The following list of questions and answers attempts to cover issues that club members have encountered in the past. It is broken into sections that are puppy-related, general health, dietary and living with a wolfhound.
Hopefully it will address any issues that the reader may have as well as those that may not have occurred to him/her.
Please use the “Contact Us” section of the website if this section does not solve your problem.
Q: What should a prudent buyer ask the breeder
Apart from the obvious information request the questions below also establish the breeder credibility
- Can I see the 5 generation pedigrees of the sire & the dam? (to verify that the parents etc. are pedigree dogs)
- What food do you raise your puppies and juniors on?
- What food do you feed your adult dogs?
- May I see the puppies’ bite (see below)
- May I see the dams/sires bite? (see below)
- Do you supply a feeding chart and general care guide with the puppy?
- What age do you let the puppies go to their new homes? (see below)
- Which vaccinations would they have had? (one should expect inoculation against parvo, distemper and a “6 in 1” inoculation, but not yet rabies, and an inoculation certificate to prove it)
- Do you take your dogs out to shows or public places? (this builds up the parent’s immune system that is transmitted to their offspring)
- What health problems has your kennel experienced? (a good breeder will be frank about past problems so be wary if the answer is “none”)
Q: What might a reputable breeder ask the buyer
A reputable breeder will feel a duty-of-care towards their litters and prospective new owners can expect an interrogation of varying intensity and should take it as a measure of breeder integrity.
- Is the property secured with fencing/ walling/ locked gate? (general security of the pup)
- Where will the puppy sleep at night? (safety and socialization)
- What other animals do you have? (early acclimatization of the pup, predator/prey issues)
- Who will take care of and feed the puppy during the day? (abandonment concerns, pups need attention and frequent feeding in the early months)
- Why do you want an IW puppy?
- Would you want to breed with your puppy later on?
- Will you take your puppy to socialization & training classes? (see below)
- Do you have children and if so how old are they? (young children, say, <5 can be injured by a boisterous puppy)
- Who will the puppy belong to and who will be responsible for feeding and general well being
Q: What does an Irish Wolfhound puppy cost?
A: This varies from breeder to breeder and (rather like asking the price of an exotic car) if the answer is important then maybe the breed is not for you! In mid-2017 a good quality puppy from a reputable kennel was in the region of ZAR15,000. Puppies are sometimes offered for considerably less in which case it is a very good idea to ask why?
Reputable breeders are motivated by reasons other than profit and will rarely have more than two litters of, say, six puppies on average from a bitch. They will keep at least one puppy per litter. Against the income from selling puppies must be set the considerable costs of raising them, the lifetime food and medical costs of the bitch and stud fees or lifetime support of the sire.
The reality of Irish Wolfhounds is that (regardless of the purchase price) the ongoing cost of a wolfhound is high. A mature male can consume three 20 kg bags of commercial food per month. Medical expenses for a giant dog can be gigantic, especially towards end-of-life. Antibiotic and other medicine dosages are a function of weight. If a Wolfhound becomes seriously ill one can expect to pay twice (or more) the purchase price of a puppy towards medical expenses.
Q: What is a Breeders restriction?
A: A breeder may impose a breeding restriction on a puppy when registering it with KUSA. This does not prevent the new owner breeding but, unless the original breeder lifts the restriction, the offspring cannot be registered with KUSA or shown. Breeding restrictions can be imposed for several reasons:
- To protect the breeders line or “brand”
- To prevent crossing the kennel line with other lines that are judged unsuitable for one reason or another
- If a heritable health or conformational issue has appeared in the litter
Q: What is liver shunt?
A: Liver shunt is a condition that affects about 2% of wolfhound puppies and reputable breeders usually test for shunt at about nine weeks. After birth, a malfunction in the development of the puppy circulatory system allows some blood to bypass the liver and waste products, including ammonia, build up in the blood. Symptoms are weight loss, a coat with upright hair, apathy and brain damage leading to circling, apparent blindness and seizures. The onset of these symptoms is affected by various factors such as diet and the severity of the shunt (degree of bypass) and may only become apparent once the pup is in its new home. In South Africa liver shunt has been corrected surgically at least twice (and at significant cost) but puppies with liver shunt are usually euthanized. http://www.cornovi-iw.co.uk/livershunt_page.htm
Q: What is Puppy Paralysis?
A: Puppy Paralysis or FCE (Fibrocartilagenous Embolism) affects a small minority of Irish Wolfhound puppies and may be hereditary. It typically occurs between the ages of eight and sixteen weeks. The puppy suddenly loses the use of its hind legs due to an embolism in its spinal cord. If the puppy receives prompt veterinary attention, within about three hours, the administering of a steroid and anti-inflammatories greatly aids recovery. Once initial recovery has been achieved, physiotherapy, acupuncture and extended hydrotherapy (“doggy paddle”) usually allows a near complete recovery. The condition occurs in wolfhound puppies, older dogs in other breeds and humans and relatively few vets have encountered it. Since time is of the essence for successful treatment a wise owner will draw attention to the possibility of FCE. It is a good idea to check if your vet knows about FCE early on.
Hounds that have had FCE should not be used for breeding.
Q: What is correct puppy dentition?
A: Although easier said than done with a wriggling puppy, potential owners should check the puppies bite which should be a “scissor bite” (the top teeth nestle neatly against the lower teeth) or, at worst, “level” (the upper and lower teeth touch). A small minority of puppies have an overshot or undershot bite where the upper teeth are respectively materially further forward or behind the lower teeth. Apart from being unsightly a, say, overshot bite has the effect that the lower canines create holes in the gums of the upper palette. Sometimes the condition will correct itself as the puppy grows or when the adult teeth appear. Often the condition will not correct itself so it is advisable to get an objective opinion from a vet. Orthodentistry is a possibility or the offending canines can be removed. An overshot or undershot bite is considered a fault when showing. If possible, also check the dam and sires bite.
Q: At what age can I take my puppy home?
A: Most breeders let puppies go to their new homes around 10 to 12 weeks of age. Some will allow puppies to be rehomed from 8 weeks of age but this is undesirable because:
- Testing for liver shunt is only done at nine weeks
- Valuable socialization skills through interaction with litter-mates, the dam and other adults only really occurs between 6 to 13 weeks.