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Irish Wolfhound

A descendant from an ancient breed of war dog, the Wolfhound has long featured in Irish mythology and been revered as a dog so noble that at one point in history only members of royalty were permitted to own them. The chains and collars worn by the hounds were often made from precious metals and stones.

Records of the Wolfhound’s existence date back to as early as 273BC, although it is though that they may have been brought into Ireland as hunting and guard dogs much earlier. There are also tales of them being used by the Celts during battle to rip the enemy from horse back or chariots.

The tallest of all the dog breeds and the largest of the site hounds, they came close to extinction in the early 19th century after the great prey animals had largely disappeared in Ireland. A Scottish officer in the British army, Capt George Augustus Graham is credited with revitalising the breed over a 23 year breeding program during that period.

 

Illustration: Thomas Miller – The British wolf-hunters: A Tale of England in the Olden Time.

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