting these immoral individuals with your money.

Please practice great discretion when interviewing breeders, even if they are members of the IWCA Parent Club Breeders Directory.

When interviewing a “Breeder” or person who has a litter of pups, here are a list of questions and topics to discuss:

  • First, familiarize yourself with the common health problems by reading my webpage Irish Wolfhound Health Concerns. Make yourself familiar with Osteosarcoma, Lymphoma, Dilated Cardiomyopathy and Ventricular Premature Contractions, Bloat/Gastric Torsion which are the leading causes of death in our breed.

  • Ask what health testing does the breeder perform on all the puppies? Breeders are urged to perform health testing before puppies go to new homes for diseases such as: 

  1. Portosystemic Shunt: Breeders should screen all of their puppies for portosystemic shunts using a bile acid test.

  2. Did the Breeder perform a post-prandial (the sample taken two hours after feeding) blood sample test or did they perform the necessary full protocol Bile Acid Test? Click here for critical information on liver shunt testing from the Scottish Deerhound Club of America (first cousins of the IW) who have excellent information on this disease and what is required.

  3. Cardiac auscultation: All puppies’ hearts should be listened to by a veterinarian, using a stethoscope, to check for heart defects before they go to their new homes.

• Ask to meet the mother of the puppies and, if possible, the father. Ask for pictures and health information on both parents and grandparents and tests results.

  1. Has the breeder continuously performed ANNUAL Advanced Cardiac Screening on all their hounds, especially the ones they have mated, by Board Certified Veterinary Cardiologists? Buyers should understand that screening and testing a Wolfhound just once is pointless as advanced cardiac screening needs to be performed ANNUALLY from the age of 2 years and upward. Some people only have Cardiac auscultation done by a general veterinarian which is worthless. Only ANNUAL Advanced Cardiac Screening can detect arrhythmias and Ventricular Tachycardia. Advanced Cardiac Screening MUST include EKG, Echocardiograms, and even a 24-hour Holter Monitor (ambulatory). Please do not let any breeder tell you that they have not had to perform annual advanced heart screenings because they do not have heart disease in their lines! There is a very good chance that you could have your beloved companion die a premature death from cardiac arrest right in front of you. Please read my Blog article called Cardiovascular Disease in the Irish Wolfhound

  2. Many Breeders screen their adult wolfhounds for bone diseases such as Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia. Has this breeder done so?

  3. Have the Sire and Dam had their eyes screened for Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)? Find out more on my Health page.

  4. Ask if the Breeder has obtained a Risk Analysis on the breeding for Epilepsy, PRA, Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD), Portal Systemic Liver Shunt (PSS)? What was the risk percentage results? Every legitimate Irish Wolfhound litter has a risk rating for these diseases.

  5. Has Epilepsy occurred in their breeding stock? If so, in how many hounds and in what generation(s)? Currently, a wolfhound carrier or producer 7-generations back in the pedigree is generally believed to be an acceptable distance.

  6. Has the Breeder produced Megaesophagus? If so, are the puppies related to this Wolfhound? An individual contacted me who told me that he imported an IW puppy from Ireland who was diagnosed with Megaesphagus. The owner finally euthanized him at 4 years of age from pneumonia complications caused by the disease which is an enlargement of the esophagus resulting in weak to no muscular motility to push any food or liquid down into the stomach. As such it necessitates that the animal must eat in a vertical position so the food enters the stomach via gravity. A terrible way to live and die.

• Is the breeder active in the national and/or regional breed club? Does the breeder attend National and Regional Specialties? How familiar is this breeder with the history and purpose of the Wolfhound? Does he/she participate in showing, coursing, and/or obedience? Does he/she ascribe to the IWCA Code of Ethics and Standard of Behavior for Breeders? Has the breeder attended Irish Wolfhound Breeder Education programs at these National and Regional Specialty Shows? Keep in mind that simply because a breeder exhibits dogs at conformation shows DOES NOT define them as reputable, conscientious dog breeders. You can exhibit dogs and still be a puppy mill or backyard breeder.

  • Does the breeder stand behind the puppies he/she places? Will he/she take a puppy back without questions or help you place it with an Irish Wolfhound Rescue Organization if, for any reason, you are not able to keep it? Is the Breeder receptive to and are you able to freely call with questions about feeding, grooming, or health concerns? Can he/she give you information about regional clubs and dog activities you might enjoy with your new puppy?

  • Try to gauge if the Breeder is knowledgeable about the genetic mode of inheritance for diseases because every person mating dogs should have a basic understanding of genetics. Does the Breeder have experience with the primary diseases affecting our breed which do not have a confirmed mode of inheritance such as Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), Atrial Fibrillation, Premature Ventricular Contractions (PVC), Osteocarcinoma and/or Lymphoma, or other fairly new exotic diseases like Immune Mediated Diseases? If the breeder tells you they have never bred a wolfhound who was diagnosed or had any problems with any of the above diseases then a huge warning red flag is being waved!!

You’d be surprised that some club member breeders have no idea about the genetic diseases that appear in carrier or affected hounds contained in their pedigrees. Ignorance is blissful, especially when the puppies are placed in companion homes, and you as the new owners are footing huge medical bills in the multiple thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

  • Ask them to evaluate the puppies and tell you why they are show or companion quality. Are “companion quality” puppies sold with limited registrations and/or spay/neuter agreements? If they cannot describe or demonstrate with proficiency the virtues and faults of the puppies then they have no idea what they are doing which is another red flag!

  • Does the breeder provide information on the risks/benefits and timing of spaying/neutering Wolfhounds? Does their information concur with the information I have provided on my Ballyhara website Spay/Neuter Concerns? 

• Are the puppies well-socialized in a pleasant, home environment? Does the breeder appear to have the disposable income to properly care for this giant, special-needs, high maintenance Wolfhound breed? Medical care, high-quality food and exercise takes money and time.

  • Are the hounds well-exercised, and if they live in kennels, are the accommodations very clean without urine and waste odor?

  • Does the Breeder appear very knowledgeable about the breeds history, form and function instead of obtaining their knowledge just from the Internet? You’d be surprised as to the number of people posing as breeders who have no depth of knowledge of the breed, and who make so much money selling puppies that they brag they have quit their full-time jobs.

  • Remember, NEVER allow a so-called Breeder to convince you that 8-9 weeks of age is appropriate for an IW pup to go to a new home. Read my DogBlogMusings article titled Caveat Emptor!

  • EVERY conscientious Breeder will require a homesite visit first before placing any IW pup.

    Remember, you MUST have patience until a well-known breeder has a pup available.

There is a remarkable and visible contrast in quality of a wolfhound bred by myself and those bred by various disreputable individuals populating the breed today. As an example, we placed a male Wolfhound yearling in a companion home who currently had a four-year-old male Irish Wolfhound. Upon meeting the new addition, the extended family including the adult children were shocked at the difference between the two wolfhounds. The quality of my male was superior in size, the substance of his body, muscle tone, coat condition, head and expression as well as overall conformation and silhouette that the family were practically astonished. Naturally, this conclusion is the separation between myself, an excellent, qualified, conscientious breeder and the casual breeder with little to no canine husbandry skills or values.

We do not sell puppies online. As a conscientious, breeder with an exclusive, boutique breeding program we do not advertise litters. We are heritage, preservation breeders who breed for ourselves on a limited basis and to improve upon the quality hounds we have. What is more, we do not indiscriminately provide information concerning the availability of or costs for a puppy because we believe that this information is appropriate for a much more personal discussion. As we are neither a "Show Mill" breeder or a commercial mass supplier of low-quality puppies, we do not have any "in-stock" ready to be placed.

If you have reviewed all the relevant material I have supplied and remain seriously and sincerely interested on obtaining a wolfhound puppy then, by all means, please contact me via email to arrange a convenient time to chat. Please be aware that we do not broker dogs by email, and we insist on speaking with you in a more personal manner of communication like the telephone and then most certainly, in person.

Always remember that:

The protection of this breed is an obligation one accepts with ownership of an Irish Wolfhound. The owner of an Irish Wolfhound will put the welfare of each of his or her Irish Wolfhounds above personal gain, profit and/or personal convenience.


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