user_mobilelogo

Living with an Irish Wolfhound is a truly rewarding experience, but it is not for everyone. There are many considerations to think about before welcoming this breed into your life.

Costs

The sheer size of the breed is the first and foremost thing to consider. Although they do not require huge amounts of food once they are mature, they do need to eat substantially while they are growing into giants. The cost of all veterinary care will be more than the average sized dog. A course of antibiotics alone can easily cost several hundred dollars. Housing is another big consideration, as these guys take up a lot of real estate. They require a safe, fenced in area in which to stretch their legs and relieve themselves. Such an area needs to be much larger for a Wolfhound than for most other breeds of dog. They need space to run, and places to explore on a daily basis. Wolfhounds can cover significant ground once they get moving! Although they can adapt well to life as a couch potato, Irish Wolfhounds require free running exercise to keep them in optimal condition. Transportation for such a large hound also bears consideration, especially if you are considering more hounds down the road.

Health Considerations

Health concerns are another factor to consider before getting an Irish Wolfhound. This breed has been referred to time and again as the "heartbreak" breed, and it can be true. Unfortunately, our beloved breed is prone to some serious health issues, and the prospective owner needs to be aware of them. Cardiac diseases, cancers, and bloat are all present within the breed. Many breeders are working hard to breed healthier, longer lived hounds, but it is a long road, and these things are not accomplished overnight. The average lifespan of the Irish Wolfhound in North America is around 7 years. Some live much longer than that, even into double digits, while others die much younger. We lost our first Wolfhound at only 3 years of age. Everyone who considers this breed needs to be prepared for that possibility.

Temperment

Irish Wolfhounds are loving, loyal souls, with a great sense of humor! Although not typically outgoing with strangers, these dogs can be lap-dogs with their closest friends! This is a smart breed that will not do repetitive tasks for the sake of pleasing you. "What's in if for me?" is something the Wolfhound wants to know! They are intuitive with their people, and often stoic about their own problems. They can be hunters one minute, then clowns the next. Life with a Wolfhound is never dull. Relaxed, yes, but just when you think you have them figured out, they will amaze you. I can't imagine ever being without at least 2 or 3 of them. And did I mention that they are highly addictive?!

I would encourage anyone new to the Irish Wolfhound breed to attend a Specialty Show if they have a chance to. It is a fantastic opportunity to meet many different hounds and their breeders/owners. I would also encourage anyone wanting a Wolfhound to talk to and visit with as many breeders as they can. Breeders are always open to visitors, and love to talk about their hounds! It is a great opportunity to learn more about the breed, and to see how they live. It's also an excellent chance to get a feel for what it is like to be around such giant dogs. We take it for granted and don't see our hounds as particularly large, but it can take some getting used to. It's one thing to think about a dog laying it's head across the counter to snag a snack, and quite another thing to actually see it! Finding a suitable breeder match is very important. You will want to have a good working relationship and friendship with this person over the duration of your hound's life (and hopefully beyond). They will be there at all hours of the day or night to support you and answer your questions, so make sure the fit is right for you.

 

Here at Arahu, we strongly believe in the benefits of natural rearing to support growth, immunity, and future generations. Our youngest hounds are 4th generation raw fed/naturally reared.  The purpose of this page is not to convert anyone to our way of thinking, but to explain our philosophy and why we adhere to it. My hope is that you walk away thinking, do some research, and come to your own conclusions.

So what is natural rearing anyway? I'll tell you what it means to us.

 

Diet:

All of our hounds and cats are fed a species appropriate raw food diet. Nature designed the canine and feline to eat raw meat and bones, and their digestive tracts are built to handle just that. Dogs and cats in the wild are still eating raw meat and bones and thriving, just as nature intended. It is arrogant to presume that man in his laboratory can do better than Mother Nature, in my opinion. It has been noted by several raw promoting vets that the incidence of disease, particularly chronic disease, has increased along with our dependence on processed pet foods. Dogs and cats were not designed to thrive on a cooked and processed diet consisting of predominantly grains and rendered scrap (meat products and by-products deemed unfit for human consumption). Just as humans need fresh food to maintain optimal health, so too do our four legged companions, perhaps even more so.

The benefits of raw feeding are wide and varied. Feeding a species appropriate diet helps support and maintain a strong immune system - something your hound will need for the whole of their life. Growth during puppy-hood is even and steady, providing vitamins and minerals in their natural state. Raw feeding promotes a hard, well muscled body, not a fleshy or pudgy form that can so often accompany a high carbohydrate diet. Bright eyes, excellent skin and coat condition, white teeth, and fresh breath, are all benefits of raw feeding, as well as indicators of good health. A visitor at Arahu remarked about Artemis, our notorious kissing hound, that she didn't even have "doggy breath". She was almost 5 years old at the time! Because the canine body can better utilize a raw meat and bone diet, they produce much less waste -  a HUGE fringe benefit for us humans! Most dogs LOVE eating a raw food diet, and hunkering down with a big knuckle bone or a spine can provide hours of exercise and stress relief for them. Raw feeding also breaks the monotony of having the same bowl of food day in and day out, year after year. Imagine how utterly uninteresting eating would be. I think we owe it to our companions to provide fresh and varied foods throughout their lives.

 

We feed our hounds a variety of raw meat and meaty bones, whole prey, and fruits and vegetables. Our proteins rotate between green tripe, pork, heart, venison, rabbit, beef, lamb, organ meats, and poultry. We add veggies to the diet intermittently - we use the veggies that are past their prime in the fridge, plus dark green leafy veggies.  The hounds also get fresh fruit year round, either store/orchard bought or self-picked off our trees and vines. Farm fresh eggs are added to bowl meals several times a week. Our adult hounds are generally fed once a day, with the odd day of fasting, when they might just get a recreational bone. Growing puppies are fed three times a day until around 4-6 months of age (depending on the need of the individual puppy). Our adult hounds eat roughly between 1.5-3 pounds of food each per day, depending on age and activity level. At certain times of the year, especailly fall into early winter, the hounds require more food, so I add in a morning meal as needed.  During the most rapid growth phase, puppies can consume up to 7-8 pounds of food per day! Fortunately, this phase does not last too long. We buy most of our dog food from butchers by the case, and store them in freezers. While not ideal, we have found that buying and storing in this manner is by far the most economical way to feed a varied and raw diet to multiple giant hounds.

 

Exercise:

One of the key components to overall health and vitality, is appropriate exercise, in my opinion.  Irish Wolfhounds are double suspension galloping hounds that need to run!  And if you have ever watched a hound run full tilt, you know this requires land.  While not everyone is lucky enough to have their own acreage for their hounds to run on, I encourage people who love this breed to consider country living, or to wait until they are in the country before obtaining a hound.

 

 

Young puppies grow at a rapid rate, and as such, require a great deal of rest while growing.  The best playmate for an IW puppy is another IW puppy.  However, many of us are dealing with only one puppy at a time.  It is important to remember that most other dog breeds will play harder and longer than a wolfhound puppy should.  While free play is the best exercise for a growing wolfhound, use common sense when picking a partner for your puppy.  Leash walks, to train a puppy how to behave properly on lead, should be kept short and sweet for the first year or more of an Irish Wolfhound's life.  Once your hound is over the rapid growth stage, you can gradually lengthen leash walking, and work your hound up to longer distances.  By training a good solid recall while your hound is a puppy, you can take your hound hiking on trails, jogging on the beach, or running through the woods, once he is older.  But don't forget that this is a sighthound, who will be apt to chase interesting things that it sees - regardless of recall!  If you do not have access to a safely fenced acreage, you will have to find other places for your hound to gallop.  Always make certain you run your hound in a safe place, far from any trafficked roads.

Fresh air and the freedom to run and hunt at will have been paramount factors in the health of our hounds.  While some of our hounds have enjoyed activities such as lure coursing and straight racing, these events are few and far between, as are the wolfhounds who will actually chase the lure (or such has been the case with our hounds).  Irish Wolfhounds require a safe place to run daily.

 

Vaccination:

All of our hounds and cats are very minimally vaccinated. More and more vets are speaking out against the over-use of annual vaccines (Schultz, Dodds, Hamilton, to name a few), as they are linking the vaccinations to mild to severe adverse reactions that can sometimes set an animal up for a lifetime of problems.  No vaccine is 100% effective, and they all carry a risk in administering them.

Vaccination is a very personal issue -  or at least it should be. Too many people today still blindly take their animals into the vet for their annual shots, without ever thinking about what exactly they are doing and why they need to do it every single year. What are these diseases? How many vaccines are in that needle? How prevalent are these diseases in my area? Is there any way to test if my animal has immunity?  These are some important questions we should all be asking our vets.

 

Alternative Therapies:

I like to use what works. And over the course of many years, prior to finding a more natural path, I had found many things that did not work. I also like to use what is non invasive and non-toxic. So over the course of the last 10 years, I have delved into more alternative therapies for myself and my companion animals. Some of these things include herbs (both Chinese and Western), chiropractic, homeopathy, acupuncture, and colloidal silver, to name a few. Many of the therapies that Western veterinary medicine has to offer are what I refer to as band aid solutions. While applied, they are usually very effective. However, once the therapy is stopped, the symptoms can often recur. "Symptoms" are treated, not the entire being. The holistic approach takes into account the entirety of the being, to help bring about balance and a better state of overall health. Please don't get me wrong. I believe there is a time and place for Western medicine, and it is sometimes needed to stop the acute nature of disease. But it is nice to have alternatives to use in less acute cases or after the fact, once the crisis is over. Then we can work with things like herbs, homeopathy, acupuncture, etc, to bring about overall better health.  

We do not use chemical preventatives.  They are, simply, poison.  We use more natural preventatives, even though we may have to apply them more often.  Essential oils, diatomaceous Earth, and herbs can all be effective in dealing with parasites, and they are non toxic when used properly.

Irish Wolfhound puppy foraging for herbs.

 

 I hope you have found this page to be informative. Please refer to our 'links' and 'suggested reading' pages for more information on natural rearing.