Fencing, Acreage & Home Life
Breed Specific and Appropriate Fencing
Wolfhounds require safe, secure acreage with appropriate breed fencing to protect them from harm. Suitable fencing is not subjective. It must be a minimum of five (5) feet in height since four (4) feet tall fencing, or less, is easily spanned by many wolfhounds. It must be constructed strongly of either metal chain link, wood being either solid, planking or cross post & rail; or woven steel strung very tightly with a “Come-along” and secured tightly on the inside of cedar posts. Such heavy-duty, woven steel fencing, is strung by a winch that stretches the fencing taut as it is secured to 8-foot wooden posts driven two feet in the ground at six-foot intervals. (See accompanying photos for an example of proper breed fencing.) I strongly recommend Redbrand fencing as it is the strongest woven wire fence you can buy. The horse fence non-climb, woven design gives you the strength you need for a long lasting, maintenance free fence. This fence style uses 12.5 gauge, Class 3 Galvanized wire for durability. This high tensile steel welded fence is capped with 2 x 4 boards to create a firm, solid top as wolfhounds like to stand up on their hind legs and put their feet on the top rail. You cannot have a fence that will bend if a wolfhound’s weight is pushing down on top of it. Hence, the importance of having a capped rail.
UPDATE: Just this spring we are having to raise our 5-foot fencing (see photos) another two feet. We have two young Wolfhounds who are keen on standing up and placing their forepaws on top of our fence line in one area of their paddock. While observing them, I witnessed one lowering their hindquarters in a half-hearted attempt to jump over until I called him off. This was a warning sign and he most certainly will not be doing that again as my fence contractor is on the job and has raised my fence line to 7 feet in this particular area. Alas, these are the steps and expenses you must be prepared to take when having an Irish Wolfhound. They are smart, inquisitive and deliberate hounds who study and figure things out for themselves, often to our dismay!
Unacceptable Fencing Styles
What is NOT acceptable for safely enclosing a giant, powerful Irish Wolfhound is the local hardware store's garden variety plastic or wire fencing meant to contain chickens or to keep rabbits out with metal ground stakes. Nor is deer fencing such as DeerBusters poly mesh. Why wouldn't deer fencing be acceptable you ask?
First, deer fencing is dark colored and can be very hard to discern during the day, even if you knew what you were looking for in a wooded area, but it is invisible at night. Keep foremost in mind that Irish Wolfhounds love to gallop and give chase which leads us to the following. A wolfhound running full tilt at a professionally installed deer fence will collide and bounce off the 650-pound load poly mesh causing serious injury, or it most likely will break the wolfhound's neck. Further, if the poly mesh fence were not installed correctly and collapsed upon collision, the injured wolfhound would be impossibly entangled and trapped. Consider that white-tailed deer do not have phalanges with nails -- they are cloven-hoofed. Wolfhound's love to stand up and place their feet on fencing so his toes and nails can be caught up in the poly mesh barrier. Also, Deer are herbivores and do not have carnivore teeth. If a wolfhound is bound and determined to get out, many will succeed if improper fencing materials are used. Wolfhound's love to dig so they may dig around or chew through a deer fence perimeter.
All this leads us to the most inappropriate and unsuitable style fence that people ask about -- invisible or electric underground fencing.
Neither invisible or electric horse fencing is suitable and safe for a giant hunting hound.
There is a problematic misconception and disinformation, almost certainly propagated by fencing dealers, that Invisible Fencing or underground electric fencing is appropriate for a wolfhound. Here are the most logical objections.
Invisible fencing does not keep out wildlife, stray or loose dogs and cats from entering your property. This can prove hazardous to the uninvited animal visiting your property or possibly to your hound's safety as well. I once had a Fisher enter my property despite my fencing and got into a row with several of my Wolfhounds leaving two with serious injuries. One male had part of his neck torn open and was bleeding profusely. He had to be rushed to the veterinary hospital as I believed his Jugular vein was involved. The other, a female, had most of her front leg torn open and part of her torso and she too was hospitalized. This is one example of the damage that wildlife can inflict, and though Fisher's habitats are regional, you may have other wildlife that can threaten your wolfhound. Also, keep in mind that other neighbors may allow their dogs to run loose in which, if one is aggressive, then they may attack your Wolfhound who has no secure fencing to protect him or her from harm.
Also, other animals, whether they be wildlife or neighborhood pets, can also spread disease and parasites, many of which are passed via feces and others are viral and airborne.
An Irish Wolfhound is an extremely powerful dog that can and will blow through invisible fencing barriers while giving chase. Wolfhounds possess instinctual prey drive that is hardwired into their DNA. What is instinctual prey drive? Fundamentally, the essence of an instinct is any performed behavior that is not based on prior learning. Hard-wired prey drive is an inborn complex behavior and most sighthound breeds, many with origins dating one or more Millennium, once specialized in independent hunting and dispatching of Game. Indeed, this inherent ability is still well and strong today. I acknowledge that the degree of prey drive can vary in individual hounds, just as individual people have varying measures of aggressiveness or assertiveness. In my experience, I have producedlitter mates with fluctuating levels of prey interest where several demonstrated a sharp or very keen interest in cats and small dogs, and others that could mingle safely with them.
Once an Irish Wolfhound gives chase, they enter into an instinctive hunting mode in which he sees and hears nothing as all focus is on the prey. His initial flight can be as quick as flipping a light switch, a fantastical bolt, and despite your obedience recalls, clicker training or screaming for him to come until you are purple in the face, usually nothing, most certainly not a static correction, will get the hounds attention or to compel his return until such time that his focus is broken or he gives up the pursuit.
I have personally witnessed a wolfhound run through above ground electric wire horse fencing and another having been tangled up in the wires. Simply, all electric fencing options are nothing short of cruel for the soft tempered, highly sensitive Irish Wolfhound breed. If you, like I, heard their shriek or howls upon coming into contact with electrical stimulation, those screams will haunt you for a long while to come.
Still, there remain many people who have not been affected by a fencing tragedies, and who still attempt to defend and promote such inappropriate, ill-suited boundaries. One or more even venture an argument that they had no problems before and, therefore, they consider themselves experienced, or what we call "Instant Know-it-All's."
Consider the most logical protest to invisible fencing:
A wolfhound who has blown through the invisible electric barrier has no way to return to his home. The electric currents do not allow the hound to re-enter his property.
That is to say if the wolfhound’s owner is fortunate enough that the hound has not already been hit and killed by an automobile, shot or lost. Nearly all these people have little to no experience with the true nature of an Irish Wolfhound personality. They have never been exposed to nor seen an Irish Wolfhound get spooked, and are not aware that a wolfhound’s personality will change if they are scared and running loose. A frightened Irish Wolfhound will not be gregarious or outgoing like a Labrador Retriever. Lab's have dissimilar temperaments and will approach strangers — friends or foe. Irish Wolfhounds, rather I should say all sighthounds, when scared, loose, or lost will run away from and not towards humans, including their owners.
It is vital to understand that an escaped and alarmed wolfhound is extremely difficult to entice, lure or capture again. The process may take several weeks involving volunteer search parties and countless flyers, all the while the hound may be starving. Another disregarded concern is that, although the owner knows the wolfhound is a giant, friendly hound, the majority of the public are shocked at his size and are easily and quickly frightened. People react, they may scream, they may be aggressive towards the hound, all of which further terrifies the hound or even, the police who may shoot the strange dog. Please read my Blog Post, Truth and Consequences along with Sighthound Necessities to get a better understanding about this hunting hound breed.
Typical Required Acreage
We request that one acre of land be fenced in for a wolfhound. However, a half acre of fenced land (not including the home) is the MINIMUM for suitable galloping, stretching, twisting and turning. This large area is non-negotiable for many reasons. Importantly, it allows the galloping hound the freedom to stretch out his legs, to leap and release energy. This also is key to his development, both physical and mental. Strong, hard muscles are essential to proper maturation and longevity as well as protecting the body from unwarranted injuries. Secure exercise provides valuable mental stimulation and simply, it is good for his psyche or soul, mind and spirit. His personality and character can develop to its full potential which is critical in a powerful, giant hound in that he must be even-tempered and well adjusted. Area’s less than this are unfair and incompatible for such a galloping hunter who was bred for and loves to run.
Many people whom I have spoken to over these years have suggested a solution to having less than desirable acreage. Their standard answer is promising to walk or jog with the hound on lead, numerous times daily over great distances. Unfortunately, I have heard this many, many times, and my objections are reasonable. As we all know to be true, life is full of surprises, and it has a habit of bringing unexpected and unwanted changes or accidents. If a hound’s principal caregiver falls ill or is injured, such as breaking an ankle on an icy driveway, not only does the owner become disabled, but ultimately the hound is disabled, as well. He will no longer have these lengthy excursions to release energy and obtain exercise. If an owner’s employment responsibility increases, this significantly reduces the time spent with a hound on lead. Sadly, because the requisite fenced acreage was initially sacrificed, the wolfhound will not have an area they can run and self-exercise in; therefore, he suffers. There are many other dog breed options for people with backyards or small acreage. With over 180 AKC dog breeds to explore for a new companion and family member, one is bound to find another ideal candidate best suited for such a home. The truth is that sensible, rational people understand that although they have fallen in love with the wolfhound breed, if their facilities are not suitable, then it is unfair to have such a giant. Many years past, one of my mentors explained to me a simple solution to the acreage dilemma. When people contact her about wolfhounds, she boldly inquires if a new home has room for a horse. If the answer is no, then she politely states there is not adequate room for a wolfhound.
Secure acreage, however, does not satisfy all their exercise requirements as they do need social interactions outside the home. Regular walks are very beneficial so that the hound can socialize with people and other dogs whom he may meet along the way. This is not an invitation or encouragement for a wolfhound owner to let their wolfhound off lead or to run loose in an enclosed dog park with other dogs. If you have not done so please read my Blog Post titled, Truth and Consequences to get a real-life understanding of why dog parks and wolfhounds do NOT mix. A responsible Wolfhound owner must realize that this breed is not a biddable retriever or herding dog with an effusive, overwhelming desire to please. This is a giant hunting hound, ranging in weight from 130 to 200 pounds, which might display an eager, intensive interest in other smaller or miniature dogs. Frankly, they can easily frighten an unknowing passerby who does not realize your hound is gentle as the wolfhound is galloping top speed at them like a horse barreling down upon them. One last point I need to make on fencing is that a proper, secure fencing will repay itself over and over again throughout the life of your hound. Think of the alternative being that the hound runs off chasing another dog, cat, deer or squirrel and either gets hit by a car or is lost or stolen? Please take a moment here to read an excellent, brief post that I wrote on my Dog Blog titled, "Sighthound Necessities" that will help to explain all this further.
Any questions, feel free to contact me. Just click on the envelope icon below in the footer of this page to send me an email.