Frequently asked questions
your questions answered
Hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia (HD & ED) are conditions where joints are malformed because of hereditary factors, over-exercise when young or overfeeding. The condition is infrequent in wolfhounds but is usually severe when it is present and causes the animal great pain. Because of the hereditary component of HD & ED most reputable breeders will X-ray their adult animals prior to breeding them and their HD and ED scores become part of their registered pedigree name. The FCI scale for hip dysplasia is shown below.
KUSA has no mandatory rules on parental hip dysplasia and puppy registration for Irish Wolfhounds in South Africa but does for other breeds such as the Rottweiler.
When considering buying a puppy it is reasonable to request the breeder to provide the sire and dams HD and ED ratings and/or their 5-generation pedigree.
The size of a wolfhound places strain upon the heart and some heart conditions are hereditary. It is reasonable to expect the breeder to have had the parents hearts evaluated at the same time that they were tested for HD and ED and to have a veterinary report on the heart.
he Irish Wolfhound’ s deep chest causes the stomach to sometimes twist and form a constriction like the link between two sausages. This causes gas to build up and inflate the abdomen. Unattended torsion is fatal and, in treating it, time is of the essence.
Rapid veterinary attention and surgery is required after which the animal usually recovers fully but torsion can reoccur. Torsion can occur as a result of stress or boisterous play before or after a meal. The symptoms of torsion are that the dog becomes uncharacteristically restless and has a taught abdomen.
Wolfhounds, like other giant breeds, do not live as long as smaller dogs although, probably as a result of the availability of better diets and better medical care, life expectancy does seem to be improving. Eight years used to be considered “a good innings” but is now unexceptional. Wolfhounds now regularly reach ten years.
Wolfhounds can get the same illnesses as any other dog. Their fast rate of growth from puppyhood places strain on their skeleton and bone cancer in the legs is unfortunately quite common but can be treated if diagnosed early enough. The cause of any limping should be carefully established.
As wolfhounds reach great age the nerves in their spine tend to degenerate and they lose control of their rear legs. Acupuncture can relieve this condition. Before any surgery you should check that the vet is aware that wolfhounds require less anaesthetic per unit weight than other dogs.
This is a problem experienced by all sighthounds stemming from their fat to muscle ratio which affects the removal of the drug from their systems.
An excellent source of issues affecting wolfhound health is the Irish Wolfhound Health Group based in the UK.