We're considering getting an Irish Wolfhound...need advice

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Chase..., er um,- "Herd" the- Kitties!
Barked: Mon Feb 19, '07 12:00pm PST 
Hi all,
We have been considering adding an Irish Wolfhound to our family for some time. We went to a local club meeting in Dec. and spent 4+ hours around a few dozen young, adolescent, & adult Wolfhounds and talking to their owners and breeders. We're still doing research to make sure it's right for us and ensure that we fully understand the home requirements, health concerns, etc. thinking

A Few Questions:
1. I know that Wolfhounds are family-oriented dogs and want to be inside with their people. Our Beardie is the same. We work during the weekdays and our Beardie has access to both the house & yard. And when we're home, he's always with us, cause he's a member of our family. In the evenings, we go for walks/jogs, play a lot, and I take him to sheep herding once a week for extra stimulation and exercise. (I would do the same/similar for a Wolfhound).

But one person (not from the local club) used to foster Wolfhounds and told me that Wolfhounds need more attention than that and don't do well in a family where the people work full time jobs.

So, I'd like to know if any of you work full time, and how your Wolfhound(s) handles it. Do you think a Wolfhound can be happy with his/her people being at work during the day?

2. When you are away from home (i.e. at work for the day), where does your Wolfhound(s) stay? Inside? Outside? Or does he/she have a dog door to go in & out? If you use a dog door, what size would be needed & how high would it need to be placed?

Sorry for the long message. It's very important that we make a well educated decision and we still have a lot of questions. Thanks in advance for your feedback!

In memory of- Bear and- Kelly

Barked: Fri Feb 23, '07 12:58pm PST 
Hello Jennifer,
Don't worry about having a long post, this is a big dog and a big decision!
We had two IWs, both have now passed, however. We had our big boy for about two years before we brought in the girl, but he was much happier when she came. IWs not only like being around their people, they also like being around their own kind and are rather "breed concious" and enjoying being part of a pack.
As for being away during the day, ours were both raised while everyone was at school/work all day. While we were out, they did have access to the house and yard because we left our back door open. Our boy had a very deep chest so dog doors wouldn't work. We did arrange for someone to come home each day to feed them at lunchtime while they were growing. When they were older, they did fine at home by themselves.
Our boy needed a lot of activity when we got home, just because he was our "living rug" and tended to be lazy and overweight. Our girl was much more active while we were gone in the day. She still loved her walks, etc., but she didn't need them the same way Bear did. Taking a wolfie running or jogging was kind of a joke around our house. The only time they would actually get up to full stride was when they were chasing each other. We had no chance of getting them up to speed with our measily human legs! I don't know that they would enjoy herding. We've had herding dogs and the wolfies just don't have those kinds of tendencies.
Health problems... cancer and heart problems seem to be the norm with IWs as far as I know. Our girl had kidney problems, but I've not met another IW person who has had this experience, so I think it was just her.
If you have any other questions, let us know!

Chase..., er um,- "Herd" the- Kitties!
Barked: Fri Feb 23, '07 1:25pm PST 
Thanks for your feedback!

I would do the same thing as when I got my Beardie pup: Work from home for the first week or more. Then X-Pen train during the day and come home every day at lunch to feed and give a potty break. Luckily, I work really close to home.

And don't worry, I wasn't planning on doing herding with a Wolfhound. What I meant by that statement was that when the dog reached the appropriate age, I would be willing to do an activity or exercise that is appropriate to the breed and/or what appeals to our specific dog (such as lure coursing).

It sounds like a full-time working family would not be a problem - if the appropriate attention & exercise was provided in the evenings & on weekends.

Another question - How tall should our yard's walls be? Right now our brick walls are about 5.5 - 6 feet tall. Would it need to be higher?


In memory of- Bear and- Kelly

Barked: Fri Feb 23, '07 5:04pm PST 
Ours was six feet tall but we never had any problems with the dogs trying to get out either over or under it anyway. I honestly don't even recall them leaning up on it, though our fella could have seen over it that way.

Chase..., er um,- "Herd" the- Kitties!
Barked: Tue Mar 6, '07 12:11pm PST 
Any additional feedback and/or recommendations for me, from other IW folks?

the UPS guy has- nothin on me!!!!
Barked: Fri Oct 5, '07 2:35pm PST 
hey- we are the best breeds

Barked: Tue Jan 1, '08 10:41am PST 
We just joined so don't know if you got your wolfhound or not. Buliwyf and I joined mom and dad and the cats and our big sister (a pit bull) as puppies, so even while they were at work, we always had company, and someone telling us what to do/what not to do. We're lucky to have a fenced yard with a dog door (which is a little small for me, so if mom is home I make her open the door for me). Because we came as puppies, the fence was always bigger than we were, so we don't try digging under or jumping over. Although, Buliwyf did manage to wind up in the neighbor's yard one day, and that's at least an 8 foot drop from our yard to theirs. Mom still doesn't know whether he had his front paws on the fence and leaned over, or slipped under where the wall is cracked. But it was raining, and he was stuck not under cover because the neighbor puppy wouldn't let him get closer and out of the rain. We spend part of our time outside and part of our time inside, depending how we feel. We all like the big bed and the futons in the living room, as well as the mats on the floor (an old futon mattress and two different sized dog beds, that of course we pull and smoosh until they are unrecognizable as beds. We've only ever had one or two accidents in the house, usually when we're sick, but we learned very fast to do our stuff outside. We're very smart, so we really do understand what you want, even if we're sometimes too stubborn to do it. We're mom and dad's first wolfhounds, so they can't tell you any more than this.

Chase..., er um,- "Herd" the- Kitties!
Barked: Wed Jan 2, '08 1:23pm PST 
Thanks for the feedback Goliath. We haven't gotten our IW yet. For a while now, we've been thinking about aiming for early Spring 08. Yet, in Aug/Sept 07, we rescued 2 abandonded kittens from our neighborhood streets.

We and our Beardie (Baelin) have been adapting to having cats in the house...for the first time ever. We decided to hold of on moving forward with adding another dog until we were comfortable with how everyone was co-existing.

The kittens are now about 9 months old, and starting to mellow out a little bit. Overall, Baelin and the cats are getting along well. And, if we keep Baelin well exercised, he doesn't seem to chase them. So, we're starting to think about our IW plans again.

We've already installed an extra large doggie door that is 37 inches high. And, we're getting ready to build and install some new (and taller) gates to our side yard. Yet, I still need to get back in touch with the local IW club and breeders.

So, we'll see what the next 6 months brings...
Ch. Ierne's- Aine Ni Fear- Mor *

Give me food and- let me sleep...
Barked: Sun Aug 17, '08 8:37am PST 
I know it is August but I just joined this list as well... I have four Irish Wolfhounds who live with me and three more who I co-own with friends. I have loved, shown and bred IWs for 17 years.

You CAN work a full time job and own an Irish Wolfhound, yes... they like a lot of attention but they are not nearly as demanding as a terrier... just being with you is enough. They will and should self exercise as puppies as over exercise will sometimes cause growth problems. If you haven't acquired a wolfhound yet, and you are still thinking of doing so, I would go to the Irish Wolfhound Club of America's website... dig around in it... and possibly join the breed mailing list, it is a wealth of information for the new potential Owner. The majority of our active breeder/owners participate in it as well as many of the club officers and board members.

Good luck with your decision, I think a IW would do very well with your Beardie. I know of a Breeder in Oregon who used to show both Beardies and IWs, but since she has retired from both I think. She was a dog artist as well, and has some beautiful pieces of both breeds as well as others floating around out there.

Be sure to research your breeder carefully and you can check out the Canine Health Information Center to see what health testing is recommended for IWs... echocardiograms, OFA on hips, elbows and CERF for the eyes for starters. I would also ask if the breeder tests the pups for portosystemic shunt prior to them going to their new homes, it should be done around nine weeks of age.

Good Luck! And share pics if you get a new puppy, there are some very good breeders on the West Coast and you should not have a problem finding a nice puppy.

Where's the- cheese, Mom?
Barked: Thu Aug 21, '08 1:47am PST 
We worked, too. Long commutes. We had two wolfie and a mix... so even if one was in the vets, the other had company at home.

Originally they were locked out during the day... with a very plush dog house (two full sheets of plywood wide w/ padding better than my first couch). Later, we let them have house access all the time with the "understanding" that if anyone messed up the inside, they'd all have to earn house access during the day. It took a bit of training, but was well worth it.

They got walks most evenings. (No one hassles you walking 3 dogs at 10PM, 2 of them wolfhounds.) They got a lot of weekend quality time. They loved going to special events in the park... anyplace they could be the center of attention.... so sometimes we'd all barrel into the car just so they could be adored at a park

So, as long as they have company... no worries.

However, the biggest consideration about getting an Irish Wolfhound.... and something incredibly important... Ask yourself and answer honestly, and consider your spouse. Have you ever dreamed of having a house that looks good enough to be in a magazine??? Ever??? If you even twing, maybe? Nope... visit a friends wolfhound... house sit, but don't get one.

House modification... this breed is tall and has a tail that not only can clear a coffee table in one Welcome-Home! swipe, but can also clear a glass off the front half of a kitchen counter... and that's w/o standing. And don't forget, they will drool!

This means you don't have anything breakable, or even anything you don't mind having knocked off. on tables.... or slobbered on. Lamps need to be sturdy. TV's high. Stereo equipment behind plastic doors. Things like china cabinets or smaller bookcases need to be earthquake secured for when they're playing or running and their 4-paw breaks don't work... or they slide straight into it at 100+pounds. (Just because they're big doesn't mean they won't play like puppies.) Also, their claws are just heavy and will scratch up hardwood floors.

Their grooming isn't fussy... but you'd be surprised how much dust their coats bring in. There's extra cleaning from the dust and just doggie drooling.

This can be a serious live change... and keeping a wolfhound outside doesn't work really well. They're very sociable animals and want to be your footwarmer.

Next issue... when you adopt them... plan out time to do a lot of training right away. That first 9 months is soooooooooo crucial with a wolfhound. You start training at home and then get them into an obedience class ASAP. (Most places will wave the age requirement if you can show them that your dog listens to you and walks on a leash and you explain why you're starting early. Talk them into letting you in the class on probation if nothing else.)

Also, immediately train on food issues and NEVER EVER let them jump even the day you bring them home... play low games, not high.

So... are you willing to change your home???

Are you willing to devote a lot of time up front? and keep on giving???

Are you willing to drive farther to a vet that can handle LARGE dogs? Especially one where you can pick your dog up late?

Are you willing to search for a groomer than can handle a large dog? (We used our vet... and when we moved, drove 30 miles since they were still the best option.)

If you're comfortable about all of that??? Try to find a friend who will let you dogsit, or even handle them at a park for a few hours.... with their parents not within eyesight.

If you're good with all that, then they're something to consider. Nothing better than their dark dollar sized eyes looking up at you or snuggling together you with a book, them with a chew toy.

Oh, and sadly one more consideration... can you handle loosing a pet quickly... you have 5-7 years with most.... and that doesn't mean you don't loose them earlier. (It's why a lot of wolfhound owners have a smaller (lab sized) dog as well.)

(Who used to help do PR for rescue trust at faires. Our goal... talk everyone out of a wolfie. The ones stubborn enough to keep coming back.... hopefully had enough stamina to survive a wolfhound puppy.)
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