Caring for your Wolfhound Puppy

Caring for your Wolfhound Puppy


Please read the following information. You may find it useful in helping your new puppy to adjust to your home and lifestyle.

Try to remember that your puppy is a PUPPY for a long time, in spite of its size, and needs love and understanding.

If at any time, for whatever reasons, you find that you are no longer able to keep your Irish Wolfhound, please contact me to return the dog.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or feel that I can be of assistance in the areas of grooming, training, showing, coursing, etc.

I would be pleased to receive reports of how your pup is doing, the good and the bad – visits and pictures are always welcome.

Most importantly, ENJOY YOUR DOG!

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I want you to be able to give your puppy your full attention when you arrive home with it and therefore will supply you with most of its “Layette” when you pick it up. This will allow you to relax and enjoy your baby without running all over trying to find the correct food and supplies.

Puppies sleeping

There is bound to be a lot of excitement surrounding the arrival of the new addition to your family. All of the extended family and friends will want to come around to see the puppy. Avoid the temptation to show off your new companion for the first day. His life has been severely changed from the moment you walked out my door with him. His mother and brothers and sisters are no longer around and neither are the people he has come to know.

Hopefully you will have decided on a quiet place  in your home to be the puppy’s bed. If you have taken my advice and purchased a crate it should be set up in the puppy’s corner. While you will want to let the puppy explore its new territory, it is wise to restrict the area you allow the puppy in until you have accomplished the housebreaking.

Your little Wolfhound has a lot of growing to do in the next few months and most of it is done while they are sleeping. Never wake your puppy up to show it off, and teach children to respect the puppy’s nap time. If you restrict the puppy to its crate for nap times you will find housebreaking easier as it will try to avoid soiling its bed and therefore you should take it outside as soon as it wakes up. Puppies will also need to go after eating and after any rough play.

Arrange to have your puppy seen by a vet in the first 72 hours to ensure yourself that you have a healthy puppy. You will want to give your vet the “Pet Health Record” contained in your puppy package so he knows what medical treatment your puppy has received in regards to worming and vaccinations. Advise your vet that your puppy has come from an area where there is heartworm so he can do the necessary testing and provide you with the proper preventative medication. You may also wish to ask your vet if he is familiar with the problems encountered in sedating Wolfhounds and provide him with a copy of the attached article from the Irish Wolfhound Bulletin.

Your puppy is currently eating Martins Technical Growth. He is eating approximately 2-1/2 cups of kibble and 4 tbsp. Dr. Ballards 4 times a day. He also is getting 1 scoop of Edge, 4 tbsp. of natural yoghurt and 500 mg. of Vitamin C per day. The supplements can be added to any meal or fed separately.

The change of water in a new area may cause your puppy to have loose stools. If diarrhoea is a problem you may want to use Kaopectate to settle his system.


While each pup is different, I list here some suggestions that you may find useful on the feeding of your pup.

Alanna & Tiger

Feed a growing puppy all it will eat, but do not let it become obese; your aim is to produce a fine, sturdy hound, not an obese one. The bones are still forming, and although one doesn’t want a “skinny” pup, it shouldn’t be overweight either, as this will stress the bone growth. Attached is a chart taken from “The Irish Wolfhound Guide” by A. De Quoy showing average weights by age for males and females.

Feed at regular times each day. Allow the pup about 1/2 hour to finish the meal, then remove it. If the pup continually leaves food in the dish, reduce the amount by 1/2 to 1 cup. If the pup continually cleans out the dish, add a similar amount. When changing foods, do so gradually over a period of  several days. New feeds can cause diarrhoea; if this persists (and Kaopectate doesn’t help), then see your vet.

Up to 3 months, feed 4 times per day.

Up to 6 months, feed 3 times per day. Space 5 to 6 hours apart.

After 6 months of age, feed 2 meals per day.

Adult – feed two meals per day, as the dogs enjoy it, and it is easier on their stomachs to digest a smaller meal. I feed dry kibble with yogurt early in the day and I give them a dinner with supplements in the evening.

Some pups may need 3 meals per day past six months, while others may refuse to eat 3 meals well before 6 months. Judge according to each individual. If you are concerned that your pup doesn’t seem to be eating enough at meal times, try leaving some dry kibble during the day. If the pup seems restless at night, a bowl of warm milk (with a drop of honey) may help settle him down. (A raw egg yolk in the milk should tempt the pup also). N.B. NEVER FEED RAW EGG WHITES!!


A properly balanced nutritious diet is essential for a healthy dog; it is crucial in the giant hounds, as the puppy must grow enormously in a short space of time. Even vitamins must be balanced in order to help, not hinder, your pup’s growth. I strongly recommend you DO NOT USE A CALCIUM SUPPLEMENT and feel it is much better and safer, to give natural milk products in controlled amounts.


I supplement using a natural product called Edge. This is a mixture of brewers yeast, brewers grains, cane molasses and vitamins available in a pelleted form which is mixed with the food. Because it is a natural product it is very difficult to “overdose” your dog on vitamins as with most of the chemical vitamin supplements. If you do use a multi-vitamin for dogs cut the recommended dosage in half as the amount recommended for the weight of the giant breeds is usually too high. If you wish to use “Edge” and are unable to obtain it in your area please contact me for a dealer in your area, or I can ship to you directly.

I do supplement with Vitamins C & E. I suggest the addition of 100 mg of vitamin C increasing to 500 mg by 3 months, 1000 mg at six months and reducing to 500 mg. again at one year. If the puppy exhibits loose bowels, you may be giving too much Vitamin C, so cut back, and increase gradually. (Note that loose bowels may be caused by a variety of conditions – overfeeding, change in diet, change in water, worms.)

You may also wish to give your dog a Vitamin E tablet once a day or every few days, of about 100 IU.


I add yoghurt to the dogs food to maintain a healthy balance of “friendly bacteria” in the digestive tract. It is also noted for its ability to reduce flatulence in dogs. I add 1 tbsp per day of natural (unflavoured) yoghurt for a puppy gradually increasing until they are eating 8 tablespoons per day as an adult. Do not be mislead into believing if a small amount is beneficial more will be better for your dog–too much yoghurt may result in deficiencies in proper bone growth.



Use a good quality, dry kibble mixed with a small amount of warm water, meat broth, or vegetable stock. I use and recommend Martin’s Technical Growth for puppies, switching to Technical High Performance at 18 months of age. If your dog is less active you may wish to consider Technical  Maintenance instead. I recommend Martins because it contains no soy products which are hard to digest and are a cause of flatulence. It also has a chicken base which is less likely to cause food allergies (yes, dogs do get allergies) than a beef base.

I also add to my dogs meal one of the premium canned dog foods as approximately 20% of the meal. I use the Dr. Ballards Chunky meats (5 kinds of meat with extra chicken, 5 kinds of meat with extra beef, beef and liver chunks, beef chunks, and beef stew) as they are made mainly with meat and little filler. It is not worthwhile to spend money on one of the poor quality canned foods as they do not provide adequate nutrition (see CVMA certification information enclosed) and you would be better off to add one of the following to you dogs meal to give him or her variety.

o Milk products – cottage cheese, yoghurt, powdered milk

o Cooked meats, butcher or table scraps, (organ meats in small quantities)

o Chicken with bones removed (duck or turkey may cause gas)

o Pasta in small amounts

o Cooked oatmeal (puts weight on the dog)

o Potatoes in small quantities only

o blended vegetables

You can keep a pot on the stove where all the leftovers are put, to make a “soup” to pour over the dog’s food.

If your dog develops a dry coat due to the low fat content in the food used add a small amount of bacon fat or corn or vegetable oil several times per week, especially in winter.



Your puppy has already been wormed on the schedule given on the “Pet Health Record” enclosed. When you first take it to the vet you should take a stool sample for analysis and when he goes for a checkup, boosters and rabies shots. Afterwards you should have a sample analyzed yearly or when you suspect a problem – listlessness, swollen belly, weight loss, runny noses, black stools, etc. The most common worm in puppies is roundworm.


Heartworm is a problem in several parts of the country – talk to your veterinarian and follow his advice re the testing and preventative treatment.


Enclosed is an article from the Irish Wolfhound Bulletin regarding the problems of anaesthetizing Irish Wolfhounds. Please show it to your vet should your dog require any surgery.


When a young dog repeatedly drops itself onto hard surfaces it may develop swellings at the elbows called bursas. These sacks of fluid are more unsightly than unhealthy but should be given veterinary treatment. The solution to preventing bursas is to give your dog a soft place to lay down.


See Grooming.

See your vet for problems – better safe than sorry. Often he can answer your questions over the phone. It is very important to have a vet you can trust, and one that you, and your dog, feel comfortable with. If you don’t like the way your vet explains things to you, or the way he handles your dog, find another vet. The two of you will have to work together for many years to ensure your dog’s health.


Fresh air, good nutrition, love and exercise make for a happy, healthy hound. Exercise should be a combination of free play and controlled exercise.

Basic obedience work provides good exercise, training different muscles. You may Puppies Running wish to run with your dog to ensure he does some “trotting”; however; build up gradually, and preferably not on hard pavement. Do not subject Irish Wolfhounds puppies to any forced or strenuous exercise (bicycling, coursing, etc.) until their bones have had a chance to fully develop, approximately 18 months.

An undisciplined hound is not a joy to be with. Your hound should learn as a youngster to come when called, heel respectably on a leash, sit and lay down on command. Use lots of patience, rewards (food and/or verbal praise). Let your hound know that you are pleased when he performs well. Most hounds want to please, so it’s up to you to show the pup what pleases you, and be consistent. always end training sessions on a positive note, and avoid the harsher training methods. I recommend avoiding the methods taught by “Koehler” method schools and recommend the “Pearsall” method. You may wish to purchase one of the obedience training guides written by Milo and Margaret Pearsall. Their method was called “training from the dogs point of view”. With young puppies, and their short attention span, it’s better to train twice a day for 10-15 minutes, rather than one half hour session. If you do attend an obedience school don’t be afraid to refuse to use harsh commands or corrections on a young puppy. You will have to use your judgement as to the severity of corrections. The most important thing to remember is that is should be a positive, fun experience for the pup. Be patient, use common sense and judgement and be sensitive to your dog’s reactions. This is also true for show handling classes.

Let the pup exercise at his own pace. Keep this in mind when doing training also. Puppies sleep a lot and when tired, want to sleep. If you decide to go for a two mile hike with the pup, don’t be surprised if you have to carry him back. If you have other dogs, be careful with the pup – it’s bones are soft, and can be injured by an over-exuberant  playmate. As your hound matures, he may become lazy, and you may have to invent games, or go for walks with your hound to ensure he has enough exercise.

Young puppies need a safe play area – I cannot emphasize enough the importance of good fencing. Your pup is a sighthound, bred to chase moving objects, so unexpected game, small animals, or people may tempt him to dart off. Teaching your hound your yard boundaries is no guarantee that it won’t suddenly bound away engrossed in chasing something and run the risk of being injured – it only takes one car to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Safe also means that the area should be free of hazardous objects. Also remember to remove and store your garden hose – pups think it’s a great toy for chewing. Store any poisons or dangerous objects out of reach of your pup (basically child-proofing your premises). If you invest in a kennel run, where your hound spends some time each day, I would suggest that you have a section in gravel as this is excellent for developing tight, arched feet. If you must leave your hound alone for any length of time – DO NOT TIE IT – leave it crated or in a kennel run.

With preparation and training, hounds make excellent companions indoors (in fact, if that is where you are, that is where your hound will want to be). Some pups can be real “destroyers” if left alone in a room, while others are fine. The pup should have its own safe place for sleeping, (with its own bed whether its a soft cushion, carpet, or the real thing), or to be left when you are out. If you don’t have a puppy proof room, then you may wish to invest in a crate. Get the pup used to the crate by having it sleep in there, or eat, and by spending time with the pup while it is in the crate/room. Don’t leave the pup “locked up” initially for extended periods, especially when housebreaking. None of my dogs object to being crated; they look upon it as a secure place, and will often sleep in their crate with the door open! (See enclosed article – Crate Expectations)

I do not recommend that you allow your pup to go up and down steps unsupervised. Even after the hound is trustworthy in the house, try not to allow him access to stairs unsupervised. Injuries on stairs happen too easily and can result in permanent damage.

You can make sleeping cushions for your hound by sewing a large canvas (they can destroy lighter materials) cushion cover with a zipper and insert a foam pad into it. Both are washable. Soft bedding will help to prevent elbow bursas. (See Health Information).

An outdoor run is also fine, provided your dog gets lots of human companionship. The hound still needs to exercise freely and needs some type of shelter from inclement weather. Puppies should not be left outside in extremely cold weather as they should be using their energy to grow, not to stay warm.

When housebreaking, remember that sighthounds are not usually very vocal. Your dog may indicate the need to go outside simply by standing at the door; if so, keep any eye out and let the pup out frequently. With a bit of experience, you will learn to “read” the puppy. If it starts moving, and the tail starts to come up, then put him out. If he starts to wander as if looking for something, he probably wants to pee, so put him out. At the beginning it is better to err on the side of putting him out too often than not enough. You may also accompany the up to a certain area of the garden, so that it is encourage to go in a certain area. Habits the pup forms now will stay with him for the rest of his life.

When disciplining, remember that sighthounds are very sensitive. Often verbal correction is enough. A NO in a loud voice is often enough. Try to catch the pup in the act – if housebreaking, and he has an accident that you catch him at, say NO, take him by the collar and put him outside. I know you are too late to do any good for that particular time, but the association is being built up in the dog’s mind. If necessary, take the pup back to the “scene of the crime”, hold his head close to the mess (but do not rub his nose in it), scold him and put him outside for 15 minutes to think about it. Remember, do not call your dog to you to punish it. The dogs should associate the recall with something pleasant. If the dog is mouthing you or your clothes, and a sharp NO does not suffice, a gentle tap on the nose may be required – then give him a toy that he can chew. Always remember to balance praise and punishment. Pay attention when your dog does something good, such as going outside – a drawn out “g-o-o-o-d dog” spoken in a happy tone will let your dog know that you are pleased with him.

Consistency is important for both discipline and exercise. It does no good to confine the dog all week and then take it out for may miles of galloping on the weekends. To grow properly and maintain muscle tone later, regular exercise in necessary.

Do not let people be rough with the pup even though it looks enormous; the bones are very soft, and emotionally he is every bit a puppy.

Never leave a choke collar on your dog – it can get caught or snagged and choke your dog to death. If you feel your hound must wear a collar, get the buckle on type.


At least once per week you should brush the dog, and check him thoroughly to ensure all is well. More frequent brushing will help to reduce shedding in the home. Brush and comb him to remove the loose hairs – do this outdoors when weather permits.

Check the ears, and clean with cotton batting – follow the same rule as for babies, never go further than you can see. You may wish to use a bit of rubbing alcohol to help with the cleaning, but never use water on the inside of the ear.

Keep the nails trimmed fairly short. Check every week or two. Long nails can ruin the shape of the dog’s feet. With the puppy, take off a little shaving only – too much and you may cut into the quick and cause the nails to bleed. To stop the bleeding, use cornstarch, a styptic pencil (such as men use for shaving) or “Quick Stop” a clotting powder.

You will know when your dog needs a bath, normally only once or twice a year. Washing too often can soften the coat, and remove essential oils. If you bathe more often than once a month, you will have to use a balanced shampoo. If you bathe your dog in the bathtub be sure to provide a rubber mat for footing as the dog can hurt itself on the slippery surface.

As your hound gets older, periodically check the teeth for tartar build-up, as excessive tartar can cause gum disease. You or your vet can remove it with a dental scaler. Most vets sedate the dogs to clean their teeth and this is a concern as Wolfhounds are particularly sensitive to anaesthetic (see article attached). As a preventative feed the dog a few large dog cookies a day and feed regular food as dry as possible.

Fleas are horrible pests which make the dog owners life miserable – not to mention the dogs. No matter how conscientious you are about keeping your dog clean they can unfortunately pick them up at any time they are where other dogs have been – parks, obedience school, dog shows, even the vet’s. To remove them from your home requires a concentrated effort as they hatch a new generation every 16 days. If you notice your dog scratching or biting immediately bathe and spray him. There is a spray made by Vet-Kem Products called Ovitrol Plus which I have found very helpful. It binds to the coat and kills fleas for 30 days after each spraying. It will also be necessary to spray your carpets and baseboards as new larvae will hatch in these places. As a preventative purchase a good spray and spray you dog before going anywhere where you are likely to come in contact with other dogs, and again when you arrive home.



In the past several years much has been written and said about the use of anaesthetics in sighthounds in general and IW’s in particular. Yet, time and again we hear of hounds dying after surgery when they can’t come out of the anaesthetic coma.

One such recent case, in which the owner of the dog warned the Vet about this, but to no avail, came to our attention. The Vet having been told to consult with the Guelph Veterinary college before doing surgery claimed that they had never heard of such a thing. He then put caution to the wind and proceeded towards disaster. The hound never came out of the anaesthetic.

We are compelled therefore to again bring up the subject and impress upon, you the IW owners, the importance of insisting that Vets heed your warnings. If at all possible establish the kind of relationship with your Vet which will allow you to discuss treatments, exchange medical information, articles in dog magazines, what have you. If you are not comfortable with the Vet, or if s/he is reluctant to spare you the time for this, go to another one. Naturally, when you are dealing with an emergency time is of essence and you cannot go shopping around for a Vet. Hence, it is important that you check into this well ahead of something going wrong. Just as you would not accept just any physician for yourself, so you should not accept just any Vet for your pet.

The Vet who claims no knowledge of sighthound sensitivity to certain anaesthetic procedures, is either not keeping up with the newest developments, or s/he is not interested in the patient. In any event, s/he needs to be educated by you the pet owners. If your concerns go unheeded, dump him/her. If you only have access to one Vet you should give him/her as much material as you can find on this subject so that the scientific background to this issue becomes evident and that s/he can be convinced that you are not making this up.

We also recommend that you call your breeder before contemplating any kind of surgical procedures for your IW. If the breeder is too far away call your nearest one on the IWCC membership list for advice. And lastly don’t always accept the Vet’s suggestion to operate, be that for ingested cloths, bumps or lumps on elbows or other body parts. Breeders have found that many of these things take care of themselves.

We found that a basic indication of the need for consulting the Vet is the presence or absence of fever. Always take your dogs temperature when he or she acts unusual, stops eating, refuses to move or get up, etc. Normal temperatures for dogs can go to 101 Fahrenheit or 38 plus Celsius. don’t ever forget that the Vet relies on you to provide the background to make a diagnosis. Vets like physicians can only diagnose by way of elimination. They must rely on your telling them what you have observed and how the dog’s behaviour differs from its usual way of acting.

In order to give you some authoritative information about anaesthetic, we have approached one of our Vets from the Blair Animal Hospital here in Ottawa. He is Dr. E. Beltran a graduate of the British system. he also specializes in cardiac problems and is thoroughly familiar with large and sighthound breeds. He has been kind enough to provide us with some material obtained from Guelph we will use in a future article on this very controversial subject.

In any event, we would like to be emphatic in our suggestions to you, the IW owners, to insist that your Vets pay attention to your concerns. In addition, please make use of your membership list and call the breeder or a breeder for advice about health problems before you make decisions about treatments requiring your dog to be put under.

A recent personal experience with one Vet when Nellie, my 5-year-old bitch, was quilled by a porcupine, illustrates what conscientious Vets do. In this case, Nellie had been quilled at the cottage some 100 miles from Ottawa. She was taken to the nearest Vet in the small town of Perth. He immediately informed us that he would not put the dog under as he did not have the proper medication. So Nellie had to get the quills removed without the benefit of an anaesthetic. She was not amused. Fortunately, this Vet was both familiar with the problem and fair minded enough not to take a chance with the conventional medication, which incidentally would have given him a lot more money.

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